Everyone wants that dazzling Hollywood smile, with perfectly straight, white teeth. But many of us have orthodontic issues that stand in the way of that ideal smile. Thankfully, there are many treatment options available, including Invisalign aligners and traditional metal braces. How do you know which option is right for you? The answer ultimately comes down to your preferences, lifestyle, and your unique orthodontic needs. Here's a quick rundown of the two options to help you decide.
Invisalign vs. Braces: Appearance
Many patients who request Invisalign over traditional braces are doing so because they are worried about their appearance. Braces are made of stainless steel and cannot be removed during treatment. Invisalign aligners are made from a clear, medical-grade plastic that is only visible to others when they are standing close to you. They are also easily removable.
Metal braces are made of stainless steel brackets that are individually bonded to each tooth, connected with wires, and surrounded by elastic bands called “O-rings” or “ligatures.” Traditional metal braces are very noticeable. Ceramic braces are a popular alternative for patients who dislike the look of metal braces and do not qualify for Invisalign treatment. Ceramic braces, also known as “clear braces”, are made from tooth-colored ceramic, so they stand out less than their stainless steel counterparts. Lingual braces are a third option. They go on the backs of the teeth instead of the fronts and are the least noticeable kind of braces.
Invisalign vs. Braces: Cost
Traditional braces are cheaper than Invisalign and are more likely to be fully covered by your dental insurance plan. If cost is a major issue for you, metal braces will be your most affordable option.
There are ways to help defray the cost of Invisalign, though. To find out the exact cost difference, schedule a sit down session with our billing coordinator to get a side-by-side comparison for each option. Financing orthodontic care using CareCredit, a major credit card, or FSA/HSA accounts are options for many patients.
Invisalign vs. Braces: Treatment Time
Treatment time doesn't just include the amount of time you’ll spend wearing your braces or aligners. It also includes the amount of time you'll spend in our office! With traditional braces, you'll need to come in every four weeks for tightening and adjustments. When you’re ready to progress to your next set of Invisalign aligners, you simply switch them out at home and check in with us every six weeks. This means less rearranging your schedule for orthodontic visits.
Invisalign doesn’t require emergency visits, either, which is another great time saver. The brackets and wires on traditional braces can break, requiring an unplanned visit to the orthodontist’s office, costing you time and money.
As far as the duration of treatment goes, braces are usually faster than Invisalign. Braces are worn 24 hours per day and cannot be removed, so they’re gradually moving your teeth 24/7. Invisalign treatment can be prolonged if your aligners are not worn as often as your treatment plan dictates—typically at least 20 hours per day.
Invisalign vs. Braces: Results
Both traditional braces and Invisalign do a fantastic job straightening teeth. However, there are some situations where braces are a better treatment choice, such as complex orthodontic cases.
If we’ve given you the good news that both Invisalign and traditional braces are options for you, another point to consider is hygiene. Aligners can be removed, allowing you to brush and floss better. Maintaining good oral hygiene while wearing braces is difficult, but not impossible. Flossing, in particular, is a challenge, and even when you brush, you’ll need to be extra diligent to make sure you’re clearing away all the plaque from your teeth.