You’ve probably heard about Invisalign – the “invisible” system that gradually straightens and corrects crooked and crowded teeth. When investing in a smile makeover for yourself or your child, you want to make an informed decision about which treatment is most effective, fits in your budget and delivers results.
The first step is taking a deeper look at the differences between traditional metal braces vs. Invisalign. Both treatments are designed to address a number of cosmetic issues, including overbite, underbite, gapped teeth and misaligned teeth, helping to improve aesthetics and overall oral health. Unlike metal braces, which are glued to the fronts of your teeth for the duration of the treatment, the Invisalign system uses removable clear trays made of BPA-free plastic. The aligners must be worn at least 22 hours each day, and are replaced by new custom trays every 2 weeks until desired results are achieved.
Invisalign vs. braces
Here are some of the key aspects of both teeth straightening systems:
- Color: Conventional braces are silver metal, though patients can now opt for tooth-colored enamel brackets. By comparison, Invisalign aligners are transparent plastic, making them virtually undetectable.
- Treatment duration: Most patients need to wear braces for a minimum of 16-24 months to realize results. Depending on the severity of bite issues, Invisalign treatment can last 6 to 18 months.
- Daily maintenance: Braces require diligent, meticulous brushing to clear food debris and plaque from brackets and wires. Invisalign trays are removable, allowing patients to brush and floss their teeth normally. The trays are easily cleaned with a toothbrush and water rinse.
- Dental visits: Follow-up appointments are about the same for both treatments. Patients with metal braces usually see their orthodontist once a month for check-ups and adjustments. Invisalign patients are required to visit their dentist every 4-6 weeks, and change out their aligners every 14 days.
- Cost: Prices may vary depending on location and doctor, but generally speaking, braces typically cost anywhere from $1,800 to over $5,000. The cost of Invisalign treatment can range from $3,000 to $6,000.
- Follow-up care: Invisalign follow-up treatment with a retainer or positioner is comparable to that of metal braces. Most patients need to wear a retainer at night for a determined period of time to maintain results.
Invisalign pros and cons
Notable advantages of Invisalign over braces include:
- Virtually invisible teeth straightening
- Smooth plastic trays ensure comfort
- No food restrictions or difficulty when eating
- No sore spots from metal wires and brackets
- Can remove trays for eating, drinking, brushing and special occasions
Braces, on the other hand, are more effective for complex dental issues like rotating teeth or moving teeth vertically. There is also the factor of patient compliance. You need to have self-discipline to wear aligners a minimum 22 hours each day. Some people may be tempted to take them out too often, or forget to put them back in, which can diminish results and extend treatment time.
In the end, both treatments offer tremendous results, though Invisalign has gained traction among adult professionals and teens who want a better smile, but without the hassle and discomfort of metal wires.