In just two decades, using clear aligners to create beautiful smiles has become a popular alternative to braces. These “aligner braces” were pioneered by Invisalign® in 1998. Since then, other companies that manufacture aligners (also called trays) have begun appearing on the market.
At Burke & Redford Orthodontists, Dr. Burke and Dr. Redford believe in providing patients with the highest quality technology and treatment options. This is why our offices use Invisalign as our primary clear aligner and in the majority of our clear aligner cases.
It is important to emphasize that clear aligners are simply a tool used under the direction and expertise of the treating orthodontist. Not all manufacturers of clear aligners produce comparable products or “tools” to be used at the orthodontist’s disposal. Although many companies manufacture transparent plastic aligners that can move teeth, there are important differences between them. These differences primarily focus on effectiveness, cost, aligner thickness, mouth comfort, and overall patient experience.
Key Differences Between Invisalign and Other Clear Aligners
ClearCorrect is one such company that is often touted as a low-cost alternative to Invisalign. However, this claim doesn’t necessarily hold up. To get a better understanding of costs, it is important to compare apples to apples.
For example, the cost of ClearCorrect is usually marketed as $2,000 versus $5,000 for Invisalign. However, the $2,000 price refers to one of ClearCorrect’s less expensive treatment options (the Limited 6, which includes only six trays). Meanwhile, the $5,000 price is referring to Invisalign Full, the company’s unlimited treatment option, which includes an unlimited number of trays. However, when the unlimited options for both companies are compared, the costs are not so different.
Also, Invisalign recently introduced different price points (Express 5, Express 10, and 14), which means comparable pricing options are available from both companies.
The trays made by competitors to Invisalign are often made from slightly thinner material, which makes them appear less visible than Invisalign trays. However, the thinner material results in less effective tooth movement and a less durable aligner that is more prone to cracks and breakage.
Although the trays from all clear aligner companies are made of clear plastic, they are not made from the same material. Patients may be interested to know that most alternatives to Invisalign use a type of plastic that Invisalign stopped using years ago.
After eight years of research and tests of hundreds of different materials, Invisalign developed its own patented material called SmartTrack®. Designed exclusively for Invisalign trays, patients report that SmartTrack feels more comfortable and gentler in the mouth. SmartTrack also speeds up treatment times, improves results, and is easier to take on and off.
Experience and Expertise
As the pioneer in clear aligners, Invisalign has a decade of experience and expertise over other clear aligner manufacturers. Invisalign received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 and had produced 1 million aligners by 2001. By comparison, ClearCorrect was founded in 2006 and received FDA approval in 2009.
Since its formation, Invisalign has developed and patented more processes than its competitors. The company has several hundred patents, which covers the materials used in the trays to the methods for creating a treatment plan.
This expertise gives Invisalign a competitive edge. In addition, years of research and experience has allowed the company to develop unique ways to ensure patient compliance and treatment success. One such example is the compliance indicators on Invisalign Teen, which fade as the aligners are worn. This allows orthodontists to tell whether the aligners are being worn as prescribed.
Although this information demonstrates why Invisalign is superior to other clear aligners, it doesn’t necessarily answer the question of whether using clear aligners is better than wearing braces.
Which Is Better, Invisalign or Braces?
The answer about whether Invisalign or braces are better depends on a patient’s specific orthodontic needs and lifestyle. Sometimes braces are the better alternative, particularly for complex cases. Other times, Invisalign is the best choice.
Consider the two scenarios below to better understand how a patient’s orthodontic needs and lifestyle determine which treatment option is the best.
- Patient A is an adult female with a misaligned jaw caused by skeletal deformities. Her protruding jaw has resulted in a severe underbite. Jaw surgery is required to bring the jaw back into alignment. Jaw alignment braces are used to level and align teeth before surgery, which holds the jaw in place immediately after surgery and to finish aligning the teeth once healing is complete. In this case, braces are the best option.
- Patient B is a 14-year-old boy who needs his teeth straightened. He has a history of poor oral hygiene, and his orthodontist is concerned that he won’t follow the instructions for cleaning his teeth while wearing braces. However, Invisalign trays can be removed for regular brushing and flossing. This provides a great advantage for a teenager who may not be as responsible as they should be with their oral hygiene. In this case, Invisalign for teenagers may be the best option.
As these scenarios demonstrate, what might work for one patient doesn’t necessarily work for another. After a clinical examination and consultation, the doctors will recommend the best solution for each patient’s unique needs.
However, what remains the same with either option is a beautiful smile at the end of treatment—whether a patient experienced a clear aligner or braces transformation.
Clear Braces vs Invisalign
Sometimes, patients who need braces are disappointed that Invisalign aligners aren’t the best option for them. They mistakenly believe that braces mean a mouthful of metal. In the past, this may have been true. However, today’s patients have several options for clear braces.
Instead of metal, the brackets can be made from ceramic, which can be either tooth-colored or clear. When combined with frosted or white wires and transparent elastics, these braces are virtually invisible. If a patient opts for self-ligating braces (such as Damon braces), there is no need for elastics at all. One popular “invisible” braces option is known as Damon Clear.
To learn more about clear braces and aligners and which is the best treatment option for you, call Burke & Redford Orthodontists at (951) 699-8011 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out free consultation form on our website.