Pros and Cons of Braces and Invisalign
Burke & Redford Orthodontists offers both Invisalign and braces for teenagers and children. Deciding which treatment, Invisalign vs braces, is best will depend on the specific orthodontic issues of the patient. Although both forms of treatment are effective, more complex cases will typically require braces.
Another factor is the patient’s age and level of maturity. For older teens, Invisalign may be an ideal treatment option. However, a younger child may find it difficult to wear Invisalign aligners for the recommended duration or may easily misplace them.
This article will discuss some of the pros and cons of each of these ortho treatments, looking at factors such as effectiveness, convenience, treatment length, cleaning, cost, and appearance. Ultimately, the decision will come down to the unique needs of each patient.
What Is Invisalign?
Invisalign (also known as Invis) is an orthodontic treatment that uses a series of clear plastic aligner trays to move teeth gradually and gently. The trays are made from BPA-free plastic and are worn over the teeth.
To create the series of trays, Doctors Redford and Burke use an iTero Intraoral scanner to create a 3D digital scan of a patient’s teeth and map out a custom treatment plan. The patient will wear a new set of aligners every one to two weeks.
Invis technology was approved by the FDA in 1998 and has steadily grown in popularity throughout the 2000s. It is estimated that more than 10 million people have used Invisalign to transform their smiles.
What Are Braces?
Braces are a time-tested orthodontic treatment used to straighten teeth and adjust malocclusions (bad bites). Braces consist of three main parts:
- Brackets: small metal or ceramic pieces bonded to the teeth with dental adhesive.
- Archwires: wires that connect the brackets in the mouth. The wires apply pressure, so teeth come into proper alignment.
- Elastics: rubber bands that attach to brackets and help move teeth into place. This is how the upper and lower teeth are brought together into an appropriate bite relationship.
Braces come in several different materials and there are different bracket systems to align teeth and correct bites.
Here is a list of the different types of braces:
- Traditional Metal Braces: With a proven track record, traditional metal braces are very effective. However, some people prefer more esthetic options. In addition, some orthodontists now use self-ligating braces, which offer quicker adjustments, fewer overall appointments, and easier cleaning.
- Ceramic Braces (also known as Clear Braces): Brackets made from tooth-colored ceramic instead of metal, ceramic braces are less noticeable than metal braces, especially when used with white wires and clear elastics.
- Self-Ligating Braces: An alternative to traditional braces, self-ligating braces use special doors or clips (rather than elastic ligatures) to secure the archwires. Two popular self-ligating braces brands include Damon Braces and In-Ovation Braces.
- Lingual Braces: Another alternative to traditional metal braces, lingual braces are placed on the back surface of the teeth—making them “invisible.” However, lingual braces require more time for placement and adjustment, are usually more expensive, can affect speech (g., lisp), and may be uncomfortable.
Invisalign vs Braces Effectiveness
Although both forms of treatment are effective, the specific orthodontic issues that need fixing will ultimately determine which ortho treatment is best for the patient.
In general, Invisalign is ideal for patients with minor crowding and good bite relationships. Braces are best for patients with severe overcrowding, impacted teeth, extreme deep bites, large spacing issues, and bites that require large root movement.
Both braces and Invisalign can address issues such as crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, crossbites, open bites, and gaps. However, braces are usually the preferred treatment method for severely misaligned teeth or complex cases.
Invisalign vs Braces Convenience
As far as convenience, there are pros and cons for both braces and Invis. Patients with braces do not have to keep track of their aligners or remember to wear their trays for the recommended length of time. However, braces come with some food restrictions—such as no sticky foods. Braces can also be a bit more challenging to clean.
On the flip side, many people like Invisalign because they can be removed, which means there are no restrictions on what a patient can eat and drink. Oral hygiene is also easier. However, it might be inconvenient for some patients to remove and replace aligners before and after eating or drinking anything other than water, since teeth need to be brushed before replacing aligners. This can be inconvenient when eating or drinking outside the home.
In addition, young kids might easily misplace their aligners or forget to wear them for the recommended time (22 hours a day). For this reason, a child orthodontist will often recommend braces instead of Invis for youth.
Invisalign vs Braces Treatment Length
Although the treatment length will depend on each patient’s unique orthodontic needs, the treatment length for Invisalign is typically faster than braces in simple cases, roughly equal for moderate cases, and slower for severe cases.
However, treatment time for Invis wearers will be longer if the patient doesn’t wear the aligner trays for the recommended 22 hours a day. Not wearing the aligners for the recommended daily time is one of the main reasons for Invis treatment taking longer or be unsuccessful.
For adjustment appointments, patients with braces will need to come in every 6 to 8 weeks for adjustments. Patients with aligners typically come in every 8 to 10 weeks.
Both treatments require patients to brush and floss regularly—a process that is a bit easier for Invis users because the aligners can be removed. However, the use of a water flosser or specialized floss threader can make the process easier for children’s braces.
Invisalign trays do need to be brushed and rinsed daily, which adds an additional step to the patient’s oral hygiene routine.
Invisalign vs Braces Cost
Braces typically cost less than Invisalign (except for lingual braces), but the difference is not as significant as many people anticipate. Some insurance plans cover a significant portion of the cost of braces or Invisalign for teens and children. Our office works with insurance providers to get the maximum benefits for each patient. Our office also offers a wide variety of payment plans to fit each patient’s budget, which includes zero interest financing.
One of the biggest advantages that Invisalign has over braces is a discreet, almost invisible look. However, ceramic braces that use white wires and clear elastics are less noticeable than metal braces—thereby providing similar benefits as Invis. Therefore, the debate about clear braces vs Invisalign is virtually a draw.
However, as almost any kid’s orthodontic provider can tell you, teens and children enjoy customizing their braces with different color elastics.
Braces vs Invisalign for Overbite
Overbites comprise nearly 70% of bite problems among children. Although Invisalign can fix an overbite, it works best in cases that are not too severe. For many overbite issues, braces are the most common treatment option since rubber bands, coils, and springs can be used to slowly shift upper and lower teeth into the appropriate relationship.
Braces vs Retainer
Patients treated with braces or Invisalign will both need to wear a retainer after treatment has concluded. However, in some cases, a retainer may be used instead of braces or Invis. This only applies if the problem is extremely minor and affects only one or two teeth. Some examples might be a slight gap between teeth or if one tooth is out of place. However, the retainer will need to be worn indefinitely (at nighttime) to hold the teeth in alignment after they are corrected.
Deciding on braces vs Invisalign will depend on the orthodontic issues that need to be fixed. In most cases, orthodontists prefer to use braces with younger children who have complex cases. Mature teens may be candidates for Invisalign, since they have the maturity level required to comply with the requirements for successful treatment.
Ultimately, the decision about braces vs Invisalign will be made after a thorough examination of the patient’s orthodontic needs and an honest discussion about the pros and cons of both treatment options. The good news is that when treatment is done in the right hands the result will always be a beautiful smile.
New patients can meet with Dr. Ryan Redford or Dr. Burke by calling our office at (951) 699-8011 or filling out the Schedule a Consultation form through our website anytime.