Office Update - COVID-19

Braces vs Invisalign?

Braces vs Invisalign?
Posted on 03/11/2019
Braces versus Invisalign

People who see me for a consultation have a lot of questions. The question at the top of the list is often which type of appliance to use to correct their orthodontic problem – braces vs clear aligners? How do they decide?

First, keep in mind that there is not a single “right way” for orthodontic treatment to be done. Braces and Invisalign are tools used to correct a problem. Each tool has advantages and disadvantages. An accurate diagnosis is the starting place. One appliance is not inherently better than another. What is used for an individual’s correction will be based on the goals of treatment, and the patient’s lifestyle needs. Some things, however, apply to all patients, regardless of type of appliance. For example, all patients must brush and floss their teeth daily and will need to wear retainers post-treatment. Now, let’s examine some common treatment factors to consider for both braces and clear aligners.

Most orthodontic problems can be successfully treated using braces or Invisalign. Braces have been the traditional form of treatment used by orthodontists for decades, but today’s streamlined braces come in 2 basic models – stainless steel and tooth-colored ceramic. Invisalign uses clear aligners which are plastic “slip covers” for your teeth. Wearing them puts gentle pressure on the teeth, ever-so-slightly repositioning them. You will need a new aligner every 1-2 weeks (you don’t have to come to our office weekly, you receive several aligners at each visit and typically return every 6-8 weeks). Aligners are one of many technological advancements that have made orthodontic treatment less conspicuous and one of the many appliances orthodontists use to move teeth and align jaws.

Braces vs Invisalign – Some of the considerations to help you choose

Visibility – Invisalign is the more inconspicuous option, but many patients are proud of their braces and choose to show off their braces with colored elastic ties that attach the wires to the braces. Aligners are clear, thin, plastic-like trays, making them virtually invisible and allowing an individual to inconspicuously achieve a straight smile. With Invisalign, tooth colored attachments (small bumps glued to some teeth) are frequently placed on the teeth to help guide the teeth into place. Aligners are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit any lifestyle.

Removability – Invisalign uses removable aligners, but the requirement is that you wear them 20 – 22 hours / day – every day!! Because they are removable, aligners can be easily lost, damaged or become your dog’s favorite chew toy. They fall out of pockets and purses and may even get wrapped in a napkin and thrown away. If you are not a “responsible person”, braces may be a better choice. Braces remain affixed to the teeth throughout the course of treatment. On the bright side, you can’t lose your braces, unless you eat hard and sticky foods.

Comfort - There may be some initial discomfort when braces are placed or adjusted, and brackets and wires can temporarily irritate mouth tissue. Overall, the discomfort is short-lived and easily managed. Once patients become accustomed to their braces, they may even forget they have them on. Invisalign also has a “break in period” and can be uncomfortable the first few days. Removing aligners because they are uncomfortable defeats their purpose. Aligners can’t work unless they are in the mouth. Tooth movement is much like exercise…you will be sore at the beginning but once you get used to it you will not be sore.

Hygiene - Patients will need to keep teeth, gums and braces free of plaque and food debris so bacteria can’t attack tooth enamel or cause inflamed gums at all times. Food debris and plaque must be removed by frequent brushing and flossing. With Invisalign, you remove your aligners and there is less impact on your hygiene. I often suggest Invisalign for adult patients who have a history of bone loss around teeth since it will be easier to maintain their hygiene.

Diet - Those with braces must steer clear of foods that are hard, sticky, crunchy and chewy to avoid breaking a bracket or popping a wire out of the bracket. Patients should opt for water instead of carbonated drinks, flavored waters, or sports drinks – these can contain acids and sugars, and both are bad for tooth enamel. With Invisalign, you can remove your aligners when eating but you must remember to replace them (remember they must be worn for 20 -22 hours / day). It is critical to avoid drinking soft drinks, flavored waters or sports drinks of any kind with aligners in. Liquids seep into aligners and if they contain acid, sugar, or both, it can rapidly lead to staining of the teeth and extensive decay. Teeth need to be spotless when aligners are placed in the mouth.

The bottom line is that the type of appliance used in orthodontic treatment is far less important than the skill in the hands of the person who is providing the treatment. Rely on the skills of an orthodontist, who has the education, experience and expertise to evaluate diagnostic findings, and translate those into a treatment plan that will help you or your child achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.

If you would like to discuss these options, please call for a consultation – 609-730-1414 or request an appointment on line using the link at the top of our web page.