Invisalign versus Braces

Traditional metal braces and Invisalign are two treatment options that many patients turn to in order to restore a healthy-looking smile.  If you or a loved one are seeking ways to get straighter teeth, you likely have questions about which is the most effective and affordable treatment option.  Afterall, you want to choose the treatment option that is most effective so that you do not have to have your teeth fixed again in the future.  So which option is the better choice for patients?  Both are designed to improve your smile and oral health so understanding the differences between the two options is important.

Using metal brackets that are glued to your teeth and linked together with wires and small rubber bands, braces have been used for many decades to help patients get straighter teeth.  If a patient wants to make a fashion statement with their mouth, they can get color brackets but if a more discrete option is desired, brackets can be used that more closely match the color of the natural tooth enamel.  Treatment duration varies based on a patient’s needs but averages about two years and can cost between $1,800 and $5,500.  Patients will likely need follow up visits with the dentist about every month to ensure proper positioning and once treatment is complete, the use of a positioner or retainer will likely be needed.

Invisalign is a more modern treatment option that was developed roughly 20 years ago as an alternative to metal braces.  Using a series of clear, removable plastic aligners, Invisalign is virtually invisible and could be preferable for patients concerned with appearance during treatment.  As with metal braces, treatment duration with Invisalign varies patient-to-patient but is generally in the range of 6 to 18 months.  Aligners are changed roughly every two weeks until the teeth are in their desired position and the cost for the system averages around $5,000.  As is the case with metal braces, checkup visits with the dentist are needed but are not as frequently with Invisalign (roughly every four to six weeks).  Similar to metal braces, patients will likely need a retainer after completing the Invisalign treatment.

Clearly, both treatment options have their pros and cons.  One of the more common complaints with metal braces is that they can impact eating habits.  Patients often find that the design of metal braces makes eating certain foods difficult and can lead to food getting stuck in the brace structures.  Because Invisalign aligners are removable, patients can continue to eat the foods they love without worrying about food betting caught.

The removability feature is somewhat of a double-edged sword though.  While eating and cleaning may be easier with Invisalign, the fact they are removable can lead to some patients forgetting to put them back in which would impact the effectiveness.  Metal braces can only be removed by the dentist, so patients do not need the self-discipline required to ensure they stay in for the duration of the treatment.

A final discussion point centers around the long-term efficacy of the treatments.  Metal braces have been around significantly longer than Invisalign and their effectiveness has been proven time and time again.  Because Invisalign has only been used for about 20 years, and is largely reliant on the patient using them as directed (leaving them in), there is not significant data to compare their effectiveness compared to braces.  As such, patients should discuss both treatment options with their dentist to determine which course of action will best address their needs and lifestyle.

More information on Invisalign : Invisalign Reviews