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Invisalign or Braces:  What are the Pros and Cons?

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Invisalign or Braces: What are the Pros and Cons?

Choosing between getting treatment with either braces or Invisalign is a decision that has to be based on a detailed discussion with your dentist.

It involves many considerations such as:

  • the nature of the condition to be treated,
  • your lifestyle,
  • budget
Let’s compare the two methods

How does it work?

Invisalign is a series of clear removable plastic appliances called aligners that progressively straighten your teeth.

The aligners need to be changed to new ones every week or two.

The aligners need to be diligently worn in the prescribed manner for them to work properly.  The general recommendation is 22 hours a day. i.e remove them only for eating and cleaning.

Braces use brackets fixed to each tooth, Special archwires set into the brackets gradually straighten your teeth.

The wires need to be adjusted every month or so by the dentist

How do they look?

Invisalign is made of clear material so they are not noticeable at a social distance.

They can be thought of as “contact lenses for the teeth”

Braces are most commonly in metal. They can be dressed up with coloured elastics – just for fun! Braces can also be in ceramic which makes treatment much less conspicuous.

Are they removable?

Invisalign can be removed.  It is crucial to wear the removable aligners according to instructions. This is key to the success of treatment.

Braces are fixed to your teeth. You cannot remove it.

Will I feel discomfort?

Both methods involve guiding teeth through your jawbone into the correct position.  Some pressure has to be applied to move the teeth. In both cases, the pressure is most apparent in the early part of treatment; and to a lesser extent whenever the appliance is changed or adjusted.

With braces, initially, there may be some rubbing of the brackets or wires against the cheeks and lips. You will be shown how to manage this if it does occur.

Will I be able to eat normally?

With Invisalign, the clear aligners can be removed and kept carefully in its box.  You can then eat whatever you want. After eating, clean your teeth and wear your aligners again.

As you do need to remove the aligners each time you eat, you may find that you will avoid snacking!  Remember that the aligners only work when you wear them correctly.

You can drink plain water with the aligners on your teeth.

However, avoid drinking any tea, coffee, sugary drinks, juice etc as these drinks can cause

  • discolouration of the clear aligners
  • the sugars and acids can collect under the aligner causing both tooth decay and gum disease.

You can eat most food with braces on. It is good to avoid cracking ice or hard nuts or candy like peanut brittle as this may cause breakage of the brackets or dislodgement of the wires. Most people have no problems eating what they want!

How do I clean my teeth?

Invisalign aligners can be removed so brushing and flossing can be done in the usual way. Remember to put back your aligners after cleaning. Always remember that Invisalign only works when you wear them.

Here is a video showing how to wear and maintain your aligners How to take care of your Invisalign

Braces cannot be removed. You will be taught how to brush your teeth with the braces on. 

It may take more time, but it is not difficult.

Braces are brushed just like your natural teeth

Do rubber-bands or other accessories need to be used?           

Yes, both methods may require them, depending on treatment requirements

This person is wearing Invisalign clear aligners with elastics at the side

Are visits to the dentist still needed during treatment?   

With Invisalign treatment, after the initial part of treatment, visits may be a less frequent but still necessary to monitor treatment   

For treatment with braces, regular visits are needed to adjust the braces and monitor treatment.

If any parts of the appliance break or dislodge, visits to the dentist must be made as soon as possible to replace the broken parts.

Can it be used for all kinds of problems?   

Not all problems can be treated equally efficiently with the two methods. For example, if extractions are needed to align the teeth, it may be more efficiently done with braces.

Other problems that relate to jaw relationships may require more than just braces or Invisalign.

Can Invisalign and Braces be combined in treatment?

Yes, they can be combined.

Can Invisalign be used for all ages – kids and adults?

Yes, both Invisalign and braces can be used for kids as well as adults. Age is not an issue.

The most important aspect of treatment would be the compliance or discipline to wear the removable aligners in the prescribed manner.

Is there a price difference between treatment with Invisalign and braces?

Invisalign is a premium innovative product. It does cost more than braces.

Invisalign clear aligner treatment appeals to those who want to have a discrete appliance and are committed to following the prescribed hours of wear.

Are there other clear aligner brands available?

Invisalign is the first commercially available aligners.

When Invisalign’s patent expired, there have been many similar products, of varying quality.

However Invisalign is supported by much research, development, and clinical practice.  According to the company more than 5 million patients have been treated with Invisalign.

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