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Mark J. Williamson, DDS

3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste. 216
San Antonio, Texas 78230

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Pros and Cons of Invisalign® vs. Braces

Orthondotics Invisalign Pros And Cons

There is one very good reason why traditional metal braces have been used by dentists an orthodontists for many years – they work! But another tooth-straightening method has gained increased popularity over the past few years: Invisalign® clear plastic aligners. This remarkable technology allows dental patients to enjoy all the benefits of a straighter, more beautiful smile without wearing conventional metal braces for an extended period of time. Still, metal braces remain as an effective option as well. If you’re trying to weigh the pros and cons of Invisalign® vs. braces, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we examine the advantages and disadvantages of both tooth-straightening methods.

Basic Information about Each Method

While both conventional braces and Invisalign® are effective ways to straighten teeth, that’s where the similarities end. These two treatment methods work very differently. Traditional metal braces consist of metal brackets that are attached to the patients’ teeth and connected by metal wires and rubber bands. Gradually, over a period of many months and after repeated adjustments made periodically by the dentist or orthodontist, the braces effectively straighten even the most crooked smile. Invisalign®, on the other hand, utilizes clear plastic aligner trays that are custom-made for each individual. Created from 3D scans and photographs of the patient’s mouth, these aligner trays gradually straighten teeth over a period of several months. The patient is fitted with the first set of trays, then every two or three weeks they are provided a new set of trays as their teeth begin to move into their new, straighter positions.

Pros and Cons of Invisalign®

Although metal braces work well for virtually all patients, Invisalign® can be equally effective for some people. Here are some of the pros and cons of this relativity new tooth-straightening method:

Pros

  • Invisalign® is virtually invisible to other people. Unlike metal braces, which are very obvious, the clear plastic aligner trays used in the Invisalign® treatment method are nearly impossible for anyone else to see.
  • Invisalign® aligners are removable. Although the aligners need to be worn at least 22 hours a day in order to work, patients can remove their trays to eat meals and brush and floss their teeth. Metal braces, on the other hand, can only be removed by the dentist or orthodontist.
  • Invisalign® requires fewer trips to the dentist or orthodontist. Patients wearing metal braces need to visit their oral health care provider every few weeks to have the devices tightened. But patients wearing Invisalign® aligners can switch out their own new set of trays when the time is right and only need to visit the dentist or orthodontist periodically.
  • Invisalign® aligners are comfortable to wear. Unlike metal braces, which can injure the soft tissue inside the patient’s mouth and generally be uncomfortable to wear, the clear plastic aligner trays that come with the Invisalign® method are relatively pain-free.
  • Invisalign® usually takes less time than braces. In fact, many patients can complete the Invisalign® treatment method in a timeframe ranging from 9 to 18 months, as opposed to braces which typically take between 12 months and 2 years or even longer.

Cons

  • Invisalign® requires a certain amount of discipline on the part of the wearer. Because the aligner trays can be removed by the patient, the individual needs to be sure to actually wear the trays for the recommended number of hours each day.
  • Invisalign® aligners can be inconvenient to remove. Although being able to remove the trays may be an advantage in many ways, there are often circumstances that make it inconvenient to do so – like eating out at a restaurant or a public gathering, for example.
  • Invisalign® aligners are somewhat more expensive than traditional metal braces, although exact costs vary depending on a variety of factors.
  • Invisalign® is not the best choice for everyone. The plastic aligners are effective for people with mild to moderately crooked teeth. But if your teeth are extremely crooked, you may need traditional metal braces to resolve those problems.

Pros and Cons of Braces

Traditional metal braces are considered the tried-and-true method for straightening teeth, although they do have some downsides. What follows are the advantages and disadvantages of this more conventional orthodontic treatment method.

Pros

  • Braces can correct even the most severely crooked smile, as opposed to plastic aligners that only work for mild to moderate issues.
  • Braces come in several different types, such as lingual braces (those that are applied to the back of each tooth) and ceramic braces (with brackets and wires that are tooth-colored).
  • Braces are usually less expensive, and most dental insurance policies cover at least a portion of the cost.
  • Braces can only be removed by a dentist or orthodontist. This can be an advantage if the patient is young and more likely to not wear clear plastic aligners for the recommended time each day.

Cons

  • Braces are obvious to other people, and can make the patient feel self-conscious about their appearance.
  • Braces make it difficult to brush and floss teeth adequately. Patients must closely follow the instructions provided by the dentist or orthodontist in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums during the course of their treatment period.
  • Braces come with some dietary restrictions. Patients need to stay away from foods that are too hard or sticky, for example.
  • Braces can be very uncomfortable to wear. Not only does the periodic tightening apply some pressure on the patient’s teeth; the sharp edges on the metal parts of the appliance can injure the soft tissues of the mouth.

We are fortunate to live in a time when dental patients have so many excellent treatments from which to choose. It wasn’t long ago when the only way to straighten teeth involved wearing conventional braces for an extended period of time. But now, there are other options. The good news is that both Invisalign® and traditional metal braces are effective ways to straighten teeth. It’s just a matter of deciding which one is the best choice for you. For more information about the pros and cons of Invisalign® vs. braces, contact your dentist or orthodontist today and schedule an appointment.