A healthy smile is the key to a huge range of benefits, such as increased confidence and an overall view of your health. However, a healthy smile requires constant care and attention, which includes regular dental visits and at home oral care. Some dental problems, such as crowded teeth, overbites, or a misalignment in the jaw, require deeper interventions like braces or Invisalign.
At any given time, more than four million Americans (75% children and adolescents, 25% adults) are reported to be wearing some form of orthodontic appliance to correct misalignment conditions. There is, however, a stigma surrounding braces, especially when it comes to adolescents. Fortunately, modern orthodontics has brought us a wider range of corrective options than ever before. Today, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of braces versus Invisalign to help you decide which product is right for you.
What are Braces?
Before we discuss advanced orthodontic solutions like Invisalign, let’s take a look at how traditional braces work.
Braces are a mechanical device that’s inserted into the patient’s mouth in order to help correct dental conditions such as overcrowding, gapped teeth, or misalignment in the jaw. Most braces are constructed from either metal or ceramic components. Braces adhere to a patient’s teeth through a combination of force and the use of bonding agents.
The purpose of the brace is fairly straightforward: to straighten crooked teeth. Once installed, braces work slowly over the long term to readjust the patient’s teeth incrementally. As a result, the average length of time that a patient must wear braces is somewhere around two years, although treatment varies on a case-by-case basis. While most orthodontists recommend installing braces during a patient’s adolescence, more and more adults of all ages have begun straightening their teeth.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a more modern alternative to traditional braces. Invisalign is of course the most prominent brand name for another class of orthodontic treatment: the clear aligner. As the name implies, clear aligners are see-through, unlike braces. That means that they are much less conspicuous than their counterparts.
The process for beginning an Invisalign treatment is similar to getting braces installed; both require a trip to your dentist or orthodontist’s office. For Invisalign, the dentist will first create a three-dimensional render of the patient’s mouth. From there, the doctor will create a strategy for realigning your teeth going forward. The dentist will work with Invisalign to create an assortment of clear, plastic trays which must be worn for the duration of the day (approximately 20-22 hours).
Just like braces, using Invisalign is a slow and meticulous process. The patient must change trays periodically to ensure that the look and quality of their smile continues to progress. Unlike conventional braces, which are semi-permanently attached, Invisalign users must maintain their own compliance. Removing the aligners only to eat, brushing their teeth, and during flossing.
While both technologies ultimately aim to straighten a patient’s smile —and boost their quality of life— there are pros and cons to each solution. In the next section, we’ll compare and contrast the two different methods in order to help you select the right treatment plan for you.
The Pros and Cons of Braces
Braces have been the preferred smile correction method for years, and there’s a reason for that: they provide consistent results. There are very few orthodontic issues that braces cannot correct. In fact, traditional braces are favored when it comes to difficult oral corrections because of their versatility. From gaps, to overcrowding, to crooked teeth, braces can handle the full gamut of oral conditions with the utmost efficiency.
Like previously mentioned, wearing braces comes with a stigma. What many new patients don’t know is that there are a number of options available to suit any style or preference. Braces come in metal or ceramic, with ceramic being much less conspicuous. As an alternative, lingual braces, which fit behind the teeth, are also available.
Finally, braces are much easier to maintain than their Invisalign counterparts. Because braces are a complex, long-term system, they cannot be easily removed. Instead, they are designed to stay in even when eating and drinking. There is no hassle, nor is there a danger of losing them, like the Invisalign trays.
Braces aren’t without their own drawbacks, however. The most obvious drawback is of course the way most braces commonly look. While the finished product is well worth the wait, braces can have an undeniable impact on the patient’s self-confidence during treatment.
Additionally, braces can cause mouth discomfort over the long term due to the force they exert on a patient’s teeth and jawline.
Finally, patients who choose to wear braces may be limited in the types of food they can comfortably eat. It’s very easy to get food particles stuck in between the metal or ceramic components, so patients may have to refrain from eating certain foods.
The Pros and Cons of Invisalign
What about Invisalign treatments? What are the advantages of choosing clear aligners over braces?
The primary benefit is the way that they look. Invisalign trays have a very low profile, meaning they are not nearly as noticeable as their traditional counterparts. In turn, that can lead to increased confidence and wellbeing amongst users.
Invisalign trays are also much more tolerable than traditional braces. Because they are molded after your existing jawline, they don’t cause nicks, cuts, and other discomfort along your gums.
Additionally, clear aligners are easy to remove. Therefore, a patient won’t have the same dietary restrictions that are imposed by braces. Simply pop the tray out and eat what you want. Don’t forget to be extra diligent about brushing, however, as food particles can easily get caught in the tray if you aren’t careful.
Patient’s undergoing Invisalign treatment require less visits to the dentist and have an overall comfort wearing the clear aligners. It should be noted that you cannot eat while the tray is in your mouth. Attempting to eat with your aligners can severely damage the tray.
How to Choose the Right Orthodontic Treatment for You
In conclusion, any form of orthodontic appliance will require commitment and compliance. Invisalign is just as much of a commitment as traditional braces are. Wearing the aligner trays consistently takes dedication, including enhanced oral hygiene home care. Are you looking to achieve a straighter, healthier smile? Dr. Kate Brayman, DDS, can help. Book an appointment today to review your options.