One of the first things patients ask me as an orthodontist is: ‘What is the difference between Invisalign® and traditional braces?’ Invisalign® and braces are simply different tools for an orthodontist to achieve the same end point. The majority of patient cases today can be treated with either option (there are a few exceptions, so the first step is always to have a consultation with a trained orthodontist who can help choose an option for you personally). In fact, there are 6 main benefits to being treated with Invisalign® over braces:
1) They are more esthetic
This is the main reason why people choose to be treated with Invisalign® over braces – they are as close to invisible as we can get! Invisalign® is a series of clear aligners (similar to retainers) and tooth-colored bumps placed on the teeth that we call attachments. Attachments act as handles for the aligners to move the teeth in the desired way. Don’t worry – the bumps blend in well with your teeth (most people do not notice them, but they will feel different to you for a while) and come off at the end of treatment!
2) Easier to keep your teeth clean
One of the biggest risks of orthodontic treatment is a higher risk of cavities, especially with braces, because there are more nooks and crannies where food can get caught. All orthodontic patients need to be diligent about their oral hygiene. It is particularly difficult to floss with braces as you need to learn to thread the floss underneath the wire. With Invisalign®, the patient has much easier access to brushing and flossing making it easier to keep your teeth clean!
3) Less diet restrictions
I always explain to patients that we do not use “forever glue” to place braces (brackets) on your teeth, nor would you want us to! For this reason, it is important that you avoid sticky or crunchy foods (think chips, sticky candy, pizza crust) while you are in treatment or you can break off a bracket. Attachments are harder to break off than brackets, so you do not have to avoid these problem foods as much when in Invisalign®.
4) Fewer emergency visits
If you break a bracket, it is important that you go and see your orthodontist as soon as possible to repair it or that tooth will begin to move back into its original position – in essence, you are moving backwards and making your treatment time longer. With Invisalign®, if an attachment breaks, it is not an emergency to see your orthodontist as the aligner will still keep the tooth in position. The Invisalign® attachment will be repaired at your next scheduled appointment.
5) More comfortable
When you start orthodontic treatment with braces, you can expect to be achy for the first couple of days to weeks as your cheeks and lips become adjusted to having metal in your mouth. My Invisalign® patients seem to be more comfortable at the beginning of their treatment as the aligners have a smooth outer surface that takes less time to adjust to.
6) Faster treatment times
I find similar types of cases usually finish a couple of weeks to months faster with Invisalign® than braces. This may be because Invisalign® is a truly customized appliance and there are less breakages that add time in treatment. The one time that Invisalign® is not faster than braces is when the patient is not wearing his or her aligners. Braces essentially get “glued” to your teeth so they are working 24/7. Invisalign® aligners come in and out of your mouth and must be removed to eat or drink anything besides water. The patient must wear their aligners for 22 hours a day to get the same results that they would get with braces. For this reason, Invisalign® patients must be responsible and committed to their treatment to wear their aligners the required time. It is clear I love treating patients with Invisalign, but there will always be a role for braces – I have some adult patients that know themselves well enough to know they will not wear their aligners and tell me to put braces on them!
The first step as already mentioned, is to have a consultation with a trained orthodontist to discuss your personal case. We’d be happy to schedule a complimentary visit for you at our office if you have been dreaming of a new smile!