Invisalign or Braces? Which is better?
Updated: Feb 17
It’s a common question among orthodontic patients. Braces or Invisalign—which should I choose? The answer depends on several factors, like your budget, what results you want to achieve, how long you want to be in treatment, and how confident you are about your ability to care for yourself while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Here’s a thorough comparison of both options.
What is the difference?
While both orthodontic methods aim to correct crooked or gapped teeth and a bad bite, braces use metal wires and brackets that are bonded into teeth while Invisalign relies on clear aligners to gradually shift crooked teeth into their ideal position.
Pros and Cons of Invisalign vs. Braces
Invisalign is almost invisible
Some people avoid the look of traditional braces because they are afraid that it will make them less confident in certain social settings. The beauty of Invisalign is that you don't need to worry about being self-conscious when you need to talk or smile in front of others because it barely affects your appearance. The aligners are made from a clear, transparent material so they blend seamlessly with your smile. Most people won’t even notice that you’re wearing them.
…however, Invisalign may require some visible attachments
Invisalign patients will need small teeth attachments that connect to the clear aligners. Invisalign attachments are small, tooth-coloured dots that attach to teeth and aid the Invisalign aligners in moving teeth. These attachments can be seen through the clear plastic and make the Invisalign a bit more noticeable.
Invisalign allows you to see your new smile before you commit?
Have you ever wanted to know how you would look with straight teeth? Here's a hint—so much better :-) Thanks to an iTero scanner and Invisalign technology, we can scan your teeth and make a 3D model of your current smile and what it might look like after the treatment, says Dr Miechowicz. Now you can see your new, straight smile before you even commit to Invisalign.
Invisalign is more adaptable to your lifestyle
Invisalign offers greater convenience compared to braces as aligners can be removed when eating or for special occasions. This means you can enjoy your favourite food and drinks with very few restrictions.
If you wear braces, on the other hand, you’ll need to take a bit more care of what you eat and drink. Hard and sticky foods could make the archwire snap or take off a bracket, which will make your braces not work until they are fixed again. If it happens, you could have your braces for longer than expected. You must also avoid acidic drinks because they will weaken the bond between brackets and teeth.
…. But taking your Invisalign aligners in and out can be inconvenient
If you're going to eat or drink anything other than water, you'll have to take out your aligners first. This can prove difficult especially when in public spaces. Also, you’ll need to make sure to brush your teeth before putting them back in as this will reduce the risk of cavities and bad breath. This inconvenience does come with benefits though! Some of our patients stopped snacking, which led them to lose weight!
Invisalign requires discipline
Being able to remove your Invisalign aligners can sometimes be a downside. You'll want to put them back in immediately after every meal and brush to ensure you’ll wear them for a recommended 22 hours per day. Otherwise, your treatment could take longer or may not achieve the best results. It's important to know that one of the main reasons why Invisalign treatments fail is because patients don't always comply with wearing their retainer for the required time.
Invisalign is more comfortable
Whether you are getting braces or Invisalign, the process of straightening your teeth may sometimes be uncomfortable. Both treatment methods work by applying pressure to the teeth which moves them into the desired positions. It's normal to feel this sense of pressure in your mouth and it might make you mildly sore at first.
Dr Kamil Miechowicz has found that Invisalign tends to be more comfortable than braces because most patients report little or no discomfort at all. On average, he says it takes around three days for a patient to get used to Invisalign, and around three weeks for them to become accustomed to braces.
Also, Invisalign is made of a unique, highly elastic SmartTrack material to make sure it fits perfectly over your teeth. These materials reduce the risk of irritation to your gums and tongue often caused by braces that utilise metal wires and brackets.
What about the cost?
Prices for orthodontic treatment in the UK vary and are based on factors such as the severity of the issue, type of appliance, skills and experience of the provider, and more. The average cost of Invisalign (link) in our practice is £3900 while Damon Braces (link) start from £4900.
Affordable monthly payment plans and flexible financing options are available at many dental practices to help you get the treatment you need without breaking the bank. Plus, be sure to ask what is included in the price - for example, teeth whitening, composite edge bonding or retainers?
Invisalign is faster
Invisalign tends to be faster than braces. With braces, it takes an average of two years for orthodontic treatment to finish. With Invisalign, it usually takes six months to one year.
Better oral hygiene with Invisalign
Another advantage of Invisalign is that you can take out your aligners anytime when you need to brush or floss your teeth. In consequence, Invisalign patients usually have better oral hygiene. The aligners themselves are also easier to maintain. If you have braces, on the other hand, you need to take extra care of your teeth as neglecting them will lead to an overgrowth of plaque that can result in cavities and staining. This is a bit more challenging. Follow instructions from your dentist on how best to clean around the wires and brackets for good oral hygiene.
Both braces and Invisalign require retainers following completion of treatment to ensure teeth won’t move out of their new, ideal position.
Are braces more effective than Invisalign?
Both traditional braces and Invisalign are effective tools for straightening teeth and providing a beautiful smile. We used to think that Invisalign is more effective for mild to moderate spacing or crowding, while braces are recommended for more severe cases, says Dr Miechowicz.
Nowadays, with the right training and experience, most cases can be treated with Invisalign—even those that are more difficult. This means that if you are told you are not a candidate for Invisalign treatment, it is always worth getting another opinion from an experienced Invisalign provider.
However, there are some cases where I might recommend braces over Invisalign, says Dr Miechowicz. Such as for instance severe crowding or skeletal open bite, or if I think we can achieve better results using braces.
Also, Invisalign might not be appropriate for you if:
You've had certain teeth removed.
You suffer from gum disease and/or periodontal disease.
You have tooth decay that needs to be treated first.
Treatment with Damon Braces:
Treatment with Invisalign:
How to know what is best for you?
Ultimately, both braces and Invisalign can effectively align teeth, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist or orthodontist will talk through your options and advise which one they think is best for you. But the final choice will be up to you!
Invisalign and other clear aligners are very attractive options for most of our patients. However, braces may be a better solution for those who require severe correction or who don't have the self-discipline to wear an aligner 20-plus hours each day.
Start by deciding which of the advantages or disadvantages are most important to you. Get all the information that you need before making a decision. And remember - ask questions!
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Dr Kamil Miechowicz is a dentist with a special interest in Orthodontics, Cosmetic Dentistry and Facial Aesthetics. He holds a diploma in Clinical Orthodontics from the City of London Dental School. He is Platinium Invisalign Provider, certified Damon Brace, Myobrace and Azzalure (Botulinum Toxin) Provider.
Dr Kamil sees his patients at Quay Dental Care, 21-23 Dendy Rd, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 5DB. Phone 01803 527091.