If you are looking to correct crooked or misaligned teeth, you may find yourself choosing between getting braces or Invisalign. Both products come with benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to contact your dental office to receive more information on each and make an informed decision on which product is best for you.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is the process of wearing a series of clear, removable aligners that gradually straighten your teeth. This process does not require any brackets, wires, or any other restrictions that come with wearing braces. Invisalign aligners are made of flexible plastic — specifically, a patented thermoplastic material called SmartTrack® created exclusively for Invisalign treatment. Invisalign is FDA-approved and contains no BPA, BPS, latex, or gluten.
How Does Invisalign Work?
First, you will have a consultation with an Invisalign-trained doctor where a digital treatment plan will be created that maps out the exact movements of your teeth. Next, an Invisalign clear aligner will be created to put an exact amount of force onto the right places of your teeth to fix their alignment. You will have to wear each set of aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day, changing to a new set of aligners every 1 to 2 weeks, as directed by your doctor. Each set of aligners will gently and gradually shift your teeth into place according to your treatment plan.
Depending on multiple factors, like how complex your case is and how often you wear your aligners, the length of treatment can be variable. The exact length of your treatment will be determined by your doctor depending on your specific needs. On average, Invisalign treatment time is 12 to 18 months, though you can start seeing results in a matter of weeks. You will also need to regularly visit your doctor (on average every 4-6 weeks) to see how the treatment plan is working.
- Completely removable:
- Can take them off to eat, drink, brush, and floss.
- Can take them off to just have a break from wearing them if you want, unlike braces which are fixed to your teeth.
- They are invisible to sight:
- Other people will not see the aligner in your mouth while you are wearing it.
- Typically cost the same amount as braces, and there are different payment options based on your needs.
- Invisalign aligners are comfortable to wear compared to braces.
- Invisalign treatment plans typically require fewer consultations and check-ups compared to braces.
- Need to be disciplined when using Invisalign aligners:
- Cannot be relaxed about wearing them for the required amount each day if you want to achieve results.
- Invisalign may not be able to correct complex issues with misaligned jaws or crooked teeth.
- Can lose track of your aligner, which will require getting a replacement.
- Taking your aligner in and out may be inconvenient.
What are Braces?
Dental braces are used to correct misaligned teeth and misaligned jaws. Typically they are used on children to correct their oral complications (like an overbite/underbite or misaligned teeth) early on in their life, but some people will need braces when they are in adulthood.
Most commonly, braces are made of metal brackets fixed to the front of your teeth. These brackets are held in place by archwires and elastic bands. Other kinds of braces include lingual braces which are placed on the back of the teeth rather than the front.
How Do Braces Work?
Like with Invisalign, braces put pressure onto specific areas of your teeth to realign them properly over time.
The process of receiving braces is simple. First, your teeth will be cleaned by a dental professional. Next, the brackets will be fastened to your teeth. Brackets can come in many different materials based on your preferences and needs, including plastic, ceramic, and stainless steel. Elastic bands will be used to fasten the braces to your teeth and will connect the brackets to the archwires that will keep the form of the brackets in their proper position.
A buccal tube can be used to anchor the position of your brackets to one of your molars, making it easier to adjust the pressure of the brackets and archwire.
Spacers can be used to push the jaw forward if you are having issues with jaw misalignment. Spacers are metal or rubber bands that create space at the back of your mouth.
Typically, if you need to wear braces, they will need to be worn for 1 – 4 years and will require frequent checkups with your doctor to see if they are properly treating your specific issues.
- Suitable for complex dental issues.
- Can have better, more permanent results compared to Invisalign.
- Do not need to take braces off or out frequently.
- Can sometimes lead to faster treatment times.
- They are visible, and might not be aesthetically appealing to you.
- Brushing and flossing become harder and more important.
- Food can get stuck in your braces.
- Consultations for braces are oftentimes more frequent than Invisalign.