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Invisalign vs. Braces

The decision to change your smile is a big one, so it’s important to weigh your options when it comes to your orthodontic treatment. 

The two most common teeth-aligning treatments are traditional metal braces and Invisalign. In most cases, the treatment time and cost of these two options are relatively similar. Most of the time, the choice between Invisalign and metal braces comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. In some more complicated straightening cases, however, metal braces may be the only option. So what are the differences?

Differences Between Invisalign and Braces

Invisalign is a series of clear, custom-fitted, removable plastic aligners that fit over your  teeth like a thin, close-fitting mouth guard. These aligners are engineered to move your teeth incrementally to their desired positions over time. Aligners are often referred to as “invisible braces,” and they generally follow these guidelines: 

    • Each aligner is typically worn for one to two weeks, then replaced by the next aligner in the series
    • Most patients need temporary tooth-colored bumps or “attachments” placed on their teeth that help the aligners move the teeth properly
    • Recommended daily wear time is approximately 20 hours per day
    • The total number of aligners in your series depends on your particular orthodontic correction plan
    • Aligners are removed for eating, certain sports, and instrument playing

Key Points

    • The two most common teeth-aligning treatments are traditional metal braces and Invisalign.
    • Treatment time and cost for Invisalign and metal braces are typically the same.
    • There are some straightening conditions that can only be addressed with metal braces.
    • Invisalign aligners are removed for flossing, brushing and eating.
    • Metal braces limits food selection
    • Metal braces requires more visits to the orthodontist

Traditional braces, on the other hand, are affixed to your teeth for the duration of your treatment. They’re made from surgical-grade stainless steel and are much more comfortable than they were a generation ago. You have lots of color options for the brackets and the rubber bands so you can show off your style while creating your dream smile. With metal braces, you need to visit your orthodontist more often than with Invisalign (monthly or every other month) to for bracket adjustments. 

One drawback of traditional braces is that you have to be careful with the foods you eat while wearing them. 

Foods to avoid with metal braces:

    • Chewy foods — bagels, pizza crust, licorice
    • Crunchy foods — popcorn, raw carrots, ice, hard candy
    • Sticky foods — caramel, taffy, chewing gum
    • Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, ribs

Invisalign offers more freedom when it comes to eating. Aligners are designed to be removed for meals and snacks. Of course, this means that you have to be careful not to accidentally throw out your aligner on your lunch tray at school or lose it on a kitchen countertop. 

Invisalign also makes maintaining good dental health easier because the aligners are removable for flossing and brushing. Brushing and flossing with metal braces is more difficult because you have to work around them. Less access to your gums and between your teeth can lead to stains on your teeth as well as plaque buildup, gingivitis, and other dental concerns. 

Invisalign can also be more comfortable overall because there are no metal wires or brackets to press against the inside of your cheeks.

Invisalign vs. Braces: Which is Faster?

The total treatment time required for metal braces and Invisalign is typically the same. Of course, the exact length of time needed for either treatment is dependent on the particular dental issues that are being corrected. 

In most cases, treatments for both metal braces and Invisalign last from 12–18 months.  Typically wearers start to see results in the first three months. If, however, you are inconsistent with wearing the aligners or forget to switch to the next aligner in your sequence as directed, Invisalign can take much longer than initially planned. 

Adult Invisalign treatments often progress more quickly than teen treatments as teens may have more lifestyle issues such as playing a sport or an instrument or more frequent eating that can reduce the amount of time aligners are worn each day. But, if you’ve been dreaming of straightening your teeth for a while, you will be highly motivated to wear your aligners as prescribed. Doing so is the key to getting results in the designated time frame. 

Invisalign vs. Braces Cost

Individual insurance policies are different and coverage will vary. Without insurance, Invisalign and traditional braces will cost, on average, anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000. The easiest way to learn how much your straightening choice will cost with your insurance is to start by speaking to your orthodontist’s office’s benefits manager. 

The benefits manager will give you a clear picture of your out-of-pocket costs and discuss with you payment plan options that can complement your individual insurance coverage. 

Braces or Invisalign? Which Should You Choose?

When it comes to deciding how to straighten your teeth, start with a consult with an experienced orthodontist. The particular needs of your unique mouth and your lifestyle may guide your choice for straightening with expert advice of the orthodontist. Your orthodontist will guide you and answer all your questions so that you can make the personal choice that is right for you.  At Walton & Maready, we offer a free consultation, including x-rays so that you know exactly what is needed.

Do NOT be tempted to use mail-order aligners. Those services are not a substitute for orthodontic care. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recently issued a consumer alert cautioning against the use of mail-order aligner services. Straightening teeth is a medical procedure that requires the oversight of an experienced orthodontist. 

Regardless of your teeth straightening choice, know that both Invisalign and metal braces under the care of an experienced orthodontist and while following your prescribed plan, will result in a beautiful, healthy smile. 

If you’re ready to explore your orthodontic treatment options, contact Walton & Maready Orthodontics for a free consultation in Raleigh, North Carolina, today!  Get the smile of your dreams with experienced, medically-trained orthodontists. Your teeth and your healthy smile will thank you!

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