Braces or Invisalign? What is best?

Braces and Invisalign are both orthodontic treatment options that are used to straighten teeth and improve the overall alignment of the teeth and jaw. While both options can be effective in achieving these goals, there are some significant differences between the two.

One of the most noticeable differences between braces and Invisalign is the appearance. Braces are made up of metal brackets and wires that are attached to the teeth and used to apply pressure to move the teeth into the desired position. These braces are typically visible and can be quite noticeable when someone is wearing them. In contrast, Invisalign uses clear, plastic aligners that are custom-made to fit over the teeth. These aligners are nearly invisible, making them a more subtle option for those who are self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth during treatment.

Another difference between the two treatment options is the level of comfort. Braces may sometimes cause mild irritation to your cheeks, as the metal brackets and wires can rub against the inside of the mouth and cause irritation. Invisalign aligners, on the other hand, are made of smooth plastic and are designed to fit comfortably over the teeth. Many people find Invisalign to be more comfortable than braces, especially when eating and speaking.

Another factor to consider when choosing between braces and Invisalign is the level of compliance required. Braces require regular adjustments from an orthodontist, however, outside of your office visits there may be little no to compliance required since the brackets and wires are fixated on your teeth working full-time. Unless elastics are used in conjunction with your braces, little compliance is needed outside of following dietary guidelines. Invisalign aligners, on the other hand, are almost entirely compliance driven and need to be replaced every 7 to 14 days, pending on what your orthodontist has prescribed for you. If the Invisalign aligners are not being worn, no tooth movement is happening. Even worse than that, during the time that the aligners our not being worn, teeth may "relapse" and move back to their original position prior to initiating treatment. That is why the patient must completely and honestly assess what their level of motivation and compliance will be prior to making their treatment decision.

Finally, the cost of treatment is an important consideration when choosing between braces and Invisalign. In general, braces are more affordable than Invisalign, although the cost will vary depending on the severity of the misalignment and the length of treatment. However, at Hood & Carr Orthodontics we want our patients to be happy and confident about whatever treatment option best suites them, therefore our office does not have a higher fee for those who choose to use Invisalign.

In summary, braces and Invisalign are both effective options for straightening teeth and improving overall dental alignment. While braces are less compliance driven and have been around for longer, Invisalign offers a more subtle and sometimes comfortable option for those who are self-conscious about their appearance during treatment. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

NOTE: The author, Dr. Graydon Carr, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Chico, California with his partner Dr. B. Scott Hood. Dr. Graydon Carr was trained at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, California, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Dr. Graydon Carr & Dr. B. Scott Hood’s are experts in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems. This blog is for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. B. Scott Hood & Dr. Graydon Carr are licensed to diagnose and treat patients in the state of California. They cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can they select treatment plans for readers. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.