Invisalign vs. Braces: Which is Better?

Invisalign vs Braces

Invisalign vs Braces

Both braces and Invisalign are utilized to straighten teeth and address overbite, under bite, gaps and overcrowding of teeth.  Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way and now offers an array of choices to improve your smile.  Braces and lnvisalign are two popular options.  Both have many similarities as well as important differences that can make one option more appropriate than the other. It is important that you work with a skilled dental team to determine and implement the best option for you.

Many people want to know whether Invisalign or traditional braces are the way to go for themselves or their children. The answer is that both types of treatment are good for certain situations and people.

If your teeth are very crowded or require rotation or vertical movements, braces are likely to be required because Invisalign aligners cannot treat some of these conditions. The other major differences include appearance, length of treatment, and cost. Invisalign aligners are truly invisible, while braces involve metal or tooth-colored brackets and wires. We’ll explore the pros and cons of each, but in general, there are some basic differences.

Differences between Invisalign and Braces

Here’s a chart to help you get a feel for the major differences between Invisalign and Braces:

Comparison Chart



Treatment is best for

Simple cases without crowding

More complex cases


Invisible aligners

Metal brackets and wires

Average treatment costs

About $5,000

$1,800 to $6,000

Office visits

About every 4 to 8 weeks

Every 4 weeks

Dental hygiene

Remove to eat, brush, floss

Brush and use water pick

Possible problems


Cracks, decay, sores

Invisible Appearance

In creating a confident and beautiful smile, Invisalign provides many advantages over conventional braces and other teeth straightening options. Invisalign has an edge over other methods in part because of its appearance.

To address concerns of unsightly metal protruding from one’s mouth, Invisalign® clear braces are made to be barely noticeable.

It is made of clear BPA-free plastic which makes it comfortable, smooth and invisible. It’s as though they are non-existent. People won’t notice you’re wearing it. You can smile as naturally as possible even while wearing the aligners, unlike in braces where your teeth are studded with metal brackets. To many people who want to retain a natural look when they smile, this is the better option.


Another advantage of Invisalign® braces is the comfort level compared to metal braces. The latter may cause discomfort and mouth sores caused by the metal. Unlike traditional braces, where the metal wire exposes the wearer to risk of injury and getting punctures and scratches inside the mouth, Invisalign® clear braces are made of smooth and comfortable material.

Also, many people complain about how painful wearing braces can be, making it difficult for them to eat or even speak. Wearing the invisible aligners can be uncomfortable too especially during the first few days of the treatment. But it’s less painful and a lot better than braces.

Conveniently Removable

Invisalign® is also removable, allowing flexibility for the wearer. You can remove the aligner trays anytime you want, though dentists advice that you need to wear it at least 22 hours a day for better and fast results.

Also, because the braces are removable at will, cleaning of teeth can be more thorough. Wearing metal braces makes brushing difficult, which may result to inadequate cleaning. Conventional braces are prone to promoting plaque build-up and tooth decay, but Invisalign® braces do not cause this same issue.

No Eating Restrictions

Some types of food are not advisable for people with metal braces, but since the they are allowed to temporarily remove the braces, Invisalign® wearers can enjoy virtually all types of food.  In fact, you are required to remove them when you eat, which means you can eat as comfortably as you can. Braces hurt when you eat, and there are quite a number of food restrictions. In Invisalign, there’s none.

A Shorter Time to a Better Smile

Invisalign® dental services also offer a shorter treatment time. In metal braces, people may be required to wear the metal aligners for long periods. But Invisalign® dental correction can align teeth in as little as one year. Another advantage is that Invisalign® may require fewer visits to the dentist, allowing wearers achieve a perfect smile without adding extra obligations to their already hectic schedules.

Different Preparation and Initial Process

To prepare for traditional braces your teeth should be cleaned and any existing cavities filled.  You may also need to have teeth removed in order to make room for the straightened teeth.  At your installation appointment your orthodontist or dentist will spend quite a bit of time applying bonding glue and installing the brackets, wires and elastic bands needed.  You should mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for some discomfort.  Your speech may be slightly impacted and your teeth and gums will probably be sore after the initial application.  You may also feel slightly self-conscious particularly if your braces are metal and very noticeable.

To prepare for the Invisalign process you will also spend quite a bit of time with your orthodontist or dentist.  At the first appointment your dental professional will take X-rays, molds and impressions of your teeth and mouth.  Your dental professional will take this information to create a precise treatment plan.  Invisalign will take all this information and create a custom series of trays designed to shift your teeth a little at a time using your treatment plan as a guide.

Less Maintenance

You also have to go the to dental office less frequent than in traditional braces. You just visit the dentist to get your new set of aligners since you will need to wear new ones every six weeks to suit the adjustments made by your teeth. The whole treatment process lasts around 10 to 24 months, depending on your dental problems. It is important to visit your dental professional frequently so that he or she can monitor your progress and make sure that your tray changes are timed appropriately.

Braces will need to be evaluated and possibly tightened every 6 to 8 weeks.  At every appointment your orthodontist will check your teeth and adjust them, getting you closer and closer to straight teeth.  It is important that you maintain good oral hygiene and care for your braces as directed.

Less Challenges

Because braces are metal and rely on brackets and wires there is the potential for damage to the metal structures.  You will have to be careful when eating.  You may need to limit eating hard and sticky foods such as apples, popcorn, taffy, and gum etc. If you indulge in any of these foods you may experience a broken wire or bracket, requiring an emergency trip to the dentist. Talk to your dental professional about proper maintenance and care as well as what to do if you are faced with a broken wire or bracket.

Invisalign does not typically have these issues because you will remove your aligners when it is time to eat.  Because Invisalign trays are removable, you don’t expose the trays to damage that can happen with eating.  However, you will need to brush your teeth frequently and avoid foods or beverages that can stain your trays.  If you neglect to care for your trays properly they will become discolored and stained.  If you are using stained trays, it is more obvious that you are wearing them.

Another challenge that Invisalign users face is that of consistency.  You need to wear your aligner trays for approximately 22 hours a day for them to be effective.  If you forget to put your tray back in or don’t use them as directed your treatment can be ineffective or take much longer than originally scheduled.  This can cost you additional time and money.  Because braces are more permanent, there is no opportunity for them to be removed and forgotten.

Oral Health Care

For both methods, good oral health habits are very important.  When dealing with braces, it you do not take care of your teeth you run the risk of your teeth becoming discolored and not matching the portion of the teeth that has been covered by the brackets.

Although there are effective ways on maintain proper oral hygiene when wearing braces, it’s a lot easier in invisible aligners. The aligners can be simply removed when you floss and brush. That way, you can take care of your oral hygiene better without the hassle of using brushes for braces and such.

Wearing the invisible aligners does not only straighten out the teeth to achieve a prettier smile. More importantly, it improves the health of your teeth and mouth. A good bite improves chewing and stops jaw clicking.


Braces are a very effective process in straightening teeth and correct bite issues.  They have been used since historic times and have been improved upon as the years have gone by.

While Invisalign is a newer process, it has been proven to be just as effective in straightening teeth as more traditional braces.  However, sometimes a patient’s needs are severe enough that Invisalign is not a viable option.  Consult with a dental professional to determine the best, most effective course of treatment.


There is a wide range of pricing for both systems.  Cost truly depends on your needs.  The length of time it takes to adjust your teeth, the number of office visits, the cost of customizing trays or tightening brackets all add to your final bill. Overall, braces are more affordable than Invisalign. However, if you weigh the other factors, the latter is cost-effective too, especially now that a lot of dental insurance companies cover such dental procedure or treatment. You can also make monthly payments, which makes it kind of affordable and convenient.

Discuss estimates and payment plans in advance with your dental professional.  Also be sure to research if your insurance will help pay for any of the costs.  If your insurance does not offer coverage or you do not have insurance, ask your dental professional if they offer a cash rate and/or payment plan.

Who is a Candidate for Invisalign and Braces?

Your dentist or orthodontist will help you decide which treatment is best for you, but, in general, Invisalign is best for purely aesthetic and relatively simple cases. Where the teeth are very crowded or require very complex or vertical movements, braces will usually be required.

The age and maturity of the patient is also a factor in deciding which path to follow. With braces, the patient just needs to take care to brush after every meal; the use of a water pick can help remove debris. Invisalign, on the other hand, requires the patient to commit to consistently wear the removable aligners, to remove them to eat, and to brush after every meal and after they drink anything but water.

And, of course, another major consideration for most people is appearance. While most adults prefer to have invisible aligners, many teens want to fit in with their braces-wearing peers and prefer the more traditional appearance.

How Do Braces and Invisalign Aligners Work?

Besides the differences we have already pointed out, there are some fundamental differences in the way braces and Invisalign treatments work. With braces, a dentist or orthodontist diagnoses the need for alignment and dental impressions of the teeth in their natural positions. The doctor then applies brackets to most or all of the teeth and uses wire to slowly pull the teeth into alignment.

The specific movements braces are able to make are limited by the amount and direction of pressure that can be applied, and sometimes teeth are moved into and out of alignment to enable the movement of other teeth.

With Invisalign, the orthodontist makes a diagnosis and takes a series of three-dimensional photographs of the teeth. These photos are sent to the Invisalign lab along with the doctor’s recommendations. The photos are fed into a computer program, and with the direction of the lab’s dental professionals, the computer calculates the most efficient set of movements possible to bring the teeth into ideal alignment. The computer then fabricates a full set of aligners that will be worn in succession by the patient.

The doctor will then meet with the patient to provide the aligners along with instructions on how to use them. When the patient snaps in the first aligner, it will feel tight. This is because it is already exerting pressure from both the front and the back of the teeth, and this pressure will result in a subtle movement of the teeth. The teeth move within just a few days, and the patient will continue to wear the same aligner for a full two weeks to stabilize the teeth in their new positions. Then the next aligner is worn for two weeks.

Because the aligners produce all of the movements, office visits for Invisalign treatment are usually fewer and farther between. The length and complexity of each visit are also reduced because the doctor is just checking for problems rather than making the fine adjustments required by braces.

Pros and Cons for Braces

There are different types and placements of braces now available.  They can be adhered to the front of the teeth, the back of the teeth or metal bands can be wrapped around the teeth depending on the severity of your issues and the recommendation of your dentist.  After the initial installation of braces you will probably experience tooth sensitive and tenderness.  You will want to eat soft foods and take mild pain relief medication if necessary.

For traditional metal braces, you would typically have metal braces and brackets installed with clear or colored rubber bands depending on your preference.  If you’d prefer something more subtle, sapphire or ceramic braces may be a better option for you.  These styles are closer to tooth colored and are less noticeable than metal.

Pros for Braces

  • Effective for all types of cases, including complex and vertical movements
  • Usually less expensive than Invisalign
  • Not removable, so they can’t be lost or forgotten

Cons for Braces

  • Decay or discoloration can develop around brackets
  • Can cause cracks, breaks, and sores
  • Uses metal wires and brackets, which many people consider unattractive

Pros and Cons for Invisalign

Invisalign is a much newer process used to straighten teeth.  The primary benefit to the Invisalign system is that the trays are tooth colored and barely noticeable.  Invisalign uses a series of custom made trays called aligners to gradually shift your teeth to the desired position.   You need to wear the aligner trays continually for the process to be effective.  Because this process is more gradual than traditional braces it is typically less painful and less disruptive.

Pros for Invisalign

  • Aligners are invisible
  • Movements are precise leading to quicker treatment
  • No difficulty with eating or dental hygiene

Cons for Invisalign

  • More expensive than braces
  • Not effective for complex cases or movements
  • Can easily be lost or forgotten

Overall, Invisalign® clear braces have many advantages over conventional braces. Though the cost may be a little bit higher, the appearance, convenience and comfort of Invisalign® may justify the price difference. Invisalign® is a great option if you want to improve your smile without the disadvantages of metal braces.

Choose the Right Doctor

As always, with any dental treatment or procedure, the outcome is ultimately based on the skill and experience of your practitioner.

Take the time to get recommendations from friends or family, and then read a few websites. Pay particular to the kind and quality of the doctor’s training and length of experience. And read patient reviews. Then, when you meet your doctor, discuss your concerns and ideas openly. Be aware if the doctor really hears you and provides good explanations.

And finally, reading this blog and educating yourself about what you can expect with different treatments will help you make an informed decision along with your doctor. The more you know about your teeth and their needs, the more likely you are to find the right doctor and get the outcome you’re looking for.

If you are considering using Invisalign in Mesa, AZ please stop by our office for a consultation. If you have further concerns and queries about Invisalign, feel free to reach us out. We can discuss if this treatment is best for you. We will walk you through the procedure and other things you need to know about this treatment.

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