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A Comparative Review of Braces vs Invisalign | Aligning Function and Beauty

by | Sep 18, 2017 | Orthodontics | 24 comments

The concept of orthodontics dates back further than you may think. Evidence from ancient civilisations suggests even early civilisations called upon a variety of methods to achieve straighter, healthier teeth. While the methodology of our forefathers leaves little to be desired, our modern orthodontic industry began in the 20th Century with the widespread use of braces. Throughout the last century, orthodontics swiftly evolved from crude wire cages to the elaborate mechanisms we employ today.

It seemed, up until the start of the 21st Century, braces were the only option for those who need to straighten and correct their teeth. However, the industry was transformed just before the year 2000 with the release of Invisalign. Founded in 1997, the cultural phenomenon sparked by this new treatment option began as two Stanford students with no previous experience in orthodontics created the first effective metal-free alternative.

For over a decade, Invisalign has reshaped more than millions of smiles throughout the world. It changed the face of an entire industry by offering orthodontic patients greater options when it comes to dental corrections. Although it’s relatively new and doesn’t yet have the notoriety of its counterpart, many of our patients are still unsure of its effectiveness.

As with any orthodontic treatment, what works great for your neighbour may not be your ideal option. Because of the widespread publicity and excitement about clear braces, it’s easy to automatically assume they’re far superior in function and effectiveness. Due to their similarity and differences, it’s impossible to say which may be perfect for you. Instead, comparing the features and benefits of each may help better clarify your ideal treatment option. Of course, to make a final determination, it’s essential to speak with your dentist.

The Lifestyle of Orthodontic Treatments

One of the first questions asked by orthodontic patients is how will either treatment integrate with their lifestyle. Your lifestyle, plays a direct role in determining which treatment works best for your hobbies, career and social engagements. For example, if you primarily work an office job where your days are spent hovered over a computer, traditional metal aligners are preferred. However, if after a long workday you enjoy playing sports or embarking upon an outdoor adventure on the weekends, these traditional models isn’t recommended as the metal may cause serious harm to your gums, teeth or lips should your mouth get hit.

On the other hand, if you work in a highly visible profession, such as in sales, traditional orthodontics may be unsavoury as the metal may become a distraction while you speak. In this case, clear orthodontic appliances are preferred.

Bottom Line

If you engage in manual labour, strenuous hobbies or work in a highly-visible position, Invisalign may be your best option. Otherwise, a traditional treatment may be your wisest choice.

Average Treatment Duration

orthodontic braces

Orthodontic Braces Treatment

The actual treatment duration is based upon many individualised factors, such as severity and type of dental correction needed. However, on average clear aligners are worn for six to 12 months and can be removed for up to four hours per day. Its counterpart, however, must be worn 24/7 up to several years. When you speaking with your dentist, discuss the anticipated timeframe for both treatment options. This can help determine your choice.

Bottom Line

While outcomes may be similar, each treatment option delivers significantly different treatment durations. Keep this in mind when making your decision.

Maintenance Requirements


As with anything dealing with your mouth, both orthodontic treatments require regular maintenance. But, to the surprise of many new orthodontic patients, maintenance is quick and easy. Traditional treatments are a breeze to clean, as you simply brush your teeth like normal. However, it’s important to pay special attention to wires. Make sure all food debris is thoroughly removed every day to prevent serious complications.

Clear dental aligners are, by far, the easiest to maintain. Mainly, wash out its trays each day to prevent bacteria growth. Lukewarm water and a little mouthwash typically does the trick.

Bottom Line

Maintaining both treatment options is relatively easy. However, the risk of food getting caught in wires and brackets requires a little extra attention when cleaning.

Required Adjustments

During this orthodontic treatment, you’ll get to know your dental clinic quite well. The success of a treatment is founded by regularly adjusting the tightness of the dental device. Traditional metal-and-wire aligners typically require adjustment every month. Clear aligners, however, must be switched out every two weeks.

Bottom Line

Keep in mind appointment frequency. This is especially important if you don’t have a reliable or steady method of getting to the dental clinic.

Overall Advantages

Invisalign Clear Aligners

Invisalign Clear Aligners.

It’s easy to say clear aligners are superior because of its discreetness. While they offer a rare level of flexibility during treatment, the actual advantage is determined by so many other factors. However, clear aligners do eliminate the social, professional or personal embarrassment of wearing traditional orthodontics. Moreover, clear aligners are often less painful than its metal counterpart as there’s no wire that may cut the inside of your lips. Because it’s removable, the risk of complications due to food becoming caught in your wires is non-existent.

Traditional metal aligners, while more complex in the eyes of many new patients, is best suited when correcting serious or more complicated issues. Unlike the clear aligners, this option can’t be removed, which streamlines maintenance and ensures you don’t accidentally lose them.

Bottom Line

Both treatment options have numerous advantages. While one is more discreet, the other is less likely to become lost or damaged.

The Downside of Treatments

Ultimately, the only disadvantage derived from either option is if the wrong treatment was used. Thankfully, advancements in orthodontic planning significantly reduces treatment errors and ensures the best option is used based upon your unique situation. Otherwise, the most notable drawback of traditional metal appliances is its actual construction. The wires and teeth restrictions may become uncomfortable, especially following an adjustment. Because of its structure and design, certain foods may need to be avoided.

What many consider an advantage of the clear aligner can also be its primary disadvantage. Because you must remove it before consuming any food or beverage, it’s easy to misplace or drop on the ground. Maintenance, while not extremely difficult, is much more demanding as you must wash the tray and brush your teeth each time before putting it back over your teeth.

Bottom Line

There’s no such thing as a perfect orthodontic treatment as they all feature even minor drawbacks. However, when the ideal treatment option is used, disadvantages are quickly outweighed by its benefits. Visit our post about the best invisible aligners to learn more.

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24 Comments

  1. Eva Hillary

    I had crooked teeth and I’ve always wanted a beautiful smile without the pain and anxiety so I opted for invisalign.
    It’s a bit pricey than metal braces but at least there’s no uncalled for attention to my mouth and I can indulge in a sticky, gooey snack as often as I like.

    Reply
  2. Eva Hillary

    I had crooked teeth and I’ve always wanted a beautiful smile without the pain and anxiety so I opted for invisalign.
    It’s a bit pricey than metal braces but at least there’s no uncalled for attention to my mouth and I can indulge in a sticky, gooey snack as often as I like.

    Reply
  3. Lauren Alder

    I always find myself hating my smile so over the months,
    I’ve been thinking about straightening my front and bottom teeth.
    Admittedly it’s difficult to decide between Invisalign and braces
    but I’ve seen a lot of Invisalign reviews where it takes a lot
    longer than the quoted time. My dentist also advised me that some of my rotated teeth might be
    tricky for it. So, I’m gonna go ahead with the braces.
    I just hope they don’t look too horrible and hopefully I get used to them quickly.

    Reply
  4. Lauren Alder

    I always find myself hating my smile so over the months,
    I’ve been thinking about straightening my front and bottom teeth.
    Admittedly it’s difficult to decide between Invisalign and braces
    but I’ve seen a lot of Invisalign reviews where it takes a lot
    longer than the quoted time. My dentist also advised me that some of my rotated teeth might be
    tricky for it. So, I’m gonna go ahead with the braces.
    I just hope they don’t look too horrible and hopefully I get used to them quickly.

    Reply
  5. Cody Ogden

    I’m as gap toothed as a pirate and I consider it my biggest insecurity. Having hated my teeth for years and leaving them in a state of neglect, I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and get my smile fixed. I went to see my Dentist for a consultation and she recommended invisalign. Before starting the treatment, I feel the need to read write-ups and see videos in relevance to it and I found that reading this post is very useful to prepare myself for the treatment. Thank you. Now I’m anxiously excited about it.

    Reply
  6. Cody Ogden

    I’m as gap toothed as a pirate and I consider it my biggest insecurity. Having hated my teeth for years and leaving them in a state of neglect, I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and get my smile fixed. I went to see my Dentist for a consultation and she recommended invisalign. Before starting the treatment, I feel the need to read write-ups and see videos in relevance to it and I found that reading this post is very useful to prepare myself for the treatment. Thank you. Now I’m anxiously excited about it.

    Reply
  7. Sonsinawaye Petrovich

    I have invisalign at the moment but thinking of changing to metal braces well will be if I am allowed to its just such a inconvenience when eating and dry mouth all the time because of the plastic tray in my mouth 22 hours a day it’s winter now, my lips will crisp up in the summer :0 so I wanna try get metal braces on soon as I can. It all depends on your lifestyle if you like to snack thru out the day then invisalign is not a good fit at least with traditional braces you might not be able to eat hard sticky foods but can definitely eat food thru out the day without a snack turning into a 10 minute bathroom break coz your washing out your mouth tray at work or out in public rest room is honestly so disgusting but you have to if your out and you decide to eat something even just drink something that’s not water it’s not great.

    Reply
  8. Sonsinawaye Petrovich

    I have invisalign at the moment but thinking of changing to metal braces well will be if I am allowed to its just such a inconvenience when eating and dry mouth all the time because of the plastic tray in my mouth 22 hours a day it’s winter now, my lips will crisp up in the summer :0 so I wanna try get metal braces on soon as I can. It all depends on your lifestyle if you like to snack thru out the day then invisalign is not a good fit at least with traditional braces you might not be able to eat hard sticky foods but can definitely eat food thru out the day without a snack turning into a 10 minute bathroom break coz your washing out your mouth tray at work or out in public rest room is honestly so disgusting but you have to if your out and you decide to eat something even just drink something that’s not water it’s not great.

    Reply
  9. Sophie Coote

    I have begun interviewing orthodontists in my area. Just by asking info regarding invisalign and braces. I decided I’m going to get a couple more on the internet and so I found this post and I definitely like it. Invisalign is indeed convenient but it’s still not that easy deal. However, I think I can deal with it very nicely following all the guidelines that I’ve gotten from here. I’m finally getting the smile I want!

    Reply
  10. Sophie Coote

    I have begun interviewing orthodontists in my area. Just by asking info regarding invisalign and braces. I decided I’m going to get a couple more on the internet and so I found this post and I definitely like it. Invisalign is indeed convenient but it’s still not that easy deal. However, I think I can deal with it very nicely following all the guidelines that I’ve gotten from here. I’m finally getting the smile I want!

    Reply
  11. Jesse Heales

    My teeth are misaligned, and my canines are pointing out enough to look “vampy.” People always pushed me to get braces but I’m undecided. Luckily, I have found this post and as I learned, I realized that Invisalign does offer a lot of advantages but it makes sense if it’s impossible to say which may be perfect for me. I’ll speak with my dentist real soon then. It’s about time to quit putting off the treatment. Thanks for all the useful info.

    Reply
  12. Jesse Heales

    My teeth are misaligned, and my canines are pointing out enough to look “vampy.” People always pushed me to get braces but I’m undecided. Luckily, I have found this post and as I learned, I realized that Invisalign does offer a lot of advantages but it makes sense if it’s impossible to say which may be perfect for me. I’ll speak with my dentist real soon then. It’s about time to quit putting off the treatment. Thanks for all the useful info.

    Reply
  13. Anna

    I wish I had gone with the regular ceramic braces. Invisalign looks as bad since there’s an attachment on almost every tooth that doesn’t really match your natural colour. But also it requires a lot of maintenance and broken nails 🙁 You won’t see this in the ad!

    Reply
  14. Anna

    I wish I had gone with the regular ceramic braces. Invisalign looks as bad since there’s an attachment on almost every tooth that doesn’t really match your natural colour. But also it requires a lot of maintenance and broken nails 🙁 You won’t see this in the ad!

    Reply
  15. Zoe Dunningham

    I want to invest in an orthodontic treatment to correct a bite issue and my dentist said I have the choice to make between Invisalign and traditional braces. Being an adult, a discreet solution (Invisalign) to my problem would be a good option.
    But, I realized I should go with traditional braces as the problem I’m having is more of a functional issue than a cosmetic issue. I think it’s actually a case to case basis. Better speak with your dentist to make sure.

    Reply
  16. Zoe Dunningham

    I want to invest in an orthodontic treatment to correct a bite issue and my dentist said I have the choice to make between Invisalign and traditional braces. Being an adult, a discreet solution (Invisalign) to my problem would be a good option.
    But, I realized I should go with traditional braces as the problem I’m having is more of a functional issue than a cosmetic issue. I think it’s actually a case to case basis. Better speak with your dentist to make sure.

    Reply
  17. Joshua Fielder

    I wanna have straighter teeth and I totally love the Invisalign concept. But I still can’t help but wonder if Invisalign work better than braces. From what I see here it seems that both invisalign and braces are equally good. Looking at the above benefits though, I can say invisalign is definitely better in terms of comfort and ease of treatment. Well, this post has been really useful but a consultation with my dentist can better help in determining what type of treatment might be best.

    Reply
  18. Joshua Fielder

    I wanna have straighter teeth and I totally love the Invisalign concept. But I still can’t help but wonder if Invisalign work better than braces. From what I see here it seems that both invisalign and braces are equally good. Looking at the above benefits though, I can say invisalign is definitely better in terms of comfort and ease of treatment. Well, this post has been really useful but a consultation with my dentist can better help in determining what type of treatment might be best.

    Reply
  19. Eliza Wrigley

    I’m plagued with an open bite and my dentist told me I would have to get braces to fully correct the situation. I put it off for months now because worse than crooked teeth is the thought of having a metal mouth. He then recommended Invisalign so it’s a good thing I run through this post and learned more about it. I did know its difference from braces but I was still skeptical. I wouldn’t have understand how the two treatments work if not for this post.

    Reply
  20. Eliza Wrigley

    I’m plagued with an open bite and my dentist told me I would have to get braces to fully correct the situation. I put it off for months now because worse than crooked teeth is the thought of having a metal mouth. He then recommended Invisalign so it’s a good thing I run through this post and learned more about it. I did know its difference from braces but I was still skeptical. I wouldn’t have understand how the two treatments work if not for this post.

    Reply
  21. Katie Tyrrell

    I love the Invisalign concept, but I was wondering whether it’s going to work better than braces. Looking at the above benefits I can say both are equally good. Although in terms of comfort and ease of treatment Invisalign definitely has an edge. Still not certain about my case though so I think a consultation with my dentist can help determine what type of treatment might be best for me. Thanks anyway, this helped.

    Reply
  22. Katie Tyrrell

    I love the Invisalign concept, but I was wondering whether it’s going to work better than braces. Looking at the above benefits I can say both are equally good. Although in terms of comfort and ease of treatment Invisalign definitely has an edge. Still not certain about my case though so I think a consultation with my dentist can help determine what type of treatment might be best for me. Thanks anyway, this helped.

    Reply
  23. Blake Falk

    I think Invisalign is not necessarily better. Both teeth straightening methods have their own advantages and disadvantages and the outcome from both Invisalign and braces are the same. It really comes down to what your goals are, and more importantly, what type of treatment suits you best. A consultation with a dentist can help determine what type of treatment is needed for your case.

    Reply
  24. Blake Falk

    I think Invisalign is not necessarily better. Both teeth straightening methods have their own advantages and disadvantages and the outcome from both Invisalign and braces are the same. It really comes down to what your goals are, and more importantly, what type of treatment suits you best. A consultation with a dentist can help determine what type of treatment is needed for your case.

    Reply

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