Invisalign and wire braces serve the same purpose, correcting the alignment and spacing of your teeth.
That said, both orthodontic appliances can vary in cost, appearance, and effectiveness. For example, braces employ a metal wire that pulls your teeth in a straight line over time, while Invisalign uses a series of clear aligners to shift them into position.
To help you decide which is better, Invisalign vs. braces, our West Omaha dentists explain their differences here.
7 Differences Between Braces and Invisalign
1. Braces Are Better for Complex Corrections
In short, both Invisalign and braces are effective treatment options. However, they have different limitations for the types of issues they can fix.
Invisalign treats mild to moderate dental concerns. Braces, on the other hand, serve all types of cases, including severe misalignment. Invisalign isn’t always the best option for crowded or rotated teeth.
Invisalign Requires Discipline
Another factor in terms of effectiveness is discipline. You can’t remove braces yourself, so you have to wear them constantly.
One pro and con of Invisalign is they’re removable, which means some patients don’t comply with wearing their clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours daily. If you forget to wear your trays, your teeth can begin to shift, adding to the time Invisalign treatment takes.
Nevertheless, Invisalign and braces both take about the same amount of time.
2. Invisalign Is More Discreet
Perhaps the largest difference between Invisalign and braces is appearance.
Braces usually consist of wire attached to small, metal brackets. Invisalign aligners are made of clear plastic that is custom-fit to your mouth. The trays are virtually invisible, making them much more low-key than typical braces.
That said, some Invisalign patients may need add-ons to move their teeth more effectively. While Invisalign attachments match the color of your teeth, they can make Invisalign more noticeable – especially if they’re on your front teeth!
3. Braces Are Cheaper Than Invisalign
If cost is a concern, traditional braces are typically more affordable than Invisalign. On average, braces cost between $2,500 and $7,000 in the U.S.
The cost of Invisalign usually depends on the length of treatment and how many trays you need. Whether or not Invisalign attachments are necessary may also affect the price. In many cases, Invisalign costs anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000.
Some dental insurance plans cover the percentage of orthodontic treatment, though braces are more likely to be covered than Invisalign. Many dentist offices, like Eagle Run West Dental Group, offer flexible payment plans to help make treatment more affordable.
4. Invisalign Is Less Painful
Invisalign tends to be less painful than braces, especially at the beginning of treatment. Not only are clear aligners made of plastic, but they also apply more gentle pressure to the teeth to move them.
Additionally, braces need to be tightened every four to six weeks, creating pressure for up to 48 hours following. With Invisalign, you’ll swap out trays every one to two weeks. The aligners shift your teeth in small increments so you won’t feel as much discomfort.
5. There Are Food Limitations With Braces
If you have braces, you’ll need to steer clear of hard, chewy foods — basically anything that can stick to or damage your braces.
A few foods you may want to avoid with braces include:
Hard or chewy candy
Gum (unless it’s sugar-free)
Hard rolls, bagels, etc.
There are fewer dietary restrictions with Invisalign because they’re removable. So, while you aren't wearing Invisalign, you can eat and drink whatever you want to! That said, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything (aside from water) while wearing your trays.
6. Invisalign Is Better for Your Oral Hygiene
Keeping up with your oral health routine is crucial to both Invisalign and braces. However, the metal wires on braces might make it harder to floss your teeth. You may also have to avoid certain whitening products, which can cause discoloration.
According to studies, patients who use Invisalign have fewer cavities and fewer problems overall than those who wear braces. Some patients prefer to brush their teeth after every meal to ensure food particles don’t become lodged in their clear aligners.
7. Expect Frequent Orthodontic Visits With Braces
With braces, patients see their orthodontist for monthly tightenings and adjustments. After your braces are removed, you may be required to wear a retainer to maintain your results.
Those with Invisalign typically see their dentist or orthodontist every four to six weeks to evaluate their progress. As mentioned above, you’ll replace your aligners with a slightly different set every one to two weeks. Once treatment is complete, you might need to wear a retainer at night to minimize shifting.
Invisalign Treatment in Omaha, NE
Invisalign tends to be less noticeable and more comfortable than braces, making it a popular choice, especially for adults.
However, clear aligners are more expensive, and if you don’t wear them for 20-22 hours a day, you may not see results. Braces are also a better choice for people with complex dental concerns.