Would you like to have straighter teeth and better bite alignment? Many people have been in your shoes, as perfectly aligned teeth give you the benefit of a beautifully confident smile and efficient biting and chewing, reducing the risks of cavities and gum disease at the same time.
Metal braces have traditionally been used to achieve this, but modern orthodontic treatments offer more options than ever these days – and when it comes to popular teeth-straightening treatments, it’s safe to say that Invisalign is a market leader.
Yet, many people still opt for traditional braces. So, is Invisalign better than metal braces, or not? How are they different, and which type would be best for you?
This blog helps you to understand the answers to all of these questions and more. Read on to find out how traditional braces or Invisalign can change your life, so you can decide for yourself which is the better treatment.
How are Invisalign and braces different?
Most of us are familiar with traditional metal braces. This type uses metal brackets adhered to the teeth with metal wires running through them, secured with clear or coloured rubber ties.
The diameter of the wire determines the amount of force exerted on the teeth to move them into a new position, until crooked teeth are correctly aligned. This method can be used to straighten even severely misaligned teeth, including overbites and underbites.
It does require frequent visits to an orthodontist to adjust the wires, typically every 6 weeks. This type of brace also has a reputation for being painful and unsightly, though modern alternatives can use clear or ceramic brackets that stand out less against the teeth.
On the other hand, Invisalign is a removable teeth-straightening appliance. This treatment uses custom-fitted clear aligners, kind of like transparent mouthguards that are moulded closely to your teeth, discreetly moving them into your desired position.
The process involves wearing a sequence of aligners for 20–22 hours every day, switching to a new set of aligners every 2 weeks (or as frequently as instructed by your orthodontist, according to your bespoke treatment plan). The total number of aligners you need will depend on the starting positions of your teeth.
Before deciding which option is the best for your personal case, you should consider the pros and cons of both Invisalign aligners and traditional braces.
Which is faster?
When it comes to the duration of the teeth-straightening treatment, Invisalign tends to be a bit faster. The average time for Invisalign is around 6–18 months, while traditional braces typically take 18 months to 2 years to complete the treatment.
However, Invisalign works faster as it tends to be used for more minor cosmetic corrections. Conventional braces are often used for medical reasons, correcting more complex bite problems. Invisalign could take just as long, or even longer, to correct a more severe misalignment.
In any case, the length of time it takes for each method to straighten your teeth completely can vary, because it depends on the unique state of your teeth.
While Invisalign aligners can be removed, you’ll still have to wear them almost all day, every day, for the duration of the treatment. Both Invisalign and traditional braces will also require consolidation, meaning that you’ll have to wear a retainer at night to maintain the new alignment.
Which is most effective?
Both braces and aligners are effective methods for straightening teeth and improving your smile, but their effectiveness depends on their suitability for the specific misalignment of your teeth.
Braces are a more or less universal option, as they work for both minor and complex cases. Being fixed directly to the teeth, they can exert more pressure to encourage more significant movement. This makes them the better choice for complicated orthodontic problems, like severe overcrowding or rotated teeth.
Invisalign is more suited to minor or moderate cases, such as slightly overlapping front teeth. Invisalign isn’t solely for cosmetic purposes, though, as these aligners can also correct minor crowding and gaps that affect a person’s bite. It just may not be the most efficient option for overbites and underbites.
When you arrange an initial consultation with an orthodontist, they will examine your teeth and be able to advise you on which type of straightening treatment would be most effective.
Which looks the best?
One of the main concerns people have when considering braces is how they will affect their appearance. As shallow as it may sound, someone who is already self-conscious about having crooked teeth is likely to worry about people looking at their braces – especially if they’re an adult, as braces are often associated with young teenagers.
Metal braces are obviously very visible, with chunky brackets and wires contrasting against your teeth. It’s possible to get clear ceramic brackets, but these are still noticeable, as the metal wire is still quite visible. Even lingual braces, which are fitted to the back of the teeth instead of the front, can still be spotted when talking or laughing.
There’s always going to be a clear winner when it comes to the aesthetics category, and that’s transparent Invisalign. The clue is in the name – the aligners are practically invisible. Made from a flexible clear plastic, they’re so discreet that virtually no-one will detect them while you’re wearing them up to 22 hours a day.
While younger children might prefer the fun aspect of getting to pick different colours for the rubber bands on their metal braces, older teenagers and adults are likely to prefer the most invisible option for straightening their teeth – which is Invisalign.
Which is the most comfortable?
Comfort is another significant factor in choosing the type of braces you want to wear. Straightening your teeth is always going to involve some discomfort and sensitivity, as your teeth are literally shifting in your jaw, but some options are less painful than others.
Wearing conventional metal braces is likely to be more uncomfortable, as the brackets and wires can cause irritation to the insides of your cheeks and lips. The sharp edges on the brackets can sometimes snag and cause cuts, so wearers often have to use orthodontic wax to cover them.
Metal braces can also cause discomfort while eating and speaking. Food easily gets caught in the wires and brackets, and the appliances can cause the wearer to lisp a little due to their effect on the positioning of their lips.
Invisalign is widely considered to be much more comfortable, because the aligners are completely smooth, with no lumpy brackets or thin wires to poke and scratch at the inside of your mouth. You have to remove them to eat, but they allow you to speak clearly while they’re in.
In either case, there is going to be some discomfort every time the braces are tightened or you switch to a new set of aligners, but you’ll eventually become used to it.
Which has the most dietary limitations?
Everyone knows that people who wear braces can’t eat hard, crunchy, or sticky foods. No chewing gum, no gummy sweets or hard candies, a more limited choice of fruits and vegetables, and no nuts, popcorn, or caramel. No fizzy drinks or caffeinated drinks, either, as these can stain the surface around the brackets and dissolve their bond to the teeth.
This may not be an issue if you don’t enjoy eating these types of foods anyway, but if you do, not being able to have them for up to 2 years or more can be a dealbreaker for some. You can’t remove metal braces, after all, so you won’t have a choice in the matter.
Invisalign doesn’t really have any dietary restrictions at all, because you can eat whatever you want – you just have to remember to take the aligners out, first. This is the single limitation – you can only drink plain water while wearing Invisalign aligners.
The clear aligners can be stained, warped, or damaged if you eat or drink anything else whilst leaving them in. For some, removing the aligners to eat and putting them back in (after brushing your teeth!) isn’t much of an inconvenience, but others might find it difficult to discreetly excuse themselves to remove or replace their aligners in private.
Which requires the least maintenance?
Whichever teeth-straightening apparatus you choose, you’ll have to diligently maintain a thorough oral hygiene routine. Fixed braces can be harder to keep clean, as bits of food can often get stuck in them, meaning you’ll have to brush your teeth more frequently to remove them all.
You’re also likely to need special interdental brushes to help you reach in between the wires and your teeth, and to clean right around the edges of each bracket. This process needs to be meticulous to prevent staining and tooth decay, so it could soon get tiring.
Meanwhile, you would have to take your Invisalign aligners out completely in order to clean them properly. This is also likely to require specialist equipment, including a tray or dental case to store your aligners when you take them out to eat and a solution for rinsing them before putting them back in (after brushing your teeth normally).
Invisalign does more discipline, as you have to remember to take your aligners out, clean them, and put them back in every time you want to eat (or drink something other than plain water). This can be a problem if you’re a frequent snacker or a forgetful person in general.
Which is more affordable?
It might surprise you to know that traditional braces and Invisalign actually cost around the same amount – if Invisalign prices trend a bit higher, it’s not by much. You can expect most private teeth-straightening treatments to cost between £1,500 and £7,000.
This might sound shockingly expensive, especially when children can usually get metal braces for free on the NHS, but this is high-quality and bespoke treatment at a private dental clinic.
For both Invisalign and traditional braces, the total cost of your treatment will be determined by the complexity of your misalignment. Your dentist will explain this to you when you attend a consultation to determine which treatment is right for your teeth.
At this point, they’ll also explain the available payment options, which can include dental finance. This is a form of credit that allows you to pay off your braces or Invisalign treatment in smaller instalments over several months, making these treatment plans more accessible for anyone who might want or need them.
Why choose Invisalign over regular braces?
Now you know the pros and cons of traditional braces vs Invisalign, you should be able to make an informed decision about which treatment you would prefer. Of course, this depends on the condition of your teeth, and the expert advice of your orthodontist.
Before you can choose which treatment to proceed with, you’ll need to book a consultation to find out whether you’re a viable candidate for Invisalign Warrington, or if your misalignment is complex enough to require more heavy-duty braces.
You should take everything from your lifestyle and general health to your personal budget into account, but the final choice will be up to you.