At one time, you had limited options if your teeth weren’t straight. You could wear metal braces or live with crooked teeth. Fortunately, these days you can choose between braces or Invisalign. Your dentist or orthodontist will know which will work best for you, but you should know the difference between the two to ask the right questions. Let’s see how the two approaches to tooth straightening differ.
Invisalign and Braces Are Made of Different Materials
Metal braces consist of brackets that fit around each tooth and wires connecting the brackets. Invisalign uses aligners that you can remove when you eat, brush your teeth, or play sports. Plus, even when you wear Invisalign, the clear plastic of the aligners is almost impossible to see. No one can easily see that you’re wearing them. That’s a plus for people who might feel self-conscious wearing metal braces.
One major downside of metal braces is they’re not removable. Once your orthodontist applies them, you have to keep them in your mouth until they’ve created your new smile. In contrast, you can take Invisalign aligners in and out. The ability to remove Invisalign aligners makes them appealing to people who don’t like having a mouthful of metal.
Invisalign Aligners Won’t Work in Every Case
In some cases, Invisalign can only slightly improve the alignment of teeth. Both braces and Invisalign are effective methods for correcting crooked teeth, but Invisalign is more limited in what it can accomplish. The aligners themselves only shift teeth slightly whereas braces can accomplish a more dramatic mouth makeover. Another example: Invisalign can’t help with severe tooth crowding while metal braces can. That’s why it’s important to talk to a trained dental professional who can help you decide as to which is right for you.
Braces May Be More Inconvenient
Metal braces make it hard to thoroughly clean and floss your teeth. Therefore, your risk of dental caries is higher while you wear them and right after they come off. If you wear braces while playing contact sports, you may also need a mouth guard. However, Invisalign aligners also increase the risk of cavities if you drink a sugary beverage while wearing them. It’s best to give up sugary drinks entirely whether you wear braces or Invisalign. Another way braces are inconvenient is you can’t remove them for special occasions, as you can Invisalign. Plus, metal braces take longer to work their magic – months to several years, while Invisalign takes between 12 and 18 months.
Another inconvenience of metal braces is that you have to visit an orthodontist monthly to tighten metal braces whereas you can switch your aligner at home. Plus, it’s not uncommon to have a hard time eating after the orthodontist tightens braces. Some people also find the bands uncomfortable. With Invisalign, there are no elastics, metal brackets, or wires.
Braces Limit Your Food Choices More
Since you can remove Invisalign aligners when you eat, you’re not restricted in the types of foods you can enjoy. You have more limitations with braces since eating hard foods can damage the metal. But, as mentioned, drinking sugary beverages with Invisalign aligners can lead to dental caries. Metal braces are also uncomfortable after the orthodontist tightens them. Aligners usually are not, although some people experience mild discomfort when switching to a new set.
If you’re limited by your bank account, metal braces may be your best choice since they cost a bit less. Plus, insurance is more likely to cover the cost of braces than Invisalign. However, more insurance companies are starting to cover Invisalign aligners too. So knowing what your insurance coverage will reimburse may guide your decision.
The Bottom Line
Braces are a more conventional approach to creating a more balanced smile. Invisalign makes correcting smile problems invisible, giving them significant appeal. However, Invisalign aligners are not a perfect product because they cannot correct all types of dental problems. Severe tooth misalignment and jaw issues may be too much for aligners to correct. There’s a place for both forms of tooth straightening in dentistry and orthodontics. You and your dental professionals can determine what’s best for you.
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- “Does Invisalign Work? Effectiveness, Studies, & Reviews.” 14 Nov. 2021, dentaly.org/en/invisalign-invisible-braces/does-invisalign-work/.