Does Invisalign Work Better Than Braces?

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People who want straighter teeth love the Invisalign concept, but have one big question: Does Invisalign work better than braces?  The answer is that one doesn’t work better than the other, they simply work differently. The key is to figure out which solution works best for you.

To understand the differences between metal braces and Invisalign, we first need to understand how the two treatments work.

  • Invisalign: Invisalign is a treatment option that relies on transparent, retainer-like aligners to shift teeth into place. The patient wears them for no less than 22 hours per day, changing them every two weeks to a new pair that will continue shifting their teeth. Typical treatment time for invisalign takes nine months to a year.
  • Metal braces: Metal braces rely on brackets that are bonded to the patient’s teeth and then connected by an arch wire, which puts pressure on the teeth. Every four weeks, the patient’s orthodontist will tighten or adjust the brackets, which over time shifts the teeth into proper alignment.

Five Questions to Help You Decide: Invisalign or Braces

In many cases, Invisalign and Braces are both viable treatment options. But while the two treatments have the same mission, there are stark differences between them. The following five questions can help you further understand the differences between the treatments, and decide which is best for you.

1. How extensive is your case? In terms of which treatment is more effective, severity of the case is the number one determinant.

Let’s begin with simple to moderately severe cases. In general, Invisalign and metal braces can be equally as effectively. Most of these conditions include:

  • Crowded (crooked) teeth
  • Gapped teeth
  • Overbite, underbite and open bite

However, once we get into more severe cases, Invisalign simply lacks the necessary components for proper treatment. That’s because metal braces can incorporate more bands and wires that specialize in shifting the jawline and rotating teeth. Here are some of the more severe cases that only metal braces can tackle:

  • Crossbites
  • Malocclusions
  • Very crooked teeth
  • Various other flaws of teeth and the jaw

Considering this, if your case is extremely severe, metal braces are probably the way to go. Still, the only way to know if Invisalign can or cannot treat your condition is to set up a consultation with a dentist or orthodontist that supports Invisalign. Only they can say for sure if your case is too severe for Invisalign.

But what happens if you are an approved Invisalign candidate? At that point, is one treatment option more effective than the other?

More effective? Not really. Better? That depends on your personal preferences. The following questions can help you determine, based on individual concerns, whether metal braces or Invisalign is a better option for you.

2. Do you care if people know you’re wearing braces?

If you want to hide your braces, Invisalign might be a better option

One of our patients’ favorite things about Invisalign is its virtual transparency. Most people don’t even notice someone is wearing Invisalign until they are told.

Metal braces, on the other hand, are quite bulky and noticeable. For younger folks, this isn’t always an issue. However, older kids and adults often hate the idea of everybody knowing they are wearing braces.

3. Is teeth cleanliness important to you? A big problem with metal braces is that they make it difficult to clean your teeth. With wires running across your teeth, it’s nearly impossible to floss and difficult for toothbrush bristles to reach certain areas.

Contrarily, you can easily remove Invisalign for both of these necessities, keeping your mouth healthy throughout the entire treatment process.

However, this does present one possible downside of Invisalign – it takes discipline. In order for Invisalign to work, the aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours per day. Besides removing your aligners for eating or cleaning your teeth, the aligners must remain in your mouth.

4. How often do you want to visit the dentist or orthodontist? With Invisalign, you must renew your trays every two weeks, compared to four weeks for adjustments with metal braces. This can result in more frequent trips to the dentist.

However, some carriers, like Dentistry for Madison, make Invisalign simpler. We give you three sets of aligners per visit, so you only have to come in to pick them up once every six weeks.

5. Do you want to prevent stained teeth? This question once again goes back to the removability of Invisalign. Because Invisalign can be removed for eating food and cleaning teeth, it is easy to prevent gunk from building up on your teeth, which would otherwise create stains.

Metal braces, on the other hand, have a tendency to trap food within their wires, which can cause staining. There are measures you can take to avoid stained teeth, including avoiding foods that commonly lead to staining, such as coffee, tobacco, tea and red wine. However, in some cases, staining is simply unavoidable.

When it comes down to it, Invisalign and braces can treat a lot of the same cases, so long as it’s not overly severe. Which one is right for you depends on your personal preferences. Think hard about these questions to decide on the most appropriate treatment for you.

A consultation with a dentist can help determine what type of treatment might be best.  Dr. Jay Hazen at Dentistry For Madison offers free consultations to help determine appropriate treatment for new and existing patients. 

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