Let’s end the confusion between Invisalign and clear braces now – they are two options that treat different issues depending on the type and severity of the case. Here are eight differences between Invisalign and clear braces that can help you determine which is right for you.
The confusion is understandable. If you Google search “clear braces”, it’s likely that Invisalign will pop up at the top of the list. A likely assumption is that clear braces and Invisalign are the same, but they’re not. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Invisalign and Clear Braces Defined
Invisalign: Invisalign is a treatment option that relies on transparent, retainer-like aligners to shift teeth into place. You wear the aligners for no less than 22 hours per day, changing them every two weeks to a new pair that will continue shifting your teeth. The treatment typically takes nine months to a year.
You begin by setting up a consultation with a dentist or orthodontist that supports Invisalign to determine if you are a good candidate for the treatment. If you are a good candidate and you decide to go for it, Invisalign will send your doctor your first set of aligners.
Clear (ceramic) braces: Clear braces are also known as ceramic braces due to the ceramic material used to create the brackets. The ceramic material can made to be either transparent or to match the color of the your teeth, camouflaging them.
They are essentially the same as metal braces in how treatment works: The brackets are bonded to the your teeth and then connected by an arch wire that puts pressure on the teeth, guiding them towards proper alignment. Then, like metal braces, you get them adjusted roughly every four weeks.
Differences Between Invisalign and Clear Braces
Invisalign and clear braces are similar in that they are much more difficult to detect than metal braces. Many people want to fix their teeth, but don’t want to look like they’re in high school again. Both treatments can provide a solution.
But while the two treatments have the same mission, there are stark differences between them.
1. Invisalign is more transparent: One of patients’ favorite things about Invisalign is its virtual transparency. Most people don’t even notice someone is wearing Invisalign until they are told.
While clear braces blend into the patient’s teeth, the brackets are more noticeable than Invisalign’s transparent retainer.
2. Invisalign can be removed: A big problem with ceramic braces is that they make brushing and flossing teeth difficult, as well as eating. Invisalign can be easily removed for both of these necessities, keeping your mouth healthy throughout the entire treatment process.
However, this does result in one downside of Invisalign – it takes discipline. You must remove the aligner trays when you are eating or drinking (except water). Other than that, as well as brushing and flossing, the aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours per day.
3. Clear braces take fewer adjustments: For Invisalign, trays must be changed every two weeks, compared to four weeks for adjustments with ceramic braces. This can mean more frequent trips to the dentist.
However, some carriers, like Dentistry for Madison, will give you three sets of aligners per visit, so you only have to come in to pick them up once every six weeks.
4. Clear braces can treat more extensive cases: Invisalign has been developed to treat a wide variety of cases, provided they aren’t extremely severe. Here are the common cases that Invisalign can treat:
- Crowded (crooked) teeth
- Gapped teeth
- Overbite, underbite and open bite
The only difference between metal and ceramic braces is the material used for the bonding brackets. Therefore, they can treat many of the same cases, including more severe cases, that Invisalign cannot handle. Here are some additional issues that clear braces can treat:
- Very crooked teeth
- Various other flaws of teeth and the jaw
5. Clear braces are a little brittle: Ceramic is a slightly brittle material, making them more susceptible to chipping or breaking. Still, most orthodontists maintain it takes a large amount of force for them to break.
6. Clear braces can irritate soft tissue: While you should eventually get used to the feeling, ceramic brackets can feel rough. This can cause irritation to the lips and cheeks.
7. Clear braces can’t always fix bottom teeth: The ceramic material is actually harder than tooth enamel. That means if your top teeth rub against the braces on your bottom teeth, it can wear them down.
8. Clear braces can stain your teeth: The ceramic brackets do not stain your teeth. However, especially if you’re a smoker, drink a lot of coffee or eat a lot of curry, the clear elastic wires holding the brackets together will stain them.
Invisalign and clear ceramic braces are both good options for someone who wants to correct their teeth inconspicuously. Still, there are stark differences between the two treatments and, depending on your case, one may be more appropriate than the other.
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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