The two most common orthodontic treatments for misaligned, crooked, or rotated teeth are braces and Invisalign (or other transparent aligner systems like byte). Many people, adults especially, prefer Invisalign because it is discrete and removable. But how long it take can matter, too. While Invisalign can work faster than braces, that is not always the case. Plus, there are a lot of other important thigs to consider in the match-up between Invisalign vs. braces, such as which is more affordable, comfortable, and—most importantly—effective.
How Do Braces and Invisalign Work?
Any discussion about teeth straightening should start with a dentist. He or she can see how bad the misalignment is, and may refer the patient to an orthodontist. Dentists and orthodontists both may offer Invisalign. Patients must see an orthodontist for braces.
Braces use clear or metal brackets attached to the teeth and tightened through a series of wires and, often, rubber bands. This provides braces with a lot of power to move teeth. Monthly visits are needed to adjust and tighten the braces to shift crooked teeth into alignment. Braces can fix even the most severely crooked teeth.
Invisalign is a series of rigid-yet-flexible clear plastic trays that fit over the entire dental arch. They are created from 3D imaging of a patient’s teeth. New trays are provided every two weeks, and they gradually move the teeth into alignment. Invisalign works best for mild to moderate crookedness and crowding. More serious misalignment might be fixed with Invisalign, but it may take a lot longer than traditional braces.
Invisalign vs. Braces: Which is Faster?
How quickly either orthodontic treatment is able to align a person’s teeth is completely dependent on the severity of their dental and facial issues. The first consultation a person has with their dentist or orthodontist will provide them with an understanding of what is needed and a plan for moving forward. Invisalign is often faster than braces. Invisalign slowly aligns all of the teeth at the same time, as opposed to braces, which apply pressure on misaligned teeth. A rough estimate of the time for treatment:
- Invisalign often requires 7 to 18 months;
- Metal braces often require 20-24 months.
The more crooked the teeth, the longer Invisalign will take, which is why there is a wider timeframe than braces. It is also important to note that one of the challenges with Invisalign is the discipline it requires. Invisalign needs to be worn at least 20 hours a day to work. If this does not happen, treatment will take longer, even in cases that are not very complex.
How Much is Invisalign Compared to Braces?
The cost of either treatment varies by region and the specific dentist or orthodontist seen for treatment, as well as the complexity of the case. It is best to discuss cost before beginning any treatment.
- Invisalign costs, on average, between $3,000 and $7,000;
- Braces cost, on average, between $2,000 and $6,000.
Insurance that covers braces will almost certainly also cover Invisalign. Other options for funding treatment include using tax-deferred flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Many dental practices offer payment plans as well.
Whether choosing braces or Invisalign, this is a significant investment—especially if paying out of pocket. It is important to consider the pros and cons within each category to make the best choice overall.
Living With Invisalign or Braces
Comfort is another factor in many people’s decision-making process. Whether with Invisalign or braces, moving teeth from a crooked or turned position into alignment is going to include some discomfort.
Many patients find that braces are more uncomfortable than Invisalign. Their metal edges can be sharp enough to cut the inside of the lips or mouth. Braces also require frequent visits to the orthodontist that renew the tightness and discomfort for a couple days.
With braces, patients must avoid sticky or hard foods because they can damage the wires and brackets. And good oral hygiene is essential since food can get caught in them.
Overall, Invisalign trays are relatively comfortable. Each set of new Invisalign trays might be uncomfortable for a few days, but most patients get used to them quickly. And since they are smooth, they will not scratch or poke patients.
Invisalign patients can eat whatever they want because they remove the trays while eating. However, Invisalign must stay in for at least 20 hours a day, or they may not be effective. This level of discipline can be challenging for some patients, teenagers and adults alike.
Which Is More Effective: Braces or Invisalign?
Even though someone may prefer Invisalign because it is clear and removable, it is most important to get the treatment that will work best to fix a patient’s individual problem.
The complexity of a patient’s misalignment will determine the treatment their dentist or orthodontist recommends. Invisalign is best for mild to moderate crookedness, crowding, or gaps. Braces are better for more severe cases of all of these, as well as overbites, underbites, and crossbites.
Invisalign is not recommended for children under 12. Until a child has all of their permanent teeth, their mouth and jaw is still developing. However, in certain cases, children as young as 7 or 8 may get braces. An orthodontist or dentist will determine when a patient’s misalignment is complex enough to require braces. Even if braces are the best option, there are various types of braces to choose from that are less noticeable than the traditional metal type.
Choosing a Dentist or Orthodontist for Treatment
Whether a patient wants straighter teeth for purely aesthetic reasons or whether they’re needed to improve dental health, there are a variety of considerations. Getting problems fixed quickly is often a primary concern. However, the condition of a patient’s teeth will ultimately determine how fast either braces or Invisalign is able to correct issues. And they must not lose sight of the other factors such as cost, comfort, and how their decision could impact their lifestyle.
Finding the right dentist or orthodontist to help guide them through these decisions is also important. The first consultation will tell a patient everything they need to know, as well as answer any additional questions they may have regarding treatment. Let us match you with a highly-qualified orthodontist in your area. Book an appointment today.