Teeth Straitening Options
Historically, braces have been the common treatment for straightening crooked teeth. Recently, invisible aligners like Invisalign have started to rise in popularity. Current advanced technology has provided the opportunity for orthodontists and their patients to choose which treatment is best for their needs and lifestyle.
Before we start our comparison, it is important to understand that your orthodontist will have to examine your teeth using digital pictures, x-rays, and 3D imaging, to know whether or not you are a candidate for braces or invisible aligners. Some people have more complex needs for straightening their teeth than others. Depending on your specific treatment goals and your own personal desires, you and your orthodontist can decide which application is best for your smile.
Braces vs. Aligners
Braces are usually made of metal and rubber bands, which tighten the teeth over time. Recently, new self-ligating braces have made straightening teeth more comfortable, and they don’t require as many visits to the office as the traditional braces do. The new braces are still made of metal, but they do not use rubber bands to tighten teeth. Instead, the brackets of the braces move along wires stretched across the teeth. You can also choose ceramic braces or lingual braces that are attached to the inside of your teeth. Lingual braces are customized and are usually more expensive. However, they all use wires and sometimes rubber bands to manipulate your teeth.
Aligners are made of clear, smooth plastic, which are inserted onto the teeth. They are pressed into place the same way you would fit a retainer onto your teeth. Due to the use of smooth plastic, the aligners are more comfortable than traditional braces.
What Is Invisalign?
Invisalign uses cutting edge technology to scan your teeth making sure their aligners fit your teeth better than other brands while maintaining comfortability. They are the world’s most advanced aligner, applying innovative materials which move your teeth 50% faster than other aligners and with more control and predictability. Also, Invisalign’s mandibular advancement feature employs precision wings that assist in moving the jaw forward gradually; a feature only available from Invisalign.
The Invisalign system works by first scanning your teeth to make a mold. Then, a series of “trays” are made, which are the aligners that snap onto your teeth with attachments. Each of these trays is molded differently and is meant to make a progressive change to your teeth. In other words, you will change trays repeatedly throughout your treatment as your teeth move until your teeth are completely straightened. Depending on the kind of treatment your orthodontist decides you need, you could change trays every day, once a week, or possibly once a month, or less often.
Invisalign isn’t the only aligner company that has proven success. Companies like Smile Direct Club and Candid have seem tremendous growth over the past few years.
Braces vs. Invisalign
Obviously, metal braces are attached to the outside of your teeth and are visible. To some, they are unsightly. Although you can now buy braces that are closer to the natural color of your teeth, some people still consider them unattractive. You can also get braces in different colors if you would like to make a creative statement while correcting your teeth. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
On the other hand, Invisalign aligners are clear plastic and are very much invisible. You wear them over your teeth. Recently, my mother and I were talking, and she said she was wearing an Invisalign aligner and had been for a few months. I was shocked! They were so clear; I had absolutely no clue. When they say they are invisible, they aren’t kidding!
Some people have said that the attachments are visible, but just barely. Others say they can’t be seen at all. The amount of attachments on each tray varies according to what is necessary for your treatment, and that could make a difference in whether they are visible or not.
Metal braces are attached to your teeth with rubber bands and/or wires. Due to the nature of the attachment of metal braces to your teeth, they cannot be removed during the process of straightening.
Invisalign aligners are much like retainers and can be removed. They are easily snapped in and out of your teeth. My mother has had a few problems popping them in when she starts wearing a new tray, but she gets used to it fairly quickly. Invisalign aligners are designed to be worn at least 20-22 hours a day, every day. The only time you are directed to take them out is when you are eating. You must be very strict about wearing them the recommended amount of time. If you don’t, you will delay your treatment.
Most of us have heard horror stories or maybe have our own experiences with the discomfort of metal braces. The metal scrapes the inside your mouth or lips, leaving painful sores. This makes metal braces less enticing, for sure.
Aside from the scrapes and sores, traditional braces hurt as your teeth move. Also, you have to visit the orthodontist often to get your braces adjusted. Every time your braces are adjusted it causes your gums to be sore for a few days afterward.
In general, Invisalign trays are meant to reduce any interference between them and the inside of your mouth. However, some people experience sharp edges on the plastic aligners, which do cause ulcers and sores. If you run into a tray that has some harsh edges, you can file them down, and that usually takes care of any problems with them rubbing on you gums or mouth.
Although it’s rare, some also say that the attachments can feel like little stones against the inside of their mouth. Most people don’t have any trouble with Invisalign, though. For instance, my mother, who had braces long ago, feels that the Invisalign aligners are much less painful than her braces were.
Like traditional braces, there are adjustments to your teeth when you change Invisalign trays. Your teeth can be a bit sensitive the day you begin wearing a new aligner. Your gums may be sore from the shift in your teeth the first day, but it usually subsides in the following days. The pain also lessens with each adjustment, so you will have less pain as you go through each adjustment tray.
Here we have some major differences between braces and Invisalign. With standard braces, you have to be careful about what you eat. You should not eat anything that is too sticky or crunchy. Foods such as popcorn, apples, or chewing gum should be avoided because they stick in the crevices around the brackets in the braces and are not easy to get out. You can use a Water Pik to help flush out some of those problem areas, but that doesn’t always get all of the food off of your teeth. Also, flossing is a vital part of oral health, and it is very hard to floss with standard braces.
I have a friend who did not abide by her orthodontist’s instructions regarding foods to stay away from. When she finally got her braces taken off, she had stains on her teeth in the shape of the brackets. That was 30 years ago, and those stains have never gone away.
Invisalign trays are removable and, in fact, it is recommended that you take them out when you eat. This is a big advantage. You can eat whatever you like. That’s always a good thing!
Other pros of Invisalign are being able to brush your teeth normally and the ability to floss your teeth. Both are tremendous benefits for keeping your mouth clean and healthy. All you have to do with the Invisalign trays are rinse them out after you take them out or before you put them back in your mouth. My mother uses a little mouthwash in hers. You should also brush your teeth before putting the aligners back into your mouth.
The cost of both metal braces and Invisalign varies depending on any dental procedures you may need ahead of time, how complicated the situation is with your teeth, whether you use a dentist or an orthodontist, and your insurance plan.
As far as traditional braces go, the braces themselves are going to be a little bit cheaper. They can range from $1,800- $5,500, not including the many office visits for adjustments and/or if the braces need to be fixed for any reason. Metal braces are usually fitted by an orthodontist. An orthodontist tends to be more costly than a dentist, due to their extensive expertise.
Though Invisalign aligners are a bit pricier than traditional braces, the price has come down over the years since they made their debut. The average cost is $5,000 and can go as high as $8,000-9,000. Some dentists are certified to apply Invisalign trays, but they may have gone through a one day training session, as opposed to a year or two of training for an orthodontist. Once again, that can make the cost of an orthodontist more expensive than a dentist.
In Person Orthodontist/Dentist Visits
If you go the route of metal braces, you will be seeing your orthodontist approximately once a month. The check-ups will be necessary to check the movement of the teeth and to make sure all brackets, wires, and rubber bands are intact and working properly. You will also need to see the orthodontist in order to get your braces adjusted from time to time.
You will need to see your dentist or orthodontist every 4-6 weeks if you use Invisalign. The doctor will check the progress of your teeth to make sure they are moving properly. You will not have to worry about visits to adjust your trays unless absolutely necessary. Your trays will already be made.
Pros of Invisalign
Invisalign treatments only take approximately 6-18 months to complete. The treatment time for braces can take up to 2 years or more.
Braces can often break from eating the wrong foods or sometimes for no reason at all. Having to make appointments to fix broken wires is no fun. Worst of all, broken wires poke and scrape the inside of your mouth, which is extremely painful, and it’s something you have to deal with until you can get to an appointment to repair them.
In addition, due to the inability to get your teeth completely clean with braces, you may develop bad breath. This, of course, will last the entire period of time you are wearing your braces.
One of the best pros of Invisalign is that it helps you maintain your diet! Many people, including my mother, say that it is such a pain to have to take out their aligner, then brush their teeth, and clean their tray, that it keeps them from snacking in between meals. Big bonus!
Pros of Braces
One of the cons of Invisalign is that is embarrassing to have to take out your tray(s) when you go out to eat or when you are having dinner with others. At the very least, it is tiresome to have to go to the restroom to take them out in those situations.
Plus, using Invisalign is a commitment. You have to bring your tray case, a kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss with you everywhere you go.
One of the other minor cons are that speaking with the aligner can be difficult at first, but you do get used to it eventually. Also, you can’t drink anything but water with Invisalign or you risk staining them and your teeth. Some people use a straw to help with that when they get tired of drinking water.
Overall, the choice between braces and Invisalign comes down to the choice your orthodontist or dentist makes about which treatment you are a candidate for and what your personal preference may be. The pros and cons of each method are fairly even depending upon your level of commitment and your lifestyle.