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Breaking down the Pros and Cons of Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign

We have patients come in every day expressing an interest in straightening their teeth. Sometimes, we as clinicians are the ones who make the suggestion based on malocclusion, issues with crowding, or for more dentally necessary concerns and not so much for cosmetic reasons. While the cosmetic results are appealing to the patient, the goal of a healthier dentition is the most beneficial reason to move forward.  There are two options for orthodontic treatment, traditional brackets (either metal or clear ceramic) vs. Invisalign (aligners).

Cost, speed of treatment, appearance, and comfort will all play a part in the patient’s decision between clear aligners and traditional fixed braces. Before the patient can make an informed decision as to the best option for him/her, he/she should be made aware of the pros and cons of each option. Here at Dr. King’s Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer a free orthodontic consultation to evaluate you as a candidate and help you compare which option is best for you! Please contact us at (757) 464-6228 for your free consultation.

Trying to decide which route to take requires understanding the basics of each. Traditional brackets are cemented to the teeth. Since you cannot take them off, they are working 24 hours a day while aligners only work while they are being worn. This means that since the patient is ONLY removing them to brush/floss/eat, it is up to the patient to be compliant. Discipline to wear them 22 hours a day is expected in order to stay on track with the initial treatment time.  Below we will break out the pros and cons of each:

Pros of brackets

  • Move teeth faster because they are working 24 hours per day
  • Generally less expensive than aligners
  • Can torque teeth and accomplish things not available with aligners (such as expanding the palate, extruding teeth, and straightening severely crowded or rotated teeth)
  • Braces are stronger, so they have more force to shift teeth into the desired position
  • Compliance issues don’t exist
  • Patient selection is not limited. All patients are candidates for traditional braces 

Cons of brackets

  • More limited on what foods can be eaten
  • Homecare issues: cleaning around wires and brackets requires more time and attention
  • More frequent and longer office visits
  • For patients that are concerned about the appearance of brackets, metal brackets and wires are very noticeable 

Pros of Invisalign:

  • Can eat what you want: no food or dietary restrictions when aligners are removed.
  • Easier homecare: easier to brush and floss: the patient cleans teeth as normal when aligners are removed
  • No visible brackets so people don’t know you have braces: Clear plastic aligners are almost invisible.
  • Fewer and shorter office visits
  • Cosmetically more appealing (less noticeable)
  • Less invasive because brackets are not being cemented to the tooth
  • Less likely to have permanent damage to the enamel of the teeth due to plaque remaining on the teeth (white spot lesions) 

Cons of Invisalign

  • Move teeth more slowly
  • More limited on candidate selection (severe crowding and palatal expansion is not possible); not everybody is a good candidate for Invisalign treatment. This system is best suitable for simple to moderate non-extraction alignments which represent around 90% of cases (the most severe malocclusions will require fixed braces)
  • Compliance issues because if you aren’t wearing them 22 hrs/day, treatment will take longer
  • More discipline to stay on track
  • More limited as to how much teeth can be moved
  • No eating with aligners in
    Aligners can be lost or damaged
  • Slightly more expensive
  • Once the treatment plan has begun, if modifications are required to made from the initial plan, it will take additional time