Braces or Invisalign
For decades, and ever since its invention, dental braces have been an essential dental appliance in the hands of dentists and orthodontists. It can treat a wide range of malocclusions and teeth misalignment conditions. They are efficient and have a very high success rate in treating patients with various teeth conditions.
But wearing dental braces has its drawbacks. The very nature of dental braces also contributes to the reluctance of most people to undergo treatment and wear them. Before, many people did not qualify for dental braces, owing to age and health conditions.
Experts and specialists try to develop alternatives to dental braces, short of surgery for genuinely severe misalignment conditions and retainers for very mild ones. Early in the century, there was a breakthrough threatening to break the stranglehold of dental braces in providing a solution to malocclusions.
Let us look at dental braces and its leading challenger, Invisalign. Let us see whether Invisalign can be a genuine alternative for traditional braces. Let us look at their advantages and disadvantages and the pros and cons of using them. Then compare which among the two is better.
But first, what are dental braces?
Dental braces are dental appliances used to improve overall teeth condition. Patients wear them to treat misalignment conditions. The goal is to straighten the teeth, to make them aligned. Straight and aligned teeth lead to a lovely smile, but more significantly, it corrects the teeth condition that could lead to other problems.
Teeth misalignment can lead to various complications. Among them are further deterioration of your teeth or misalignment in the jaw. Those conditions, in turn, could lead to severe health problems. Deterioration of oral health, in general, could lead to severe ailments that may affect the brain and heart.
Dental braces can reverse the deterioration and correct malocclusions or teeth misalignment conditions. They can make the teeth move in a specific direction by applying the needed pressure, allowing movement at the right speed.
The movement will start a physiological process that eventually leads to a patient having straight and aligned teeth. The treatment would end once the goal of having this would be achieved, but the possibility of relapse or teeth reverting to their old position remains. One may need to wear retainers or continue with some form of treatment to prevent this.
For the longest time, typical braces, that is, traditional braces, are the most common available dental appliance for treating teeth misalignment conditions. Later variations, such as ceramic braces and lingual braces, improved on the techniques of the typical, standard braces.
It gives the patient more options, for the two other types of braces offer added advantages not present in traditional metal braces. The improvements are more on questions of the dental braces being more fashionable. One of the end goals of dental braces is to have a lovely smile. Why not have it now as you wear it?
Invisalign is a particular type of brace but unique and distinct from traditional, ceramic, and lingual braces. They differ in form, material, and substance. But the way they treat the teeth misalignment conditions and malocclusions are very much the same. The same thing with the underlying science.
In comparing braces with Invisalign, when we mention braces, we mean the traditional, ceramic, and lingual braces. Invisalign is a type of brace too and belongs to the class known as clear or invisible aligners. But there is a significant difference between Invisalign and other providers of invisible aligners.
In comparing Invisalign with braces, we are only talking of Invisalign and not of invisible aligners in general.
All about braces
Braces are the most recognizable of all dental appliances unless, of course, you are wearing lingual braces. Everybody notices those shining metals on your teeth. If you are wearing ceramic braces the dental appliance could give your teeth a differing, colorful look.
Whatever the case may be, it is unmistakable when one wears braces.
Material and composition
Braces are of metal or ceramics mostly. They have several interconnected parts which function as a whole. All help in the goal of moving the teeth in increments towards a specific direction. All components must work in unison, and malfunction in some could severely affect the effectiveness of the treatment.
Braces have several components, brackets, arch wires, ligature elastics, and bonding material. The brackets are the small squares you see when a person in braces smiles.
Arch wires are those thin wires attached to all the brackets in the teeth. The ligature elastics link the brackets to the arch wires. The bonding material attaches the brackets to the teeth.
Brackets are of metal, most of the time, stainless steel. In the case of ceramic braces, however, brackets are made of ceramics. Specialists can also use other materials, such as gold, for brackets.
There is a wide disparity concerning the prices of braces owing to the difference in the level of skill or material used. The price of typical braces ranges from $3000 to $7000 but could go as low as $1600. The difference in prices may also be due to the significant number of dental offices and orthodontists making them.
Ceramic braces, which use different material for brackets, cost more than typical braces, around $1,000. Lingual braces are the most expensive due to the inherent difficulty of installing them and the high level of expertise needed to make and install them. The price of lingual braces hovers from $5000 to as high as $13000.
There is a significant disparity between traditional, ceramic, and lingual braces. For traditional braces, there is a significant difference from the cheapest to the most expensive. The difference in prices among ceramic braces may not be that great, at least relative to the cost of ceramic braces in general.
Pros and advantages
Measured even on their terms braces possess significant advantages. But more so if compared to Invisalign and clear and invisible aligners. No wonder it is recommended by many experts, dentists, and orthodontists. For most experts, the advantages braces have far exceed the inherent risks and disadvantages their use entails.
High success in treating malocclusions and other teeth conditions
Braces have a far greater success rate in treating teeth misalignment conditions. Even those considered severe have a success rate of up to 70 percent, at least if we believe some studies. And this is among adults as a controlled group. As we go from adults to youngsters, the success rate is even higher.
And as the malocclusions and teeth misalignment conditions go from severe to mild or moderate, the success rate also goes higher. With mild and moderate conditions, it is not unusual for orthodontists to have an almost perfect rate of treatment.
Effective for a variety of malocclusions and teeth misalignment conditions
They can treat a wide array of teeth problems, malocclusions, and teeth misalignment conditions. They are effective in treating even severe and extreme cases, unlike retainers and invisible aligners, effective only in treating minor or moderate conditions of malocclusions.
Braces are far more durable.
Owing to the material used for making braces, they are far more durable compared to Invisalign and invisible aligners. Steel and titanium, of course, are some of the hardest materials on the planet. They will not easily break, even under extreme pressure. As such, they are excellent at applying pressure on the teeth and making them move.
And even though ceramic braces are less durable than traditional braces and lingual braces, they are far more durable relative to clear aligners. Overall, unless something happens, you do not expect braces to break on their own.
The cons of using braces
Greater discomfort and irritation
With all the metals or ceramics and wires attached to your teeth, there is far more significant discomfort in using braces compared to invisible aligners or retainers. There is also a chance that they may irritate the gums or the cheeks.
Others may find wearing too much metal in their mouths simply annoying
Specific allergic reactions to certain metals may also occur. If this is the case, the dentist or orthodontist. If this is the case, the dentist or orthodontist must find suitable dental material to avoid allergies. One may use ceramic braces instead of traditional metal braces, for instance.
If you use lingual braces, a temporary lisp may occur. This condition though will last only for a short period. Overall, there is pain and discomfort wearing braces, but they will wear down, and you can adjust as you progress in the treatment.
More difficult to clean
Compared to other alternatives, teeth are harder to clean with braces on. With all those wires inside your mouth, it is hard to reach the far edges of the teeth. Food and other impurities might be caught between teeth and the braces. You can clean them but it takes more effort compared to other alternatives.
Except for lingual braces, all braces are noticeable. You can easily notice if one wears braces. The first thing you notice when a person in braces smiles is the shiny metal or colorful brackets. For people who do not want to attract unwanted attention to their alignment therapy, this might be annoying.
The attraction of Invisalign
Invisalign promises a far substantial improvement than what braces can offer. And ever since it hit the market more than two decades ago, it has attracted many adherents among experts and the general public. To many, Invisalign is a welcome relief from the possibility of wearing braces for a year or two.
Material and composition
Invisalign is made of plastic material. They are plastic trays you put on your mouth, not different from other dental appliances you put for protection. The materials used to make the Invisalign clear aligners passed the standard of safety. They are deemed fit for dental wear.
Clear aligners, in general, are less expensive than braces. Invisalign, however, is the glaring exception. It costs more than the traditional braces and even ceramic and lingual braces. As a treatment, Invisalign is a mix of clear aligner and standard braces therapy.
You need frequent intervention from a specialist if you wear braces. You may not need to see one if you wear invisible aligners. For Invisalign, you need to see a specialist too, but not as frequently as when you wear braces. You need, on average, to visit a dentist every month when wearing braces. For Invisalign, however, you need three months.
Invisalign can cost from $2,400 to $9,000. The price ultimately depends on the specialist you are consulting and the severity of the teeth misalignment condition.
Sometimes, even the location itself may matter when talking about the price of Invisalign. Orthodontists in a locality may make traditional braces, but Invisalign on the other hand relies on its network of specialists throughout the country. You have to choose from their network of specialists, for you to be assessed for Invisalign.
Pros and advantages
Invisalign does not have the metals and wires, or all those bulging brackets. As the mouth wears, they fit nicely with your teeth. It will not lead to gum irritation nor will it irritate the cheeks. They are removable, so the invisible aligners will not bother you when you eat, drink, or brush and clean your teeth.
There are fewer restrictions concerning food and drinks if you wear Invisalign. The patient must still be wary of what he eats and drinks. Some food and beverages may stain Invisalign. You need to clean the aligners, but it is easier than dealing with the metal braces and wires.
Using Invisalign means you need less frequent visits to the dental office. For those who may find monthly visits to the dental office and frequent intervention of a specialist quite a nuisance, Invisalign provides the alternative patients are looking for.
Transparent And Invisible
Invisalign means invisible aligners, the all-encompassing term for all those dental braces of that kind: made of plastic, clear, transparent. They are virtually synonymous with clear aligners, and the brand is commonly mistaken for the product. Invisalign is barely noticeable when one is wearing them.
It will not attract attention because they can barely see it. Invisalign is for those who do not want unwarranted attention to their treatment, better than having traditional metal or ceramic braces.
Can whiten the teeth during the treatment
You can whiten your teeth while you are wearing Invisalign. This is the reason why Invisalign, like other providers of invisible aligners, offers freebies or packages with teeth whitening kits. This is in direct contrast to the package offered by dental offices, which have a different bundle for teeth whitening.
It is possible because clear aligners are removable, and you can apply teeth whitening solutions or use toothpaste without worrying about anything else. This is not the case with braces, where you have to deal with metals or ceramics and wires.
The cons of using Invisalign
Since Invisalign is made of lighter material, it is prone or susceptible to breaking or damage. Breaking and damage could occur as you wear them, or even when not, for Invisalign and other invisible aligners are removable, very much unlike the braces we mentioned. You can damage them while cleaning, or just simply by dropping them.
Funny and surreal as it seems, you can lose your clear aligners once you remove them from your teeth. Extra attention and care, therefore, are needed for the Invisalign itself, not only to your teeth but to the dental appliance itself.
Clear aligners are usually less expensive, but not Invisalign. Compared to braces, they could command a far higher price. This seems surprising considering the technology involved in creating braces and Invisalign. But yes, they are more expensive than traditional braces and could be more expensive even than lingual or ceramic braces.
They are prone and vulnerable to staining. As such, it can be taxing to clean, and if there are stains, too much cleaning might damage the Invisalign. Since they stain, those who wear them must be wary of the food they eat. Though there are no restrictions on food and drinks, a patient needs to be on watch concerning them.
Requires greater discipline from the patients
There is a tendency for some to remove the Invisalign when they are doing things like eating and drinking. Since the patient needs to wear them for at least 22 hours a day, removing them now and then might negatively impact the treatment.
There is a greater need for the patient to resist this tendency. More need to be proactive to maintain and keep wearing Invisalign. And since one might remove it when eating, drinking, or brushing, there is the need too for the patient to be more disciplined concerning those matters.
With brushing, the patient needs to brush more if using Invisalign instead of braces. This is to avoid staining the invisible aligner.
And when not worn, the patient must always be conscious regarding where he put the Invisalign. Otherwise, it might break, get damaged, or be lost. There is a greater need to be alert when not wearing them. This is a significant contrast to braces: you need not be on alert because you wear them the whole time.
Best only for minor and moderate teeth misalignment conditions
Invisalign, unlike braces, are not preferable when treating severe or extreme teeth misalignment conditions and malocclusions. They cannot be effective, for instance, for those requiring space closure, unlike braces which are effective for various teeth movements.
Considering that Invisalign is expensive compared to braces and yet severely limited in treatment and applicability, one may wonder whether to have Invisalign or go all the way with braces. But for those who consider the advantages of Invisalign more significant than the drawbacks, it might be worth it.
Comparing braces and Invisalign
Braces have a significant comparative advantage over Invisalign when it comes to treatment. Braces can treat a wide array of teeth misalignment conditions and malocclusions. Invisalign, on the other hand, is limited in treatment and applicability. It works best only for minor and moderate conditions.
With a wide array of treatments and a higher success rate, braces cost much less than Invisalign. Those in braces will have more for less, at least when it comes to price. We can also add the fact that braces are mostly available at dental offices in any locality. You have to look for an Invisalign affiliated specialist to have one.
Though braces are visible and brackets are bulging, the patient has the option of making it trendy and stylish. The patient can have colorful brackets if he wants. He can even have one made of gold.
Invisalign, on the other hand, is for those who do not want any attention to their dental treatment. It is best for those working professionals or those who are always talking with their clients. They are also better for those engaged in speaking with many people, teachers for instance.
Braces are ideal for those youngsters and teenagers. Not only because it can be fashionable, but it requires less discipline. It is also best to have braces for youngsters whose teeth and bones are still in the formative stages.
Part of the reason for inventing Invisalign is to have available options for adults who cannot wear braces. But as mentioned, it has limited applicability when talking about treatment.
Invisalign’s great advantage is that they are comfortable for those who use them. You need to remove them to eat, drink, brush and floss your teeth, but some prefer doing all those things to doing them in braces.
You need less frequent visits when you are into Invisalign. This arrangement works better for those who are busy or do not have time to visit a dental office now and then. We can add to this the fact that with pandemics still around, many people prefer less contact with others. Fewer visits mean less intervention from a specialist.
There are advantages and drawbacks for both braces and Invisalign. The best thing to do is to talk with a dentist or orthodontist about the best treatment option. The primary consideration should be treating a patient’s teeth problem. The patient and the dentist can balance the treatment to the patient's preference.
Working out the best arrangement is a necessity. The patient needs to commit to the treatment plan because it can go on from months into years. It is vital that the patient have a truly effective treatment plan but at the same time preferable, be it braces or Invisalign.