Braces vs. Invisalign: Which One Is Right For Me?

Here at Howard Orthodontics, we know that taking the first step towards a healthier smile is a big decision. Braces vs Invisalign, which one is right for me? We believe educated patients make the best partners in any orthodontic journey. You should have all the information you need to make the best decision for your care. This is why we offer a free consultation to every potential patient! 

This initial evaluation gives us the chance to meet each other and discuss the concerns you have about your smile. We’ll answer any questions you have about the treatment process and cover a range of important topics, including: 

  • how orthodontic treatment can change your smile
  • which treatment options will best fit your unique needs
  • any payment options that are available to you

During your first visit, you’ll also learn more about our two most popular treatments: traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners. Since these tend to be the options we use most often, it can be helpful to understand the pros and cons of both. Keep reading to learn more about how these treatments work,  what the differences are between them, and how they can transform your smile! 

How do braces and aligners work?

They may look very different, but braces and clear aligners work in a similar way. Each appliance places gentle pressure on the teeth that moves them into more optimal positions over time. This aligns your teeth and jaws, improving the overall appearance and function of your smile. Either treatment can be an excellent option for anyone looking to improve their oral health, but they do have different features you should be aware of before choosing which is best for your case and lifestyle. 

Braces vs. Invisalign: Which One Is Right For Me?

Traditional braces

Traditional braces have been around for a long time, and they have a well-established history of successfully correcting a wide range of orthodontic issues. Metal brackets are attached to the teeth, then held together by wires and tiny rubber bands. Modern braces have an improved appearance as well as being more comfortable than previous versions! In fact, we offer both metal and clear brackets for a more customizable experience. 

These braces are what we call a fixed orthodontic appliance, which simply means they cannot be removed by the patient. They’re especially effective at treating more serious or complex issues! When it comes to treatment times, the total will vary from case to case, but the average with braces tends to be anywhere from 18-36 months. 

Maintaining traditional braces can come with a bit of a learning curve. Learning to navigate brushing and flossing with all those brackets and wires can take some practice, but with patience, it will become just another part of the daily routine in no time. There are a variety of accessories available to make oral hygiene easier while a patient is in braces, like water piks to help rinse hard-to-reach places or ortho picks for braces-specific flossing. 

Food restrictions are a part of this maintenance, as well. Patients will need to avoid eating anything that can damage their braces includes anything that is crunchy or sticky. That means snacks like raw apples and carrots, certain kinds of candy and chips, and popcorn of any kind are off the menu until the treatment process is complete and the braces are removed.

Patients in traditional braces can expect follow-up visits with us about every 6-8 weeks. Dr. Howard will ensure everything is progressing according to the treatment plan, then change the bands attached to the brackets. He may decide to replace the wire at this time as well. These adjustment appointments are generally pretty quick, but they are an essential part of the treatment process! Sticking to the scheduled visits helps us achieve the best results in the least amount of time possible.  

Invisalign clear aligners

As our most popular alternative to traditional braces, the Invisalign system uses a series of removable clear aligners to straighten the teeth. These customized trays are made of a smooth plastic material that won’t irritate the gums or cheeks the way brackets sometimes can, and designed to fit firmly but comfortably over the patient’s own teeth. Most Invisalign patients find that they are able to adjust to the aligners relatively quickly, though there can be some mild soreness at first. 

Treatment time is still dependent on how each patient reacts to their appliance. The average with Invisalign tends to be somewhere between 9-18 months, although it can take more or less time depending on the case. With Invisalign, the treatment time also depends in part on patient compliance. Those wearing the removable clear aligners must keep them in for at least 20-22 hours every day and switch them out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements the teeth are making. Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to a longer treatment time and less optimal results.

Since Invisalign aligners are removable, they’re extremely easy to maintain! You take them out before eating and drinking anything other than water, so there’s no need to worry about food getting stuck in between the brackets and wires (which happens to be a leading cause of bacteria and decay.) Aligners are also removed before brushing and flossing, making the dental hygiene routine a much simpler process. This removability also means there are no food restrictions for Invisalign patients!

Like braces patients, those in Invisalign will be scheduled for regular follow-ups with our doctors. Skipping appointments or missing scheduled aligner changes can quickly undo any progress made in treatment, so it’s important to keep up with these visits to the best of your ability.

Braces vs. Invisalign: Which One Is Right For Me?

Find the best fit for your smile with Howard Orthodontics

As you can see, traditional braces and Invisalign aligners each have a lot to offer anyone hoping to achieve a beautiful smile! When you choose our expert team, you’ll enjoy world-class service and a rewarding orthodontic experience, from start to finish. Dr. Howard will only recommend the treatment he believes will be the best for your unique smile, lifestyle, and goals. If you’re in the Willow Street area and would like to learn more about everything orthodontics has to offer you, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Howard!