Braces v. Invisalign

Clea OwensInvisalign

Dr. Peter Brawn’s downtown Vancouver practice focuses exclusively on orthodontics and specifically accelerating Invisalign treatment, with a goal to significantly reduce your treatment time by up to half. However, many patients have questions about how Invisalign treatment compares to traditional braces and if one may be better than the other.

Orthodontics is the art and science of applying controlled light forces to the teeth which then causes the bone surrounding them to remodel – allowing the teeth to move. There are a variety of systemes to accomplish orthodontic tooth movement. Braces (fixed appliances) and Clear Aligners are the most common.

Braces consist of metal (and sometimes ceramic) brackets that are bonded to your teeth and tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands.

Advantages of Invisalign


The biggest benefit of Invisalign is that the aligners are virtually invisible. Patients love that friends, colleagues and clients might not even notice that they are undergoing orthodontic treatment. 

With Invisalign, you can smile freely without worrying about how braces look. Day-to-day, your teeth will look the same but as you look back through photos, you’ll see the incremental improvement of your smile over time.


There is often a misconception that Invisalign cannot achieve the all the types of movement that traditional braces can. The technology has vastly improved since it was introduced in 1999, at which time it was limited to simple cases. At this point, Invisalign can not only treat virtually all the same cases as brackets and wires, but there are some treatments that may be even more effective with Invisalign.

Invisalign in half the time is our exclusive practice focus… we reduce your treatment time and number of appointments.

No Eating Restrictions

Because aligners can be removed for meals, you can eat everything you normally would.

For best results, aligners need to be worn for 22 hours every day, which leaves about two hours per day during which you can take your aligners out to eat. In our practice we often ask patients to eat some food with the aligners in, which helps with “seating” the aligners over the teeth and can help to speed up treatment.

Easy Brushing and Flossing

Similar to when you eat and drink, aligners can be removed for regular oral hygiene so you can continue brushing and flossing as normal.

Comfortable to Wear

Patients often ask if braces or Invisalign are comfortable or if one is more painful than the other. Invisalign aligners take a short time to get used to but are easily incorporated into your daily routine. Many patients forget they are wearing them!

Because Invisalign aligners are custom-made to fit each patient, there is much less opportunity for irritation like canker sores than with traditional braces.

Fewer Appointments

When we deliver your Invisalign aligners, we give you enough aligners for several months at a time. By using the Dental Monitoring app, we are able to remotely monitor your treatment using their tele-dentistry smartphone app at home. The DM app captures tooth movement on a pixel level – even better than we can do with the human eye. We will still see you in the office every six to 10 weeks but only sooner if you feel the need.

Disadvantages of Invisalign


Being able to remove your aligners can be both a benefit and a disadvantage. It’s critical that you wear your aligners for the required 22 hours per day. If you don’t think you can be disciplined about replacing your aligners after eating or brushing, your treatment may not produce optimal results. 


Aligners need to be removed before eating and drinking most foods. When you are out in public, it may be difficult to remove your aligners discreetly and be sure not to lose them. There is a long history of waiters throwing away napkins holding Invisalign aligners! Before replacing your aligners, you must also brush your teeth. Food particles can increase your risk of cavities and bad breath, inhibit your teeth from moving, and stain your aligners. 


Invisalign typically uses tooth-coloured temporary attachments bonded to the teeth to help the aligners grip and move teeth into place. Depending on the type of movements required to achieve your perfect smile, you may need just one or two, or attachments on most of your teeth. The use of attachments allows for faster, more specific tooth movement and they are easily removed without any harm to the teeth after treatment. 

Advantages of Braces

Almost No Compliance or Discipline Required

Braces and wires are bonded to the teeth – if you are concerned about being disciplined enough to wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, braces might be a better solution. If you are looking for an orthdontic system that requires very little compliance, braces are worth considering.

Disadvantages of Braces 


Some people don’t like the look of traditional braces and are worried they will feel self-conscious about how they look, both in public or in pictures.  


Many patients who have had both braces and Invisalign report that braces are more painful. In addition to tooth tenderness, braces can also cause cuts or canker sores on the gums and cheeks.

Difficult Brushing and Flossing

Brushing and flossing your teeth is a lot more difficult with braces. With lots of nooks and crannies, it’s critical that you clean your teeth thoroughly and properly. If you don’t, you risk having plaque build up around the braces which can lead to permanent decay and white spots on your enamel. 

Food Restrictions

There are some restrictions to what you can eat and drink while you have braces. Hard and sticky foods can cause the arch wire to break or a bracket to dislodge from a tooth. If this happens, you would need to get it repaired before your teeth will resume moving. Multiple breakages can prolong your treatment time.  

More Practice Visits

Braces work by having the dentist manually adjust the forces being applied to your teeth at regular intervals, typically this means coming in every four to ten weeks. Conversely, giving you a series of Invisalign aligners mean that your teeth can move at an optimal rate for your biology which we can monitor remotely using the Dental Monitoring app.

Which is right for you?

There are a lot of factors when it comes to deciding which method is right for you and your smile. You need to consider your lifestyle, commitment level and priorities. The best thing you can do is ask questions. We offer two types of consultations in our downtown Vancouver practice : in-person and virtual so that we can provide you with answers unique to your smile and your situation.