Braces vs. Invisalign? You have better ways to spend your time than hunting all over the internet for the answer to this question, followed by years’ worth of orthodontic treatment and appointment after appointment with only incremental progress. We get it.
At Dr. Peter Brawn, we’ve built everything around the goal of accelerating your progress and reducing your orthodontic treatment time – by at least 50% and sometimes even more. In fact, most of our patients finish within a year. They experience less pain, discomfort, and hassle too. It’s this goal that makes it so important for you to know the answer to this question – it can make a massive difference for your treatment and smile.
We hear the question a lot from people wanting to know how to get straight teeth and improve their smile:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of braces vs. Invisalign?
It’s a great question, and one that sadly doesn’t get clearly answered very often – even though the answer can make a huge difference for your smile. So we’re here to answer it for you. Because we believe everyone deserves a smile they love.
Here’s everything you need to know about braces and Invisalign.
The Basics on Braces + Clear Aligners
First, a quick description of what exactly braces and Invisalign are, and how they’re connected to orthodontics.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics simply means the science of applying controlled light forces to the teeth which causes the bones surrounding them to remodel. These light forces are what allow the teeth to move.
There are a variety of methods used to get teeth to move inside the science of orthodontics. Braces and Clear Aligners (like Invisalign) happen to be the two most common.
So let’s look at them more closely now.
What are braces?
Braces are a set of brackets bonded to your teeth. One bracket for each tooth. They’re usually metal, but sometimes can be ceramic. Each bracket is tied together into a set by wires and tiny rubber bands. Braces are fixed in your mouth – you have to have them on at all times. You can’t remove them during your treatment.
What are clear aligners?
Clear aligners are hard plastic molds, custom-fit for your particular smile and needs. To imagine what the molds look like, think of a clear mouth-guard or retainer. They fit over your teeth and are what cause your teeth to move and straighten. With aligner orthodontic treatment, you move through a series of clear aligners throughout your treatment to achieve your best smile.
Like braces, clear aligners usually use small bonded attachments, too. Unlike braces, aligners’ bonded attachments don’t have the big brackets on each tooth. The attachments are very small buttons. They’re completely smooth and small enough that they don’t accumulate food.
Aligners don’t have to be clear, but they usually are – which makes them nearly invisible in day-to-day life. More on that later.
So then what’s Invisalign?
Invisalign is the most advanced clear aligner system in the world. Their name is often used interchangeably with what are truly clear aligners – much like Kleenex is used when people talk about tissues. Though there are other brands of clear aligners, Invisalign is the most advanced and the most common.
For the rest of the post, we’ll compare and contrast braces to Invisalign clear aligners specifically.
How much does it cost?
In Canada, orthodontic treatments – including braces – will cost you on average somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000. You might be fortunate enough to have some orthodontic coverage within your policy, but it’s no guarantee. When it is included, limits are often between $2,000-$3000, and not all policies cover adult treatment.
You might be surprised to hear that Invisalign isn’t any more expensive than other orthodontic treatments in Canada. Just like braces, Invisalign treatment costs on average $5,000 – $8,000. The difference is really financial arrangements.
Also of note – orthodontics is considered a medical expense for tax purposes. You may be eligible to receive a tax credit for your Invisalign fee. Consult your accountant to verify.
How long does treatment take?
Standard braces treatment lasts between 18-24 months. If that sounds like a long time to you, we agree! Sadly, studies show patients lose motivation at the 12-month mark. Less motivation often leads to less commitment to the treatment plan. Progress tends to slow – lengthening treatment even more.
If you choose braces, long treatments are costly for more reasons than simply lack of motivation and more appointments: the longer the treatment time, the higher your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, root shortening and white spots on enamel. Your teeth might be straight, but it may take years and leave you with long-term side effects.
Standard Invisalign treatment elsewhere in Vancouver can take just as long as braces – but it doesn’t have to.
Most of our patients finish treatment within just 1 year.
If patients lose motivation after 12 months, shouldn’t doctors do everything they can to make treatments shorter than that? We sure believe so. At Dr. Peter Brawn, we’ve identified a huge advantage for adults and children that reduces your orthodontic treatment time by 50% or more, using Invisalign clear aligners.
Our entire practice in downtown Vancouver is dedicated to accelerating your Invisalign treatment. In some cases, depending on complexity, we can be done in even a quarter of the time of conventional orthodontic treatments.
With shorter treatment times, you avoid the potential risks associated with long treatment times: gum disease, tooth decay, white spot lesions, and others. The technology we use is clinically proven and has been used in sports medicine, burn units, and even cancer treatments. You’ll get faster results without adding any additional discomfort. Speaking of discomfort…
How much discomfort will I feel?
Typical orthodontic treatment with braces involves the use of progressively stronger wires. These wires exert force on your teeth. Usually, an appointment will include placing a new wire on the braces and this new wire will put significant force on your teeth. Patients often complain of pain for days up to even weeks after new wires are placed. This cycle happens over and over for the length of your treatment to force your teeth straight over time (18-24 months on average).
Invisalign uses lower forces. We find that patients will have some discomfort placing a new aligner – which is applying a little bit of force on your teeth – but that dissipates very quickly.
For patients at Dr. Peter Brawn, the same gentle light therapy technology that speeds up your treatment decreases the discomfort you’ll feel too. We have studies showing our patients’ pain reduced by up to 75% from the peak amount people would typically experience in the first week of wearing a new clear aligner. So with us, your discomfort is incredibly reduced from other clear aligner treatments, and even from Invisalign treatment somewhere else.
In short, you get more progress with less pain.
How will it impact my daily life?
Impact to lifestyle is a large difference between braces and clear aligners, like Invisalign. Braces are brackets bonded to your teeth. The brackets have a wire attached to it with elastics. As you’ve probably heard, this limits your food choices. They’re not removable. You have to have them on at all times, and avoid hard foods – like ice. They accumulate food too, so you have to clean very thoroughly after every meal.
Also, they are not very attractive – ‘train tracks’ as the mean kids call them.
Braces make it very difficult to floss your teeth, too, and often people avoid flossing and cleaning while wearing braces. Unless you are really diligent during treatment, braces pose serious risks to your gums and soft tissue.
With Invisalign, the clear aligners utilize – in most cases – small bonded attachments that are almost like very small buttons on your teeth. They’re completely smooth and don’t accumulate food. Unlike braces, your Invisalign aligners are also removable. When you eat, you can remove your aligners – so you’re able to eat whatever you want. It also means you don’t accumulate food in your teeth and you can floss as easily as you would normally.
In fact, our patients often find that after the first few aligners, flossing and cleaning your teeth becomes much easier and quicker. It’s a huge benefit that most people don’t know.
That’s not to mention other more visual lifestyle benefits such as facts like this one: most people can’t identify that you’re wearing clear aligners at normal conversation distances.
How effective will it be at improving my smile?
Braces will straighten your teeth. They’re extremely effective in that way. Because braces are bonded to your teeth and not removable, they’re always at work doing the job they were made to do.
If you are concerned about being disciplined enough to wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, braces might be the most effective option. If you are looking for an orthodontic system that requires very little compliance, braces are worth considering.
Some people have told us they’ve heard that Invisalign cannot achieve all the types of movement that traditional braces can. When Invisalign was first introduced in 1999, that was true – the technology was really only limited to simple cases.
Since then, Invisalign has vastly improved and its effectiveness has too. Today, Invisalign can not only treat virtually all the same cases as braces, there are some treatments that may be even more effective with Invisalign. See if Invisalign is right for you – get a free consultation today.
Braces vs. Invisalign: which is right for you?
There are a lot of factors when it comes to deciding which method – braces vs. Invisalign – 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, and talk to an expert you trust.
If you’re ready to get your best smile and want to make sure you’re making the best decision possible, come talk to us. We’ll give you a completely free consultation. We’ll even run a simulation of what your smile can look like after treatment – at no cost to you.
We believe that everyone deserves a smile they love, and we’ll give you our honest advice from 30+ years of experience on what you can do to get your very best smile.