Do you want straighter teeth? Want to correct teeth crowding or an uneven bite? It sounds like you need orthodontic treatment. The two most popular methods for straightening your teeth are:

1. Traditional braces

2. A clear aligner treatment, like Invisalign

Both are excellent, doctor-recommended options for straightening teeth. But which one is right for you?

To help you better understand the differences between Invisalign and braces, we’ve created a story of a patient named Amber. Although Amber is fictional, her story is similar to so many of the patients we see here in our Mason office.

The problem with crooked teeth

Crooked teeth are very common — an estimated 300 million people in the world could benefit from a straighter smile. Although crooked teeth are not unusual, many people want to fix them. This makes sense considering a new study showing that those with straight teeth are perceived as smarter and more successful.

That’s the story of Amber. She came into our office feeling unhappy with how her crooked, crowded teeth made her feel. She was self conscious about her smile and wanted to improve it.

Amber was aesthetically motivated to correct her smile. But after conducting digital x-rays and an examination, we had a few additional reasons for recommending an orthodontic treatment. You see, more than a cosmetic issue, misaligned and crowded tooth roots fuel big health issues. 

Those with crooked teeth are statistically more susceptible to problems like:

  • Cavities
  • Bone loss
  • Gum disease
  • TMJ

By aligning her teeth roots and straightening her smile, Amber would be improving her health and her smile.

The difference between Invisalign and braces

Amber knew the basic differences between braces and Invisalign, but we provide a bit more clarification on how each treatment method actually worked and how they compared to each other.

Braces: Metal or plastic brackets are attached to each tooth using a dental cement. The brackets are linked together with a thin wire. This wire puts pressure on your teeth, slowly moving them into proper position. This treatment must be directed by a specialist, called an orthodontist.

Invisalign: Clear, custom-fit aligners are worn similar to a retainer. Made of a plastic material, these aligners help slowly reposition your teeth. You’ll swap out your aligners every 2 weeks or so until your teeth have moved into proper position. 

 

Invisalign

Braces

Appearance

Clear and virtually invisible

Metal and noticeable, though some clear options exist 

Comfort

Worn over top and bottom teeth. Made from comfortable materials 

Wires and brackets can cause sores and discomfort

Hygiene

Can be removed to easily clean your teeth but must be worn 22 hours a day

Stuck in place until removed by a dentist and can make it difficult to clean your teeth

Food Restrictions

When your retainers aren’t in, you can eat all the foods you normally would

Avoid certain foods to make sure you don’t damage your braces

Time

Average 6-18 months, depending on needs

Average of 2 years, depending on needs

Who is a candidate for Invisalign?

Although Amber would need to visit an orthodontist to confirm her candidacy for braces, we knew she was a great candidate for Invisalign — most adults and even teens are!

Both Invisalign and braces can treat issues like:

  • Gapped teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Over and underbite
  • Crossbite

There are a few issues that may disqualify or at least delay someone from getting Invisalign. For example, gum disease and cavities need to be treated prior to moving forward with Invisalign. Additionally, dental implants, bridges, or severe TMJ issues can make Invisalign more difficult, although still not impossible.

Invisalign or braces — which is right for you?

In the past, Amber had known plenty of people with braces. Throughout high-school and college, many of her friends and acquaintances flashed “metal mouth” smiles in the name of straighter, healthier teeth. 

But that was back then. She was older now, had a professional career, and felt uneasy about how traditional metal braces would affect her appearance, even if temporarily. At the same time, she was committed to getting straighter teeth and long-lasting results. She wanted to do it the right way, whatever that meant.

We already mentioned that Amber’s teeth were a good candidate for Invisalign, and although a specialist would need to confirm her candidacy for braces, we didn’t see any concerns with going that route, either.

But there are a number of factors beyond your actual teeth that we always bring up when recommending a treatment method. Here are the considerations we discussed with Amber.

Patient compliance 

You must be committed to your treatment and follow your dentist’s instructions to a tee. 

In order for Invisalign to work, you must wear your aligners at all times, except when you eat and brush. For best results, you need to be committed to wearing your aligners for at least 22 hours every day. You’ll also need to soak your aligners daily to keep them clean.

Braces on the other hand, require additional attention when it comes to hygiene. You’ll need to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for cleaning in order to keep the areas around your brackets clean and clear of food and bacteria.

Lifestyle

No matter which option you chose, an orthodontic treatment is a lifestyle change. We ask our patients to consider the specific impact each type of treatment will have on their day-to-day life before deciding which option is right for them. 

For example, wearing braces requires being cautious about what you eat and drink. You’ll need to stay away from sticky or hard foods that might damage or dislodge your brackets or wires. And with Invisalign, you’ll need to remove your aligners every time you eat, making sure to brush your teeth before placing them back in. 

You’ll also need to consider your schedule. With braces, you’ll need to visit your orthodontist office every month for new wire and tightening. With Invisalign, you’ll swap your aligner trays every 2 weeks, but will only need to visit our office for a check-in appointment every 6 weeks or so, sometimes less than that.

Cost

Of course, the final consideration is the cost of the treatment, and what option works best for your financial situation and insurance coverage.

In general, Invisalign tends to be a similar cost to traditional braces. However, it depends on the length of your treatment and what you’re hoping to achieve. 

At Cedar Village Dentistry, our Invisalign treatments range from $4,000-$6,000 depending on the complexity of your situation. For most cases, we also include free teeth whitening and retainers with your treatment.

Additionally, most dental insurances cover at least some of your Invisalign treatment and may also help with braces. You should also take advantage of any in-house savings plan or other payment options available to you. Be sure to discuss the cost of treatment with your dental team.

We’re here to help

So which treatment did Amber choose? Well, her story is fictional, but we like to think that Amber chose an Invisalign treatment. If someone is a good candidate and is committed to their treatment, we almost always recommend Invisalign as the preferred method of straightening teeth.

If you’re interested in getting a straighter smile, we’d love to work with you. Every patient’s story is unique, and what might be right for one person might not be the best for you. We’ll talk with you to understand your situation, lifestyle, and goals. These factors combined with the health of your teeth and gums will help us provide the best recommendation.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and find out if Invisalign is right for you.

 

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