If you’re wondering whether you should get braces or Invisalign, this post is for you! We’ll break down the pros and cons of both treatment options so you feel empowered and educated when you walk into your orthodontist’s office.

Braces vs. Invisalign: What’s the real difference?

Braces or traditional metal brackets are what most people think of when they think of orthodontics. They’re timeless and proven to be effective, and orthodontists go through years of additional training to make sure they can properly use brackets to move teeth and correct bites. Braces, though, are highly visible: everyone around you knows you’re in treatment. Invisalign (and other clear aligners) are just that: clear. Instead of having metal brackets and wires in your mouth, you wear clear aligners that are virtually invisible, making these a desirable option for a lot of patients.

Braces: The Pros

  • Wear & Forget Braces are a proven way to treat a variety of orthodontic problems and they require a low amount of compliance. When we say compliance, we mean a patient’s ability to follow treatment plan recommendations. Sure, there are foods to avoid when you have braces. But for most patients, braces go on and come off at the end of treatment. No forgetting your aligners or not wearing them enough!
  • Suitable For Everyone For some patients with more complex orthodontic problems, braces may be a better option for treatment. Certain issues, like impacted teeth and cases needing surgical intervention, may drive some doctors to recommend braces over clear aligners. However, most patients are candidates for Invisalign!

Braces: The Cons

  • Food Braces come with a host of food restrictions. While in braces, you can’t eat anything crunchy, sticky, or chewy that might break a bracket. That means no hard or chewy candy, popcorn, pizza crust, crunchy snacks, corn on the cob, or whole apples (biting directly into these can break brackets and bend wires).
  • Visibility Braces are highly visible. When in braces, there’s no hiding your treatment. Sure, you get to experiment with cool colors, but not everyone wants to look back and see braces in their photos.
  • Oral Hygiene Maintaining oral hygiene with braces is a bit more difficult. Since brackets and wires trap bacteria, oral hygiene is arguably more important during orthodontic treatment (though we always recommend maintaining a good oral hygiene routine!), and brushing around brackets can be tedious. Flossing is also more difficult–we recommend floss threaders and interproximal brushes to our patients, and even give them to our patients on bonding day!

Invisalign: The Pros

  • Food One huge advantage of Invisalign is you have no food restrictions! As long as you take your trays out (and brush your teeth after eating), you can eat whatever you want without worrying about brackets breaking or wires bending. Keep in mind that when you have your aligners in, you can only drink water. So if you’re someone who likes to sip on an iced coffee all day, you’ll have to either give that up or choose traditional braces.
  • Visibility Invisalign’s name implies a lot about this form of treatment: it’s virtually invisible! For patients wanting their treatment to be more concealed, Invisalign is a great option. Patients in Invisalign wear clear aligner trays instead of having brackets bonded to their teeth. Now, we say virtually invisible because Invisalign does sometimes require the use of attachments–tooth-colored pieces that are bonded to your teeth. Attachments help guide the movement of your teeth and give your aligners something to push on.
  • Oral Hygiene Patients in treatment with Invisalign can brush and floss normally! We recommend brushing after every meal with Invisalign (think about trapping food and drinks in those trays. Ew!) but all Invisalign patients have to do to brush and floss is take their trays out.

Invisalign: The Cons

  • Compliance Patients being treated with Invisalign are burdened with compliance: they have to wear their aligners for 22 out of the 24 hours in the day. We tell our patients to only take them out for brushing and eating, which should account for about 2 hours each day. When patients don’t wear their trays as directed, treatment times are extended, and no one wants to be in orthodontic treatment longer than necessary!
  • Staining Remember when we said you can only drink water with your aligners in? A few bad things can happen if you don’t. Sipping on an iced coffee for an hour a day might not sound too harmful, but just like your teeth, clear aligners can stain. You’re better off sticking to water (with your trays in) otherwise, you may end up wearing a stained aligner.
  • Taking Trays Out Can Be Inconvenient For some people, popping their trays out before eating is a worthy trade-off for getting a perfect smile with invisible treatment. For others, this is a hassle they’d rather not deal with. If you think you’ll be frustrated taking your trays out before every meal, especially in public, go for traditional braces!

At the end of the day, orthodontic treatment is individually tailored for each patient. At Braces Now, we give most of our patients the option to choose between traditional braces and Invisalign (they’re priced the same, too!), and it’s often up to the patient to decide what treatment better suits their lifestyle. If you’re wondering which treatment option to choose, do your research on both and more importantly, talk to your orthodontist.

If you’re local to Georgia and ready to start your smile journey, request your completely free consultation at Braces Now today!