Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Invisalign vs Braces (the pros and cons of each)

It’s a difficult decision, you want to straighten your teeth but can’t decide which way to go when weighing the pros and cons of Braces vs Invisalign.

My number one piece of advice is: to do your research, ask questions and, with the help of your specialist dentist, make an informed decision. The type of orthodontic treatment that is suitable for you also depends on the type of orthodontic problem you need to have corrected.

In this article, I lay out many of the pros and cons of Invisalign and braces to help you make a more informed decision.

Braces are traditionally made of metal and attached to the outside of the teeth, although there are now different options for braces including ceramic and lingual (behind the teeth) braces. Metal wires and rubber bands are attached to the brackets to manipulate your teeth to correct orthodontic problems.

Invisalign treatment, however, uses clear plastic aligners. The aligners are customised for each patient by making a 3D scan of their mouth. Customised aligners are then made to move the teeth in small steps until the correct position is reached.

The pros of Invisalign

Invisalign looks better

The best benefit of Invisalign is that the retainers are virtually invisible. Adult patients love that colleagues, friends and family can’t see they are undergoing orthodontic treatment…along with self-conscious teens!

With Invisalign, you don’t go through a period of people commenting on your new braces. You won’t be worried about your smile in photos – all you will see is the progress of your ever-improving smile.

You can take the aligners out to eat

Patients often ask me “do you have to wear Invisalign all the time?” For best results, Invisalign needs to be worn for 20 – 22 hours each day, which means you can take your aligners out when you are eating. This means you don’t have to change what you eat or how you eat it. With braces, people find some types of foods difficult or uncomfortable to eat.

It’s easier to brush and floss your teeth

As well as when eating and drinking, you’ll also remove your Invisalign retainers to brush your teeth. With nothing on your teeth to worry about, you can continue brushing and flossing as you did previously.

You’ll see less of me!

With Invisalign, much of the work happens before you wear your aligners. A 3D scan of your teeth is used for making all the customised retainers in a laboratory. You should change the multiple sets of retainers in your dental experts’ directions. There is no need to visit the dentist for adjustments, so visits are kept to a minimum to check on the progress. Fewer visits to the dentist mean less time off work – win-win!

They’re just comfier

You may be wondering “are braces or Invisalign more painful?” Moving teeth around with Invisalign can be uncomfortable and painful, much like traditional braces. However, there are also fewer mouth and gum problems with Invisalign. The retainers are made of special plastic and fitted to each patient’s mouth, so – unlike braces – there are typically no cuts on the inside cheeks or salt washes to deal with.

Invisalign disadvantages

You’ve got to ne disciplined…

Being able to remove your aligners is both a blessing and a curse. If you aren’t someone who is disciplined about putting your aligners back in your mouth after eating or brushing, you aren’t going to wear them the required 22 hours per day. Your treatment may not produce the best results if the aligners aren’t worn as long. The major reason for Invisalign treatment failing primarily relates to a lack of patient compliance with wearing the aligners.

The aligners can be a little inconvenient

Aligners need to be removed before eating and drinking anything other than water. When you are out in public, you need to remove your aligners discreetly and not lose them. Before replacing your aligners, you need to brush your teeth. Food particles can stop your teeth from moving and can stain your aligners. You are also at increased risk of cavities and bad breath.

Cost

We are often asked, “is it cheaper to get braces or Invisalign?” Due to advances in 3D scanning technology and the flexible material involved in making the aligners, the cost of Invisalign can be like braces. Depending on the specific problem, some treatment is difficult if not impossible to achieve with Invisalign alone so your specialist Dentist may discuss the possibility of finalising tooth positions with braces which could result in more expensive treatment.

Invisalign effectiveness vs Braces

Typically, Invisalign is not recommended for more complex orthodontic cases. Before deciding on which treatment, you should use, ask your specialist Dentist if you can expect the same result from all methods. This will allow you to make an informed decision on which type of treatment is right for you

The advantages of Braces

Suitable for all treatments

With braces, it doesn’t matter how difficult your case is. You may have multiple dental issues that need correcting, braces can be used to fix each one as they use anchors and an archwire to pull the teeth into place.

Possible to achieve a perfect result

Braces have a little more force to move teeth into the desired position. Invisalign is limited in terms of how many teeth can be moved at a time.

Faster treatment time

One thing for you to keep in mind is: which is faster, braces or Invisalign? Generally, when closing gaps and aligning teeth the treatment time can be faster with braces vs Invisalign. The speed of treatment can be a big factor as many people like to get their orthodontic treatment over as fast as possible. The skill and experience of the specialist Dentist can also contribute to consistently faster treatment times.

Braces Cons

The aesthetics of braces

Some people don’t like the look of traditional braces. They are worried they will feel self-conscious about their appearance in some social settings.  

Brushing your teeth

Brushing and flossing your teeth is a little more difficult with braces. If you don’t clean your teeth properly, you risk having plaque build-up around the braces which can lead to staining and decay. Patients need to follow the instructions of their specialist Dentist on how to correctly brush and floss while their braces are on.

Diet and food preparation

Some care needs to be taken with the food and drink you consume with braces. Hard and sticky foods can cause the archwire to break or a bracket to dislodge from a tooth. Once this happens, the braces won’t work until you have the breakage repaired. Multiple breakages can also prolong your treatment time.  

Regular consultations

More regular appointments are required with braces to check on progress and have them adjusted. Around once per month, you will have to check how much your teeth have moved and make changes so they continue to move your teeth in the direction they need to go.

Invisalign patients visit roughly bi-monthly because their aligners have already been made and can be changed without specialist care.


Article by Dr Valence Roberts, Principal Dentist at Melbourne’s Award-winning Clinic, Cosmetic Avenue.

If you have any queries or you would like a second opinion, make an appointment to see me by calling (03) 9111 0035 or contact us online.

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