Choosing the Best Treatment for You
When it comes to straightening your teeth, modern advances in orthodontics mean that you have more options than ever before. Choosing between Invisalign and traditional braces helps you find a treatment that fits your needs, budget, and lifestyle while granting you a beautifully straight smile. This decision can be overwhelming, however, especially with so many conflicting opinions available at the push of a button telling you which treatment is best. It’s important to remember that no treatment is perfect; what matters most is finding the best treatment for you. As a result, we’re compiling a more objective look at the qualities of both Invisalign and braces to help you decide which is right for you.
Invisalign and braces can treat many of the same issues, from misaligned bites to crooked or overcrowded teeth. Although Invisalign can straighten your teeth in most circumstances, traditional braces remain the best treatment for more severe dental issues. For most people, however, Invisalign and braces are equally viable options.
In general, Invisalign straightens your teeth faster than braces, usually taking 12 to 18 months compared to braces’ average treatment time of two years. Regardless of the method you choose, your treatment time will depend heavily on your individual treatment needs. Minor adjustments can be made in less than a year, but it may take three years to resolve more complex dental issues.
When it comes to aesthetics, Invisalign has a clear advantage over braces. Braces can be spotted on your teeth even from a distance, but Invisalign is clear and unobtrusive, allowing you to maintain confidence in your smile. Invisalign’s near-invisibility also allows you to see the positive changes in your smile right away. While braces are quite noticeable, some patients enjoy using this to their advantage, expressing themselves by choosing bright colors for their braces.
Some people think that choosing Invisalign means fewer trips to the dentist, but that’s not really true. Whether you choose Invisalign or braces, you’ll still have to visit our office regularly—though Invisalign does shorten the length of these visits. While braces need to be tightened by Dr. Tomasik every four to eight weeks, you “tighten” your aligners at home by yourself when you switch from one set of aligners to the next. Even with Invisalign, however, you’ll have to visit our office about every six weeks so that Dr. Tomasik can check the progress of your teeth and ensure that they’re moving the way they’re supposed to. The only visits to the dentist that Invisalign will eliminate are emergency appointments to repair broken wires on your braces, but this doesn’t happen often.
Invisalign is incredibly convenient because the aligners are easily removable. This gives you amazing flexibility; braces will always be present in pictures and at special events, but aligners don’t have to be. While no one should notice your aligners, especially not in a picture, you can take them out for a special occasion just to be sure. This does have some downsides, however, since there is such a thing as taking your aligners out too much—to do their job, the aligners need to stay on your teeth for 22 hours every day. If you take them out too often, it might take longer than expected to straighten your teeth.
Additionally, braces are impossible to lose—but aligners can get lost. It’s not the end of the world if you lose your aligners since you can often either move to the next set of aligners a few days early or simply move back to your last pair while you wait for a replacement set to be made; worst-case scenario, your treatment will take a week or two longer than you’d originally planned. Although most people keep track of their aligners pretty easily, losing them too often can become a major problem; Invisalign might not be right for you if you’re constantly losing track of things.
Maintaining your orthodontic appliance and your oral hygiene is an incredibly important part of your treatment. Braces are infamously difficult to clean and make oral hygiene just as hard, as you need to navigate around all of the wires and brackets while still cleaning your teeth thoroughly. Despite how difficult it may be, you should still brush your teeth at least twice a day as well as floss and use mouthwash at least once a day. If possible, you should brush your teeth after every meal. Neglecting your oral hygiene can result in cavities or uneven staining on your teeth once your braces are removed.
Invisalign also requires you to pay special attention to your oral hygiene. You absolutely need to brush your teeth after eating, since putting your aligners back in immediately after a meal keeps food particles trapped against your teeth, increasing your risk of getting cavities, and will stain your aligners. Thankfully, Invisalign makes oral hygiene incredibly easy—you simply pop them out to brush and floss your teeth as you normally would. The aligners are easily damaged by hot water and toothpaste, so you should carefully clean your aligners with room-temperature water and a soft-bristled toothbrush every day to keep them nice and invisible.
Let’s be honest—braces aren’t comfortable. They can scrape or cut the sensitive skin on the inside of your mouth, and you have to use a constant supply of dental wax to keep the metal from causing sores in your mouth. Since Invisalign is made of smooth plastic, it avoids this issue altogether—even better, your aligners are designed to fit around your unique gums perfectly, preventing any irritation and ensuring they remain completely comfortable.
Impact on Lifestyle
Whether you choose braces or Invisalign, you should be able to continue practicing all of your current hobbies, from sports to music. Braces might require you to make a few adjustments that you wouldn’t have to make with Invisalign, like wearing a mouthguard during sports to prevent the metal from injuring you if you take an unexpected hit to the face. Additionally, braces put restrictions on your diet, preventing you from eating crunchy, hard, or sticky foods like popcorn, caramel, and corn on the cob. This means an average of two years without some of your favorite foods. With Invisalign, you can eat whatever you’d like—as long as you remove your aligners first.
Whether you get braces or Invisalign, the cost of your orthodontic treatment depends heavily on your individual case, including what issues are being repaired and your estimated treatment time. One person may find that Invisalign is the least expensive option, but braces may be less expensive for someone else; in some cases, they may end up costing about the same. If cost is a big factor in your decision, it’s wise to get a quote for both braces and Invisalign so you know what to expect. When you visit Dr. Tomasik for a consultation, our office can provide you with an estimate, including how much your insurance is likely to cover. Most insurance companies cover Invisalign the same way they cover braces, paying up to a certain percentage or dollar amount of your expenses.
Invisalign and braces each have their own strengths, but they’re both effective ways to grant you the straight, even smile you’ve always dreamed of having. Choosing the right treatment for you is the first step towards that goal; if you’d like to learn more about which option may be best for your unique situation, you can call our office any time to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tomasik.