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Braces and Invisalign – Which One Is Right For You?

Both braces and Invisalign are great when used to correct the positions of teeth, but both braces and Invisalign have their “pros and cons,” so knowing how they work is important in deciding what is best for you.

From a practitioner’s point of view, the biggest separation is the mechanics–braces pull and aligners push. Teeth only react to the forces that are being applied to them… they do not differentiate between appliances… so forces need to be controlled by a skilled orthodontist who is trained to know how the teeth will react to the various forces applied. There are movements that are better or more efficient with braces, and there are those that are better with Invisalign, so being able to predict what those movements are, and being able to adjust the mechanics of the case appropriately is very important in achieving an optimal smile and healthy bite.


Your Lifestyle Will Dictate Which Option Is Ideal
For the patient, however, the biggest difference is in the day-to-day life. Here are some considerations:

Appointment Intervals:

Braces are cemented to your teeth by a light-cured cement.  Braces are (by necessity) designed to be removed, so yes, they can come off with lateral forces. If played with by the patient, or abused (by food or habits) brackets can come off and may be irritating or sore to the patient.  Wires, likewise, can break, shift or be picked at so that they poke the gums, lips, or cheeks.  However, if proper caution and care is taken, you can go your whole treatment without this type of situation.

On the other hand, Invisalign is made out of a clear heat-molded plastic material. Because you are changing them weekly, there is little instance of them breaking. They can be lost, and in most cases, you can go to the next one as long as it is not a repeated habit. We do use attachments, and at times buttons and brackets, which can break, however the likelihood of “emergency visits” is much less with Invisalign versus braces. In addition, Invisalign appointment intervals can be adjusted to fit the needs and lifestyle of the patient. Individuals who require more coaching and encouragement can come in more often, while those who have busy schedules or live more remotely can come in less frequently.


Both braces and Invisalign will require the patient to keep up with great oral hygiene habits.
Decalcifications can occur if oral hygiene is lax, and plaque is allowed to build up around the brackets or attachments. Decalcifications are like scars on the teeth, and they are usually permanent. The great news is that they are 100% preventable, but are more commonly seen in patients with braces due to poor hygiene.  Brushing and flossing with braces takes longer than brushing normally, but making the effort is essential in preventing the “white spots” from occurring.


Invisalign allows you to brush, floss and eat “like normal” because they can be removed for these activities.  However, aligners make snacking difficult, and if you are eating munchies all day long, the aligners are not on long enough to be effective. With braces, the compliance factor is reduced, since they remain on the teeth for the duration of treatment. But again, lateral forces and subpar oral hygiene can derail treatment with braces.


Consult With Your Orthodontist
If you are considering Invisalign or braces, make sure you visit an orthodontist. At the consultation you can go over the different options and come up with a treatment plan as individual and unique as you are.


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