Invisalign vs. Braces: Pros & Cons

Woman Wearing Orthodontic Silicone Trainer

Crooked, misaligned teeth can be uncomfortable, unappealing, and unhealthy. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of orthodontic options you can use to straighten your teeth and enhance your smile. According to Humana Dental, “over four million people in the U.S. wear braces, and 25 percent of these individuals are adults.” If it’s time for you to finally correct your crooked teeth and enjoy a more confident, comfortable smile, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are here to assist you. We can help you through every step of this smile transformation, educating you about the process and giving you the information you need to decide what’s right for your smile. Of course, one of the first, and most pivotal questions you’ll need to answer is: “Invisalign or braces?” To help you choose, we’ve put together the following blog, which goes over the pros and cons of both these orthodontic treatments.

Orthodontia 101

No matter which route you go, it’s important that you understand exactly what an orthodontic treatment does. After all, both braces and Invisalign accomplish the same basic goal: to put your teeth in proper position. The fundamental feature of any orthodontic treatment is that it puts slight pressure on your teeth, gradually moving them into a more ideal, straight placement. This can take months or even years, since your teeth have to adjust within the jaw. If you really think about it, straightening your teeth is quite the monumental task! Both braces and Invisalign are up to the challenge, but they do so in slightly different ways, which affects your orthodontic experience.

Benefits of Braces

Braces are a familiar, tried-and-true method for straightening your teeth. They move your teeth using small metal brackets linked together by delicate wires and tiny plastic or rubber bands. The main benefit of braces, according to Dr. Darren Flowers’ article in Dentistry IQ, is that they are “functional and work efficiently for fixing complex tooth issues.” Severe misalignment, large gaps, and bite issues may only be treatable with braces. In addition, some patients find braces aesthetic, especially since you can typically customize the color of the rubber or plastic bands between the brackets.

Downsides of Braces

Of course, braces also have their fair share of disadvantages. Since they come in the form of brackets and wires, braces tend to be somewhat uncomfortable to wear. The metal can cut into your gums, while the rubber or plastic bands may snap.

In addition, the hardware of braces makes cleaning your teeth much more difficult and time-consuming while you have them. It is nearly impossible to fully brush the enamel when it is covered in wires, brackets, and rubber bands. The connecting bands of braces also make flossing a challenge. You may need to use special tools just to keep up proper dental hygiene.

Brackets, wires, and rubber bands also make eating and drinking more taxing while you have braces. You may need to give up certain chewy, sticky, or hard foods altogether while you have them.

Furthermore, some patients are embarrassed by the appearance of braces. Humana Dental points out: “25 percent of [people who wear braces] are adults.” Some people may consider the look of braces childish, unprofessional, or unattractive.

Advantages of Invisalign

Invisalign orthodontia consists of a series of clear plastic aligners that slowly shift your teeth into place. This treatment option was designed as an alternative to braces, so it remedies many of the cons typically associated with the traditional bracket and wire system. Invisalign aligners are typically more comfortable than braces, since they slide over the teeth.

In addition, they are removable, which means that you can brush and floss your teeth normally while undergoing treatment. Being able to take out your aligners also allows you to eat all of your favorite foods.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Invisalign aligners is their discreet appearance. Since they are made of transparent plastic designed to fit your teeth, Invisalign aligners are very subtle. Adults are often much more comfortable with their appearance wearing Invisalign aligners than with bracketed braces. Children and teens may also prefer Invisalign’s low-key look.

Dr. Flanagan often recommends Invisalign to our patients so they can enjoy these and other advantages.

Issues with Invisalign

Although it boasts many benefits, Invisalign does have downsides. First and foremost, Invisalign is typically only appropriate to remedy mild to moderate orthodontic issues. More severe or complex cases will not be candidates for this treatment option.

While Invisalign aligners are usually easier to wear than braces, they may not always be comfortable, especially when switching from one aligner to another. After all, these plastic trays still need to shift your teeth within the jaw.

Many patients consider the fact that Invisalign is removable to be an advantage to this treatment, but it can also pose problems. Invisalign patients must exercise self-control to keep their aligners in most of the day, even though they can easily take them off. This may make this treatment unsuitable for younger children. In addition, some people consider having to remove the aligners before every meal a hassle.

Our Houston Dental Practice Can Help You Choose

Now that you know a bit more about the pros and cons of Invisalign versus braces, Dr. Flanagan and our team can help you make your final decision. We will examine your mouth, review your records, and discuss your preferences with you to help you choose which is best for you. In either case, we’ll be delighted to help you straighten your smile. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment with Dr. Flanagan!

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