Braces or Invisalign – that is a common question. If you’re looking into orthodontic treatment for your smile, you’re probably wondering what the most common pros and cons are. After all, it’s a significant orthodontic decision that you should be sure is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

Depending on your lifestyle and smile goals, you might prefer Invisalign treatment over traditional braces or vice versa. To help with your decision making, we’ve compiled a few of the most common pros and cons so you can make an informed decision for your case and goals prior to scheduling a free consultation with Dr. Park.

Invisalign and braces visual comparison

Aesthetics

This is the most obvious reason patients choose to go with Invisalign over braces. The Invisalign trays are inconspicuous, alleviating any insecurities that might come with the brackets and wires of traditional braces. This has also been especially important for our adult patients who wish to have straighter teeth, but don’t want noticeable braces. Teens and adults alike can continue on with their regular day-to-day lives without feeling self-conscious about their orthodontic hardware. Although traditional braces can have ceramic brackets and bands that are tooth-colored and less conspicuous, braces are still much more noticeable than Invisalign.

Invisalign's biggest strength is that it's nearly invisible

Braces
Noticeable metal hardware on teeth

Invisalign
Clear and virtually undetectable

Winner for Aesthetics
Invisalign

Flexibility

Braces are susceptible to complications with certain foods and brackets breaking. Braces are generally more fragile and require you to be much more careful about what you eat. Hard and stiff foods, like many candies, gum, nuts, and even some fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples are all risky to consume when undergoing treatment with braces. Furthermore, once braces are on, they’re on until treatment is finished, and you  cannot remove them at-will for a meal, like Invisalign.

Since Invisalign treatment works through a series of aligners that gradually straighten your teeth, the ability to remove these aligners when needed is another major benefit. You won’t be restricted by the kinds of food you can eat or need to drastically change your oral hygiene routine. This freedom that Invisalign offers has significantly added to its popularity over the years since its introduction.

With Invisalign, you can eat and drink whatever you want when they're removed

Braces
Permanent, diet restrictions

Invisalign
Removable, no diet restrictions

Winner for Flexibility
Invisalign

Discipline Required

To keep on track with an Invisalign treatment plan, patients must wear their aligners for 22 hours a day on average. If you fail to do so, you may not see the desired results within the original treatment time frame, thus extending your total treatment length.

For some people, 22 hours a day can be hard to keep track of and commit to, and it is not uncommon for treatment duration to be extended by several months to account for this lack of discipline.

Furthermore, Invisalign aligners are susceptible to being lost or thrown away on accident, further increasing the risk of extended treatment times and in extreme cases increased cost due to lack of discipline.

Since braces are not removable, no additional discipline is required to wear or keep track of appliances, and setbacks from a failure to adequately “wear your braces” are not a concern.

Invisalign aligners can get lost if you are not diligent about keeping them in their case when not inserted

Braces
Cannot be removed since fixed to teeth, requires no additional discipline

Invisalign
Must be worn 22 hours a day, can cause treatment delays and complications if not worn often enough

Winner for Discipline Required
Braces

Comfort

Invisalign trays are made out of a high-quality, smooth, and flexible plastic. Although there will be some discomfort when your teeth start to loosen and move, as with any orthodontic teeth-straightening procedure, the Invisalign hardware itself usually does not cause any direct discomfort.

Braces can sometimes cause some discomfort from the actual orthodontic hardware in addition to the discomfort from the movement of the teeth. The brackets or wires can rub against your mouth and cause abrasions and discomfort. The most common culprit is  Depending on the type of braces (traditional, Damon, etc) your orthodontist can sometimes adjust brackets and/or wires to decrease discomfort and you can put wax on wires between appointments to alleviate poking.

Invisalign is typically more comfortable than braces

Braces
Permanent, diet restrictions

Invisalign
Removable, no diet restrictions

Winner for Comfort
Invisalign

Safety

With Invisalign, patients who participate in sports or other activities involving physical contact don’t have to worry about cutting their mouth, tongue or lips on wires and brackets or breaking any appliances. Orthodontic emergencies that active lifestyles run into with braces are virtually non-existent with Invisalign.

Invisalign also eliminates any concerns regarding the use of metal in the mouth with its BPA-free plastic aligners. It should be noted that no adverse effects of metal being in the mouth have ever been proven and this is a lifestyle choice, not a medical recommendation. The professional dental and orthodontic communities considers metal braces perfectly safe for use for all ages.

Invisalign is an excellent choice for athletes and active lifestyles

Braces
Protruding metal can cut from hard impact, appliances susceptible to breaking

Invisalign
Smooth plastic won’t cut from hard contact, nearly impossible to break/damage while wearing

Winner for Safety
Invisalign

Oral Hygiene

Both braces and Invisalign require more frequent brushing and flossing. Invisalign requires your teeth teeth to be cleaned after eating or drinking anything other than water. It is recommended to brush your teeth after any food consumption when undergoing braces as well. Although some patients may find this burdensome, it also typically leads to better oral hygiene and healthier habits, and is beneficial long-term.

Invisalign aligners do have the benefit of being removed during brushing and flossing, and although the aligners require brief separate cleanings, they do not complicate normal oral hygiene.

Braces are more difficult to clean than teeth without braces for many patients due to the many places food can become lodged. If patients are not vigilant in cleaning them this can lead to accelerated tartar and plaque buildup, and in severe cases of neglect even accelerated tooth decay. Additional flossing hardware is often recommended to ensure oral hygiene during braces is thorough.

Invisalign makes for easier oral hygiene than braces

Braces
Increase difficulty of oral hygiene due to appliances retaining food and obstructing typical cleaning techniques

Invisalign
Do not complicate normal oral hygiene, require separate cleaning

Winner for Oral Hygiene
Invisalign

Bite Correction

Invisalign offers solutions to a number of orthodontic ailments and can be used to treat mild to moderate common bite issues (malocclusions) such as overcrowding, overbites, underbites, crossbites, openbites, overjets, etc.  However, more severe and complex bite issues are hard to treat properly and effectively with Invisalign.

Braces are much more effective at correcting complex and severe bite problems. Braces are more effective than Invisalign due to the more involved nature of the appliances attached to teeth and the ability to grip and move teeth in unusual locations and arrangements properly.

Invisalign can be used to correct mild to moderate bite issues

Braces
Able to be attached to and move teeth in almost any difficult circumstance

Invisalign
Limited ability to grip and move teeth in unusual and tough locations

Winner for Bite Correction
Braces

Cost

Invisalign and braces are both comparably priced, usually beginning at a total treatment cost of around $3,000. Depending on the complexity of the patient’s bite in need of correction, this cost can approach about $5,000 for Invisalign, which can treat mild to moderate bite issues, and about $7,000 for braces, which can treat much more severe bite problems and thus can have a higher maximum cost.

However, for the same individual,  the cost will usually be quite comparable. One option may be more affordable than the other depending on situation, with braces edging out Invisalign more often than not – but again, by a relatively small margin.

Invisalign cost about the same as braces

Braces
$3,000 to $7,000

Invisalign
$3,000 to $5,000

Winner for Cost
Tie

Summary

So Invisalign is more aesthetically pleasing, more flexible, more comfortable, safer, and easier to clean your teeth while undergoing. Braces, on the other hand, require less discipline and room for error in treatment, and therefore isn’t a viable option for children. Braces are still the only option for children, and are better at correcting severe and unique bite issues. Both Braces and Invisalign cost about the same.

Have additional questions? Ready to move forward? Either way, we invite you to book a free consultation with us, and come learn which orthodontic treatments are a good fit for you!