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What do orthodontists factor into the braces or Invisalign debate?

Posted in Adults, Braces, General, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Treatment Process

When it comes to deciding between Invisalign or braces, which factors will your orthodontist recommend you consider when making recommendations? Our orthodontists in BC and Alberta share some insights into how we help patients make these important decisions.

Invisalign vs. Braces

If you need orthodontic treatment, you may have a difficult choice ahead of you depending on your needs and the circumstances of your orthodontic problem: should you get braces or Invisalign clear aligners? As you do your research and weigh the pros and cons for each when it comes to your personal situation, our orthodontists can share which factors they consider when making recommendations to our patients. We can answer any questions you may have and help you choose the orthodontic treatment option that's most suitable for you.

Traditionally made of metal and attached to the front of the teeth, braces have seen many advances thanks to how technology and treatment methods have evolved in the past few decades/ There are now different options including translucent (ceramic) braces and coloured braces. Rubber bands and metal wires are attached to brackets to shift your teeth into their proper, prescribed positions and resolve orthodontic problems. 

Invisalign features clear, custom-made plastic aligners that are designed to move teeth in tiny increments until the correct position is achieved. The orthodontist will take a 3D scan of your mouth to ensure proper measurements are obtained, so the aligners can be made to fit your teeth precisely. 

Can you choose between braces & Invisalign?

Whether you'll have the option to choose between braces and Invisalign will depend on your orthodontic issues identified by your orthodontist during your initial assessment. 

Since Invisalign isn't always the best option for patients with more severe orthodontic issues, receiving advice from your orthodontist based on your specific circumstances is essential. In this post, we'll list some reasons why some people choose either Invisalign or braces and some disadvantages of each in an effort to help you make an informed choice.  

Is Invisalign better than braces?

You might think of this question as you ponder your choices. Keep in mind that whether one option is better than the other can change from person to person, depending on your specific circumstances and requirements. To choose the right fit for you, you and your orthodontist should consider the advantages and disadvantages of Invisalign vs. braces and how they complement or contrast to your orthodontic needs and concerns about duration of your treatment, aesthetic factors and more.

Advantages of Invisalign

You can take your clear aligners out to eat, drink and play sports.

You might wonder if you'll have to wear your Invisalign aligners all the time. While it's true that for best results you'll need to wear your clear aligners for 22 hours every day, you'll be able to plan to take them out for mealtimes and activities for 2 hours each day. This means you can still eat all your favourite foods, drink whatever you'd like (you should remove your clear aligners to drink anything but water) and play sports or instruments without worrying about damaging your aligners. This isn't possible with braces, which are fixed and require some adjustments to diet.

Clear aligners are transparent.

One of the reasons many patients choose Invisalign is for their appearance - the average person may have tough time spotting them on your teeth, which means self-conscious teens and appearance-weary adults alike will be able to work, socialize and go about their daily life without having metal brackets and wires stand out on their teeth.

You'll be able to continue brushing and flossing normally.

With Invisalign clear aligners, you won't need to navigate brushing and flossing around metal wires and brackets. Instead, you'll just need to soak your clear aligners in cleaning solution (never brush them as this can scratch or damage them) and brush and floss as you would normally, making sure to clear away all food particles and debris that can build up and cause plaque. Maintaining an excellent at-home oral hygiene routine will be key to your success as you progress through your treatment, no matter which option you choose. 

You might spend less time in your orthodontist's chair overall.

Most patients are concerned about the comfort of whichever orthodontic treatment option they choose and may wonder, "Which is more painful: braces or Invisalign?". While you may feel some pain or discomfort with either option, since you won't have metal brackets and wires to contend with you'll have less chance of the insides of your cheeks becoming scratched or sensitive due to wires rubbing against them.

Disadvantages of Invisalign

Invisalign may have several disadvantages depending on a patient's lifestyle, ability to self-discipline and budget. Specifically, here are some factors you might want to consider:

You'll need to consider Invisalign's effectiveness vs. braces to treat your problem. 

We won't always recommend Invisalign for patients, especially if they have a more complex orthodontic case. Ask your orthodontist if you can expect the same results whether you choose either treatment method before deciding which treatment option to choose. This will help you make an informed decision on which type of orthodontic treatment is right for you. 

You'll need to be disciplined.

Compliance with your treatment plan will be a major factor in your success. One caveat with Invisalign is that since you'll need to wear your clear aligners for 22 hours every day, tracking the time they are out of your mouth for any reason is essential. It's important to remember to put them back in after brushing, flossing, eating or playing sports. If this doesn't happen, you will not achieve your intended results in the time period specified in your treatment plan and your plan will need to be updated. 

It can be inconvenient to remove and place your clear aligners back in your mouth.

If you eat or drink a lot in public or travel, you might find it a challenge to remove your aligners discreetly without losing them. However, they need to be removed before you eat or drink anything other than water. You'll also need to brush your teeth before replacing your Invisalign aligners. since food particles can build up into plaque and affect whether your teeth shift into the positions prescribed in your orthodontic treatment plan. Your aligners can also become stained and you'll be at higher risk for cavities and bad breath if you don't maintain a good at-home oral hygiene routine.

Should you choose Invisalign, don't forget to carry a carrying case to keep your clear aligners clean and safe from damage while they are out of your mouth.

You'll need to take costs and finances into account.

Depending on the nature of the orthodontic problem being treated, the duration of your treatment and other factors, the cost of Invisalign clear aligners may be in line or slightly more than the cost of braces. Depending on your specific issue, some treatment may be challenging or impossible to accomplish with Invisalign alone, so the orthodontist may propose the possibility of finalizing tooth positions with braces, which could increase the cost of your treatment. 

You may need attachments. 

Sometimes, attachments are needed to help the aligners keep their grip and shift the teeth into place as prescribed. Some patients won't need any, some may need a couple and some may need them on most teeth. While these button-like attachments mimic tooth colour, they can look like you're wearing clear braces rather than clear aligners.

Advantages of Braces

They are a versatile treatment option.

With braces, we'll be able to correct both simple and complex orthodontic problems, whether they are facial or dental issues to help you achieve your goals for your smile. Braces remain the most powerful orthodontic treatment method for moving teeth into a desired position, and use brackets, anchors and wires to shift teeth into their proper place.

They allow for more precise results, potentially in less time. 

Your orthodontist might suggest braces as they can help achieve precise results and will exert more force to move your teeth into the positions required. There are limitations with Invisalign when it comes to how much teeth can be shifted to bring them into alignment. 

You'll have multiple types of braces to choose from.

Looking to have your braces be less noticeable? We offer ceramic (translucent) braces that are made of tooth-coloured ceramic material rather than metallic grey or silver, which allows them to blend in with your teeth. If aesthetics are a concern for you, we may have a solution even if you do need braces. 

The duration of your treatment may be shorter with braces. 

When the goal is to correct misalignment and close gaps between teeth, the duration of treatment time for some patients may be shorter with braces vs. Invisalign. This may prove to be an important factor if one of your objectives is to complete your orthodontic treatment as quickly as possible. Ask your orthodontist if one treatment option will mean a significant difference in the duration of your treatment. 

Disadvantages of Braces

You may be less than enthusiastic about the appearance of braces. 

If they have traditional metal braces, some people suspect they may feel self-conscious about their appearance at work or in social settings, since metal or coloured braces can be somewhat more noticeable on teeth. 

You may find brushing your teeth challenging. 

You'll need to take a little more time to brush and floss your teeth with braces as they are fixed (not removable like Invisalign) and there are brackets and wires to navigate carefully around. If your teeth aren't cleaned properly during treatment, plaque can accumulate around the braces, leading to tooth decay and staining that can remain after your braces come off. That's why our orthodontists spend time showing our patients how to safely brush and floss with braces. 

You'll need to take extra care choosing food. 

Avoiding hard, sticky foods such as taffy and even carrots will be a necessity with braces. when it comes to drinks, avoid carbonated or acidic beverages as they can cause tooth decay and harm your braces. If any food gets stuck in the arch wire, breaks a bracket or causes a bracket to dislodge from the tooth, you'll need to visit your orthodontist right away to have it repaired. Multiple mishaps with braces can prolong treatment time. 

You'll need to see your orthodontist for regular visits. 

Once your braces are on, you'll need to see your orthodontist about every 4-6 weeks to have them adjusted, check your treatment progress and assess whether any changes need to be made so you can stay on track with your treatment. With Invisalign, you'll check in with your orthodontist about every 8 weeks or so, since your aligners have already been made and you'll change them at home. 

How will I make the right decisions about my orthodontic treatment? 

If you're just starting to look into which orthodontic treatment options are out there, you might be feeling a bit confused or overwhelmed as you consider which might work best for you. After all, you've got so much to think about! The good news is, we're here to address your questions and concerns every step of the way, and offer our recommendations to help you make informed decisions about your oral health.

Are you wondering whether you should get braces or Invisalign clear aligners to treat your orthodontic issue? Contact our British Columbia and Alberta orthodontists today to book an appointment for an initial assessment. 

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