Dental Braces VS Invisalign

“A smile is a friend maker.” And when you make a new friend, you will want to greet them with your widest smile and leave a good impression. However, this might be an issue for many who suffer from issues such as crooked teeth, cross bites, and other flaws in the teeth and the jaw. For many years, dental braces were the undisputed solution to these problems. People simply had to endure a few years of “braces-face” in exchange for an almost permanent set of aligned, straight teeth. However, with medical technology advancement, the creation of Invisalign provide an alternative solution bypassing the “braces-face” stage, and bringing you results you desire no less. Find out more about Dental Braces VS Invisalign below!

TV Series Ugly Betty
Image 1.1: TV Series Ugly Betty that uses Dental Braces to bring out “ugliness” Source: https://elrodorthobracesblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/braces-on-tv/

Dental Braces

What are Dental Braces

Dental braces are a form orthodontic treatment used to correct teeth structures that may be misaligned, protruding, crooked, crowding in certain area or are irregularly spaced, in order to create a perfect set of teeth for a more attractive appearance, and for dental health reasons.

Dental braces consist of metal brackets glued to the outside of each teeth, and the brackets are tied together using wires and small rubber bands. The wires apply constant pressure on the teeth to reposition them.

With technological advancement and the strong desire by many to have their braces as invisible as possible, brackets today can be made with ceramic so that they match the colour of your teeth enamel, making them much more discreet. Some people may even have their braces done at the back of the teeth!

Ceramic braces which are not as obvious compared to normal braces
Image 2.1: Ceramic braces which are not as obvious compared to normal braces Source: https://www.manchesterorthodontics.co.uk/products/ceramic-braces

Compared to other orthodontic treatments, dental braces can be used for a wider variety of cases, even those that are more serious.

Treatment process

Before the braces are attached onto the teeth, an X-ray is done to allow the dentist to decide the condition of the teeth and the orthodontic treatment required. After the X-ray, the braces and wires are attached onto the teeth, and this process takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Once attached, the braces are permanently on until the teeth are in perfect alignment, only then will they be removed.

Patients have to go for regular follow-ups every month in order to make further adjustments and replace the elastic bands. Patients will usually experience tightness and mild pain after adjustment sessions.

How long does the treatment take?

Today’s arch wires are more advanced, meaning that repositioning requires less time and patients experience less discomfort.

Dental braces are usually worn for about two to two-and-a-half years, varying from patient to patient. However, the wires used today are more advanced, and the repositioning process can be completed much faster. The duration for dental braces depends on the conditions of the teeth and the orthodontic treatment required to fix them. If a patient requires a lot of repositioning, a longer treatment process will be required.

How Successful are Dental Braces?

Dental braces’ success tracks back to over 200 years, and has been constantly improving to be more effective and less painful. Dental braces are also able to fix even the most complicated and serious cases of misaligned teeth and jaw problems.

Post Dental Braces

After removing dental braces, patients will have to continue wearing retainers or positioners daily, for certain period of time, and subsequently less often. Seek advice from dentist on instructions regarding retainers and positioners.

Dental retainers after braces are removed
Image 2.3: Dental retainers after braces are removed Source: http://www.orthodonticproductsonline.com/2015/03/treatment-plan-digitally-streamline-%E2%80%A8debanding-retentionusing-digital-impressions-near-end-treatment-ensure-better-retention-results/

Invisalign

What is Invisalign

Similar to dental braces, Invisalign is used to fix misaligned teeth, overly crowded teeth, crooked teeth, widely spaced teeth, and simple bite irregularities. However, Invisalign differs from braces in many ways. Firstly, Invisalign does not affect the appearance of patients during the treatment process as they are designed to be invisible. Secondly, Invisalign is a far less invasive alternative to dental braces. Lastly, Invisalign is not able to treat orthodontic problems that are very serious, and braces will be required.

Invisalign makes use of clear plastic aligner trays that custom-fit to your teeth worn over the teeth to slowly reposition them.

Treatment process

Dentists use X-rays, pictures and 3D computer images to fully configure the Invisalign aligner tray according to each patient’s teeth.

Throughout the treatment process, patients are required to constantly return for follow-ups. During these appointments, new customised aligners are produced to consistently and gradually reposition the teeth, until they are at their desired position. Aligners are usually given in a set of two, consisting of the top and bottom.

Invisalign aligners have to removed during meals, as well as when you want to brush and floss your teeth. However, they have to be in place for at least 20 hours each day until the teeth are in the desired position, and hence removal should be minimized in order to achieve the most effective and efficient treatment.

How long does the treatment take?

The duration of Invisalign treatment varies from patients to patients, depending on the seriousness of their orthodontic problem. In general, most patient take around a year to complete the treatment, during which about 20 to 30 aligner variations are produced.

How Successful is Invisalign?

Invisalign does not have a track record that is as well-established as that of dental braces, but it is still very effective in treating orthodontic problems, except those that are very serious.

Post Invisalign

Similar to braces, after Invisalign treatment, patients will have to continue wearing retainers or positioners daily, for certain period of time, and subsequently less often. Seek advice from dentist on instructions regarding retainers and positioners.

Braces vs Invisalign

Aesthetics

In terms of aesthetics, Invisalign is usually the preferred choice as most people dislike the look of braces on them, and would opt for an “invisible” orthodontic treatment. Invisalign allows them to go about their day-to-day activities without any major changes to their appearance. Another plus point of Invisalign is that there is no risk of getting food caught in the braces after meals. Of course, if you have braces, you can also opt for ceramic ones that are able to camouflage with your teeth enamel colour. You can also choose white rubber bands to be conspicuous, or have fun playing around with the colours of your rubber bands if you like.

Colourful rubber bands used for braces
Image 4.1: Colourful rubber bands used for braces Source: http://shinagawa.ph/what-color-of-braces-should-you-wear/

Duration of Treatment Process

Dental braces treatment process usually takes about two years to two-and-a-half year, while Invisalign treatment usually takes about a year to complete. Of course, the duration of the process depends mainly on the condition of the teeth, and the treatment required. This might be a factor for some when comparing braces vs invisalign as some go through the treatment for certain life events such as weddings, photoshoot etc.

Cost of Braces vs Invisalign

On average, Invisalign is much more expensive compared to dental braces because of the technology as well as the need to repeatedly make new aligner trays.

Number of Subsequent Visits

Dental braces require adjustment sessions monthly, while Invisalign users need to go for follow-ups every 2 weeks in order to change their aligners.

However, there is a chance that if you wearing dental braces, you may have to make more emergency visits compared to an Invisalign user. This is because there is a chance that the wire on your braces may snap or the braces can get knocked off if you knock onto or bite onto something very hard.

Braces wire snapped
Image 4.2: Braces wire snapped Source: https://metalmouthmba.wordpress.com/tag/archwire/

Effectiveness of Treatment

Dental braces are extremely effective in treating complex orthodontic problems, while Invisalign is unable to deal with them. Hence, Invisalign may not even be considered if you have very serious orthodontic problems. This is because Invisalign aligner trays mainly apply pressure towards the upper part of the tooth, while dental braces exert an equal pressure on the entire tooth. Dental braces push the entire tooth into the desired position, including the root.

Another problem some people may face with Invisalign is the lack of discipline to keep their aligner trays on. Some people may want to remove them when they feel the pain from their teeth shifting. Any food & drinks that is not water also requires the removal of your aligners. Aligner trays needs to be work foraround 20 hours or else previous progress may become undone. Braces, on the other hand are permanently attached to the teeth, allowing it to continuously work its effects.

 

Hygiene and Maintenance

When it comes to comparing braces vs invisalign on hygiene. Invisalign is generally more hygienic and easier to maintain. However, this is a tedious process. Invisalign must be removed before consuming any food or drink other than water, to prevent staining. After every meal, you also have to brush your teeth to prevent any food being stuck inside the aligners when you put them back. The positive part is that aligner trays can be easily cleaned and maintained as they can be removed. You will also be able to maintain oral hygiene better as you can freely brush and floss your teeth.

Dental braces on the other hand are harder to maintain and to stay hygienic. The brackets and wires can cause brushing and flossing to be difficult, and you may require other accessories to clean areas that are harder to reach. Braces may also require you to avoid certain food that can get stuck in the wires easily.

Braces cleaning tools
Image 4.3: Braces cleaning tools
Source: https://www.ucsmilesortho.com/miscellaneous/our-blog/essential-tools-for-cleaning-your-braces

Pain Factor

Both dental braces and Invisalign are painful when attached, and after adjustments are made. You will also feel pain whenever your teeth reposition. However, in general Invisalign aligner trays exert lesser pressure on the teeth compared to dental braces.

Dental braces come with the risk of additional pain and sores from the braces or the wire, as they may cut the gums and cheeks. Invisalign aligner trays on the other hand only rub smoothly against your gums.

 

In conclusion, the decision between dental braces vs Invisalign boils down to:

  • How self-conscious you are if you were to have braces on
  • Whether you have the discipline to keep your Invisalign on if you were to get them
  • Condition and suitability of your teeth for Invisalign.

Do consult your dentist to check which is best for your condition.

Written By: Lim Jun Tian

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