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Invisalign vs. Braces

Is Invisalign or braces better?

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by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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Both braces and Invisalign can help straighten your teeth and improve your smile. While both treatments aim to shift teeth into proper position, there are multiple differences between the two.

The main difference between braces and Invisalign is the technique used to shift teeth and create a beautiful smile. Braces use metal brackets and wires, while Invisalign uses a series of clear custom aligning trays that are changed every one to two weeks.

Pros and cons of braces

Braces are an effective treatment for many significant orthodontic cases. They help close gaps and align teeth quickly. While current wires are less noticeable than the braces of the past, colorful elastics add some fun.

If you are not a frequent flosser or brusher, you might find it difficult to get on a regular pace with both flossing and brushing teeth. It is important to keep your teeth clean when wearing braces, and certain foods and drinks must be avoided. If you play sports, you’ll need to use a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you play.

Pros and cons of Invisalign

Clear aligners are almost unnoticeable to other people when you wear them. They are also removable, which makes them more convenient for eating or athletic activities. For many, the increased comfortability and convenience make Invisalign a top choice.

Invisalign trays may stain if not removed before eating, and there is an increased risk of cavities when drinking sugary drinks while wearing aligners. Aligners must typically be changed weekly or biweekly and can be easy to forget to change out if you don't create a schedule.

Differences between Invisalign and braces

The following table provides a direct comparison between Invisalign and braces to help you better assess what matches your needs and budgets.

InvisalignBraces
Cost$3,000 to $5,000$3,000 to $8,000
Treatment timeTypically six to 18 monthsAverage of 2 years
ColorClear/invisibleTypically silver; other colors available
MaintenanceInvisalign cleaning system or lukewarm waterBrush brackets and wires regularly; water pick
Follow-up visitsVisits every four to six weeksApproximately every month
Follow-up treatmentPositioner or retainer may be requiredPositioner or retainer may be required
Not suitable forMany people with significant dental issuesPatients playing rough contact sports regularly
Invisalign$3,000 to $5,000Typically six to 18 monthsClear/invisibleInvisalign cleaning system or lukewarm waterVisits every four to six weeksPositioner or retainer may be requiredMany people with significant dental issues
Braces$3,000 to $8,000Average of 2 yearsTypically silver; other colors availableBrush brackets and wires regularly; water pickApproximately every monthPositioner or retainer may be requiredPatients playing rough contact sports regularly

Invisalign vs. braces: Cost

Traditional braces typically cost about $3,000 to $8,000. Invisalign tends to cost about the same at an average of around $3,000 to $5,000.

However, costs could vary depending on your dental health and the required level of treatment and correction.

Invisalign vs. braces: Effectiveness

Both Invisalign and traditional metal braces work toward the same result: straight teeth and improved oral health. However, they use different methods to reach this goal. Invisalign works well for many people, but those with significant dental issues often see better results with traditional braces.

Invisalign vs. braces: Which is faster?

If you’re looking at very minimal correction, then Invisalign is typically a better solution. But if you require significant correction, then braces may work faster than Invisalign to close gaps and align teeth.

Invisalign vs. braces: Maintenance

Braces can be more of a maintenance and oral hygiene challenge compared to Invisalign. Brackets and wires can make brushing and flossing difficult.

Invisalign aligners are removable — you should remove your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than water to prevent stains. You also need to brush your teeth after every meal to prevent particles of food from getting lodged inside your aligners.

Invisalign vs. braces: Results

Invisalign treatment is designed more for aesthetic teeth straightening and simple dental issues, while braces are typically a better choice if you have more complex problems. Braces may also work more quickly to close gaps and align teeth than Invisalign.

Which is better?

The truth is there is no simple answer to this. The best choice for you varies based on your oral hygiene and the amount of correction required. Invisalign and traditional braces are both great orthodontic options. Consult your orthodontist to see if they can give you an assessment of which choice suits your needs better.

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Invisalign Alternatives

Invisalign is often the first name that comes to mind when people are looking for invisible aligners. However, there are many other companies that provide similar treatment. Be sure to consider treatment time, maintenance and aftercare when looking at multiple brands.

SmileDirectClub

While Smile Direct Club does offer some in-person locations, the majority of dental office visits can be skipped by using its at-home impression kits and treatment solutions. Smile Direct Club clients make a mold of their teeth at home and mail it to the company. The aligners are then created based on the mold and mailed back to you with the treatment steps. This option is great for someone who prefers in-home care. Pricing starts at $59 for the impression kit, and treatment is $89 per month with a $250 down payment or $1,950 upfront. 

Byte

Byte offers a treatment like Invisalign with simple payment terms and monthly payment options. Board-certified orthodontists look at each treatment plan and check the aligners before they’re shipped to you. The company’s HyberByte vibrational technology can help accelerate treatment plans in some cases. Pricing starts at $29.95 for the impression kit, and aligners start at $83 per month or $1,895 upfront.

ProClear Aligners

ProClear offers impression kits to create a snapshot of your teeth at home. After receiving the impression, the company creates your aligners through their AccuPro advanced digital technology and ship them to you. ProClear Aligners offers 24/7 support by phone or its online support portal. Pricing starts at $79 for the impression kit, and aligners cost $80 per month or $2,511 upfront.

For other alternatives to Invisalign, check out more invisible braces companies.

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Profile picture of Danni White
by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Danni White is committed to providing valuable resources designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions. Danni specializes in content strategy and development, with over a decade of professional writing and research experience.