When it comes to orthodontic
treatment, the field of dentistry has come a long way. In the past, traditional
braces using metal brackets anchored to the teeth to correct misalignment or
crookedness was a patient’s only options. Metal braces are still a widely used
and highly effective method, but nowadays, patients can choose from a wide
array of alternatives depending on their individual needs, aesthetic
preferences, and budget.
Orthodontics has evolved to take discretion and appearance into
consideration, creating effective alignment solutions that patients can wear
without having to be self conscious. Porcelain
veneers, for example, are an excellent cosmetic solution for
patients with minor misalignment. For a substantial overbite or more serious
orthodontic issue, however, patients can consider iBraces,
which are smaller than traditional braces, and are anchored to the back of your teeth to be virtually
One orthodontic treatment has become one of the leading
alternatives to braces. Invisalign, for adults or teens,
is a series of clear plastic trays that are molded specifically to your teeth
and fit over your teeth to align
them. They function in much the same way as traditional braces, with the
obvious benefit of being, well, invisible. Aside from the visual difference,
though, there are some functional differences between braces and Invisalign.
Let’s explore some of the major ones.
How Do Invisalign and
Braces Straighten Teeth?
If you have had braces in the past, or know somebody who has
braces, you’re familiar with the check ins every few weeks with your
orthodontist to tighten the braces. The wire that’s anchored to your teeth is
gradually tightened over the course of treatment, literally squeezing the teeth
together to straighten them. This must happen in the office, which is
beneficial in that it allows your orthodontist to closely monitor the progress
of your treatment.
Invisalign also works by applying incremental pressure to your
teeth to tighten them, however, it uses a series of plastic trays, or aligners,
to do this. While Invisalign aligners are molded to the shape of your teeth,
each is a slightly different size, following the natural progression of your
straightening process. Every subsequent tray is just a bit straighter, until
ultimately, your final tray is the shape of your perfectly straight smile.
Instead of tightening a wire like with regular braces, you simply change your
tray roughly every two weeks.
You must still meet with your orthodontist on a regular braces,
but changing trays can be done easily and conveniently at home. Typically, your
orthodontist will give you a few trays at a time to last you between visits.
Trays are numbered, and you wear them in numerical order.
How Do Invisalign and
Braces Affect Your Day-to-Day?
One of the clearest advantages of Invisalign over braces is
that Invisalign is removable. This means that daily activities like eating,
drinking, and brushing your teeth aren’t affected at all. In fact, you have to remove your Invisalign tray when
eating or drinking. But you can still eat whatever you want because there is
nothing obstructing your teeth. Optimal wear for your Invisalign tray is 22
hours per day, but this still allows you plenty of time to keep the tray out
With braces, however, food can get caught in between the
brackets. You have to take extra care to brush after every meal to avoid a
buildup of plaque and bacteria from food particles that accumulate around the
the braces. Foods that are too hard or sticky can be difficult to brush away
from your braces, and can even potentially damage them. Because of this,
patients often avoid foods they once loved to avoid the hassle they cause for
Speaking of brushing, your daily oral hygiene routine is
completely unaffected by Invisalign. While you should ideally be brushing more
(after each meal to properly clean your teeth before putting your tray back
in), the fact that you remove your tray for brushing means that you can brush
normally. When you wear braces, you have to take extra care to avoid damaging
the wire when you brush, and there are certain areas of your teeth that you’ll
miss altogether. This makes it difficult to be as thorough with your brushing
as you typically would without braces.
There are many factors to consider when choosing between
Invisalign and braces. Because Invisalign straightens teeth through the use of
trays and not the tightening of wires, your orthodontist has less direct
control over the movement of your teeth. Treatment may take longer, and there
are some orthodontic issues, such as overlapping teeth, that Invisalign alone
may not be able to correct. But with any course of treatment, consulting with
your orthodontist and learning as much as you can about your options will help
you make the decision that’s right for you.