Invisalign® vs. Braces: A Comparison of Comfort, Cost and Care

When it comes to straightening teeth, there is more than one option.  Orthodontics has changed quite a bit in the last 30 years.  You no longer have to wear metal brackets and wires in order to get the straight, beautiful smile you have always wanted.

How Braces Work

Braces use either metal or ceramic (tooth-colored) brackets.  The dentist attaches these brackets to the enamel of your teeth using an adhesive.  Then wires connect the brackets and use a pulling pressure to move the teeth into the desired position.

How Invisalign® Works

Invisalign® is a series of clear aligners, which fit tightly over the teeth.  Each aligner puts a pushing-type pressure to specifically prescribed areas of each tooth to move it to its desired position.  Patients straightening their teeth with Invisalign® replace the aligner with a new one every two weeks.  Each new aligner contains a slightly different position of the teeth to create the overall movement desired.

The Comfort of Braces

Braces can be uncomfortable.  The pressure used to move the teeth could lead to headaches, tooth tenderness and jaw pain.  The rough edges of metal and ceramic braces often scratch the inside of the cheeks, lips and tongue.  This can cause painful ulcers.  Wires that protrude out of the brackets can lead to small, sharp stab wounds in the back of the mouth.

Over time, the tissues inside the mouth toughen up.  Once the lining of the cheeks, lips and tongue gets used to the braces, they are less likely to develop ulcers.

The Comfort of Invisalign®

Invisalign® puts a different type of pressure on the teeth, but it is still a tooth-moving pressure.  Therefore, Invisalign® also can cause the headaches, tooth tenderness and jaw pain of orthodontic movement.

Because Invisalign® does not use any metal, sores or ulcerations are very unlikely.  It is possible to develop a sore from an area of roughness on an Invisalign® aligner.  If you feel an area where an aligner is rubbing a raw spot inside your mouth, do not hesitate to call us as soon as possible so that we can adjust it.  All it takes is a very quick smoothing of the rough spot on the aligner to remove that irritation.

The Cost of Braces

The cost of orthodontic treatment with braces varies widely.  The cost depends on how long it will take to straighten your teeth, what type of braces your dentist selects, and any additional appliances necessary to meet your orthodontic needs.

The Cost of Invisalign®

Invisalign® also has a range of costs.  The cost is determined by the number of aligners necessary to move the teeth.  With the options of Invisalign® Express, your dentist has a limit to the number of aligners he or she can request.  A full Invisalign® treatment includes a relatively unlimited number of aligners.  This means the price does not continue to rise with an increasing number of aligners required for moving the teeth.

The Care of Braces

When you wear braces, there are specific care instructions you must follow.

  • Food limitations – It is possible to detach brackets and wires from the teeth. This occurs most often from a very sticky or very hard food.  Patients in braces must avoid sticky or chewy foods and candies that can pull the brackets off the teeth.  They should also avoid hard foods like almonds and other nuts that can dislodge the braces.
  • Increased Oral Hygiene Demands – Braces create an oral hygiene challenge. It is much more difficult to clean the teeth in the presence of brackets and wires.  Special tools are available to help you floss underneath wires.  Electric toothbrushes are essential to adequately clean around each bracket.  An anti-cavity mouthwash helps to reduce the risk of cavities inherent with braces.
  • More Frequent Professional Teeth Cleanings – Because the risk for plaque buildup and cavities increases with braces, it is important to have your teeth cleaned on a consistent, frequent basis. Many patients neglect their teeth cleanings during orthodontic treatment and are very upset to learn they have developed multiple cavities or gum disease during their time away.

The Care of Invisalign®

Because Invisalign® aligners are removable, there are no food restrictions or increased oral hygiene demands. This is a huge plus over traditional braces.

There is a slightly increased risk for cavities and gum disease with Invisalign®.  This risk is much lower than with braces, but it is slightly higher than in a normal mouth.  This increased risk results from the way aligners cover the teeth and prevent saliva from constantly bathing the tooth surface.  Saliva’s protective, cavity-fighting properties are unable to work as well with aligners in the way.

Certain Invisalign® patients may require more frequent teeth cleanings with their dental hygienist.  Your dentist will monitor your cavity and gum disease risk throughout treatment and advise you if any changes are necessary.

Are You Interested in Teeth Straightening?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dentists. They will discuss your teeth straightening options and help you choose which one is best for you.