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Invisalign vs. Braces

Invisalign vs. braces: which is the better option?​

Everyone seems to have a straight smile these days—but you may be noticing fewer traditional braces. The reason is clear—clear aligners, that is. Adults and older children, in particular, have begun to opt for clear aligners like Invisalign vs. braces. While both approaches have their own set of advantages and considerations, Invisalign has become a popular option that is less disruptive—to a user’s appearance, eating habits, and dental hygiene. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the differences between Invisalign and braces, the pros and cons of each, candidacy criteria for Invisalign, cost comparisons, suitability for children, and a comparison of various types of clear aligners including Smile Direct Club, Byte, SureSmile, and ClearCorrect. By the end, you’ll have a clearer (pun intended!) understanding of which option might be best for you.

How do clear aligners work?​

Invisalign and other clear aligners are custom-made, removable trays made of a thin, transparent material that fits snugly to your teeth. The Invisalign process is fairly simple:
  • You’ll visit your orthodontist, who will take a scan of your teeth and mouth. This scan enables a completely custom clear aligner—along with the map of a step-by-step treatment plan.
  • Once your new aligners come in, your orthodontist will make sure they fit properly. You’ll take them home and wear them for the designated amount of time (no less or you’ll compromise the treatment process!). At this time, you’ll also schedule your first and subsequent check-ins.
  • At each regular check-in, your orthodontist will assess your progress and provide your next set of trays—changing these trays over time is how Invisalign gradually shifts your teeth into the desired position.
  • Once you have reached your final set of trays, your new smile is ready! Your orthodontist will recommend any additional steps, such as a retainer, to maintain your results.

Invisalign vs. braces:​

Both Invisalign and traditional braces have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Traditional braces consist of brackets that are bonded to the teeth and connected by wires, which are adjusted periodically by an orthodontist to gradually move the teeth into alignment.

Here are some of the pros and cons of traditional braces:​

  • Most cost-effective option for teeth straightening
  • Works even for severe or complex orthodontic cases
  • Removes the risk of user error (since they aren’t removable)
  • Best for children who may not have the maturity to adhere to clear aligner use instructions
  • Not ideal for adults or older teenagers concerned with aesthetics
  • Can cause discomfort and irritation to the mouth Requires dietary restrictions (no sticky or hard foods, popcorn, etc.)
  • Can compromise dental hygiene (harder to floss and brush properly)
  • Longer treatment as compared to clear aligners

Here are some of the pros and cons of Invisalign:​

  • Virtually invisible
  • Shorter treatment
  • Can be removed when eating (no dietary restrictions)
  • Allows for normal brushing and flossing
  • More expensive than traditional braces
  • Non-compliance can be an issue (not wearing aligners for enough hours per day)
  • Not ideal for children who may not follow usage instructions properly

Am I a candidate for Invisalign?​

Invisalign is suitable for treating a range of orthodontic issues, including crowded teeth, gaps, overbites, underbites, and crossbites. But not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign treatment. Some complex or severe cases may not be ideal for Invisalign, so it’s best to see an orthodontist who can recommend the best solution. Ideal candidates for Invisalign are individuals with mild to moderate orthodontic problems who are committed to wearing the aligners as directed. For this reason, children and teenagers may not be ideal Invisalign patients—it may be too tempting to remove aligners too often and even lose the trays, which can result in added expense and prolonged treatment.

Invisalign cost vs. braces:​

As mentioned, Invisalign and other clear aligners often come with a higher price tag (as compared to traditional braces). The cost of Invisalign treatment varies depending on factors such as the complexity of your case and the length of treatment. For this reason, traditional braces may be more cost-effective for some individuals, especially if your insurance covers the treatment. The good news is, payment plans and financing options are often available for all teeth-straightening treatments, including Invisalign. Breaking the total cost of Invisalign into smaller monthly payments can make the added expense more palatable.

Can kids get Invisalign?​

Generally, Invisalign is ideal for adults who can commit to the necessary guidelines (wearing aligners 22+ hours per day). However, for some teens or older children, they may be appropriate. It’s important to gauge your child’s maturity level and ability to determine if Invisalign is something they’ll be able to handle. If you’re worried they may have difficulty complying with wearing the aligners consistently, it’s probably best to stick to traditional braces. Furthermore, if your child or teen has more severe orthodontic issues, Invisalign might not be an option.

Types of clear aligners​

In addition to Invisalign, there are several other brands of clear aligners available on the market, each with its own unique features and benefits. Smile Direct Club, Byte, SureSmile, and ClearCorrect are among the most popular alternatives to Invisalign. While these brands offer similar clear aligner technology, there may be differences in treatment options, pricing, and customer experience. It’s essential to research and consult with your orthodontist to determine which clear aligner option is best suited to your needs.

Invisalign vs. Smile Direct Club

In December 2023, Smile Direct Club announced it would be shutting its doors. This once popular direct-to-consumer clear aligner company offered at-home impression kits and remote monitoring for orthodontic treatment, so many customers were left in a lurch when they announced their bankruptcy. This is an unfortunate cautionary tale of the pitfalls of clear aligner options that allow consumers to skip the orthodontist and go directly online. While online options like Smile Direct Club may be a more affordable option compared to traditional Invisalign treatment, they lack the personalized care and oversight provided by an orthodontist. Invisalign, on the other hand, involves regular check-ins with an orthodontist to ensure treatment progress and to address any concerns or adjustments needed along the way. What’s more, it’s hard to know the quality and efficacy of relatively newer online aligner brands. Invisalign, on the other hand, has been a trusted choice of orthodontists everywhere for almost 25 years.

Byte vs. Invisalign​

Byte is another direct-to-consumer newcomer to the clear aligner space. Similar to Smile Direct Club, Byte purports to be a more convenient, cost-effective alternative to Invisalign. But, as with Smile Direct Club, this option lacks the expert support, efficiency, and proven staying power of Invisalign. In short, Invisalign provides a higher level of professional oversight and customization for the most optimal results.

SureSmile vs. Invisalign​

SureSmile is one of the more comparable options to Invisalign. Like Invisalign, it uses a digital scanning process to create customized clear aligners and treatment plans. Additionally, both systems are leveraged under the oversight of an orthodontist, to be sure that the treatment is progressing and results are as intended. One difference is that the SureSmile system enables traditional braces as well—leveraging the digital mapping technology to optimize treatment.

ClearCorrect vs. Invisalign:​

ClearCorrect is another clear aligner system that offers custom-made aligners to gradually straighten teeth. Both ClearCorrect and Invisalign are used under the care of an orthodontist. The main differences between ClearCorrect vs. Invisalign are price and reputation. ClearCorrect aligners may be a more affordable option for some individuals, but Invisalign is the brand with greater longevity and trust within the orthodontic industry.

Talk to Smiley Dental about Invisalign​

Invisalign is the gold standard of the clear aligner industry for a reason—the brand has built a solid reputation over the course of 25 years. While traditional braces may be more suitable for complex orthodontic cases, Invisalign provides a discreet, comfortable, and convenient alternative. When considering your options for teeth straightening, it’s essential to consult with an experienced orthodontist to determine the best option for your individual needs and goals. No matter which way you go, investing in your smile can have lasting benefits for your oral health and confidence. Let the experts at Smiley Dental guide you in the right direction—learn more about our clear aligner services or find a location near you today!


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