Teenage girl with braces (193215)
Credit: OralAnswers.com photo

According to the Sacramento Dentistry Group, the answer to whether to choose between traditional metal braces or clear aligners, like Invisalign is simple: “It depends.”

In general, studies have shown that when treating similar conditions, Invisalign treatment is a few months faster than braces. Adjunct therapy using Propel, however, significantly speeds up orthodontic treatment with braces, bringing the time required for completion below that of ordinary Invisalign. Of course, patients can also use Propel with Invisalign, in which case the two treatment methods are about on par with one another. Obviously, Propel speeds up the orthodontic process considerably, but what are the advantages and disadvantages of each system?

The Traditional Braces

Braces have come a long way from their origins, and today it is possible to use both tooth colored wires and brackets to minimize their most obvious disadvantage — extreme visibility. Everybody knows when you’re using braces, if they don’t match the color of your teeth. For the confident person, however, that issue may be minimal, and the primary side effect of braces is a rather sore mouth from the brackets and wires irritating the soft tissues.

The major advantage of braces is that they cannot be lost and you always have to wear them. Therefore, compliance is not an issue. For forgetful people or those who hate to “take their medicine,” but desperately need to fix a bite problem, braces may be the ideal solution. Finally, there are some types of malocclusions that are best solved with braces, instead of plastic aligners.

The Latest in Orthodontics

Clear plastic aligners are truly the latest orthodontic technology, although Invisalign was first sold in 1999. The advantages of Invisalign are the opposite of the disadvantages found with braces: they are hard to see and they are quite smooth in comparison. The only pain they generally cause is the same as that with braces — each new adjustment period starts with a little soreness as the teeth shift into their latest required position.

In the same way, the disadvantage to Invisalign is that using it is up to the patient! Invisalign is best worn for twenty-two hours every day. While that allows significant time for eating and cleaning the teeth, plus a special event at some point, go too far beyond the allowed two hours without the aligners too many times and the arches fail to make the expected progress. That means using Invisalign longer than intended, which may increase the cost.