Invisible braces (commonly known as clear aligners or Invisalign) have exploded in popularity in recent years. Although the product has been on the market for close to 20 years now, more and more people are opting to use invisible braces instead of the traditional wire ones. The most popular brand is Invisalign (although there are others). This article will give the reader a quick run down of the pros and cons of using clear aligners versus the traditional wire braces.
Pros of Invisalign Braces
Invisalign liners are molded specifically to fit your teeth, and are made of smooth plastic that won’t snag on your gums or the insides of your cheeks. Anyone who has accidentally poked or cut themselves with traditional wire braces can attest to the fact that Invisalign is a huge step up in comfort.
2. They Are Invisible
This part should be obvious, because it’s right there in the name. Invisalign products are clear, and you can hardly tell that people are wearing them. The main giveaway is that while wearing them the person may have a slight lisp, but other than that they are virtually invisible to the naked eye.
Many people still associate traditional wire braces as an embarrassing phase of middle school or high school, so a less obvious option is quite attractive to adults — and even adolescents.
This is one of the best attractive features of Invisalign. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign is removable. In fact, the patient must remove them when eating and drinking (anything other than cold water). The only stipulation is that they must be worn for 22 out of the 24 hours in a day.
4. Easy Maintenance
Wire braces are a pain when it comes to keeping your teeth clean. For most of us, flossing is a chore, and it becomes even more difficult with braces. For those who aren’t careful, braces could cause a strange two-tone discoloration on the teeth when the wire braces are eventually removed. Yuck!
Invisalign on the other hand makes it super easy for cleaning. You still need to follow a strict cleaning schedule, but instead of trying to thread floss between wires and brush around large brackets, the patient can just pop the liner out, brush and floss without restrictions. Give the liner itself a cleaning, and pop it back in. Nice and easy!
5. No Diet Restrictions
This is another fantastic advantage for Invisalign users. People who get wire braces are normally told to avoid certain foods — crunchy apples or corn on the cob because they could damage the braces and are a mess to clean out of the braces.
When it comes to Invisalign there are no restrictions. You simply remove the aligner at meal time, eat and drink whatever your heart desires, and then put the liner back in. Nothing is off the menu!
6. Faster Results Are Possible
This can be a double-edged sword (as you’ll read later), but depending on how much correcting your teeth need, it’s possible that Invisalign can get job the done in a shorter amount of time than wire braces.
A treatment option called Invisalign Express is available to patients who qualify, which can result in the entire program being completed in approximately 12 months. Compare that to wire braces, which are typically worn for somewhere in the 18-to-24 month range (sometimes even longer).
7. Easier To Play Sports
We mentioned this briefly above, but it’s worth its own section. Invisalign is an excellent option for someone who leads an active lifestyle through sports. Most sports have an element of contact (plus, there’s always the chance of an accidental knock to the face from a ball), and instead of worrying about damaging your braces or getting something stuck in them, you have the option of taking out the aligner, tucking them safely away in their case and leaving them on the sidelines. Just make sure you’re not falling outside your time frame of how long they need to be worn for the day.
Cons of Invisalign Braces
8. Takes Serious Commitment
While the ability to take your aligners out whenever you want can be seen as an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage for people without a strong desire to stick to the program. Invisalign states the liners must be worn for 22 hours a day. For some, this could create a situation where it is easy for them to slowly start slipping on their commitment. If you don’t follow the program, you could prolong the treatment and incur extra costs. Say what you will about the inconveniences of wire braces, but at least you can’t get lazy and opt out at anytime.
In some cases, Invisalign includes more than just a clear liner. Some treatment options include attachments, which are basically ridges that are stuck to your teeth. These attachments make sure the liners themselves fit in exactly the right place to correct the placement of our teeth. These attachments are much more noticeable, which defeats the purpose of opting for invisible braces in the first place.
There is no way around this, whether you want invisible or wire braces. You are reshaping the placement of your teeth, which can sometimes include a slight alteration of your entire jaw. The bottom line is that you’re asking bones to move. No doubt this doesn’t come without some soreness. The first few days with a new set of liners are going to create some discomfort as the mouth adjusts (a similar feeling can be felt after orthodontists make an adjustment to wire braces). It shouldn’t be unbearable, depending on your pain tolerance, but we suggest keeping some Advil or Tylenol nearby, just in case.
In most cases, Invisalign braces are roughly the same cost as traditional braces. The downside, though, is that very few health insurance plans cover braces of any kind, meaning you’re probably still paying for Invisalign out of your own pocket. Costs can range from around $2,500 up to $8,000, depending how much work needs to be done, and how long the treatment will last. If you’re not diligent in wearing the aligners this cost could continue to creep up while waiting patiently to get the desired results.
12. Can Be Embarrassing
If you’re self-conscious about having a straight smile and willing to spend the time and money to fix it, there’s a good chance wearing braces will make you more self-conscious. As mentioned above, most people still consider braces as embarrassing and something that should be taken care of in adolescence. If you’re a teenager, then this isn’t a big problem — a bunch of your friends probably already have braces. It can be even more embarrassing for an adult even if they are invisible, Invisalign will still cause a lisp and be evident to others.
There’s also the added fact that the aligners need to be taken out when eating, so you might find yourself popping them out at your desk which might not be the most appealing thing to others. Our advice is to just own your self improvement and remember that the liners are temporary, while your flashy new smile will last for decades.
13. Not Suitable For Everyone
Not every orthodontic situation is the same. While Invisalign is great for teeth that are mildly crowded, those with severely crooked teeth may have no choice but to opt for wire braces. If those patients insist on an invisible solution, they should be aware that treatment (and the costs) could stretch longer than with traditional wire braces.
14. Can Actually Be Slower
Invisalign is a great option for people who don’t want to make it obvious they have braces. However, there’s still no faster way to fix a crooked smile than gluing some wires on your teeth and pulling them all into place. Don’t get us wrong, Invisalign will do the same thing. And if you’re diligent about constantly wearing your liners, the treatment shouldn’t take much longer than wire braces. But remember, it’s still a marathon and not a sprint. You won’t fix your smile in time for your friend’s wedding in a couple months. It’s a lengthy process.