Don’t like the way your smile looks? You’re not alone.
Half of British adults share your sentiments. In fact, 20% of Britons say the look of their teeth reduces their confidence more than their wrinkles.
No wonder then that consumers spent around GBP 3.6 billion on dental services in 2017 alone. A huge chunk of this went towards dental cosmetic services, including teeth straightening.
After all, crooked teeth, incorrect bites, and gapped smiles are common issues most of us face.
Sounds (and looks) familiar? If so, then now is the best time you weigh two of your main options: braces vs Invisalign.
Both are teeth-straightening orthodontic appliances. But they have different methods of correcting dental misalignment and incorrect bites.
So, the big question is, which one should you invest in?
Keep reading as we’re here to give you the lowdown on both.
Why Get Your Teeth Straightened in the First Place?
There are many reasons for straightening your teeth. First, let’s take a closer look at how teeth straightening can help improve your health.
To Bring Your Self-Confidence Back
Many studies, like this one, have shown that dental problems do affect self-esteem, especially in teenagers. From untreated cavities to tooth loss, these issues can influence the quality of life.
They also found that malocclusion (bad bite) places a huge strain on one’s self-esteem. That lack of confidence, if left untreated, can progress to anxiety disorders. In the UK, anxiety is becoming more common; as many as two-thirds of the adult population suffer from it.
Regardless of the culprit behind your bad-looking teeth, it keeps you from smiling. Invisalign or braces can correct the problem, be it a bad bite, crooked teeth, or gaps between the teeth.
To Reduce Risks of Dental Cavities and Gum Diseases
Speaking of misaligned teeth, did you know that these can contribute to dental decay? Your crooked teeth or bad bite can even lead to gum disease.
That’s because incorrect teeth arrangement makes them harder to clean. It also creates spaces between your teeth where bits of food can get stuck. Disease-causing bacteria also love to hide in these nooks and crannies.
Teeth crookedness or malocclusions can ultimately lead to tooth loss. They’re one of the reasons behind Britons having an average of 6.97 missing teeth.
To Prevent Excessive Wearing of Teeth Enamel
Teeth overcrowding can lead to excessive friction, which can then wear down enamel. Without enamel, your teeth become weak and more susceptible to decay. Wearing of enamel can also cause your teeth to become brittle and easy to damage.
Braces vs Invisalign: The Difference in Materials Used
As you can see, there are so many reasons you should consider straightening your teeth. But before choosing Invisalign vs braces (or the other way around) it’s best to first learn how they differ.
A big difference when it comes to traditional braces vs Invisalign is the material used.
You may have heard traditional braces referred to as “train-track” braces. That term stems from their appearance; the metal wires that connect the brackets together resemble train rails.
Despite this, they’re still the most popular orthodontic appliance in the United Kingdom.
What about the Invisalign system?
Invisalign makes use of its very own patented material called SmartTrack®. It’s a type of thermoplastic that makes the aligners flexible and near-invisible.
That’s right. Invisalign is almost invisible, which means others may not even notice you have them on. With these clear aligners, you don’t have to worry about the glint of metal whenever you smile.
How They Work
Both traditional braces and Invisalign use continuous pressure to correct teeth placement. The pressure that moves the teeth also changes the shape of the bone.
When choosing metal braces vs Invisalign, it pays to know exactly how they move your teeth. First, because the teeth-straightening method impacts treatment time and results. It also dictates how often you’ll have to pay your dentist a visit.
The Traditional Way
With traditional metal braces, treatment time averages one to three years. That still depends on how severe the problem is and how far the braces need to move the teeth. The general oral health of the patient can also affect total treatment time.
The materials used with traditional braces also contribute to this long treatment time. They have many components, including metal brackets, arch wires, and ligatures. Some may even need spacers and elastics.
Because of their many different parts, traditional braces need adjusting every month. This ensures the braces are putting constant pressure on the teeth. Since the teeth have moved slightly in the past month, dentists need to tighten the wires and springs.
Also, it’s vital to keep the brackets and wires of traditional braces attached to the teeth. When any of these become loose or detached, the braces will be unable to put pressure on the teeth. That lack of pressure means the teeth won’t move to their correct places.
This is why metal braces are often referred to as fixed braces, since you can’t remove them. Whenever a bracket becomes unglued, you need to have the dentist reattach it as soon as possible. Otherwise, this will only extend treatment time.
The Invisalign Way
On average, Invisalign treatment lasts from 12 to 18 months. But like metal braces, this still depends on the severity of the case. How often you put the aligners on also impacts the length of treatment.
The main advantage of Invisalign, however, is that you may see results within only a few weeks! So long as you follow your dentist’s instructions, you’ll see improvements much sooner.
This shorter treatment time is because the Invisalign aligners are custom-made. Your doctor will base your treatment plan on the exact movements your teeth make. Your Invisalign specialist will also create aligners based on these measurements.
Your aligners will apply only the proper amount of pressure to move your teeth. You do need to wear these appliances for at least 20 to 22 hours a day though. Also, your doctor may need you to swap to new aligners every one to two weeks.
With Invisalign, you don’t have to worry about a bracket becoming loose. If you want to eat, you need to only remove the aligners and put them back after every meal. But make sure you brush and floss your teeth and clean the aligners before wearing them again.
Also, because you can remove your custom trays, you get to eat your favourite foods. If you wear traditional braces, you’d have to avoid certain foods or eat in a certain way. These restrictions can make eating less fun and more complicated.
Do Braces and Invisalign Treat the Same Conditions?
In general, yes, but that doesn’t mean they bring the same quality of results. For instance, there are times wherein metal braces may not be as effective on adult teeth. But there are also cases wherein Invisalign may require longer treatment time.
Both traditional braces and the Invisalign system can correct overbite and underbite problems. They can also fix crossbite, open bite, gap teeth, and teeth overcrowding. If you simply want straighter teeth, both are good options.
Your choice would have to depend on your budget and how important convenience is to you. You also need to factor in your tolerance to pain or discomfort.
Which is Better for Optimal Oral Hygiene?
You’ll also find it much easier to maintain optimal dental hygiene with Invisalign. You simply have to take out the aligners to brush your entire mouth. You can floss and gargle without any restrictions.
These are harder to do if you have fixed dental braces, with all the brackets and wires in your mouth. The bristles of a regular toothbrush won’t reach the areas covered by these parts.
This ineffective brushing can then lead to plaque forming on your teeth and on the gum line. The more plaque that forms, the higher your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Flossing is also almost impossible with traditional braces. The wires won’t allow the thread to go through the entire length of the space between the teeth. This then keeps you from removing all the bits of food stuck in these spaces.
What About Comfort?
Comfort is also one of the key benefits of Invisalign that makes it a better choice over metal braces. Since the aligners are custom-made, they go over your teeth snugly without being too tight. They’re also thin, so you don’t have to worry about noticeable protrusion of the skin around your mouth.
If you wear traditional braces, you’re at a greater risk of mouth sores. The brackets, although tiny, are still quite thick, so they always rub against your gums. That constant friction can injure the sensitive skin inside your mouth, causing sores.
Furthermore, the ends of the wires of traditional braces can puncture your gums. This can be painful and can make eating and drinking less of a joy. These injuries are also susceptible to bacterial infection.
Which is More Expensive?
The cost of Invisalign vs braces is often the main reason people opt for the latter. Invisalign costs in the UK can run anywhere from £2,500 to £4,500. Again, this depends on the complexity of your case and if you need to undergo other procedures first.
As for adult dental braces, private treatment often starts at £2,000 but can go up to £2,500. The NHS does provide financial aid, so long as it’s not completely for cosmetic reasons. If you get the green light from NHS, you may have to pay only about £219 for metal braces.
With all the other benefits and advantages of Invisalign, that higher price of treatment may still be worth it.
Is Invisalign Always the Best Choice?
While Invisalign does have clear advantages, it’s not the perfect solution for everyone. First is the higher cost, which can be a big issue for many people. There are also some very complex cases where it may not be appropriate.
That’s why all Invisalign doctors first need to conduct a “Smile Assessment”. You should go through this during your initial consultation. An Invisalign-trained doctor will give your teeth and gums a thorough analysis.
When you go in for your consultation, be as open as possible about your goals and expectations. That way, the doctor can determine which are achievable through Invisalign. Also, be sure to discuss any concerns you have, especially any existing oral health issues you have.
From there, the doctor can determine if the Invisalign treatment is right for you. If so, the specialist will create a precise treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. The doctor will explain the step-by-step process of how your smile will transform.
In most cases, Invisalign specialists recommend a complete dental check-up before the treatment. This helps the dentist ensure your teeth and gums are healthy enough for the aligners. A thorough dental cleaning may also be necessary before treatment starts.
Most Invisalign specialists offer free or refundable initial consultations. There are even all-inclusive Invisalign programs with freebies and financing. If you take advantage of these offers, you’ll have an easier time paying for your treatment expenses.
Ready to Start Flashing Better, Healthier Smiles?
After reading this lowdown on braces vs Invisalign, you can now make the right choice. Invisalign may be more expensive, but it does have more benefits than metal braces. Traditional braces cost less, but they need more time to show noticeable results.
If you still need help figuring out which one is better for you, please feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about the Invisalign system. That way, you can start your journey to straighter, healthier teeth as soon as possible.