Braces or Invisalign

Braces or Invisalign: Which is a Better Fit for Your Lifestyle

If you were a carpenter, you would understand what your tools could help you do. Hammers bang in nails, saws cut wood, squares measure right angles. You wouldn’t use a hammer to affix a screw or a saw to measure something’s length.

There’s an old saying in construction: a good craftsman never blames his tools. It acknowledges that the tools don’t build the house; the builder does.

It’s the same thing with aligning teeth. Whichever tool your orthodontist uses, the results are going to depend on the skill of the doctor and not the teeth aligning system itself.

However, with orthodontics, there is another variable: the patient. There is no such thing as a piece of lumber that is non-compliant with the instructions of the carpenter. Not so with people: patients who don’t follow their orthodontist’s instructions struggle to achieve the best outcomes.

That’s important to keep in mind when discussing whether standard metal braces or clear aligner therapy like Invisalign is the best teeth-straightening system. The answer is different depending on the patient’s particular situation.

Invisalign is the most popular brand of clear aligner therapy, but not the only one – SureSmile, ClearCorrect, 3M Clarity Aligners and others. What all these have in common is that instead of permanent brackets cemented onto teeth, they are a series of clear aligners custom-made to fit teeth that introduce a small amount of tooth movement as the patient progresses through the treatment.

With clear aligner therapy, the patient must wear the aligner for 21 hours each day but can remove it to eat and brush their teeth. This allows patients to eat all the sticky, crunchy, chewy and gummy foods that are off-limits to those wearing metal braces. It also allows for easy cleaning, both of the teeth and of the aligner. Metal braces present an obstacle to both. Flossing with braces is a real challenge, but can be done normally by those using clear aligners.

Another advantage of clear aligner therapy is how it reduces visits to the orthodontist. With traditional braces, patients must return every 8-12 weeks to have them adjusted. With clear aligner therapy, the adjustment is made by wearing the next aligner in the series. Visits to the orthodontist may be reduced by half.


Clear aligner therapy – Invisalign and its competitors – isn’t for everyone.

Remember patient non-compliance? Clear aligners only work if worn. Traditional braces can’t be slipped off and forgotten, but clear aligners require the initiative of the wearer to commit to keeping them on. Clear aligners, no matter how perfectly fashioned by the orthodontist, don’t work if they’re not in place.

That is why we often recommend traditional braces for children and some adults. They must be prepared to take control of their own teeth straightening by following doctors’ orders and wearing the aligners day and night.

In addition, braces work more optimally for some severe cases or those cases in which there are multiple variables. The movement of teeth is more predictable with braces, and the frequent orthodontist visits allow the doctor to make course corrections along the way.

The bottom line, with any effort to straighten teeth, is that the tools are less important than the craftsman. A great orthodontist will find the right system for you.

October is National Orthodontic Health Month

Are you tired of dealing with crooked teeth, or are your child’s teeth coming in misaligned? Is your child having trouble sleeping at night due to a blocked airway? These are all reasons to see an orthodontist.

Orthodontists are dentists who return to school for years of special training. Just 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. They are experts in making your smile the best it can be.

Do-it-yourself treatments, or those performed by someone lacking the expertise of an orthodontist, can cause lasting damage.  Whether you’re considering clear aligners or traditional braces, see an orthodontist.

Thanks to orthodontists, millions of people have straightened their teeth with the help of braces, mouth appliances and retainers. In celebration of National Orthodontic Health Month, the American Association of Orthodontists offers these answers to frequently asked questions about braces.

  • If my teeth have been crooked for years, why do I need orthodontic treatment now?

It’s never too late! Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Orthodontic treatment can restore good function, and teeth that work better usually look better, too. A healthy, beautiful smile can improve self-esteem, no matter your age.

  • I am pregnant and want to begin orthodontic treatment. Is this OK?

It may be possible to begin treatment while pregnant, however, it is important to discuss this question with your OBGYN/physician/healthcare professional and orthodontist before you start any orthodontic treatment, as pregnancy brings on bodily changes that may affect the mouth. 

  • My teeth on the top aren’t that crooked.  Is it possible just to get braces on the bottom?

Orthodontic treatment is designed to develop teeth that fit well and, as a result, wear better over an individual’s life.  Think of the teeth in the mouth as a “gear” system.  Teeth, like gears, must intermesh well to help avoid excessive wear throughout a lifetime of use.

  • I’m considering getting a tongue or lip piercing. Are there any dangers?

There are numerous potential problems from oral piercings, which can include the tongue, cheeks, lips or uvula (the tissue at the back of the throat).

Particularly with a tongue piercing, you can permanently damage your teeth by wearing away the enamel, or by chipping or cracking teeth. There is a risk of abrasion or recession of gum tissue if it is constantly hit by the piercing.

Piercing can interfere with basic functions like chewing, swallowing, talking and the sense of taste. A hole from a piercing can be a path for germs into the body and bloodstream.

  • Can I get braces if I’m missing some teeth?

It can be possible for you to have successful orthodontic treatment if some teeth are missing, depending on your circumstances and your treatment goals. Orthodontic treatment may be able to close the space of a missing tooth, or may be able to create or save sufficient space for a replacement tooth/teeth. Consult an orthodontist to discuss what is right for you.  Your orthodontist may need to work with your dentist to help you achieve your treatment goals.

  • Can I play musical instruments while wearing braces?

With practice and a period of adjustment, braces typically do not interfere with the playing of wind or brass instruments.

  • I see ads for perfect teeth in only one or two visits to the dentist. Will that give me straight teeth?

Quick-fix veneers temporarily cover crooked teeth. Teeth straightened by an orthodontist are good for life. That’s because only orthodontists receive an extra 2-3 years of education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth.