By Dr. John White,

Owner, Braces by White

Although you can’t call it the age-old question, since Invisalign has only been on the market since 1999, how to decide between traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners is definitely the most-asked question.

There are some pros and cons to both. If you want to straighten your teeth, be sure to consult with an orthodontist who offers both treatment options to decide for yourself.

It is not that one works better than the other; they simply work differently.

Patients using Invisalign wear a custom-made series of clear plastic aligners over their teeth that they change every two weeks, which gently shift teeth into place, based on the exact movements their orthodontist plans out. With traditional braces, brackets made of metal or ceramic are attached to each tooth with bonding material, and the thin metal arch wire that runs from bracket to bracket is tightened to put pressure on the teeth so they gradually move according to the treatment plan.

In most cases, an experienced orthodontist can achieve the same results using both traditional braces and Invisalign, so the decision of which method to use is usually a personal preference.

Two things to factor are hygiene and lifestyle. One of the advantages of Invisalign is that it simplifies hygiene, as you take off the aligners to brush and floss your teeth like you normally do. On the other hand, braces create places where bacteria can hide and make it harder to clean your teeth.

Another consideration is lifestyle. With Invisalign you take the aligners out to eat so there are no diet restrictions—you can eat hard, crunchy food and even chew gum. With braces you have to limit hard and sticky foods because they can knock off your braces.

However, one of Invisalign’s biggest advantages—being removable—is also a downfall if a patient does not comply with the treatment. Therefore, I recommend traditional braces to patients who know they won’t wear Invisalign as recommended.

It is important to note there is a misconception that Invisalign can only treat mild cases. An experienced Invisalign provider can treat even the most complex cases using this advanced technology. And while some orthodontists charge more for Invisalign, I offer both treatment options for the same cost so money does not factor into a patient’s decision.