Orthodontic treatment or “braces” has been an almost normal part of the teen years for many – so common has it become. What many may not realise is that adults now seek orthodontic treatment more than ever before.
In fact, about one-third to one-half of all the orthodontic treatment done at our practice is on adults.
It was once thought by most of the public that adults could not have orthodontic treatment – they had missed the boat if they didn’t have it in their teen years. Of course, it has always been possible, but adults are far more concerned about how braces will impact their appearance and lifestyle.
Fortunately, there are a number of newer types of appliances that can effectively align teeth while being far less visible.
Braces themselves are available in ceramic white material now, which makes them a lot less noticeable than metal braces. Invisalign, a plastic skin that fits over the teeth, looks almost invisible and can achieve some remarkable results. In this blog, we compare the difference between braces and Invisalign based on our experience with them in our practice.
Hopefully, this will help you to make a decision about what type of orthodontics is right for you.
Firstly, metal braces. They are certainly the oldest of the appliances, but they have been continually refined and improved with space-age alloys and new designs to make them more efficient and more comfortable.
The new metal braces can boast being the most efficient and the fastest at the biggest range of tooth movements of all the appliances. The most difficult cases are usually still performed with metal braces. They are durable, lower cost and offer many unique abilities which are either far more difficult or impossible, with ceramic braces or with Invisalign, at least in our experience.
However, metal braces are the most visible of orthodontic appliances. They also cannot be removed for special occasions. Some argue that they are less comfortable than Invisalign, but braces are confined to the outer surfaces of the teeth, whereas Invisalign covers all of the teeth surface, biting surface and the tongue side as well, so it’s debatable which is more comfortable.
Ceramic braces are tooth coloured, although the wire between the teeth tends to be metal.
These are much less noticeable than metal braces. They are, however, a little bulkier and sharper, more fragile, and a little slower to achieve the same moves as metal braces.
In our hands, they are typically 20% longer treatment time or about 3 months slower than metal braces. Most often, when we use ceramic braces, we use metal braces on the back teeth and lower teeth and only use the ceramic on the upper front teeth. This provides most of the cosmetic benefit of a full set of ceramic braces but maintains the speed advantage of the metal braces.
Invisalign – the new kid on the block, but it has been around for quite a few years now.
Invisalign works by having a series of close-fitting plastic skins made out of very stiff, thin plastic. They are made by computer software which creates a small amount of movement from each aligner so that each aligner is trying to push the teeth a tiny bit closer to their final position.
There may be 20 to 30 aligners made, each one worn for 2 weeks before swapping to the next aligner in the sequence.
When comparing braces vs Invisalign, the clear upside to Invisalign is its unbeatable cosmetic advantage. The aligners are the least noticeable of all the orthodontic systems, but they are still a little noticeable at a speaking distance. The natural teeth show through them and the thin transparent plastic is just visible around the edges of the teeth.
Additionally, Invisalign can be removed for tooth cleaning and eating, minimising damage to the appliance. They can also be removed for special occasions when no visibility of the appliance is desired.
On the downside, Invisalign has a smaller range of movements which are possible, so a number of types of tooth misalignment can’t be adequately corrected with Invisalign alone. Some dentists very experienced in using Invisalign can carry out more complex movements with Invisalign but most dentists would agree that Invisalign use is less successful in difficult cases.
In addition, wearing the aligners for the full 23 hours per day is crucial. Once left out consistently for too long, a whole new set of aligners may need to be made, which will cause significant delays and costs.
Invisalign needs to be removed whenever one eats or drinks except for water. This can be inconvenient.
In terms of the cost of Invisalign vs braces, Invisalign is also more expensive than either ceramic or metal braces by about 20% in our practice. As well, a larger amount of the fee needs to be paid upfront for Invisalign because most of the cost of the treatment is in the manufacturing of the aligners themselves.
Braces vs Invisalign: What’s the best choice for your smile?
Which appliance is right for you depends on a number of factors.
In general, we recommend metal braces for all teenagers, except when there is a particular cosmetic need e.g. stage performances, in which case we might recommend ceramic braces. They are durable and don’t need to be removed or replaced many times a day.
We have found teenagers have a lot going on at that stage of their lives and are not very reliable in wearing removable appliances like Invisalign. Braces are stuck on and the patient doesn’t have to do as much to make the treatment work.
For adults, the appliance we recommend depends on affordability and how difficult and complex the case is.
Ceramic braces work very well for most problems and adults are more careful with them.
Invisalign is really useful for adults with less complex alignment to do and they are great for any adult daunted by the thought of wearing braces since they are far less noticeable. We have found they can effectively treat a large range of problems – surprisingly, though, even some adults seem to have trouble being reliable enough at wearing the aligners.
In summary, we would recommend Invisalign to anyone who has mild to moderate crowding of their teeth and who does not have some of the more difficult bite problems to correct.
Additionally, we want anyone considering Invisalign to be aware of the commitment needed to wear the aligners 23 hours per day and the need to remove and replace them with all meals. Finally, the additional cost for invisible braces in Swansea needs to be budgeted for.
We have found that all 3 orthodontic systems we offer perform really well. It is a matter of choosing the appropriate system to suit each individual’s needs.
Compare braces vs Invisalign with your local dentist – book an appointment with Swansea Dental Practice today!