What are the Differences Between Invisalign and Regular Braces?

invisalign-mill-valleyThough the two different types of teeth straightening devices serve a similar purpose, Invisalign and regular braces are vastly different from one another. Below is a brief run-down of the advantages and disadvantages of both, as well as the specific aspects that set them apart from one another.

Perhaps the main advantage of Invisalign’s teeth straightening approach over the traditional method is that Invisalign aligners are removable. This allows the patient the unique ability to eat whatever foods they wish, since they can simply take out the Invisalign aligners while chewing on caramels, popcorn, taffy or other foods typically prohibited when a patient is fit with regular braces.

Also, the fact that Invisalign aligners are removable translates to easy cleaning of both the patient’s mouth and the Invisalign aligners themselves. This can help to eliminate common issues such as tooth discoloration, plaque buildup, decalcification, root resorption and tooth decay. Removing the Invisalign aligners also allows for the dentist to take x-rays of the mouth. Traditional orthodontic braces impede this process, allowing for a large number of dental issues to go unnoticed for long periods of time.

Another significant advantage of Invisalign over the other options is that Invisalign aligners are clear, making them nearly invisible. And finally, the clear and smooth plastic Invisalign aligners are more comfortable than traditional braces, which tend to poke and irritate the mouth because of the wires and brackets making up their structure. This helps to prevent mouth sores, cuts, and other sources of pain, irritation and discomfort associated with traditional orthodontic braces.

The significant disadvantage of Invisalign aligners is that they cannot correct all of the same problems that regular braces can. While Invisalign aligners can treat problems such as crowding, narrow arches, relapse and the like, they cannot handle all of the more serious conditions that traditional orthodontic braces can treat. Problems arise when a certain tooth movement is required, such as if one tooth is higher in the arch than others, because Invisalign aligners are best at applying pressure to move a tooth, but often have a difficult time correcting such an issue as “pulling” a tooth down into the arch. Another difficult issue for Invisalign to conquer is movement of round teeth, such as the lower premolar, since the aligner trays are unable to significantly grasp the shape of such a tooth.

Moreover, Invisalign aligners are more expensive than regular braces, and they require more visits to the dentist. However, the cost is often worth the shorter time required to straighten teeth. Regular braces typically take 3 years, but the Invisalign process can be over in 12-18 months. This is due to the fact that new Invisalign aligner trays are placed in the mouth every 2 weeks, while traditional braces are tightened only every 6 weeks.

If you are in need of straighter teeth, it is best to ask your dentist what options are best for your specific situation. Although Invisalign can be an option for teenagers, it is not recommended for children under 12 years old.

Dr. Roxana Lo DDS, proud mother of two beautiful children, started her dental education early, growing up as a constant dental patient. Later on she continued her education at UC Berkeley and received her DDS degree from the school of Dentistry at UCSF 1987. Today Dr. Lo has a dentist office, Mill Valley Dentistry, located in Mill Valley Ca. Connect with me on Google+

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