Invisalign vs. Traditional Braces: Which is Right for You?


Metal braces have been the treatment of choice for straightening teeth for centuries, and are still highly popular today. Since 1997, however, patients have had another option—Invisalign, billed as the “clear alternative.” Research shows that both treatment choices yield excellent results, so unless you have specific issues better treated with one system, there is rarely a medical reason to choose one over the other. Instead, your decision typically comes down to more subjective factors, as well as budgetary considerations.

Invisalign vs. Traditional BracesAesthetic Considerations

Braces consist of metal brackets. There is no doubt that they are going to show when you smile, eat, or talk. They were traditionally silver, but are now available in a wide range of fashion colors. If you are the type to make a bold fashion statement, braces might be the right choice for you.

Invisalign is designed to be mostly invisible. The clear plastic aligners, as well as the tiny fasteners that are bonded to your teeth, may be slightly noticeable upon close examination, but are not highly visible. If you prefer to keep your dental treatment to yourself, Invisalign may be the better choice.

Ease of Use

Which system is easier to use depends on you and your personal habits. Braces are more passive, because you simply need to visit the dentist once a month for adjustments. With Invisalign, you must take a more active part in your own treatment. Besides seeing the dentist every four to six weeks, you must remember to change your aligners every two weeks. Since Invisalign is removable, you need to have enough discipline to wear the aligner as prescribed.

Braces require you to be cautious about what you eat, and could preclude you from chewing gum or eating certain foods. Invisalign allows you to eat anything you want. The tradeoff is that you must remove your aligners before eating or drinking anything but water, and must brush after each meal to prevent staining.

If you have braces, it can be tough to care for your teeth. You might need a water pick to ensure that you remove all of the remaining food particles. With Invisalign, you simply remove and clean the aligner, and brush and floss your teeth like normal.

Some parents worry that their teen might forget to put the aligner back in after removal. The Invisalign Teen system takes care of this worry via built-in sensors. Parents as well as the dentist will know if the aligners are being worn as prescribed.

Treatment Planning

Although most people are happy with the results of treatment with traditional braces, exactly how you will look remains a mystery. With Invisalign, 3-D computer imaging technology creates a highly accurate picture of how your teeth will look after treatment. If you are the type of person who hates leaving anything to chance, Invisalign may be the better choice. However, if you like a bit of mystique, braces provide you with a big reveal when they are removed.


Most patients agree that Invisalign is more comfortable than traditional braces. Any discomfort typically comes from the intended movement of the teeth, as well as a bit of initial pain when the fasteners are applied. Braces can cause cuts, scratches, and sore spots that can linger for weeks or even months. Many people also feel that each adjustment of braces is more painful than changing aligners.


In general, braces are less expensive than Invisalign. However, this is becoming less true as both treatments progress. Adding fashion colors to your braces increases the cost, and some insurers will not cover the upgrade. In addition, you must add the cost of adjustments to the price of the braces.

The Invisalign system is priced as a complete package, including all office visits. Additionally, the Invisalign Teen system recognizes that things sometimes happen in teenage lives, so six free aligner replacements are included in the cost.

More and more insurance companies have begun to recognize Invisalign as a valid treatment protocol, and many now cover some or all of the cost. Your dental office can speak with your insurance company to determine exactly what your out of pocket costs would be for each option. Some dental practices like Metamorphosis Orthodontics specialize in discreet orthodontic treatment, and offer different options on top of Invisalign

Family Dental Care of Bellevue provides quality dental care to patients and their families, and has been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State.

  1. Lauren Woodley says

    My teeth are really, really crooked, and I have been thinking about getting braces to straighten them. You suggest, though, that there is no question of whether or not they will show when you smile, talk, or eat, so if aesthetics are a concern for me, then getting Invisalign would be a better route to go. As you say, these liners are bonded to your teeth, but are only slightly noticeable. I have never really thought of this option before, but I can see how this could be more comfortable for me. I will definitely talk to my orthodontist about this option. Thank you for the insight!

  2. Dr. Nick Refahi says

    Caring traditional braces and its maintenance is a very risky job and food will get stuck between the tooth. But whereas in Invisalign, you can eat whatever you want since it is a removable aligner and also cleaning of Invisalign braces is very simple. And even you can carry it outside also.

  3. Drew says

    Obviously your choice depends on your situation. Certain option may work better for you than others. Affordability versus effectiveness and comfort can be tough to choose between. Thanks so much for sharing!

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