invisalign vs braces

Invisalign vs Braces: Know The Invisalign Difference

According to the American Association of Orthodontics, approximately 4.5 million children and teenagers in the United States wear braces. And they aren’t just for kids and teenagers anymore.

A lot of adults are now turning to orthodontic procedures to straighten out crowded or crooked teeth. In fact, only roughly 35% of adults in the U.S. have well-aligned front teeth, and roughly 20% of the overall population does not have a perfect bite.

Bite issues and crooked teeth are not only causes of self-esteem problems, but they can also lead to hygiene issues. Crowded teeth are much harder to floss and keep clean, which can lead to further problems down the line.

For children and teens, wearing traditional metal braces might not be the end of the world. It’s common enough within that age group. For adults, however, it’s an entirely different story.

That’s why Invisalign’s proprietary clear aligners are a popular choice. If you can get straighter teeth without the appearance of having braces, what’s the downside? Keep reading for more information about Invisalign vs braces. 

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a proprietary clear alignment technology that was developed in the late ’90s by two graduates of Stanford.

With the statistics of people of all ages needing corrective procedures for their teeth, they saw an opportunity to revolutionize the orthodontics industry.

So they developed Invisalign, an alternative alignment solution that instead of using metal brackets and wires, uses a progressing series of removable, clear aligners proven to straighten teeth over time. 

How Does Invisalign Work?

Instead of attaching semi-permanent metal brackets and wires to the teeth for months (or years) on end, Invisalign is a clear aligner that is removed to eat, drink, brush, and floss. 

Every two weeks, the aligner is replaced with a slightly modified and updated version, which is how the corrective procedure works over time. 

The first step is to visit an orthodontist for a consultation to make sure Invisalign is right for you. In more severe cases, Invisalign might not be recommended and you may need to take the traditional braces route.

But for the majority of cases involving crowded or crooked teeth, overbites and underbites, Invisalign is perfectly effective.

Once the consultation is complete, the orthodontist will take an impression of your teeth, and custom aligners will be made in two-week increments using 3D imaging technology. 

Invisalign vs Braces

The biggest initial difference between Invisalign and braces is the aesthetic one. Braces look clunky and obvious, while Invisalign is pretty much invisible. But there are more benefits to Invisalign than just the superficial. 


This is especially beneficial for adults, who might have put off getting their teeth corrected due to fears of looking “goofy” as an adult with braces.

With Invisalign, the trays are completely clear and impossible to see unless you’re looking for them. For reference, check out these before and after photos


The second big difference is that Invisalign trays are removable. This carries with it some advantages and disadvantages. Some people find metal braces easier because they are less maintenance and require less attention. 

Invisalign trays need to be removed every time you eat, drink, floss or brush. And they need to be removed and replaced every two weeks with the new, modified installment. 

This can be a problem for people with a lack of self-discipline or who struggle to adhere to routines, but most people agree that Invisalign is much more comfortable. 

They are made from a type of smooth, comfortable, BPA-free plastic rather than metal. Metal braces can cause sores and cuts in the mouth where Invisalign won’t. Plus, it poses no risk of food getting stuck. 


Some people think cleaning metal braces is easier because they are non-removable, and you just have to brush as normal. However, flossing is much more of a pain with braces.

The removable nature of Invisalign makes cleaning easier in some ways and more work in others.

Cleaning Invisalign trays is done either by using the accompanying Invisalign cleaning system or by removing the trays to brush and rinse them under warm water.

Either way, cleaning should be done after every meal and every time you drink anything other than water. And in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed. 

It might sound like a lot of work, but soon it will just become your normal hygiene routine like brushing and flossing. 

Treatment Duration 

In terms of treatment time, it depends on the severity of the original problem. The average required duration of metal braces is 2 years, while the average Invisalign treatment time is between 6 and 18 months. 

Again, this depends entirely on the severity of the patient’s needs. It also depends if the patient is following the Invisalign treatment instructions closely or not.

It’s recommended for Invisalign patients to wear the trays for 22 to 24 hours a day, only removing them to eat, drink, floss, brush and change trays. Read these tips to get the most out of your treatment. 


Generally speaking, Invisalign trays are more expensive than traditional metal braces, but not by much. The average cost of Invisalign is $5,500 where the average cost of metal braces is between $4000 to $5000. 

The cost of treatment entirely depends on the severity and duration required. People with more drastic corrective requirements will end up spending more on either treatment due to the duration of treatment alone. 

Downsides of Invisalign

Like anything, there are some potential downsides to be aware of. First of all, it’s normal to have speech issues in the first few days of wearing Invisalign trays. 

This is because your teeth have a foreign entity on top of them. It’s totally normal, and will just take a couple of days to adjust. 

An allergic reaction to the plastic is possible but very rare. Most Invisalign clinics will offer a full refund if this situation arises. 

As mentioned above, Invisalign can be slightly more expensive than braces. But again, in most cases, it’s only marginally more, and the added cost can be compensated by the extra comfort and invisibility of the treatment. 

Want to know more? Visit our frequently asked questions

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, the best treatment is the one that gets you a cleaner mouth and makes you more confident to show off your pearly whites. 

There’s no clear cut answer what’s the better treatment between Invisalign vs braces, but with a 96% satisfaction rate, Invisalign is a good route to consider. 

If you’re in the San Diego area, check out our services and schedule a free consultation with one of our Invisalign specialists to get more information. 

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