Would you like to straighten your teeth — but you’re concerned that traditional metal braces will affect your appearance? Clear braces and Invisalign are both excellent choices. However, distinct differences exist between the two — with pros and cons to both.

Both options are much less noticeable than traditional braces. And they offer a fantastic aesthetic alternative for patients seeking less visible options.

Patients often choose this more discrete type of braces option to feel more confident about their orthodontic treatment. They know that others are focusing on their smiles rather than their braces.

Clear Braces 

Clear braces straighten teeth in the same way that traditional metal braces do. But because they are clear, they’re much less noticeable.

With metal braces, we apply a bracket to each tooth and place an elastic ligature (tiny rubber band) around each bracket. Then a metal wire connects all the brackets together. The elastic holds the archwire in place on each bracket.

At each orthodontist visit, we tighten or adjust the cross wire. This places gentle pressure on the brackets and will slowly move your teeth into the intended position.

The process for clear braces is exactly the same as metal braces, except that the materials used are clear. The brackets are porcelain instead of metal and tinted to match your tooth color.

Elastics are clear so that they are barely noticeable, and the archwire can be white in order to make the braces as inconspicuous as possible.

The porcelain brackets can stain slightly over time. However, they are designed to be as non-porous as possible. The elastics can yellow, but we switch them out at every orthodontic visit.

With clear braces, we can treat even the most challenging cases — such as severe overbites, underbites, and even crossbites — with high-quality results.

Invisalign Braces 

Invisalign is a method of straightening teeth that differs completely from traditional braces.

We use clear plastic aligners that fit perfectly over your teeth, which you change out every few weeks. Each new aligner will move your teeth slightly toward the correct position.

Invisalign looks similar to a mouth guard except that the aligner is molded exactly to your teeth. Invisalign braces are removable, and you should take them out for eating, drinking, and dental hygiene.

Initially, we make a digital model of your teeth. With Align Technology™ we can create an exact digital replica of your teeth. This same technology allows for the digital transformation of your teeth into perfect alignment. You can actually see the “after” results even before you start treatment!

Before providing all the aligners to you, Dr. Grewal will tweak each one to provide exact movement sequences.

Once Dr. G. completes your digital treatment plan, we will transfer it directly to Invisalign. They then will create each aligner per his specifications. Once manufactured, they send the custom-made aligners to our office, ready for you to use.

Before you wear your aligners, some minor prep work needs to be done. We will bond a series of “attachments,” also called “bumps,” onto some of your teeth. These bumps give the aligners something to grip. Bumps are made out of a composite material that will match your tooth color.

Pros and Cons of Clear Braces versus Invisalign

Appliance Removal

Clear braces are permanently attached to your teeth until the end of your treatment plan. With Invisalign, you remove them for eating, drinking, and dental hygiene.

This means that you have to have the discipline to keep your aligners in for at least 22 hours every day. If you can’t commit to wearing the aligners for the allotted time each day, your treatment duration will be much longer. Aligners may also have to be “refitted,” which can add additional costs to your plan.

Most teens do better with clear braces because they don’t have to remember to put them back in.

Dental Hygiene

With clear braces, you must be diligent about brushing your teeth and braces to prevent plaque and decay in small, hidden places. Dr. G will show you how to brush and floss your teeth with your new braces so that you don’t develop new cavities.

Because you remove Invisalign aligners to clean your teeth, dental hygiene is easier than with clear braces. You should clean your aligners throughout the day whenever you take them out. Remember, make sure to always use clean aligners when reinserting onto clean teeth.

Food Restrictions

Clear Braces, like their metal counterparts, have some food restrictions associated with them. You will need to avoid biting directly into hard or sticky foods. Popcorn is a definite no-no, along with any other types of food that might break or damage your braces.

Invisalign braces don’t have any food restrictions since you remove them before eating. However, you have to be diligent and not drink any liquids other than water while you have your aligners in. Otherwise, sugars and acids from drinks can seep under your aligners, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

Doctor Visits

Clear braces require more visits than Invisalign. Your orthodontist will need to see you in person for regular adjustments.

With Invisalign, because you get all your trays at the beginning of treatment, you don’t have to visit the office as often since YOU are switching out your trays at the designated time. However, you will still be required to come in for periodic office visits so that Dr. G can check your progress.

Other Important Points to Consider

  • Because you will remove Invisalign when eating or drinking, it can be very easy to throw your aligner away by accident or discard it. We recommend always placing your Invisalign tray in its designated container to help avoid such mishaps.
  • Invisalign aligners are less irritating to the inside of the mouth and have an easier adjustment period than clear braces.
  • Invisalign cannot be used to correct some severe cases of malocclusion.
  • Invisalign aligners are typically more expensive than clear braces.