Is Invisalign as effective as braces?
By: Stephen L. Sherman, D.D.S., M.S. – Board Certified Orthodontic Specialist
Making the decision to seek the advice of an orthodontist brings many questions to the mind of most patients. What kind of braces do I need? Which is most effective? What is the difference between traditional braces and the newer technology of Invisalign? And lastly, how long do I need to wear braces?
Our goal at Sherman and Balhoff Orthodontics is to find the treatment that works best for each individual and then guide each patient through the orthodontic treatment process.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both traditional braces and the Invisalign aligner system in order to guide you through the decision making process to determine which system is best for you. While both traditional braces and invisalign are designed to straighten teeth and the human physiology of tooth movement is the same in both systems, there are definite differences between the two.
First, braces are fixed onto the teeth, have been around for a long time with a history of great results and are efficient at treating difficult bite problems and more severe type cases. They can be metal or clear and patients can have fun placing different colored soft elastic ties on each brace. Most adolescent patients wear braces for 18-24 months and most adults wear braces 12-18 months. However, braces present an obvious problem with oral hygiene and overall comfort to the lips and soft tissues of the mouth. Most patients in braces are seen every 6 to 8 weeks for routine adjustments and to monitor tooth movement along with the overall progress.
The Invisalign system offers two major advantages over traditional braces. They are removable and Invisible. The Invisalign system was first introduced in the late 1990’s as a computerized approach to tooth movement with the software having gone through numerous upgrades since the inception. Today, patient’s mouths are scanned, uploaded and then the orthodontist and Invisalign technician work together to ideally straighten the teeth on the computer using x-ray and photographic imaging of the patient to help complete the ideal treatment plan for each patient. A series of clear plastic trays are then produced to gently align the teeth, wearing each tray 20-22 hours per day. With the development of the new highly elastic “SmartTrack” aligner material, patients can now change trays each week which can reduce overall treatment time. In theory, the entire Invisalign treatment should require the same amount of time as braces, but because Invisalign is a less invasive approach to straightening teeth, our experience has shown that many of our orthodontic patients complete their orthodontic treatment in a shorter amount of time, averaging 6-12 months for most adults. Although there are no restrictions for Invisalign patients, you must remove the aligners before meals and properly clean and maintain the aligners on a daily basis.
In conclusion, the Invisalign system isn’t necessarily a more effective treatment than braces and it is not recommended for more complex type orthodontic cases. However, for most adults and many adolescents who want to straighten their teeth without the stigma of metal braces, Invisalign is a great alternative.