If you’re not confident with your smile, braces can offer an excellent solution for straightening your teeth, solving overbite and closing any potential gaps. While they do have a reputation for being uncomfortable and unsightly, they are incredibly effective when it comes to making a positive, long-term change to the appearance of your teeth.
However, it’s essential to first get your head around the different types of braces available to ensure you get the perfect one for you. Braces have undergone many changes and advancements before settling on the current form of wires and brackets, while Invisalign offers an invisible alternative to adjusting teeth.
Take the time to understand each process and evaluate the pros and cons to come to an informed decision.
What are traditional braces?
Traditional metal braces have been around since the early 1800s and work by attaching brackets to your teeth. These are often made out of porcelain and are then tied together using a combination of wires and small rubber bands. Your dentist will then tighten and adjust the wiring until the teeth have moved into the best position.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a little different, working whereby your dentist will take an imprint of your teeth. This will then be used to create a set of clear, plastic aligners, each one slightly different and designed to move your teeth. These will be worn for 20-22 hours a day and swapped every 1-2 weeks until your teeth have aligned into their correct place.
Despite coming a long way in reducing their appearance, traditional braces will be the most visible option. While they used to appear as a bulky metal fixture, traditional braces are now more subtle with the wire and brackets appearing more minimal in the mouth. And, if you do opt for braces, you can choose to have tooth coloured wiring and brackets which make them even more discreet.
Invisalign, on the other hand, is almost entirely invisible. Those who look very closely may be able to spot the plastic outline on your teeth, but more often than not, the clear plastic means that people won’t be able to tell at all.
No matter what option you choose to go with, you will experience some discomfort as your teeth begin to adjust and move. However, Invisalign will offer those who opt for the treatment a short break every day as you can remove them. But, it’s important to remember to keep them in for at least 20 hours to ensure they remain effective.
For those who opt for braces, there will be no breaks each day, but it’s important to remember that any feelings of discomfort usually ease a couple of days after having them adjusted.
Another consideration for braces is the number of dentist visits required throughout the process. For some with incredibly busy schedules, regular treatments to the dentist could be a no-go, while for others, it may be a little easier. With traditional fixed braces, you’ll need to have the wires adjusted every four weeks, which can be a little more time-intensive.
Meanwhile, with Invisalign, you’ll dentist will be able to give you your trays for the following weeks, with a reminder to change them after 14 days. You will then only be required to get a check-up every six weeks to ensure everything is on track and to pick up your next trays.
The length of treatment will vary on a case by case basis. For example, some people may only want a subtle change that will take 6-12 months, while others may have more significant adjustments to make.
However, on average, traditional braces will take around two years to finalise their adjustments. In comparison, Invisalign treatments take, on average, 9-15 months to complete before swapping to a night-time retainer to maintain the teeth’s position.
Both braces and Invisalign will require some additional maintenance. For traditional braces, it’s essential to brush and floss daily to ensure no debris gets stuck in the wiring or brackets as this can lead to rotting.
Those who opt for Invisalign will have also have brush and floss twice a day as well as rinse the aligners whenever they are removed from your mouth. Once a day, the aligners must also be deep cleaned to maintain good mouth hygiene.
Ease of use
With fixed braces, there’s very little else do other than attending regular dental appointments for adjustments. There may also be some foods, such as sticky foods like toffee or chewy foods like liquorice, that you will struggle to eat with your braces.
Invisalign can be a little more demanding as you must remember to wear them almost all day, every day. This can be a problem for those who can be forgetful, or who are more likely to misplace their aligners when removing them.
You will also have to remember to remove your aligners when eating or drinking anything other than water as it can damage the aligners. However, there is a silver lining in that you will be able to continue to eat all of your favourite foods as usual.
And finally, one of the most important factors to consider will be the cost. With so much time involved, it’s expected for both treatments to be reasonably costly. The price tag of traditional braces and Invisalign in the UK can depend very much on the severity of the adjustments needed.
For traditional braces, expect a cost of anywhere around £1,500 to £2,500. For Invisalign, you can expect a cost of around £1,500 for minor adjustments, but £2,500 to £3,000 is the usual range for most cases.
In some cases, where braces are required for health reasons, you can get braces through the NHS. However, in a majority of situations, adults can expect to be required to pay. Children under the age of 18 will get their treatment for free.
Invisalign and traditional braces: which is better?
From appearance and comfort to treatment time and ease of use, both traditional braces and Invisalign boast their own pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider every aspect and how it will fit in with current lifestyle. To make a more informed choice, arrange a consultation with your dentist who will be able to provide more information based on your specific case.