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Braces vs. Invisalign: A Complete Comparison

Braces vs. Invisalign: A Complete Comparison

Dr. Michael Layton
August 15, 2014

If your teeth require alignment should you go with braces or Invisalign? This is the question we'll delve into today. The bottom line for most people deciding between traditional braces and invisalign comes down to cost and convenience and comfort. Before deciding to get a procedure, you may want to have several consultations with a qualified board certified orthodontic dentist or dental surgeon.

Straight Teeth: More Than Just Aesthetics

In layman’s terms, having straight teeth is good for your health. Proper oral health goes beyond taking great pictures for Facebook or Instagram - straight teeth are a matter of good health. People from impoverished economic backgrounds and diabetics gave themselves a self assessment score of 29 percent for poor oral health according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 survey.

Malocclusion is the medical term for crooked teeth, the improper alignment of the teeth and jaws may leave excess space or too little space in the jaw. Crooked teeth or malocclusion left untreated can lead to periodontal disease.

The misalignment of teeth places undue stress on the teeth and jaws. Common types of misalignments include: crowding, spacing, deep bite, open bite, cross bite, edge to edge bite and excessive overbite. Unnatural stress and pressure leads to premature wear, teeth that are subject to excessive pressure develop chipping and notches of the gum line. Over a period of time flattened and worn down teeth result in chipping and fractures at the edges of teeth. Incorrect biting down may lead to pain in the jaw the end results are earaches and headaches.

Premature wearing down of teeth leads to gum recession and poor bone support at the root, teeth can loosen and eventually people end up losing their teeth.  Crooked teeth can affect periodontal health because it is difficult to perform plaque removal from crowded area in the oral cavity. Bacteria that is not properly removed will multiply and trigger periodontal disease. The first signs of periodontal disease are gum inflammation, and redness and bleeding while a person brushes and flosses. Gum inflammation left untreated becomes a chronic infection that can cause soft tissue damage, receding gums, periodontal pockets, bone loss and eventually having teeth fall out.

Damage gum tissue cells can invade blood vessels that lead to coronary arteries increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke and illness. Proper correct alignment of teeth will prevent future dental problems and make significant difference in your health. If you don’t recall anything else from this article keep in mind that any oral cavity problems should be treated immediately to prevent future costly orthodontic treatments.


Traditional braces are made of stainless steel or titanium. The parts that comprise braces are the brackets which are attached to the the teeth using a special bonding agent that adheres to the tooth surface. The second component is called Nitinol developed by NASA that reverts back to its original shape after its heated. Another name for archwire is called memory wire - it adjusts to its original straight shape influenced by your bodies temperature. The ligature elastic nicknamed “rubber bands” are the coloured ties that hold the archwires to the brackets.

Braces work by applying consistent pressure to the teeth, this constant pressure helps move teeth into their proper alignment. After initial consultations are finished your orthodontist will ensure your teeth are dry before sterilization of the oral cavity. A special glue is than applied to the teeth. There are 6 different brackets for the upper arch and 5 different brackets for the lower arch of the mouth. Each bracket gets measured and a special light is used to harden the special glue to the teeth. Arch wire can be composed of stainless steel, nickel titanium or beta titanium.

The disadvantage of stainless steel wires is the lack of flexibility, if the wires are bent too much during the procedure they will not return to the original position. Nickel titanium wires have the advantage of being elastic with the ability to return to their original shape. Beta titanium wire came after nickel titanium wires, Ni-Ti wires have both elasticity and strength. Your orthodontist will decide what wire is best for the patient to use. Follow up checkups to your dentist, orthodontist or dental surgeon and changing of the archwire will vary from patient to patient until the end of treatment.

Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces

After the application of braces the patient must subsist on soft food or liquids for at least 3 to 4 days after having the braces applied. Dental professionals and traditional brace wearers recommend the following foods be avoided or limited for the duration a person is wearing braces.

Avoid Caution Tolerable foods
pizza crust bagels pasta
chewing gum apples (cut into small pieces) eggs
gummy bears nacho chips pudding
chocolate chips soda ice cream
skittles refined sugar french fries
potato chips soups pretzels
ice cubes chili dairy
chicken wings (bones should be removed) mashed potatoes and gravy smoothies


Invisalign or Braces?

The first thing strangers will not notice about an invisalign wearer is that they are not wearing anything until they get really close, the main reason for this is the aligners are transparent and custom made to fit the persons mouth. Invisalign is “Teeth Straightening for Dummies”. The ease of use and maintenance sets invisalign miles apart from traditional braces. Food lovers will rejoice in the fact that you can eat whatever you want. Simply remove the aligners before eating and after you have brushed and flossed pop them back in.

Depending on the patient, every 2 or more weeks, new aligners replace the old ones to achieve the correct alignment. If you decide to get invisalign you will not have to go through the 3 or 4 day discomfort period from having metal bonded to your teeth. Many long term wearers of braces frequently report discomfort and soreness. Having foreign metallic substances in your mouth takes a period of time to adjust to, some people report chaffing of the inner lips and sides of the mouth. Invisalign could be the right alternative for you.

The transparency of this application gives people back their confidence while their teeth are gradually positioned into alignment. Looks are sometimes everything to people. Not having people stare at your mouth instead of looking you in the face goes a long way in making people feel and look good. Invisalign is available for adults and teens. On average traditional braces are more affordable ranging in price from $3000 to $7000 whereas invisalign ranges in price from $4000 to $7400. Most health plans do not cover treatments like these. Payment plans may be available for patients if they can not afford the full upfront rate.

Simply put, Invisalign is the clear alternative to braces. You can get straight teeth while looking your normal self without the discomfort of traditional braces. Give Invisalign a shot - contact your local dentist or dental surgeon today.

About Dr. Michael Layton

Dr. Michael Layton PostsDr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life - this includes Invisalign! You can follow him on Google+.

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