Invisalign vs Braces: The Ultimate Guide

Dr. Rodrigo F. Viecilli, DDS, PhD

Doctor and Owner

Limestone Hills Orthodontics

Austin TX

Adjunct Associate Professor and Lecturer

Loma Linda and New York University

Adult Orthodontics in Austin

The decision between Braces vs Invisalign (made by Align Technology)to fix crooked teeth can be overwhelming anywhere. It starts with choosing the best adult orthodontist in Austin. Both methods have their merits and drawbacks, and here in Austin, orthodontics is no different- the choice largely depends on individual factors—such as your dental health and lifestyle1. So who wins the battle of Invisalign vs Braces?

While regular brackets or ceramic brackets are often recommended by the orthodontist or dentist for more complex issues than just crooked teeth, Invisalign or Invisalign Teen are catching up in terms of technological advancements and versatility to fix your smile. This article will delve deeper into the effectiveness of these treatments, helping you make a more informed decision about not only which therapy, but which orthodontic office you will choose here in Austin TX for your oral health and arrange your teeth in a beautiful smile.

Factors Influencing Effectiveness

Complexity of the Dental Case

The complexity of the dental case is a crucial factor when deciding between traditional appliances and the Invisalign system for orthodontic care. Traditional appliances often offer a greater degree of control in more complicated dental situations. They are capable of handling all types of orthodontic corrections, from closing gaps and aligning teeth to correcting bite issues.

On the other hand, clear aligner technology has been improving, making it a feasible option for increasingly complicated cases5. However, these difficult cases demand even more compliance from the patient. The aligners must be worn for at least 20-22 hours per day, removed only for eating and cleaning.

Some patients and doctors just know their lifestyle can’t make clear aligners work because they are habitual snackers, tea drinkers, or just forgetful children and can’t remember to place aligners. For these cases, the orthodontist often believes a good option is self-ligating ceramic brackets because they stay clear and do not stain, at least the ones used in our office. They can still provide you with a subtle clear smile.

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Investment and Oral Hygiene

Both brackets and clear aligners can be hefty investments in orthodontic care, maybe even more in Austin TX where the cost of living has been increasing. But with aligners, you have the added benefit of easier oral health and hygiene due to its removable nature. You can remove the aligners to brush and floss normally, which can potentially save you costs on dentist cleanings in the long run. Your new smile really is worth it.

The orthodontist often recommends aligners to treat patients that recovered from periodontal disease and need to schedule frequent maintenance visits. Because you can easily maintain teeth clean with Invisalign, doctors say it is less likely that bacteria will build up and penetrate into the teeth and gums and that you will have to visit the dentist or office more often for cleanings.

Invisalign vs Braces

On the other hand, brackets require more meticulous cleaning. Food particles can easily get trapped, leading to plaque buildup and potential tooth decay if brackets are not properly cleaned. The orthodontist Dr may have to send you to the general dentistry office for cleanings more often to keep your smile radiant.

Adult orthodontics: Braces vs Invisalign
Our self ligating clear braces are a good choice with our adult orthodontics patients that are not the best candidates for Invisalign. In our practice, they are super popular because they do not stain. Self-ligating brackets do not look dirty or stained because they don’t have elastic ligatures- a metal door is used to lock the wire in place. The color markings go away when you first brush.

Aesthetics and Comfort in Traditional Braces vs. Clear Aligners

In terms of aesthetics and comfort in Braces vs Invisalign, aligners are the clear winner. The aligners are nearly invisible, making them a discreet option for straightening teeth9. They’re also generally more comfortable, thanks to the absence of wires and metal brackets that can irritate the mouth10.

Rarely we have complaints of discomfort with the edges of clear aligner trays, which are easily resolved with some sandpaper polishing.

Brackets, however, are more noticeable due to their metal components. They may also cause discomfort, especially during the initial stages or after adjustments.

Orthodontic Treatment Effectiveness in Different Age Groups

Early Orthodontic Treatment in Children

For younger patients, traditional braces are often recommended11. Their jaws are still growing, and brackets offer the orthodontist more control in shaping both the teeth and jaws12. The social aspect of a smile of a child wearing brackets also tends to be less of a concern at younger ages, making them a go-to solution for more severe or complicated cases.

Often, accessory appliances are needed that are only compatible with child brackets. Also, in our experience, children tend to be less compliant with clear trays. Although we do offer Invisalign Teen as an option in early treatment, we only recommend it to very disciplined kids that show that characteristic in other aspects of their lives.

Adult Orthodontics: Braces vs Invisalign

Adults may find clear trays to be a more attractive option for several reasons in the braces-vs-Invisalign battle. First, the nearly invisible trays offer a less conspicuous way to straighten teeth, a priority for adults in professional settings.

Second, the removable nature of clear trays makes it easier to practice and more easily maintain good oral hygiene and dietary habits, increasingly important as we age. On the other hand, adults that snack or drink colored liquids often may find ceramic brackets a better option.

Patients must respect the biomechanics of tooth movement; we need a minimum of 18h of wear to see minimal results. 50% wear does not mean 50% movement.

Many patients come to our practice thinking if they wear the clear trays 50% of the time they will get 50% of the result. The orthodontist and even dentists just know that’s just not how orthodontics works, not in Texas or anywhere. Some patients think they can get away with nighttime wear. Results may be extremely limited to none when the normal wear regimen that allows for optimum physiological movement to occur is not respected.

Invisalign vs Braces: Which One is Faster

For a comprehensive analysis on this, click here.

Real-world Applications: Which Option Wins?

Mild to Moderate Cases

Clear trays often work well for those with minor to moderate alignment issues, especially when aesthetics is a concern16. However, brackets are still an effective and reliable option in these cases. Cost usually is the defining factor here, especially in Austin Texas where the cost of living has been rising. But remember, you and your beautiful smile are worth it. Nothing is more valuable than a permanent investment on yourself.

For adults that didn’t wear the retainer and had mild relapse, which is very common here in Austin TX, we often recommend clear aligners such as Invisalign. Patients wear is a bit less critical here and we have minor issues with teeth to solve. Limited cases may get a discount that makes the cost almost equal to brackets.

Severe Cases- Traditional Metal Braces Win

For severe orthodontics cases—like significant misalignments, rotations, or malocclusions—brackets are often the orthodontists‘ go-to solution due to their ability to apply more force and control complex movements.

Deep bites (excessive overlap of the front teeth) usually require full day patient and cooperation and close Dr monitoring and in my experience are not as easily addressed with clear aligners as they are with conventional brackets alone. Correction of severe cases are a lot more dependent on the patients wear.

Lifestyle Considerations

Your lifestyle can play a huge role in your orthodontist deciding which treatment plan is more effective for your teeth and smile. Athletes or people who engage in public speaking may find the trays to be a more convenient treatment plan option here, while those looking for a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ approach may gravitate towards brackets19. Your orthodontist should talk to you and help you make an optimum decision.

Debunking Myths Around Braces and Invisalign

Myths About Brackets

Many people think that brackets are primarily for kids and teenagers, but the reality is orthodontic care knows no age limit20. Many adults are opting for aesthetic brackets to correct long-standing oral issues21.

Another pervasive myth is that brackets are highly noticeable and unattractive. But with advancements in technology, there are now more discreet options available, with clear brackets such as self-ligating non staining ceramic clear braces. Even metal brackets made with Rhodium now have a more aesthetic appearance are not provided by the doctor.

Myths About Clear Aligner Therapy

Cost

A common misconception about Invisalign cost is that it’s significantly more expensive than metal or clear braces. While the cost can vary depending on the complexity of the case, and the qualification of the professional (a dentist typically charges less than orthodontists) often the prices are comparable, especially in milder cases. Because of the large initial cost for the practice, clear tray treatment often requires a down payment unless third party financing options are used.

Third party financing can waive a down payment for smaller monthly payments, and the length of the payment plan without interest often depends on a credit check. Insurance does cover part of clear tray aligner costs, although there are differences between depending on the patients’ insurance provider and plan.

Complexity of Cases

Another myth is that clear tray therapy isn’t one of the treatment options suitable for complex dental cases. That isn’t true in Texas or anywhere else. While conventional braces often offer greater control for complicated issues, advancements in Invisalign technology have expanded its capabilities. Here at Limestone Hills Orthodontics we also have a CT Scan (3d x rays) that can be combined with Invisalign for even more precise results.

Can Extraction Cases be treated with Invisalign

I have treated many adults and complex cases involving extractions and clear trays with board quality success, but the patients were excellent cooperators. I have also had poor results in milder cases with patients that are not good about wearing their aligners, struggling with multiple refinements while they insist, they will eventually wear it. Although most catch up, some give up or switch to braces.

The good news is that here at Limestone Hills Orthodontics, we offer a FREE switch to braces to any new patient, even patients that paid extra for aligner treatment. We want everyone to leave the practice with a chance to have an amazing result.

Mechanical Advantages and Disadvantages of Each System in Orthodontics Biomechanics

As we mentioned before, it is easier to combine accessory appliances with traditional metal braces than clear aligners for more complex treatment options. It is possible to incorporate appliances that promote a more anterior position of the jaw more easily for early treatment and adolescent treatment options than with conventional brackets.

Accessory Appliances: Braces vs Clear Trays

Certain procedures, such as rapid maxillary expansion to expand the upper jaw and improve the airway, are not possible with clear aligners. In general, all orthopedic treatments (that involve modeling of facial bones) are more suitable for traditional brackets.

mini rapid palatal expander

Expanders may be difficult to combine with clear tray treatment and the lack of stiffness and time of arrival of aligners after fabrication may compromise retention.

 

mara appliance

A MARA (mandibular anterior repositioning appliance) may help position the jaw forward and promote it to stay in that position through modeling of the joint, but it is fixed. Invisalign has a feature to modulate this, but it is limited by the lack of wear of the aligners during function (chewing) and overall lack of compliance.

Specific Malocclusions and System Limitations: Braces vs Clear Trays

For instance, the treatment of underbites of skeletal origin is better accomplished with a combination of expanders, traditional metal braces and a reverse pull headgear to bring the upper jaw forward. This is not possible currently with clear trays.

On the other hand, new Invisalign technologies available here in Austin TX were developed to assist. They have incorporated bite blocks in their aligners to hold the lower jaw forward which can promote a more forward position while is grows in patients with increased overbites (we call that increased overjet). However, research is still limited, and that, combined with the lack of cooperation of the typical child or teenager, in my opinion, makes metal or ceramic brackets the orthodontists choice.

Some Biomechanics Aspects of Clear Tray treatment Are Actually Better than Braces!

A less often mentioned advantage of the Invisalign system is that in metal brackets, metal wires have to build up in size and shape for both straight teeth and closing extraction spaces (often the metal wires are needed to straighten crooked teeth too), while clear trays can straighten teeth and close spaces at the same time more effectively given that they are worn as prescribed.

Conclusion

Clear tray orthodontics has made significant strides in becoming more versatile and effective for a variety of dental issues to achieve straight teeth in Orthodontics. These advancements are available for the Austin TX market after experimental phase. However, brackets continue to be the gold standard for tackling more complex orthodontics problems.

When it comes to effectiveness of orthodontics, the best orthodontics choice is individual and should be discussed in consultation with your Dr, being it a dentist or a qualified orthodontist26. Remember dentists rarely complete their orthodontic care cases during dental school, so the ideal professional team for your early orthodontic treatment and care to achieve your best smile is the Orthodontist. It’s a decision that can affect the rest of your life and a huge investment.

Take Action

Each treatment has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s crucial to consider factors like your dental health, lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences when using treatment options and making a decision. Your self-confidence and smile are worth at least a free consultation.

Set up a free consultation with our doctor and team in our beautiful boutique office here in to go through the entire consultation process with a friendly staff and find the best treatment option for your new smile. Austin orthodontics is not nearly as expensive as you think. We make it very affordable. Dr. Viecilli is an experienced adult orthodontist that has treated hundreds of Invisalign cases throughout his orthodontic clinic his entire career since 2009 and can work with parents, doctor and patient as a team to the best smile and guide you through the entire process to achieve your dream smile with ease.

Our Dr. is also included by many in the lists of the best orthodontists in Austin TX. And if you see enough wonderful things in our practice to like us, we may be even able to get you started in your journey to your ultimate smile the same Texas sunny day!