Deciding between traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners can be tough. It’s hard to say which has the clear advantage, but both are strong contenders with compelling pros and cons. Patients visit our offices all the time to ask “should I choose braces or Invisalign?” Answering that question is a big step in your orthodontic treatment, and our team is here to help you decide which one is right for you! At Westfall Orthodontics, we believe that you should be as informed as possible when you begin your orthodontic journey.
Dr. Chad Westfall is committed to helping you explore all the options available to you and creating a personalized plan based on your specific needs and goals! The first step is scheduling an initial consultation at our offices in Abingdon, Bristol or Richlands. During this visit, you’ll have the chance to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have with Dr. Westfall and other staff members, including topics such as:
- how orthodontic treatment will change your smile
- which treatments will best fit your needs
- what payment options are available to you
Traditional metal braces and Invisalign clear aligners tend to be our most frequently chosen treatment options, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each! Having this information will help you decide which treatment option is the best fit for your unique smile needs and wants. Keep reading below to learn more!
Orthodontic Treatment: The Basics
While they look very different and are composed of different materials, braces and clear aligners both work by applying constant gentle force over time to shift your teeth into more optimal positions. This will align your teeth and jaws and improve the appearance and function of your smile. Both are excellent options for anyone hoping to achieve a healthier smile, but there are some important differences between the two that you should know before choosing which is right for you.
Traditional braces have seen a multitude of improvements to their size, shape, and even color over the years. That means this orthodontic workhorse is more functional and adaptable than ever! Braces are a fixed orthodontic appliance, which simply means they cannot be adjusted or removed by the patient, and are useful for correcting a wide range of orthodontic issues, especially more complex or severe cases. Every patient will respond to treatment in their own way, so treatment durations will vary, but the average patient can expect to spend approximately 18-24 months in braces.
Braces do come with a small learning curve. There are certain foods that you will need to avoid throughout your treatment, including any snacks that are crunchy or sticky. This means that foods like raw apples and carrots, certain kinds of candy, nuts, chips, and popcorn are off the menu until the orthodontic process is complete.
You’ll also need to adjust your dental hygiene routine. It can be tricky learning to navigate your brush around braces, particularly where flossing is concerned, but this is an essential skill to ensure that your treatment succeeds. Fortunately, there are a variety of accessories available to make cleaning much easier! Waterpiks help rinse inaccessible places while ortho-picks simplify flossing for you. It may seem like a lot to handle at first, but don’t worry—these precautions will become part of your daily routine before you know it.
At Westfall Orthodontics, we also offer clear braces to our patients. These work the same way as metal braces but are made from clear, ceramic materials that blend in with your smile. Clear braces are an excellent option if you’re worried about the esthetic aspects of orthodontic treatment.
Since ceramic brackets are about the same size and shape as metal brackets, they’re just as effective at straightening your smile. However, since the material they’re made of is slightly more fragile, we typically recommend clear braces for older teens and adult patients.
Patients in traditional braces can expect follow-up visits about every 8 weeks. Once we ensure everything is progressing according to the treatment plan, Dr. Westfall will change the bands attached to your brackets and may replace your wire as well. These adjustment appointments are generally pretty fast—most last no more than an hour. While there can be some slight residual soreness after each adjustment, this is only temporary.
These visits are an essential part of treatment and help you achieve the best results in the least amount of time possible!
Invisalign Clear Aligners
There are two main reasons why, year after year, Invisalign aligners prove to be our most popular alternative to braces: they’re nearly invisible, giving patients a more subtle means of straightening their smile; and they’re removable, providing a level of freedom and flexibility that other treatment methods don’t. Additionally, the smooth material from which clear aligners are made tends to be more comfortable than traditional braces, as the SmartTrack plastic is less abrasive on lips, tongues, and gums. When worn as directed, Invisalign aligners are just as efficient as braces at correcting many of the most common orthodontic issues.
Just like braces, the total treatment time for Invisalign patients will vary from case to case, but you’ll generally need to wear yours for 12-18 months. The number of aligners needed will depend on your unique orthodontic situation, how compliant you are with the guidelines, and how your mouth responds to treatment.
Because Invisalign aligners are removable, they’re extremely easy to maintain. They’re designed to be taken out of your mouth when eating or drinking anything other than water and before brushing and flossing. Since you don’t have your aligners in during mealtimes, there are no food restrictions. You can continue eating all your favorite snacks as long as you make sure to clean your teeth before replacing your aligners. This makes eating and caring for your teeth a less restrictive, less frustrating process!
If you select Invisalign for your orthodontic procedure, follow-up appointments with Dr. Westfall won’t be as frequent as they would be with braces, but they’re just as important! Aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours each day and switched out every 1-2 weeks in order to keep your treatment on track. Because the aligners are custom-designed to fit each patient’s unique needs, these frequent changes are necessary in order to keep up with the mouth’s movements. Skipping appointments or missing scheduled aligner changes can negate all the hard-earned progress you’ve made, so don’t forget to keep up!
Find the Best Fit For Your Smile with Westfall Orthodontics
Clearly, both traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners are great options for straightening your smile, though in some cases one treatment may be more appropriate than the other. Our expert team is happy to meet with you to discuss your options in further detail, and will only recommend the treatment they feel is best for your specific smile.
Our customized treatment plans are built around your unique needs, lifestyle, and goals, so you can achieve a smile that looks and feels great in the shortest amount of time possible! If you’re ready to discover the best treatment for your smile, get in touch today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Westfall. Our team is committed to keeping your mouth healthy and aligned for a lifetime of beautiful smiles!