Today, we have a guest post from a friend and fellow orthodontist, Dr. Ankush Khanna of Fresh Orthodontics in Brooklyn. Dr. Khanna will be sharing his knowledge and going over the pros and cons to consider when comparing metal or hidden braces vs. Invisalign.
Thanks for having me, Dr. Jeff! As an orthodontist on the East Coast, I offer my patients a variety of treatment options, including braces and Invisalign, similar to what you’ll find at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics. While sometimes you might see claims about one treatment working better than another, the truth is, your teeth have no idea whether it’s metal or plastic that is exerting pressure against them. They’ll move in pretty much the same fashion with either orthodontic treatment option as long as an experienced provider is mapping out your tooth movements in a way that’s safe and efficient. The differences when it comes to braces vs. Invisalign really boil down to esthetics (metal or hidden braces) and the treatment process.
The Basics of Braces
Braces are fixed orthodontic appliances that consist of brackets and wires that apply steady, gentle pressure to shift the teeth into place. The brackets are bonded to your teeth with special glue. We then run the wire through the brackets and it acts as a track to guide the teeth into place. Depending on the type of braces you have, we might also use elastics or tiny metal ties to secure the wire to the brackets. Once your tooth jewelry is in place, you’ll visit your orthodontist for occasional adjustments so that the teeth move in the direction we want.
Types of Braces
These are some of the common types of braces:
- Metal Braces – Metal braces are probably what you automatically think of when you hear the word “braces.” These braces are made of high-grade stainless steel. While back in the day, metal braces were bulky and a little uncomfortable, modern ones are smaller, more streamlined and more comfortable. A lot of young patients love metal braces because they can choose colorful elastics that show off their personality. In addition to silver metal braces, there are also gold braces. These are made from stainless steel as well but they’re plated in gold. If a fancy, golden smile is something you’re into, these could be right up your alley.
- Ceramic Braces – Ceramic braces, or clear braces, are made of a translucent material so they’re a lot less visible than their metal counterparts. The brackets blend in with your smile, making them more discreet. A lot of adults and older teens prefer clear braces.
- Hidden Braces – Dr. Jeff offers INBRACE® lingual braces at his office. These braces have brackets and wires but they’re placed on the back of the teeth, on the tongue or lingual side. You can’t see them at all when you smile. Unlike conventional invisible braces, INBRACE hidden braces are friction-free. The small brackets are paired with customized smartwires® that use light, continuous forces to move teeth in all three dimensions from the first day. They also have a loop design so you can floss normally.
Braces Pros and Cons
When comparing braces vs. Invisalign here are some the perks of braces:
- You can’t lose your braces because they’re stuck to your teeth. If you tend to lose things a lot, this could be a big plus for you. With aligners, you have to keep an eye on them so you don’t misplace them.
- Once your braces are on, you really don’t have to think about them. There’s no need to make sure you’re wearing them enough (you definitely are because they’re stuck to your teeth) and you don’t have to take them in and out to eat and drink.
- Braces are effective for a wide range of cases and on patients of all ages, including those in Phase 1 treatment.
- If you love the idea of showing off your hardware and having a nice little glimmer when you smile or rocking colorful elastics, you might love metal braces or gold braces.
- If you want the most discreet form of treatment possible, hidden braces are it. While clear aligners are virtually invisible, hidden braces are completely concealed from view.
Okay now for the drawbacks of braces:
- You do have food restrictions. You’ll want to stay away from really hard, sticky or chewy foods while you’re wearing braces because they can damage your appliance.
- While I listed the fact that braces are bonded to your teeth as a plus, this can also be a negative for some patients who would prefer a removable appliance.
- Since there are brackets and wires involved, occasionally your braces can get damaged, especially if you eat a food that you’re not supposed to or forget to wear your mouthguard when playing sports. This can mean the need for repair appointments. The brackets and wires can also irritate your mouth at first. Once you get acclimated to them, however, your mouth toughens up and the irritation stops.
- Even though the wires are working, we still use rubberbands or elastics to help with your bite. Rubber bands don’t work automatically, so the more you have them in your mouth, the quicker you’ll get comfortable and you’ll likely make your braces experience shorter.
- Conventional braces are more visible than Invisalign.
Invisalign involves a series of clear, smooth, BPA-free plastic aligners that are custom-made for your smile. They slip over your teeth like a super comfortable, ultra-thin mouthguard. Your orthodontist plans out your tooth movements on a 3D model of your mouth and sends the specifications to Invisalign. Invisalign then prints out the aligners based on your doctor’s prescription. Each set is pre-programmed to achieve certain movements and as you make your way through the series, your new smile gradually takes shape. Dr. Jeff and I both also offer Invisalign Teen, which is essentially the same as regular Invisalign but has features like eruption tabs to accommodate erupting molars and compliance indicators.
Invisalign Pros and Cons
When comparing braces vs. Invisalign, the benefits of Invisalign include:
- It’s removable so you can take the aligners out whenever you want. Though you do have to make sure you wear them the full 22 hours per day (if you don’t, we’ll likely need to take a step backwards to catch up).
- We can treat teenagers and adults with a range of orthodontic issues with the treatment.
- The aligners are virtually invisible and most people won’t notice you’re wearing them.
- There are no food restrictions since you take the aligners out to eat and drink.
- You can brush and floss as you normally would because you’ll also remove your aligners to brush and floss your teeth.
- There are no brackets and wires that can break so you won’t have any repair appointments and the aligners won’t irritate your mouth or get in the way when playing sports or an instrument.
The cons of Invisalign are:
- Again, it’s removable, which for some is a pro, but for others, who tend to lose things, it’s a drawback. Invisalign Teen has a few free replacement aligners included in the system but regular Invisalign doesn’t.
- You can’t really just forget you‘re in orthodontic treatment because you’ll have to make sure you’re wearing your aligners for 22 hours per day and you’ll have to take them in and out to eat and drink anything aside from plain water.
- While the aligners are a lot less visible than metal braces or clear braces, they’re more visible than lingual braces.
When thinking about braces vs. Invisalign for your own orthodontic treatment, it will mostly come down to your lifestyle and needs. If you’re interested in orthodontic treatment in El Dorado Hills, schedule a complimentary consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics. Or, if you happen to live in Brooklyn, give Fresh Orthodontics a call!
About Dr. Ankush Khanna
Dr. Ankush Khanna is the orthodontist behind Fresh Orthodontics in Brooklyn. With an extensive education from UPenn and NYU, and considerable clinical and teaching experience, he makes outstanding, personalized care to every patient his top priority. At Fresh Orthodontics, Dr. Khanna offers a full range of orthodontic treatment for kids, teens and adults in a bright, fun atmosphere.