Braces vs. Invisalign

Finding out you may benefit from orthodontic treatment can bring with it many questions.  What kind of treatments are available? Which is more affordable? Which is most effective? side by side comparison of braces with a straight smileWhat’s the difference between popular choices like metal braces and Invisalign? Our goal at Szymanowski Orthodontics is to find the treatment that will work best for you and your smile, and that means exploring all the options In this blog, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of both traditional braces and the Invisalign aligner system in order to help you decide which would be a better fit for you!

The basics

Braces and Invisalign are both designed to straighten teeth over time while improving your smile and oral health. Traditional braces have been around for a long time, and have a well-established history of treatment. Invisalign is a much newer treatment option, having only been widely used for the last fifteen years or so, but the system continues to increase in popularity. Traditional braces consist of metal brackets being attached to your teeth, tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands. Modern orthodontics means there are brackets available that more closely match your enamel color, or you can get them in different colors if you prefer making a fashion statement with your mouth! Invisalign, on the other hand, is designed to be invisible. The clear aligner trays are made of smooth plastic and worn over the teeth. We use X-rays, pictures, and impressions to create a precise 3-D image of your teeth which we then use to customize your aligners.

How they compare


Braces are, of course, not removable. Traditionally made of metal, braces put an emphasis on function over style, although changing up the color of the bands can be a lot of fun. Metal braces are extremely efficient at fixing complex tooth issues, and they often work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than Invisalign. While every patient is different, the average time spent in braces is anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. However, there is often noticeable movement of misaligned teeth within a relatively short period of time. Seeing even a slight improvement can play a significant role in boosting your self-confidence! Maintenance with metal braces can be a little more involved than it is with Invisalign. closeup of a mouth with bracesThe brackets and wires can present a challenge to dental hygiene, but brushing and flossing regularly is a must for good oral health. Accessories like a water pik can help rinse those hard to reach places. There are also foods you’ll need to avoid, namely anything too crunchy or sticky, so favorites like apples, popcorn, gum, and other chewy favorites will need to be put on the back burner during treatment. Patients wearing traditional braces can expect to have follow-up visits about every 4-6 weeks. Your orthodontist will change the bands that are attached to the brackets, and the wire may be replaced as well. These appointments are a quick process, usually taking about half an hour to an hour.  There may be some slight soreness after each adjustment, but it should be temporary. These visits shouldn’t be missed! They’re very important to ensure you get the very best results in the least amount of time.  


The two main benefits of Invisalign are that the aligners are almost completely invisible, and that they are removable. They also tend to be more comfortable than traditional metal braces, since the aligners are made of a smooth plastic that won’t irritate the gums or cheeks the way some brackets and wires might. Invisalign is an efficient method for gently moving teeth in cases that are not too complicated. Because Invisalign works to straighten teeth in a less invasive way than braces, it’s hard to say how long a patient will need them. The average is somewhere between 6 and 18 months, though of course, that will vary from case to case. This average is also based on the patient sticking to the recommended guidelines of wearing the aligners at least 20-22 hours every single day, throughout the entirety of treatment. Any deviation from this can add time to the process. It’s extremely easy to maintain your Invisalign aligners. pair of invisalign traysBecause they’re removable, you take them out before eating or drinking anything other than water, so you don’t have any issues with food getting stuck in between brackets and wires. You also remove them before brushing and flossing, giving you easier access to your teeth. There’s an Invisalign Cleaning system, or you can simply brush and rinse your trays in lukewarm water to keep them clean. Although there are no food restrictions with Invisalign aligners, you must remove them before all meals to avoid unsightly staining, and you’ll need to clean and rinse them out when performing your daily dental hygiene routine. Like braces, if you choose Invisalign, you’ll be expected to attend follow-up visits every 4-6 weeks, but you’ll also be changing out your aligner every two weeks. This is an important part of the straightening process. The trays are custom designed to fit each patient’s unique needs, and are changed every two weeks in order to keep up with the shift in the movement of your teeth. Skipping appointments or not changing aligners when you’re scheduled to can undo progress.

Let Szymanowski Orthodontics help you decide

When comparing traditional braces and Invisalign, it’s clearly a tight race. Adults and teens who tend to be self-conscious might find the discrete look of Invisalign incredibly appealing, and its removability is also a big draw. However, it’s important to remember that the success of Invisalign depends almost entirely on the patient. If you don’t wear them as directed, they just won’t work. With regular non-removable braces, you don’t really have a choice in the matter! Keep in mind, too, that if you need to address issues with your back teeth, or you need to rotate teeth or move them vertically, Invisalign may not even be an option for your particular case. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced provider like Szymanowski Orthodontics! Our friendly, professional team has years of working with both braces and Invisalign, and we’re dedicated to helping you find the most effective solution to perfect your smile and teeth. Straightening your teeth isn’t just about improving your smile. It also has an impact on your overall oral health, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re in the Sacramento area and need help deciding whether braces or Invisalign make more sense for you, get in touch with Szymanowski Orthodontics today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We look forward to seeing your smile!