Braces vs. Invisalign

Sometimes you get lucky enough to do things a second time. I wouldn’t really say I’m lucky to re-align my teeth again mostly because it’s expensive. But I like having the option that if it’s messed up, it can be fixed (with lots of money). So, as an adult who went through braces and now invisalign, I can give a fair, non-teen-dramatic comparison of the two.

My teeth weren’t too terrible to begin with. Sure there was some crowding, overlap and an awesome crossbite. BUT, because I was attempting this as an adult, they couldn’t fix everything. Not unless I wanted surgery which would only yield me a 50% success rate. So I said, meh and went with traditional braces to fix what we could and I’d live with the crossbite.

(Looking back, I should have done the surgery. After all was said and done, I had beautifully straight teeth but a terrible looking face. One side always looks crooked thanks to the crossbite. It’s just something I hate and really wish I could fix.)

I had braces for about 2 1/2 years. Traditional silver on the bottom and “clear” – more like opaque on top. Even with “clear” rubber bands, you could still see them. So I always opted for colored bands. I felt if I was going to have food in my teeth, then I might as well try to hide it with colored rubber bands.

The Downside of Braces

The not so fun side of braces became apparently pretty quickly. Wires sticking to your cheeks, a mouth full of wax, constantly carrying little pipe cleaners, spitting when talking (ok, more than normal), not being able to eat certain foods or treats, flossing nightmares and pain after every monthly check up. But the upside was the progress made in a relatively short amount of time. I had my braces put on in October or November and by December, I had GAPS in my teeth where there were never gaps! It was amazing. Until the ortho threw the power chain on and closed those suckers up. Ouch.

The other down side to braces is the length. I’d say the average length of time (and this is solely on my own research of chatting with people) is about two to three years. As a teenager this can seem forever. As an adult, time tends to go a bit faster. So two + years wasn’t a big deal to me.

I was very happy with the results after getting my braces off. I loved my teeth!

Invisalign Time

Fast forward 6 or 7 years, my retainers no longer fit and my teeth hurt due to shifting out of place. I could have easily left them shift out of place but I admit, I’m a bit vain. Since I can’t afford plastic surgery to fix the really ugly parts of me, I can afford to fix my teeth. Invisalign promised a 5-8 month process so I said yes. I’m doing Invisalign 5 which means 5 trays. The first 4 trays were swapped out every two weeks. I’m still in the 5th tray, which I’ve been wearing for about 6 weeks.

The Downside of Invisalign

It would seem that there wouldn’t be a downside of going this route, but there is. While braces are a hassle to eat with and clean, you have to remember to put invisalign BACK IN after you’ve eaten or had something to drink. That’s been the hardest part for me. You can only drink water with them in. I have broken that rule a few times with juice but for the most part, I take them out to eat and/or drink and forget to put them back in. Sometimes its a day later before I wear them again. That’s not going to move my teeth very fast! It’s a big drawback in my opinion.

The other downside to invisalign is the constant lisp while wearing them. In braces, you get used to talking with them and the lisp goes away after a few hours to days. But with invisalign, I constantly have the lisp.

But, they do move your teeth quickly and discreetly.

The Price Difference

No matter which option you choose, it’s still an expense. I was able to take advantage of a Flexible Spending Account during both so that was helpful. Of course, it all depends on the amount of treatment you’ll need. I think my treatment with braces was pretty standard. I didn’t have any extras and treatment length was standard.

Treatment with Invisalign has been pretty standard too. They have various levels and the higher levels do cost more money. At this point, it would have cost me the same amount to do braces or Invisalign. But what I paid  years ago was still a chunk of change. Thankfully, both Orthodontic offices allow monthly payment plans with no interest. But I did pay slightly more for braces.

The Conclusion

Don’t put a kid or teenager in Invisalign. I’d say depending on the adult, that’s questionable too. If you’re a responsible rule-follower, then go with Invisalign. I’m only a partly responsible rule-follower but thankfully, my teeth don’t have far to go. Right now, we’re tweaking one tooth with a simple adjustment on my last tray. Once the tooth is where it should be, I’ll be in retainers for 6+ months. If you have minor adjustments to make, then go with Invisalign. But if you’re going for a full adjustment I’d suggest braces.

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