Invisalign Aligners vs. Braces: Which Is Right For Your Smile?


You might be wondering: should I get braces or Invisalign aligners?

Thinking about straightening your teeth? Great choice!

Luckily, that’s what this guide is for! We’ve got answers to all your questions about the difference between these two forms of orthodontic treatment. We’ve stacked up these two side by side so you can make an informed choice for your smile. And we’ve compared Invisalign aligners to other clear aligners so you can get the whole picture when it comes to treatment options.

Remember, no matter which treatment you choose, the most important part of your smile transformation is your orthodontist! An experienced doctor will carefully supervise your treatment to ensure the best results and a long-lasting smile.

Cost, comfort, effectiveness: we’ve got it covered. Read on to find out whether braces or Invisalign treatment is right for you!

Braces v. Invisalign Aligners: The Breakdown Chart


Braces Invisalign
Treatment Length 1-3 years, depending on individual case 6 months to 2 years, depending on individual case
Removable? No Yes
Cleaning Regular brushing and flossing with specialized floss threader, routine dentist visits Regular brushing and flossing, brushing and soaking aligners, routine dental visits.
Maintenance  Regular cleaning and orthodontic visits, avoid certain foods. Wear 22 hours a day, remove for meals, clean thoroughly before putting back in. Soak aligners regularly.
Orthodontist Visits  Every month – every other month Every 3 months; begin new set of aligners every 2 weeks.
Cost $1,700-$6,000 $2,400-$9,000
Expedited Option? No Yes
Benefits of Treatment Type
  • Effective for very severe or complex cases
  • Less expensive
  • Permanent bonding means consistent progress
  • Colorful rubber bands
  • Multiple braces types
  • Time-tested reliability
  • Discreet, nearly-invisible look
  • Removable aligners easy to care for
  • No food restrictions
  • Professional look for working adults
  • Comfortable and easy to wear
  • Whiten teeth during treatment
Downsides of Treatment
  • Noticeable metal appliance
  • Food restrictions
  • Can trap bacteria
  • Can be uncomfortable/cause irritation in mouth
  • May be difficult to clean
  • Must remember to wear aligners 22 hours a day
  • More expensive
  •  Must remove before eating/drinking anything but water
  • Aligners can stain or discolor
  • More easily broken, damaged, or lost
  • May require supplemental braces treatment for complex cases
Ideal Treatment For Kids and teenagers; budget consumers Adults or responsible teenagers, working professionals
Braces Pros and Cons

Braces: Time-Tested Orthodontic Care for Lifelong Smiles

Braces are the original form of orthodontic treatment. The basic design of braces has been around for centuries: researchers have even found primitive braces on ancient Egyptian mummies!

Luckily, braces have developed a lot over the years, and research has helped make braces a reliable, effective, and comfortable treatment method to achieve straight teeth, a healthy bite, and a beautiful smile for millions of people across the globe.

Braces shift your teeth safely and effectively, using brackets bonded to each tooth, connected by a metal wire. Each bracket is affixed to carefully move each tooth into its correct position, monitored closely by the orthodontist.

There are a few types of braces: metal, ceramic, and lingual braces all straighten teeth using a variety of methods. But they all can effectively help you achieve a great smile and a healthy bite!

Are braces right for you? There are a lot of reasons people choose braces.

Benefits of Braces

Metal, Ceramic, and Lingual Braces Offer Options for Your Smile

Braces offer a variety of treatment forms for you to choose from! The basic design is the same, but each is formulated to straighten teeth with specific benefits.

Metal Braces Treatment

Metal Braces

Metal braces are the original form of braces: they use metal brackets, connected by a metal wire. They are extremely effective and reliable, convenient and comfortable, and popular for patients of all ages.

They may also be the most cost-effective treatment option, and for qualifying cases, may be fully covered by insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance provider about getting braces covered.


Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces use a similar technology as metal braces, but instead of the metal brackets, they use a much subtler clear or tooth-colored resin for the brackets, so they blend seamlessly with the teeth and provide a barely-there appearance.

Ceramic braces offer all the effectiveness of metal braces, but with a less noticeable look that many patients prefer, especially older teens and adults. Because the brackets are clear or tooth-colored, they are more prone to staining from dark-colored foods or drinks (like dark soda, red wine, or coffee), so they may not be the best choice for younger patients or those who don’t want to give up those items.

A Patient with Lingual Braces

Lingual or Incognito® Braces

Lingual braces -also known as Incognito® braces– use a similar technology as metal and ceramic braces, but instead of being bonded to the outside of the teeth, they sit on the inside of the teeth, where the tongue sits.

This provides a treatment that is much less visible from the outside, while still moving the teeth into their correct positions.

Because of their placement, lingual braces may be less effective at treating certain conditions, or more severe cases. Your orthodontist will assess your diagnosis and determine whether lingual braces are right for your treatment.

Due to their less common usage and the expertise required, lingual braces may be considerably more expensive than metal braces.

Downsides of Braces

Benefits of Invisalign Treatment

Invisalign treatment has several benefits when compared to traditional braces.

Downsides of Invisalign Treatment

While there are many positives to Invisalign treatment, there are certain aspects of Invisalign treatment that may not work for all patients.

Costs Compared: Invisalign Aligners vs. Braces

One big question future orthodontic patients ask: how much does it cost?

The price of care, of course, can make a big difference in the treatment a patient ends up selecting. Many factors can affect the final cost of treatment, such as:

  • The severity of your condition
  • The office you go to for treatment
  • The experience of your orthodontist
  • Insurance coverage
  • Promotional savings, such as family discounts or seasonal price-cuts
  • Monthly payment plans/financing

Invisalign Aligners vs. Braces: Which is Faster?

Treatment lengths depend on your specific case, but Invisalign treatment tends to be faster for most types of orthodontic diagnoses. Invisalign aligners provide an all-around force on the teeth, rather than the individual tooth movement achieved with braces.

This all-around force can provide speedier movement, resulting in a faster treatment to correct your smile. Most Invisalign cases can be completed between 12-18 months, and some milder cases require only 6 months of treatment.

Each case is unique: your orthodontist will be able to determine the precise length of your specific treatment, whether it’s braces or Invisalign aligners. And whichever treatment you select, your compliance will help keep you on track, with regular brushing and flossing and proper food and drinking habits. If you wear Invisalign clear aligners, be sure to wear them 22 hours a day to ensure their effectiveness.


What About Non-Invisalign Clear Aligners?

Invisalign was the first company to introduce clear aligners, and they’ve continued to lead the industry in technical innovation and clinically proven results for straightening teeth.

In recent years, however, many brands have cropped up offering non-Invisalign clear aligners. Some of these offer DIY at-home plastic aligners, which are not Invisalign aligners but use generic plastics technology. This treatment is offered as a “teledentistry” service, so customers never visit an actual orthodontist in-office.

At first glance, these mail-order aligners may have a lower price tag, but look again: many critical aspects of treatment are missing from these services.


What’s missing with mail-order aligner brands:

  • X-Rays (necessary for proper diagnosis)
  • Experienced orthodontist with personalized service
  • Attachments for aligner grip
  • Unlimited aligners for effective treatment
  • In-office consultation with the doctor
  • Retainers
  • Follow-up visits

When these added costs are included – fees you will accrue out of pocket, by purchasing your retainers separately and visiting the dentist for X-rays – the final cost of mail-order aligners is actually hundreds or even thousands of dollars higher.

In addition, treatment results are much less predictable with mail-order aligners rather than Invisalign aligners. The Invisalign system is a patented orthodontic therapy, available only in partnership with licensed, in-office orthodontists. The medical-grade, precision-engineered materials used in Invisalign aligners are clinically proven to move teeth faster and with better predictability than generic brands.

Thousands of unhappy customers have filed complaints against these DIY aligner brands, for ineffective treatment or, in many cases, permanent damage to their teeth, gums, and mouth. Due to rising concerns over the risk of mail-order teledentistry, the American Association of Orthodontists has issued a consumer advisory warning to the public about the use of these unreliable devices.

In this article, we’ve compared braces only to Invisalign clear aligner therapy, not mail-order aligner brands. Many orthodontists caution against the use of at-home treatments since there are genuine risks of permanent harm without the supervision of a licensed orthodontist.

The Invisalign system is used only in exclusive partnership with experienced doctors: the treatment is effective and reliable because it is supervised in-office by a licensed orthodontist. If you are interested in mail-order aligner treatment, think hard about the risk you are taking for the health of your smile.

Want more info? Get the full breakdown on Invisalign vs. Mail-Order Aligners.

Orthodontic therapy is an investment in your health: don’t sacrifice your health and the future of your smile to an ineffective, risky treatment!

Whether Braces and Invisalign Aligners, A Great Orthodontist Helps You Win Your Grin

Braces and Invisalign aligners are both excellent choices to achieve a healthy, happy smile. While each offers specific advantages, they both offer reliable, precision movement of your teeth, to improve your bite, your smile, and your confidence!

Whichever treatment you choose, remember that both braces & Invisalign aligners are tools used by your experienced doctor. The orthodontist you work with for your smile will be in charge of using either appliance to align your teeth and achieve the most optimal results.

During your consultation, your orthodontist will discuss your diagnosis with you and recommend a treatment option that is best suited for your needs. Together, you will embark on a partnership that will keep you smiling for years to come.