Navigation

Invisalign aligners laid out on a blue background

Fixed braces vs Invisalign treatment: What’s the difference?

If you’re looking to have your teeth straightened, you might have questions about the different treatments available. Two of the most popular types of orthodontic treatment are fixed braces and Invisalign aligners, and there are a few factors that differentiate the two.

1. Cosmetic factors

One of the main things people consider when having braces is how they’ll look.

Invisalign braces are very discreet. The aligners are clear and flexible, so it’s barely noticeable that you’re having orthodontic treatment.

Fixed braces are the most visible type of brace, as they’re made up of wires linked to brackets that are bonded to each tooth. Small elastic bands are then used to hold the wire in place on each individual bracket.

When you think of fixed braces, you might think of traditional metal ones. However, fixed braces also come in more discreet forms including ceramic and lingual braces. Ceramic braces use tooth coloured wires and brackets, whereas lingual braces sit on the back of the teeth.

2. Removable vs fixed

There are two main different types of braces, fixed and removable. Fixed braces are permanently bonded to the teeth using wires and brackets, which means they can only be removed by your orthodontist at the end of treatment. Some people like the idea of having fixed braces because they don’t have to worry about putting them in and taking them out.

Invisalign aligners are a type of removable brace. This means you can take them out to eat, brush and floss your teeth. Some people prefer the idea of removable braces because it makes these daily activities easier. With Invisalign treatment, you need to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day for the treatment to be effective, so it’s important to be organised and remember to put them back in after you’ve finished brushing or eating.

3. Cost

The cost of teeth straightening treatment completely depends on the type of brace you have and your individual orthodontic needs. You’ll need to have a consultation before having any kind of braces, so your dentist can assess your teeth. During this consultation, they’ll talk you through suitable teeth straightening options and the costs involved.

Traditional fixed metal braces are usually less expensive than more discreet forms of straightening such as lingual braces or Invisalign treatment. If you’re looking for braces for your child, NHS orthodontic care is available, for free, for under 18s who qualify for treatment. NHS care uses traditional fixed metal braces. If you think your child needs braces, speak to your dentist who will be able to provide an indication of whether they qualify for NHS care, or whether you may need to consider private options.

4. What problems they can fix

Although there are a range of orthodontic systems available, your dentist will need to determine which type of treatment is most suitable for you.

Traditional fixed braces are often recommended for people who have complex orthodontic problems including excessive overcrowding of the teeth or a very deep overbite. They deliver precise and reliable results that can correct even the most complex problems. However, fixed braces can also be used to treat minor alignment issues too.

Invisalign treatment can also treat a range of cases, including some complex ones, but if you have severe orthodontic problems, you’ll likely be recommended a fixed brace. Your dentist can tell you if you’re suitable for Invisalign braces at your initial consultation.

There are also different types of Invisalign available, including Invisalign Teen, specifically designed for teenagers, and Invisalign Lite, which treats purely cosmetic issues.

5. Comfort

Whatever braces you choose; it’ll take a little while to get used to them. It’s not possible to achieve a straighter smile without some level of discomfort. Orthodontic treatment gradually moves your teeth into a different position, which makes them temporarily more sensitive.

Fixed braces can cause some irritation to the cheeks and gums when they’re first put in. However, you’ll get used to wearing them and there are things you can do to reduce the discomfort, such as using orthodontic wax.

Invisalign treatment doesn’t rub in the same way fixed braces do, but when you first put your aligners in, you can expect to feel some discomfort as you get used to wearing them. As you wear the aligners more, they will feel more comfortable and natural. Research has shown that Invisalign clear aligners are more comfortable than traditional braces*.

6. Maintenance

Orthodontic treatment always requires some maintenance. With fixed braces, you need to be meticulous with your oral hygiene, as having fixed braces can be harder to keep clean. This can lead to sore gums and, in some cases, tooth decay. You’ll need regular appointments with your hygienist to ensure everything is on track. As the braces are fixed, there’s no need to worry about taking them out, so you know they’re always working in the background.

If you have Invisalign treatment, you can remove your aligners to eat, brush and floss, so your oral hygiene routine doesn’t have to change. You still need to clean your aligners every day with water and you should also brush them gently with a toothbrush to keep them clean. Invisalign requires the patient to wear the aligner for 22 hours a day, because if you don’t wear them for the required amount of time, the treatment won’t be effective. So you need to be organised.

Interested in orthodontic treatment?

Whether you’re looking to get fixed braces, Invisalign aligners or a different type of treatment, there’s a lot to consider. To find out more about teeth straightening options available, or to get an initial consultation with us, get in touch with your local practice offering orthodontics who can talk you through your treatment options.

* Study sponsored by Align Technology and based on adult Class I, nonextraction, mild to moderate crowding cases with SmartTrack material. *David W. White, Katie C. Julien, Helder Jacob, Phillip M. Campbell and Peter H. Buschang, Discomfort associated with Invisalign and traditional brackets: A randomized, prospective trial. The Angle Orthodontist Nov 2017, Vol. 87, No. 6 pp. 801-808
ajax-loader