Twelve years ago I went through my pubescent years, as most preteens do, with a metal mouth. While I was graced with good dental genes, I was not graced with straight teeth. In fact, they were actually pretty awful. For two years I painstakingly wore braces until they finally came off.
But I failed to wear my retainer regularly and that paired with my orthodontist’s decision to only fix my teeth without any regard to how permanent of a fix it would be caused me to have a massive relapse. I’m talking back to square one relapse. A relapse so bad that when I went in for my consultation appointment a few months ago, the orthodontist would not relent on talking about how bad the relapse was. So here I am at 24 years old needing braces again. But this time, I opted for Invisalign because I didn’t want braces to make me look any younger.
So for those of you who came here looking for some clarification on which is better, braces or Invisalign, I come bearing experience to shed some light on the two.
What to expect from Invisalign:
Your orthodontist will make a mold of your teeth and will order trays that will gradually shift your teeth into position. I have a total of 39 trays which is on the high end. Most people have fewer trays than that. The trays take about 4-6 weeks to come in, so it will be some time before you’ll get to begin treatment. Most people wear a tray for two weeks, although I have been wearing mine for one week at a time instead, due to how much shifting has to be done.
You may have to wear buttons on some of your teeth. They’re essentially the same thing as brackets on braces, but they’re tooth colored. The buttons are glued on just like the brackets are and don’t come off even when you take the retainer out.
The retainer must be worn for at least 20-22 hours a day. The only time you’ll ever take them out is to brush your teeth and to eat.
Other orthodontic treatment like fixing over/under bites can be done with Invisalign as well. So you aren’t limited to braces if you have more than just shifting to correct.
These are the basics to Invisalign. Below are my pros and cons to wearing Invisalign over braces.
It doesn’t make me look like a teenager again.
No, they’re not perfectly invisible. I haven’t had anyone point them out, but if you stand close enough to me, you can definitely see the outline of the retainers. Since I have buttons glued on some of my teeth. They’re similar to brackets on braces, but they’re tooth colored so they’re harder to see. But these buttons make the Invisalign more noticeable as well. That said, it is no where near as visible as braces are, and as such, I don’t feel awkward wearing them.
I can eat whatever I want without worrying about food getting stuck in my teeth.
With braces, I had to always worry about what I was eating for two reasons: some foods can break off your brackets (this happened to me with tortilla chips) and pretty much anything you ate plastered itself inside and on top of the braces. Ew. There’s a reason why prepubescent years are not pretty. With Invisalign, the only inconvenience is having to brush my teeth more often. Which honestly, you should do that with braces anyway.
The price is reasonable.
This made the pros list because many people think Invisalign is more expensive than braces. In my experience, this isn’t true. I had two consultation appointments with two different orthodontists and both said the cost is the same for either Invisalign or braces. With how widespread Invisalign has become and how much easier it is to make the aligners nowadays, Invisalign does not need to be more expensive. If you’re curious about the price, I am paying $4600 for my treatment over the course of two years. My first consultation priced me at $5400. So don’t be afraid to shop around.
It’s easier to lose weight.
Not that I’m trying to lose weight, but I find it’s easier to not overindulge on food because the retainers have to we worn for at least 20-22 hours a day. So I can’t spend a whole lot of time eating since I have to take the retainer out to eat.
They hurt more than braces.
I’ve heard conflicting experiences with this one, but personally, Invisalign hurts way more than what I remember with braces. With Invisalign, I have to change trays once a week, which means that 3-4 days of the week are spent feeling pain. With each new set of trays, my teeth have to conform to them, whereas with braces, I only had to get them tightened once every 6-8 weeks which is the only time they hurt.
When I first started wearing them, they cut the inside of my mouth, too. Braces did this to me as well, but nowhere to the extent that Invisalign did. I highly suggest getting some dental wax because the edges of the retainers are sharp and will irritate the skin in your mouth. This did go away for me, but not until I started wearing the dental wax. Once my skin healed, I didn’t need the wax anymore.
You’ll have a lisp for a while.
I had a lisp for about two weeks as I adjusted to speaking with them. Although I still have a hard time saying the word, “sixty-six.” This goes away, but if you’re in a job that requires a lot of speaking, I suggest factoring in some time off work to get adjusted to the retainers.
They’re not as effective.
Don’t get me wrong. Invisalign definitely gets the job done, but they don’t do it as well as braces do. If you only have a minor shift you want to fix, Invisalign is a great option, but if you’re like me with a long orthodontic road ahead of you, braces might be something to consider. Personally, my orthodontist has offered to put braces on at no extra cost should the Invisalign not correct my teeth to their liking. So ask your orthodontist what they think is best and what they can offer you.
Also, age is a factor as well. If you’re 50+, Invisalign may not be a viable option for you. Ultimately, ask your orthodontist about your options.
You have to be dedicated to them.
If you choose to wear Invisalign, you have to be dedicated to wearing them 20-22 hours a day. If you can’t meet that expectation, your teeth won’t move at the expected rate and you’ll hinder your progress. I don’t suggest teens wear them for this reason. I was irresponsible with my retainer and wearing it regularly after my braces came off and now I’m back for round two. My point being, that teens don’t think about the consequences and if they do, the consequences probably won’t matter to them at the time.
You also have to be wary of your meal times. You’ll find yourself slotting meal times to ensure you’re wearing the retainers for the recommended amount of time.
You might have hindered progress.
Sometimes our teeth don’t move as anticipated. Or we don’t wear them correctly/the retainer breaks and that causes a hindrance to our progress. If this happens, the orthodontist will have to reorder your trays which will take another four weeks for them to come in. So that’s an extra four weeks added on to your treatment time.
I love Invisalign so much more than braces. With braces, I felt awkward and a lot more noticable. With Invisalign, I hardly know they’re there. I definitely made the right choice in choosing Invisalign over braces as I feel more confident wearing the retainers and I’ll gain even more confidence once they come off.
I would definitely recommend these over braces as long as you are capable of making the commitment to wear them regularly. Other than that, I don’t see the other cons as having too much of a negative affect to make me prefer braces. If you’re thinking about Invisalign, talk to your orthodontist! Consultations are free and they’ll be able to guide you down the best path to straight teeth.
Do you wear Invisalign/braces? Tell me your experience in the comments below!
I’ll see you next Wednesday!