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OrthoTalk with Dr. David - Invisalign or Braces?

Dr. David, our Calgary Orthodontist, answers the question on everyone's mind; what is the difference between Invisalign and braces? Find out, on this week's Ortho Talk!

The Makeup

One of the most common questions we hear is, “what is the difference between braces and Invisalign ?” The most obvious answer to that question is the makeup or materials used. Braces utilize metal brackets, threaded with a titanium or stainless steel wire. The brackets can also be made from porcelain, which can be slightly bulkier, to offer the same support as metal brackets but may be used to more closely match the teeth in colour.
Unlike braces, Invisalign aligners are made from a lightweight, clear plastic. These are called aligners simply because they work to align the teeth in a predetermined fashion. Unlike retainers or trays, aligners are active, not passive. Plus, Invisalign aligners are removable. Patients can take out the aligners to eat, care for their teeth and even for a photo op!

The Process

When it comes to braces, your orthodontist will glue a bracket to each tooth and the force to gradually move the teeth is delivered by the wire, not the braces themselves.

With Invisalign, your orthodontist will use a series of aligners, replaced every 10 or so days, to apply a small force to move the teeth. A common misconception is that the aligners are made by a computer. In reality, your orthodontist controls the software. We decide which tooth moves, when, how far, and in what sequence. Some patients may have as few as 10 aligners, while others can have up to 70 or 80 aligners. It can vary based on your treatment plan.

The Timeline

Another common misconception is that braces work faster than Invisalign to straighten teeth. When actually, the duration of treatment often comes down to patient compliance. Meaning, if the patient wears their aligners as recommended each day and night, Invisalign treatment can be as fast as braces.

Given that the aligners are removable, Invisalign is typically recommended for older teens and adults, who are more likely to wear their aligners as recommended. While braces are more commonly used among younger teens and children.

The Patient Experience

From time to time, braces patients can experience an “orthodontic emergency”. Meaning, food or a foreign force can cause a bracket to become undone. If this happens, patients need to see their orthodontist as soon as possible to have the bracket re-glued.

With Invisalign, the more common “emergency” is losing the aligner itself, since it’s removable. Most often we will order a replacement or simply move on to your next aligner.

As always, consult with an orthodontist to determine which method of teeth straightening is right for you and your lifestyle.

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