Braces or Invisalign, Which is Right for Me?

Deciding to undergo orthodontic treatment is a great first step to improving your oral health, but it can introduce a lot of questions that you may be nervous about answering. After all, it’s a big decision and not one you want to take lightly. You should have as much information as possible about everything the orthodontic process involves before taking the plunge, but you may not be sure where to start. Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics is here to help, with the answer to one of the most common questions we get from patients in Tuscaloosa: “Should I choose braces or Invisalign?” 

Our expert team is committed to helping you explore all the options available to you, and that begins with your initial consultation. Your first visit will give us the chance to discuss any concerns you have about your teeth, as well as:

  • how orthodontic treatment can change your smile
  • which treatment would be the best fit for your needs
  • what payment options are available to you

During your consultation at our Tuscaloosa office, we’ll also outline the differences between our most popular treatments: metal braces and Invisalign clear aligners. We tend to use these options most frequently, and knowing a bit more about each will help you understand which one would suit your smile needs. Let’s take a look at their pros and cons below!  

The basics of orthodontic treatment

Although they look very different, braces and aligners actually work in much the same way. Both gently apply force to your teeth to move into more optimal positions over time. This aligns your teeth and jaws to give you a fully functional smile that looks great and feels good, too. 

Traditional braces have been around for hundreds of years in various forms, and have a proven track record of successfully correcting a variety of orthodontic issues, from simple to complex. Invisalign is a more recent treatment method that has become increasingly popular over the last twenty years with teen and adult patients. Braces and clear aligners are both excellent options for anyone interested in achieving a healthier smile, but there are some important differences between them.  

Braces or Invisalign, Which is Right for Me?

Metal braces

Metal braces are very efficient at correcting a wide range of orthodontic issues and can be especially useful for more severe or complex cases. Because every case is different and each patient responds in their own way, the treatment time will vary from person to person. However, the average patient we see here at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics will usually spend anywhere from 18-36 months in braces.

Unlike Invisalign aligners, which are removable, braces are a fixed appliance. That means they can come with a bit of a learning curve! There are certain foods you’ll need to avoid throughout treatment since crunchy and chewy foods can damage the brackets and wires. 

You’ll also need to make some adjustments to your dental hygiene routine to ensure you’re keeping your teeth, gums, and appliances nice and clean. It can be tricky learning to navigate around braces, particularly where flossing is concerned, but this is an essential part of the treatment process. Fortunately, there are a variety of accessories available to make cleaning easier! 

Traditional metal braces from Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics are very adept at fixing a variety of oral issues. In fact, they can sometimes work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than other treatments might. Noticeable signs of progress can often be seen in a relatively short amount of time, which can be a real boost to your self-confidence!

Invisalign clear aligners

Invisalign aligners are nearly invisible and they’re also removable, making them the most popular alternative to braces by far. The SmartTrack material Invisalign aligners are made of is smooth and tends to be more comfortable than traditional braces. When worn as directed by Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker, Invisalign aligners can be just as efficient as braces at correcting many of the most common orthodontic issues.

Just like braces, the total treatment time for Invisalign patients will vary from case to case, with an average of about 9-18 months. The number of aligners needed to straighten the teeth will also depend on your unique smile, as well as your level of compliance and how your teeth respond to treatment.  

Because Invisalign aligners are removable, you have an extra measure of freedom during treatment. They’re designed to be taken out before eating or drinking anything other than water and should also be removed before brushing and flossing. 

Since you don’t wear your aligners during mealtimes, there are no food restrictions, something our Tuscaloosa patients love. You can continue eating all your favorite snacks as long as you’re careful about brushing and flossing afterward, which makes the entire treatment process a bit easier to manage.

The aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours each day and switched out every 1-2 weeks to be successful. Because they’re custom-designed to fit each patient’s unique needs, these frequent changes are necessary to keep up with the shifting of the teeth. Just like braces patients, you’ll be expected to attend follow-up visits with Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker every 6-8 weeks or so. Skipping these appointments or missing your scheduled aligner changes can quickly undo any progress you’ve made, so you’ll want to make them a priority!

Braces or Invisalign, Which is Right for Me?

Find the best fit for your smile with Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics

When you get right down to it, metal braces and clear aligners are both amazing options for achieving an incredible smile. And when you trust your teeth to Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, you can be sure that our expert team will only recommend the treatment they feel is best for your unique needs, lifestyle, and goals. 

If you’re ready to take the first step towards the confident smile you deserve, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker!