All posts | December 21, 2023

Invisalign and Traditional Braces Differences

by Karin Grinbaum

Invisalign vs Braces: Key Differences to Consider

Here at Smiles and Grins, we understand that pursuing straighter teeth is an important investment in your health and self-confidence. With advanced clear aligner technology like Invisalign now available, you may be wondering how aligners compare to traditional metal braces. There are several key differences to understand when determining which solution is right for your smile goals and lifestyle.

Invisalign and Braces Comparison

Here are the key differences at a glance. Scroll past the table to see more details about each criteria.

Criteria Invisalign Braces
Aesthetics Clear, removable plastic aligners Silver metal brackets and wires
Impact on Diet No restrictions since removable Diet limitations from wires
Ease of Oral Hygiene Aligner removal simplifies More difficult to brush and floss
Speech Adaptation Period Temporary lisp for 1-2 days per new aligner set 1-2 weeks speech impact when first installed
Comfort Smooth plastic; Some pressure sensations Bracket edges irritate cheeks and gums
Average Treatment Duration 10 to 24 months 10 to 24 months
Average Cost $4,000-$8,000 $3,000-$6,000

How They Work

Braces rely on brackets and wires to apply steady pressure to gradually shift teeth into alignment. Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable plastic aligners that are custom-fit to your teeth. Each aligner applies light, focused forces to certain teeth, moving them incrementally until the desired position is achieved.

Unlike braces, Invisalign aligners are removable, meaning you take them out for eating, brushing, flossing, and certain events or occasions. Treatment times can range from 10 to 24 months for both options depending on the complexity of your case.


One of the most obvious differences is aesthetics. Braces feature metal brackets and wires that cover the front surfaces of your teeth, while Invisalign is practically invisible since the aligners are clear plastic and removable. This makes Invisalign a popular discreet teeth straightening solution.

Dietary Restrictions

Braces can make eating challenging, while Invisalign offers more flexibility. Understanding the dietary impacts can help guide your decision.

Braces make eating trickier since food can easily get stuck in between the brackets and wires. This means avoiding sticky, crunchy, and hard foods. You'll need to be careful about what you eat and how you bite or chew to prevent damage or discomfort. Certain tempting foods like caramel, popcorn, nuts, apples, or corn on the cob are often off limits with braces.

Invisalign allows for more flexible dining choices since you remove the aligners before meals. However, you still need to brush after eating before putting them back in to avoid residue or staining. The ability to fully clear your mouth makes meals easier, though you still must exhibit discipline to properly clean before reinserting your aligners.

Oral Hygiene

Flossing and brushing is more difficult with braces since you have to navigate around the wires. Special tools like floss threaders are required to reach tight spaces. Irritation or plaque buildup risks health issues like bleeding gums or decay if hygiene isn't persistent.

The open design and removability of Invisalign simplifies keeping your teeth and gums clean. You must allot time for oral care whenever you remove your aligners. Brushing carefully before reinserting guards after meals helps prevent plaque or tartar leading to gum inflammation.

Speech Impact

New braces can temporarily impact speech for the first week or two as your tongue and lips adjust. Most people adapt quickly, though prepare for a short period of speaking less clearly, especially words containing S and TH sounds. Practice reading out loud to expedite your adaptation.

Invisalign aligners initially cause slight lisp for 1-2 days after inserting new trays as you get used to speaking clearly with them in. Mastering certain sounds like FV, S or TH may take extra effort initially. This disappears quickly once your speech muscles become accustomed to the feeling within the first week.


Braces often feel rougher on the tongue and inner lips as the bracket edges can irritate the soft tissue in your mouth. Temporary soreness from abrasion or poking wires is common especially after adjustments. Over-the-counter pain relief medication helps you remain comfortable as your mouth toughens up.

Since Invisalign is a smooth plastic surface custom-fitted to your teeth, most users find them significantly more comfortable than braces. However, aligners do exert pressure on teeth to move them into place which can cause some temporary discomfort following each tray progression. Advil or Tylenol can alleviate soreness during the first couple days of getting accustomed to new trays.

Treatment Process

With braces, you make recurring adjustment appointments around every 4-6 weeks for your orthodontist to tighten wires and reposition brackets to affect the necessary tooth movements. Tightening sessions cause moderate amounts of associated discomfort for a couple days following each visit which is normal.

New sets of Invisalign trays are worn for 1-2 weeks before progressing to the next pair in the series for the duration of treatment. You swap aligners on your own schedule rather than requiring orthodontic visits for adjustments. Progress is checked less frequently, usually every 6 weeks.


Both options cost several thousand dollars typically ranging between $3,000-$8,000 depending on the complexity of treatment. While pricing is comparable, Invisalign often represents a more expensive treatment option costing $500-$1,000 more on average due to lab costs for creating custom aligner trays. Speak to your orthodontist regarding exact pricing tailored for your case's difficulty level and personal parameters.


What ages can get Invisalign?

Invisalign may be an option for pre-teens and teenagers above 10-12 years old with permanent dentition. Invisalign Teen includes additional replacement aligners to accommodate growth.

Can Invisalign fix severe misalignment?

Yes, Invisalign is now capable of correcting a variety of more complex cases including spacing, crowding, overbite, underbite and crossbite. Improvements in aligner technology and innovations like attachment bumps, elastics, and bite ramps allow Invisalign to achieve results similarly to traditional braces for more difficult smiles nowadays.

Does Invisalign work faster than braces?

Not necessarily. Treatment times are fairly comparable between modern braces and Invisalign for equivalent case difficulty ranging between 10 months to 2 years total.

Simple cases may be resolved slightly faster with braces since wires and brackets apply constant forces, while Invisalign relies on you progressing on schedule through each aligner tray in series. Consult your orthodontist regarding estimated timeframes.

What if I lose my Invisalign aligners?

Your treatment includes replacement aligners for lost trays. However, progress may be impacted if you go extended periods without wearing the proper aligner tray from your treatment series so speak to your provider promptly about replacement guards if needed.

Let Your New Smile Shine Through

Schedule an Invisalign or braces consultation today with Smiles and Grins in New York City to discuss which advanced solution is right for achieving your healthiest, most confident smile.