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Invisalign vs. Braces

Inserting an Invisalign AlignerThis is a common question asked by patients who are interested in or who have never heard of Invisalign. Remember that Invisalign is simply another method to move teeth. Biological and physical orthodontic principles still apply, only teeth are being moved with clear plastic rather than braces. While there are a few situations where braces may be better than Invisalign, there are also a number where Invisalign is better than braces. Since each situation is different, your own personal situation should be evaluated by an experienced Invisalign provider.

Here’s a list of what problems that doctors can use Invisalign to correct:

Basic Treatment

  • Generalized spacing and crowding
  • Orthodontic relapse

Advanced Treatment

  • Correction of deep bites, open bites
  • Preprosthetic treatment including set up for implants, veneers, crown and bridge
  • Arch expansion (Dental expansion not skeletal)
  • Crossbites
  • Significant spacing and crowding
  • Class II and Class III, presurgical orthodontics
  • Lower incisor extraction and bicuspid extractions

Any cases involving the following would be considered an advanced treatment that requires an extremely experienced Invisalign provider:

  • Rotations greater than 30 degrees
  • Dental Extrusion
  • Distalization >2mm
  • Root Torque (Mesial, Distal, Facial, Lingual)
  • Translations and bodily movement (as in extraction treatment)

Many Invisalign providers and the public often comment on the limitations of Invisalign treatment to basic treatment. They believe that aligners are only good for correcting minor problems, while braces are better and required for more difficult treatments. A few providers will tell you that they have corrected severe crowding, severe spacing, severe rotations, class 2 malocclusions, class 3 malocclusions, open bites, cases requiring extraction, and even used Invisalign in conjunction with jaw surgery. So, why the discrepancy?

The answer is that the scope of what experienced providers can do with Invisalign is greater than that of those that are less experienced. They may use attachments, IPR, buttons, and elastics, in conjunction with sections of partial braces to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, this group of experienced doctors providing excellent Invisalign treatment is a small percentage of those out there that are certified to provide it.

Aside from the doctor aspect, Invisalign treatment requires a compliant patient. It requires someone who will wear the aligners as directed, and practice proper oral hygiene. If you don’t feel that your lifestyle can allow you to comply with treatment, don’t go for this removable treatment that is compliance based. One common concern is the need to take aligners out for eating, and then brushing/flossing, before replacing them. Often overlooked is that patients are supposed to brush after each meal with braces, and may be required to use elastics as well. The ability to take aligners out for eating and cleaning actually simplifies these activities, making it an excellent choice for patients who may be unable to clean properly around fixed braces.