Through the twisted hands of fate, I ended up having to use both braces and Invisalign in my lifetime. I had braces as a kid and the aligners as an adult. Why both you ask? Because I got the braces before my wisdom teeth grew in. So yes my teeth got straightened, but it all came undone when my wisdom teeth pushed to make room for themselves.
My Experience With:
Getting my braces was one of the most painful experiences I have had to date. It basically feels like your mouth got hit by a truck. You will definitely have difficulty eating initially. Opening and closing your mouth will be taxing. I couldn’t even manage to eat a single fry without whimpering in pain. Eventually, this feeling abates and you get used to the heaviness of metal on your teeth.
The wires would cut into my gums though, which prompted the recommendation of placing wax on the wires and brackets to prevent it. The wax wouldn’t stay on them and ended up dislodging into my mouth. Gross. What is even worse is that every few months or so I would have to go back into my dental office to get the braces tightened. Once again I ended up in pain with soreness in my mouth. Furthermore, you are limited in what you can eat, chewy candy, hard candy, gum, popcorn, and regular corn, forget about it. You’re going to have a bad time if you try.
Nearer to the time when my braces were supposed to come off I had to put on rubber bands. They were secured on the brackets on my teeth and crisscrossed over my front teeth. This added additional heaviness and pain until I eventually got used to it. Once my braces finally came off it was like my teeth were strangers to me. You get so used to what they look like with those square brackets on that you forget what they looked like without them. I had to put on retainers afterward to maintain my results.
BUT my wisdom teeth grew in which rendered the retainers null and void.
Eventually, my teeth shifted and the correction that the braces accomplished became misaligned. I had a consultation and was told that the misalignment was causing me to favor one side of my mouth which was wearing those teeth down. So I then decided to give Invisalign a try. These ‘invisible retainers’ were supposed to be unnoticeable and less invasive.
After making the impressions and awaiting the rendered treatment plan of aligners, I began the journey to correction. Unfortunately, I had to have small brackets placed on my teeth so the aligners would be secure and flush with my teeth and it would help with the movement. Hence my quotation on ‘invisible,’ the small chip like brackets were definitely not invisible.
I was required to be quite disciplined since the only time I was supposed to take off my aligners was while I ate. I had a routine. Take off aligner, eat, brush and floss teeth, then put them on again. It made me really stop and think about whether eating a chip or two was worth it to go through the fanfare to eat it. There was some soreness as I changed aligners every two weeks or so but it was nothing compared to my soreness from braces. I finished my treatment and now I have retainers that I have to put on every night.
How Are They Alike?
Both involve some level of pain, although the level varies between the two. There is also a certain level of restriction when it comes to eating for both as well. On the plus side, both will probably have you lose some amount of weight when you initially get them because you have to get used to them. Time becomes a factor in treatment for both. Retainers are also a given if you have either corrective treatment.
How Do They Differ?
In my opinion, braces were more painful than Invisalign. You are more restricted in food choices with braces as well. Invisalign requires a greater level of discipline since it is up to you to keep the tray on for the suggested number of hours. While not completely invisible, Invisalign is still less noticeable than braces. Be sure you DO NOT drink any colored beverages/properly brush your teeth or the tray will become discolored.
Braces make brushing more difficult, it is harder to floss through the wires. There is a greater likelihood of braces leaving a mark, I still have a scar from the wires on the sides of my inner cheeks. I also had to have my braces on longer than I did my Invisalign. However, I already had some corrective work before the Invisalign so that may have been a factor as well.
If you can be disciplined and responsible enough to wear your trays like you are supposed to and maintain your treatment schedule, then Invisalign may be for you. It offers less noticeable corrective treatment since they are essentially clear. However, braces offer greater impact in corrective shifting of your teeth. They require less responsibility since they are always on.
Braces also offer the opportunity to individualize with your choice in medium, traditional or ceramic along with bracket colors. I had traditional braces but now they have something called lingual braces which are like braces on the inner portion of your mouth. Not sure how that works or feels but that may be an option as well. I enjoyed Invisalign better since it was less painful but I feel like the braces corrected my teeth better.