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Invisalign vs. Braces: Which should you choose?

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Dr Teresa Li
April 23, 2024

If you’ve been thinking about straightening your smile, you’ve likely had one BIG question playing on your mind:

Should I get Invisalign or braces? 

Yep. When it comes to teeth straightening, the Invisalign vs. braces debate is bound to pop up. Whether you’re leaning towards the traditional option of braces or the discreet clear aligners of Invisalign, the truth is…

There is no right or wrong answer!

Both offer an effective way to straighten your smile. But one option may be better suited to your lifestyle and budget than the other. And we’re here to help you figure it all out!

Let’s dive into the difference between Invisalign vs. braces and weigh up the pros and cons of each so you can make a confident and informed decision.

Side note: If you want more personalised advice on whether Invisalign or braces are right for you, come in and see us for a smile consultation. You can book online in just a few clicks!

What’s the difference between Invisalign vs. braces?

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign TL Dental
Invisalign offers a discreet and flexible way to straighten your smile with removable clear aligner trays.

Invisalign is an almost-invisible and removable teeth straightening option that uses a series of clear plastic trays to gradually straighten your smile. Since the aligner trays can be removed, Invisalign does offer a little more flexibility than braces. This means you have the freedom to take out your trays to brush, floss, eat, drink or for those big events when you want to flash your pearly whites with pride. But do keep in mind that you must wear your Invisalign trays for at least 20 to 22 hours per day for them to work successfully!

Invisalign offers a few different types of trays and treatments. The complexity and severity of your case will determine what type of aligner system you receive and how long your treatment will be.

What are braces?

Braces have been on the dental scene for centuries. There’s even evidence that they were used by ancient Egyptians! But thankfully, our techniques have changed a lot since then and modern braces are much more refined (and we dare say, much more comfortable). To straighten your smile, braces use wires and brackets that are permanently fixed to your teeth for the duration of your treatment. There are a few different types of braces available:

  • Metal braces
    Traditional metal braces are made of stainless steel wires and brackets. Since they are fixed to the outside of your teeth, they are the most noticeable option.
  • Ceramic braces
    Ceramic braces are also fixed to the outside of your teeth, but the brackets are made out of white or clear ceramic so they blend in better with the colour of your teeth.
  • Lingual braces
    Lingual braces (sometimes referred to as ‘inside braces’) are fixed to the backside of your teeth rather than the front. They still use metal brackets and wires but are less noticeable because they are hidden on the inside. However, the process to fit lingual braces can be more complex and take a longer time.

A comparison of metal, ceramic and lingual braces and clear aligners
When straightening your teeth, the choice is yours: metal braces, lingual braces or Invisaling clear aligners. But don't worry - we'll help you choose the best option for your smile!

Which costs more: Invisalign or braces?

We know cost plays a huge role in your decision to straighten your smile. And it’s certainly a key factor when deciding between Invisalign or braces. One of the most common questions we hear at our Port Macquarie dental surgery is:

Which is more expensive: Invisalign or braces?

While we’d love to give you a definitive answer, the cost of Invisalign vs. braces ultimately depends on YOU.

Your unique smile, the complexity of your case and your treatment time will determine how much your braces or Invisalign treatment costs overall.

Annoying answer, right? But we won’t leave you hanging! Here’s a general guide on pricing to give you a rough idea of how much each will cost.

The cost of Invisalign

We get asked about the cost of Invisalign so much that we decided to write an entire article on the topic! Check it out here for an in-depth look into Invisalign pricing.

Just want the basic info? You got it! The average cost of Invisalign in Australia is currently between $3,500 and $8,500.

It’s interesting to note that many people assume Invisalign is going to be more expensive than braces. But that’s not always the case! Sometimes, it can end up costing less — especially for less complex cases.

The cost of braces

The cost of braces will vary significantly depending on the type you choose:

  • Traditional metal braces range from $5,900 to $8,000

  • Ceramic braces range from approx. $6,000 to $8,500

  • Lingual braces start from $8,000 


Comparing the costs of Invisalign vs. braces

Want an easy way to remember these prices for future reference? Just take a screenshot of the Invisalign vs. braces cost comparison table below:

Invisalign $3,500 - $8,000
Traditional metal braces $5,900 - $8,000
Ceramic braces $6,000 - $8,500
Lingual braces From $8,000

Of course, the most reliable way to determine the cost of your Invisalign or braces treatment is to book in for a smile consultation. At this appointment, we’ll be able to let you know which option is right for you — and give you a full rundown of the costs involved. Plus, we also offer flexible and affordable payment plans so there’s really no need to delay your dream smile any longer!

Which works better: Invisalign or braces?

This is certainly a hot topic at our Port Macquarie dental clinic! Many patients who want to straighten their smile will ask us whether Invisalign works as well as braces.

The short answer to that is yes — both are effective at straightening teeth. But each option has its own set of perks and pitfalls. Let’s explore…

How effective is Invisalign?

Thanks to its advanced technology, Invisalign is an effective treatment for most cases. This includes overbite and underbite corrections, severe tooth crowding, tooth gaps and other common dental issues. It is also a suitable treatment option for both teens and adults.

Guided by specialised software, Invisalign offers more precise control over the movement of your teeth. The customised trays allow each tooth to be moved individually, rather than putting the same pressure on all of your teeth like braces do.

While Invisalign is suitable for most cases, it may not be the best option for *all* cases. For certain dental problems, braces may offer a more effective solution. However, we rarely come across cases that we are unable to treat with Invisalign — especially in adults. 

How effective are braces?

Turns out those ancient Egyptians were onto something! Braces are an extremely effective solution for correcting even the most complex cases. Plus, they often help people achieve their desired smile in less time than other teeth straightening methods.

However, braces do not place precise pressure on individual teeth like Invisalign. Instead, the wires put the same amount of pressure on all teeth. This is why they require more dental check-ups. Your dentist will need to regularly adjust and individualise the pressure on your teeth to ensure they are moving correctly.

So, what’s the best option?

In our experience, Invisalign is often the best option for most cases. It’s an effective treatment that also offers people more freedom and flexibility than braces.

But in some very severe or complex cases, braces could be more effective. They might also be a much better option for teens who may not be so vigilant about keeping their aligner trays in.

Overall, your decision between Invisalign and braces will come down to both personal preference and the advice from your dentist. Both are effective teeth straightening solutions and whatever option you choose will have you one step closer to your dream smile!

Invisalign before and after
What a transformation! Check out this patient's incredible results before and after Invisalign

Which requires more dental check-ups: Invisalign or braces?

Whether you opt for Invisalign or braces, one thing is for sure: you’re going to be visiting your dentist a *whole* lot more!

Straightening your smile is a big commitment. It requires regular check-ups with your dentist so they can ensure your teeth are moving correctly and make any adjustments when necessary.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how much time you’ll spend at the dentist with Invisalign vs. braces:

Dentist visits:
Every 6 to 8 weeks
Treatment requirements: You will receive a series of aligner trays and will be in control of replacing your trays every 1 to 2 weeks as instructed by your dentist.

Dentist visits:
Every 4 to 6 weeks
Treatment requirements: Your dentist will be in control of making all adjustments to your braces.

Which is more painful: Invisalign or braces?

Let’s be honest — regardless of whether you choose Invisalign or braces, you’re bound to feel some discomfort as your teeth move into perfect position. But a little pain now is worth it for the smile of a lifetime, right?

Invisalign and braces both use gentle and consistent pressure to gradually straighten your smile. As your teeth begin to move, it’s common to feel some soreness and sensitivity in your teeth and gums. However, any pain experienced is usually mild and can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain relief if required.

How much does Invisalign hurt?

Invisalign aligner trays are made from specialised smooth plastic and are designed to fit snugly over the top of your teeth. This means you’ll barely feel them in your mouth. You’re also unlikely to experience any irritation to your cheeks, lips and gums while wearing them.

The level of pain you experience as your aligners move your teeth will depend on the complexity of your case. Some patients also report that it can hurt a little to take out and put in aligner trays, especially when their teeth are feeling sensitive.

How much do braces hurt?

Braces, on the other hand, aren’t so smooth. It will take a little while to get used to the feeling of braces in your mouth. The brackets and wires sit out from your teeth and can irritate and cut your cheeks, tongue, lips and gums. But your dentist will provide you with orthodontic wax that can be used to smooth over any brackets or wires that are giving you grief.

Similar to Invisalign, the level of pain you experience as your braces straighten your smile will depend on the complexity of your case.

A patient showing off their new straight smile
Any discomfort you feel during your braces or Invisalign treatment will all be worth it when you *finally* get to flash your new straight smile!

Which is easier to manage: Invisalign or braces?

Truthfully, this all comes down to your own definition of “easy”.

To you, it may be easier to just get your braces fitted once and not have to think about putting in and taking out aligner trays. Alternatively, you may think it’s far more convenient to be able to remove your Invisalign trays whenever you need the extra freedom.

But whichever way you look at it, both Invisalign and braces require special care. And both can be tricky to manage at times.

Things to keep in mind for your Invisalign treatment

When it comes to managing Invisalign, the most important thing to remember is that you must keep your trays in for the recommended 22 hours per day. While many people enjoy the fact that they can remove their aligners, this can sometimes become an issue for people (particularly teens) who forget to put them back in! You also need to take out your trays for eating, drinking and cleaning, so there is a chance you could accidentally throw them away or lose them.

Things to keep in mind for your braces treatment

The good news is you won’t ever need to worry about losing your braces — once they’re on, they’re on! While some see the permanent nature of braces as an inconvenience, others like that it keeps their treatment on track without any effort on their part. In this sense, braces can be easier to manage than Invisalign. 

Which is easier to keep clean: Invisalign or braces?

No matter what teeth straightening option you choose, keeping up good oral hygiene is a *must*.

How to maintain good oral hygiene with Invisalign

Since Invisalign allows you to remove your aligner trays for brushing and flossing, this can make cleaning your teeth and mouth easier. But that’s not to say the cleaning routine with Invisalign is easy! You must follow these steps to keep your teeth and trays in top condition:

  • Trays must be removed before eating and drinking to prevent staining and stop food particles from getting caught in them
  • You must brush and floss your teeth after eating and before putting your aligner trays back in
  • Trays must be cleaned regularly to avoid tooth decay and infections

How to maintain good oral hygiene with braces

Braces can make it a little harder to give your teeth and mouth a good clean. When brushing and flossing, it can be tricky to get around the brackets and wires. Plus, food will inevitably get caught between your braces (fun!) so you need to make sure you clean out any rogue particles to avoid cavities and discolouration.

A patient discussing Invisalign at our Port Macquarie dentist clinic
Your dentist will give you clear instructions on how to use your Invisalign trays, as well as helpful tips on keeping your teeth and trays in top condition.

Need some extra help to decide between Invisalign vs. braces?

Deciding between Invisalign or braces can be difficult. But we’re here to help you feel completely confident with whatever treatment you choose to straighten your smile. If you have any questions about Invisalign or braces, please feel free to get in touch in TL Dental port macquarie dentists.

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