Braces vs Invisalign: Results, Timeline, Comfort

Braces and Invisalign are two of the most popular ways to improve a smile. 

This list explores the biggest differences between braces and clear aligners. An experienced orthodontist will weigh these factors to create a treatment plan that is right for you or your child.

Braces or Invisalign: Which One Should You Choose?

Braces and Invisalign are FDA-approved treatments for enhancing your smile. We offer both in our orthodontic practice.

In extreme cases, our orthodontists may recommend a specific course of treatment; but most patients have the choice between these two treatments. 

If your orthodontist determines that you are a good candidate, the choice between braces or Invisalign comes down to personal preference.

Appearance: Invisalign is more aesthetically pleasing

Traditional braces use brackets, wires, and elastic bands to correct crooked teeth. In contrast, Invisalign treatment involves a series of transparent aligners; therefore treatment is less noticeable. 

Some patients do not mind the appearance of modern braces – after all, they are less bulky and less noticeable than the braces of yesterday. However, most braces are visible when the patient smiles; and this could affect one’s self-confidence.

On the other hand, clear aligners are so discreet that many people will not notice them at all. This is why patients with cosmetic concerns usually have a strong preference for Invisalign.

Process: What are the steps to achieving your perfect smile?

When you visit an orthodontist, they will examine your teeth, your jaw, and your bite. At Let’s Smile, we also use an iTero® Digital Scanner to take 3D images of your mouth. This helps the orthodontist create a custom treatment plan that is perfect for your needs.

Timeline: Invisalign Treatment is Typically Shorter

On average, Invisalign takes 12 months to correct a patient’s smile. In contrast, braces have an average timeline of 24months. When performed by an experienced orthodontist, Invisalign stays on your teeth for a shorter time than braces.

Patients must wear their Invisalign aligners for at least 20 – 22 hours per day. Clear aligners will correct your smile faster if you can remember to put them back in after eating, brushing, and flossing. 

Our Invisalign practice uses dental monitoring tools to help patients keep up with the Invisalign schedule and speed up their treatment progress. We also recommend the Propel VPro5™ device, which uses gentle vibrations to accelerate Invisalign treatment.

Click here to see: Propel VPro5 For Invisalign – How It Works!

On the other hand, braces are not removable – they remain on the teeth for 24 hours per day. So in some cases, braces will be quicker and more effective as an alternative to Invisalign.

The best way to find out your estimated timeline for braces and Invisalign is to visit a knowledgeable orthodontist. They will examine your teeth and provide estimates on how long each treatment will take.

Comfort: Invisalign is More Convenient

While traditional braces have become much more comfortable over the years, Invisalign tends to be more convenient for patients. There are several reasons why this is the case.


Invisalign trays are made of smooth acrylic, and they are custom-fitted to the patient’s teeth. Generally speaking, clear aligners are less abrasive than wire-and-bracket braces, which could potentially “poke” the patient’s gums, cheeks, and lips. This benefit is especially important if the patient is involved in sports activities.


While you may experience discomfort after inserting new Invisalign trays, the pressure on your teeth is more manageable compared to getting your braces adjusted. According to research from 2017, Invisalign patients experience less discomfort than patients with braces.

Cleaning and Dietary Restrictions

Invisalign trays are completely removable, so you can take them out to brush and floss your teeth normally. As long as you keep your teeth clean, there are no dietary restrictions with clear aligners. However, Invisalign requires responsibility and discipline with its daily routine.

On the other hand, patients with braces must follow a special routine to keep their teeth clean. Certain foods – such as popcorn, nuts, and gum – could get stuck in the braces and should be avoided.

Office Visits

Every 4 to 6 weeks, a patient with braces must come in for an appointment. There, an orthodontist will adjust the wire to “tighten” the braces.

At our practice, we use remote monitoring tools to keep up with our Invisalign patients’ progress. This allows us to schedule follow-up appointments sparingly – roughly every 10 to 14 weeks.

Opting for clear aligners means fewer appointments and less time spent in the orthodontist’s office.

Cost: Braces or Invisalign May Be More Affordable

In most cases, the cost of Invisalign is comparable to the cost of braces. Either one could be slightly cheaper, so the best way to compare prices is by visiting an experienced orthodontist for an estimate.

How Much Do Braces Cost?

There are many different types of braces with a wide range in price. For example, traditional metal braces cost an average of $3,000 to $6,000; while ceramic braces could cost over $8,000.

How Much Does Invisalign Cost?

On average, full Invisalign treatment costs around $5,000 without insurance. Your orthodontist will determine the cost of Invisalign based on the severity of your case and how many sets of aligners you will need.

Does Insurance Cover Invisalign Treatment?

Many dental insurance plans cover Invisalign the same way they cover braces. Insurance companies might cover a percentage of your treatment cost, depending on your specific policy. .

In addition, many Invisalign practices offer flexible monthly payment plans, which can make paying for treatment more affordable versus paying for treatment all at once.

When you visit an orthodontic office, they will provide an estimated out-of-pocket cost to treat your smile with Invisalign. They will also review the different ways to make your treatment affordable.

Braces vs. Invisalign: The Final Verdict

While many patients prefer clear aligners due to their appearance and comfort, braces are always a great option to consider as well.. Knowing the differences between these two treatments will help you decide which is right for you or your child.

To get the most important information about braces versus Invisalign, visit an orthodontist to get an expert opinion. They will help you weigh the pros and cons of each option to make the best decision for your smile.

Let’s Smile is a trusted orthodontic practice specializing in Invisalign and braces. We operate in the following Virginia locations: Fairfax, Reston, Springfield, and Centerville. 

Ready to take the next step? Schedule a free smile assessment today!


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