The decision to straighten your teeth is an important one. Beyond cosmetic, patients with straight teeth experience improved oral function, a reduced risk for tooth decay and gum disease, and an overall enhanced self-esteem as a result of their transformed smile. Today, patients have many options for achieving a straighter, more beautiful smile. Among the numerous teeth-straightening methods available, metal braces and Invisalign aligners are two popular options with proven results.

Traditional metal braces and Invisalign both work to reposition crooked teeth. However, which technique works best? To put it simply, one type does not perform better than the other; they just work differently. To understand the unique differences of Invisalign versus braces, let’s first take a look at how the two methods work.

How Do Metal Braces Work?

Metal braces, the most conventional and widely used type of braces, are made of brackets and arch wires that fit over the teeth. The arch wires exert gentle, continuous pressure on the brackets, which gradually move the teeth over time. Throughout treatment, the wires are tightened and adjusted to achieve the desired position of the teeth.

Traditional metal braces are effective with all types of orthodontic problems, including over bite, under bite and cross bite. Even advanced orthodontic issues can be successfully resolved with metal braces, making them an ideal treatment option for patients with severe malocclusions and very crooked teeth. The average treatment time for a patient wearing metal braces is approximately two years.

Advantages of Metal Braces

  • Metal braces are very durable and difficult to break with proper care.
  • In most cases, metal braces are the least expensive type of braces.
  • Metal braces work effectively and efficiently to correct a wide range of advanced tooth and jaw issues that many other types of braces can’t correct.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Invisalign is a series of custom-made, removable aligners that are worn snugly over the teeth like a mouth guard. The smooth aligners are made of clear plastic, making them both comfortable and invisible for the wearer. Throughout the course of treatment, the aligners are replaced every two weeks with a new set as the patient’s teeth gradually move into his final, target position. Invisalign aligners aren’t disruptive to the wearer’s lifestyle and can be removed to eat, drink, brush and floss as normal.

Invisalign braces for adults and teens are an excellent option for mild to moderate orthodontic problems, including crowded and gapped teeth. When complex orthodontic issues are present, however, Invisalign may not work effectively to straighten teeth. Total treatment time for Invisalign is typically between six and 18 months.

Advantages of Invisalign

  • Invisalign trays are virtually invisible, offering an aesthetic advantage over other types of braces.
  • Invisalign aligners are made from comfortable plastic, which eliminates irritation to cheeks and gums.
  • Because the aligners are removable, patients have the freedom to eat what they like without restrictions.
  • Invisalign aligners are custom-designed using advanced 3-D computer technology, which illustrates your complete treatment plan from start to finish.
  • Removable aligners make it easier to brush and floss, thus maintaining good overall oral health during treatment.

Invisalign vs. Braces: Which Treatment is Right for Me?

Ultimately, both traditional braces and Invisalign can successfully correct most orthodontic issues. Which method is best for you depends on the severity of your problems and your preferences. Considering the following questions may help you choose the most appropriate option:

How severe are my orthodontic issues?

Invisalign can correct minor issues, but if you have back tooth problems, require tooth rotation or vertical movement of teeth, or have existing bridgework, Invisalign may not even be an option. Metal braces are often the best treatment for solving complex tooth issues.

Is appearance important to me?

If the thought of people noticing your braces makes you cringe, invisible Invisalign aligners is the perfect solution for you. If appearance isn’t a priority, metal braces may be a better option.

How disciplined are you in terms of oral care?

The convenience of removable Invisalign is hard to surpass, as wearers can eat, drink and brush as normal. Of course, this type of method requires discipline on the wearer’s behalf, as aligners must be worn 22 hours a day in order to achieve desired results on time. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to wear your trays as prescribed, fixed metal braces will work better for your needs and lifestyle.

Is cost a factor?

For many patients, the cost of treatment is an important factor when determining the most appropriate option. Typically, Invisalign costs slightly more than metal braces. Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your orthodontist about convenient monthly payment plans if you prefer Invisalign to metal braces. For some patients the unique benefits of Invisalign, like being able to straighten teeth without anyone noticing, outweigh the difference in price.

Still undecided? The first step toward a healthy, straighter smile is to speak with a qualified orthodontist in your area. Schedule a free assessment with Burrow Welchel & Culp Orthodontics to learn more about your options for a straighter smile. Working together, we can determine the best solution for you based on your orthodontic needs, personal preferences, and treatment expectations.


Dr Sam Burrow D.D.S., D.M.D. – Dr. Burrow was born in Charlotte and moved to Charleston to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Biology at the College of Charleston. He graduated magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and then stayed to earn a D.M.D. with honors at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Burrow completed his orthodontic residency at University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan and is now in practice with his father at Burrow Welchel & Culp Orthodontics in the Charlotte area.