Exploring the Key Difference Between Invisalign and Braces

Invisalign or braces: What is best for you?

Invisalign and traditional braces are two of the most popular options when undergoing orthodontic treatment. Both aim to improve oral health and enhance the aesthetics of your smile. However, they differ significantly in appearance, cost, treatment process, and comfort. 

Key differences to consider when choosing between Invisalign and braces.


Appearance is key in differentiating between Invisalign clear plastic aligners and braces when addressing crooked teeth. While both options aim to correct malocclusion and improve your smile, they do so with distinct visual characteristics. 


A woman using Invisalign
  • Invisalign clear aligners are nearly invisible. These are custom-made, clear trays that fit snugly over your teeth. They are made of a special thermoplastic material patented by Invisalign, making them almost imperceptible to others, even up close.


Teeth with braces picture
  • Traditional metal braces are easy to recognize. Made of metal brackets attached to each tooth, and interconnected with wires and small rubber bands. Although contemporary braces are far less bulky than their predecessors, they are still visually noticeable.
  • Ceramic or clear braces are an option for a more subtle approach. They blend with the natural color of your teeth, making them less noticeable. However, they still have the brackets and wires characteristic of traditional braces.

Treatment time

The length of treatment varies significantly between Invisalign and braces. Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone considering orthodontic treatment. 

Before delving into the differences in treatment duration, it's important to note that each case is unique and that the complexity and severity of the condition will influence the amount of time spent in treatment. That being said, let's explore the details:


A woman undergoing routine check-ups regarding Invisalign
  • Flexible duration: Invisalign treatment typically lasts between 12 to 18 months. However, minor cases can be resolved in as short as six months.
  • Depends on compliance: The effectiveness of Invisalign heavily relies on the patient's disciplined use. The aligners should be worn for 20-22 hours a day, and failure to do so can extend the treatment time.
  • Regular check-ups: Invisalign requires regular appointments every 4-6 weeks to ensure the treatment progresses as planned.


A woman undergoing routine check-ups regarding braces
  • Longer duration: Traditional braces typically require 12 months to 3 years of wear. The overall duration depends on individual circumstances and factors such as how crooked the teeth are, the status of your bite, and the type of braces recommended. 
  • Constant treatment: Braces are fixed 24/7 to correct teeth alignment. This constant pressure can sometimes accelerate the treatment process.
  • Regular adjustments: Orthodontic appointments for adjustment are required every 4-8 weeks for those with braces.


When considering the comfort aspect of Invisalign and traditional metal braces, several key points of difference can greatly impact the wearer's daily life and overall treatment experience. 


An Invisalign Image
  • Material: Invisalign tray aligners are made from a smooth, BPA-free clear plastic. They are custom-made to fit snugly over your teeth, resulting in less irritation to the gums and cheeks.
  • Removability: Invisalign transparent aligners can be conveniently removed for meals, brushing, and flossing, offering a higher level of comfort and ease of maintenance than braces.
  • Adjustment: There are no wires to adjust with Invisalign, reducing the discomfort often associated with orthodontic adjustments.


  • Material: Traditional braces consist of metal brackets and wires that can cause irritation to the gums and inside of the mouth, particularly in the early stages of treatment.
  • Fixed appliance: As braces are fixed, they can't be removed for eating or cleaning, which may present some challenges in terms of comfort and maintenance.
  • Adjustment: Braces require regular tightening, which can cause temporary discomfort.

While both Invisalign and braces aim to correct dental misalignments, the choice often comes down to personal comfort and lifestyle. Discussing these factors with your dentist to determine the best treatment plan for you is important.

Cost considerations

A picture of a wooden box with cost written on it

Cost is often the deciding factor when determining the best orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth. However, the cost of treatment can significantly vary between Invisalign and braces, depending on several factors. 

  • Invisalign: Invisalign is typically more expensive, ranging from $1,800 to $9,500. This higher price point is largely because of the advanced technology and customized treatment plan in Invisalign therapy.
  • Braces: Generally speaking, braces tend to be less expensive than Invisalign. The average cost of braces can range from $3,000 to $7,000, but this varies depending on the case's complexity, the length of treatment, and the type of braces chosen.

It is important to note that the total cost of orthodontic treatment can vary depending on an individual's specific dental needs and the estimated duration of treatment. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult with your dentist to obtain a more accurate cost estimate based on your particular situation.

While cost is an important aspect, it's also crucial to consider other factors such as comfort, appearance, and treatment timeline when choosing between Invisalign and braces. The goal is to select the treatment that best suits your lifestyle, budget, and orthodontic needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any age restrictions for using Invisalign or braces?

While braces can be fitted at any age, Invisalign is typically recommended for older teenagers and adults due to the need for consistent use and proper care.

Do Invisalign aligners or braces cause any more discomfort or pain?

Invisalign aligners and braces can cause initial discomfort or pain as your teeth adjust to the pressure. However, people often report that Invisalign aligners and trays are less painful than traditional braces.

Why is Invisalign less painful than braces?

Pain levels significantly differ, primarily because Invisalign uses smooth, flexible plastic aligners instead of metal wires and brackets, leading to less discomfort and shorter adjustment periods.

Why are there so many refinements for Invisalign?

The numerous refinements associated with Invisalign are primarily due to its customizable nature, allowing for adjustments and modifications to be made throughout the treatment process to ensure the optimal alignment of teeth.

Do Invisalign liners last longer than braces?

Generally, the lifespan of Invisalign aligners and traditional braces varies depending on the individual's specific needs and treatment plan. However, each set of Invisalign aligners is typically replaced every 1-2 weeks, while traditional braces are adjusted every 4-6 weeks.

Do dentists prefer Invisalign or braces?

It's important to note that the preference between Invisalign and braces largely depends on the specific circumstances and needs of the patient. Dentists consider factors such as the severity of the dental issue, the patient's lifestyle, and personal preferences before recommending them.


Choosing between braces and Invisalign is a significant decision that could impact your appearance, comfort, and oral health. Each treatment option has unique benefits and downsides, and the right solution for you will depend on your preferences, lifestyle, and dental needs. 

Contact Main Street Dental to learn more about the differences between Invisalign and braces to learn what is right for you!