Understanding the Basics of Braces vs Invisalign

Choosing the right orthodontic treatment in Austin, TX is a decision that impacts not just your dental health, but also your confidence and quality of life. It’s important to make an informed choice between traditional braces and Invisalign® aligners so you can select the treatment best suited to your health needs and smile goals

What are Traditional Braces?  

Traditional braces are a time-tested orthodontic solution composed of metal brackets affixed to each tooth, connected by wires and elastics. Though there are various types of braces – Wired Orthodontics offers metal, clear or ceramic, and Damon braces, for example – they ultimately function the same way. The components of your braces work together to apply consistent pressure, gradually shifting your teeth into their desired positions. At your regular appointments, your orthodontist will adjust the wires periodically to guide the teeth along their intended path. Most patients can expect to be in braces for 12-24 months, depending on the complexity of their bite or alignment issues. 

What are Invisalign Aligners?  

Invisalign® treatment utilizes advanced 3D imaging technology to create custom-fitted clear plastic aligners. These aligners are designed to fit snugly over the teeth, exerting gentle pressure to move them into alignment. Invisalign aligners are typically replaced every one to two weeks, allowing for incremental adjustments. You’ll also visit your orthodontist every 4-6 weeks for the duration of your treatment so that they can monitor you progress. These check-ups are quick, since there are no brackets or wires to adjust. This method offers a discreet alternative to traditional braces, making it a popular choice for adults and teens seeking less visible orthodontic treatment.

What’s the Difference Between Braces and Invisalign Aligners?

The primary difference between braces and Invisalign aligners lies in their visibility and material composition. Braces are more noticeable due to their metal components, whereas Invisalign aligners are virtually invisible when worn. Additionally, braces are fixed appliances that require adjustments by an orthodontist, while Invisalign aligners are removable, and you can replace them at home yourself. Aside from their functional differences, braces and Invisalign aligners also differ in how they fit into your lifestyle. From aesthetics and comfort to maintenance and hygiene, there are a few key reasons why patients may choose one treatment method over the other.

Comparing the Comfort and Visibility of Braces vs Invisalign Aligners


One of the most important considerations when choosing between braces and Invisalign aligners is how your smile will appear during treatment. Traditional metal braces, with their brackets and wires, are visible on your teeth, which can be a concern for those self-conscious about their appearance. On the other hand, Invisalign aligners are made from clear plastic, making them nearly invisible when worn. This transparency is particularly appealing to adults and teens who prefer a more discreet treatment option. Invisalign aligners can also be removed for special occasions, presentations, or social events, offering additional flexibility. That said, many of our patients love that they can personalize their braces with colorful elastic ties and show off their in-treatment smile in style!  


Comfort is a crucial factor in orthodontic treatment. Because Invisalign aligners are crafted from smooth plastic, they tend to be more comfortable than braces. However, you may still experience some initial discomfort as teeth begin to shift. Though generally painless, traditional braces can cause minor discomfort due to the metal brackets and wires, which might irritate the gums and cheeks. Regular adjustments can also lead to temporary soreness for a few days after your check-ups. In many cases, this irritation can be mitigated with a bit of wax on your brackets or by taking over-the-counter pain reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. 

Appliance Maintenance and Treatment Duration 

Caring For Your Braces or Invisalign Aligners

Braces require meticulous oral hygiene practices, including careful brushing and flossing around the brackets and wires to prevent plaque buildup, decay, and tooth staining. You should also avoid sticky or hard-to-chew foods like gum, hard candy, popcorn, and whole apples that could damage your brackets and wires. Invisalign aligners are removable and allow for easier cleaning of both your aligners and your teeth. However, they must be worn for 20-22 hours a day and cleaned regularly with a soft toothbrush and soaked in Invisalign brand crystal cleaning solution to keep them fresh, clear, and free of buildup.  

Average Treatment Times for Braces & Invisalign  

Orthodontic treatment duration varies based on individual cases, but generally, braces and Invisalign have slightly different timelines. Traditional braces typically require 18 to 24 months of treatment. Invisalign treatment times can range from 12 to 18 months, depending on the complexity of the dental issues being addressed. No matter which treatment method you choose, regular check-ups and routine hygiene and maintenance are essential to achieve your desired smile within the estimated timeframe.

blog post comparing braces vs invisalign at wired orthodontics

Effectiveness of Different Orthodontic Treatments  

Both braces and Invisalign are effective in treating a variety of dental issues, including crowding, gaps, and bite misalignments. Invisalign, while effective for mild to moderate cases, may not be suitable for severe orthodontic problems. Braces are often preferred for more complex cases due to their ability to exert stronger and more precise pressure on the teeth. A thorough evaluation by an orthodontist is necessary to determine the most appropriate treatment based on the specific dental needs of the patient. 

Initial Investment for Braces vs Invisalign

Initial Costs and Insurance Options  

The cost of orthodontic treatment can be a significant factor in the decision-making process. Traditional metal braces generally have a lower initial cost compared to Invisalign. However, the exact cost varies depending on the complexity of the case and the duration of treatment. Many dental insurance plans cover a portion of the cost for both braces and Invisalign, but our treatment coordinators can help you understand the specifics of your coverage and maximize your benefits.

Long-Term Costs of Orthodontic Treatment  

Patients should consider long-term expenses like maintenance, repairs, and replacements as part of their orthodontic treatment. Braces might require occasional repairs if brackets or wires break. Because Invisalign aligners are removable, they can be lost or damaged, leading to replacement costs. It’s important to factor in these potential expenses when evaluating the overall cost of each treatment option.

Deciding Between Braces and Invisalign Aligners

Choosing the right orthodontic treatment is essential for achieving a healthy, confident smile. By understanding the differences between braces and Invisalign, considering aesthetic preferences, comfort, treatment duration, effectiveness, and cost, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your needs. Wired Orthodontics is dedicated to helping you navigate this choice and start your journey towards a perfect smile. Booking a consultation is easy, and our team is ready to provide personalized advice tailored to your unique situation. Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step towards a healthier, more confident smile! 

Let's get you smiling more, starting today


Your Trusted Austin Area Orthodontists

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Wired Orthodontics - Austin Lake Creek

10119 Lake Creek Pkwy, Ste 1, Austin, TX, 78729-1757
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Wired Orthodontics - Leander

15609 Ronald W Reagan Blvd, Bldg A150, Leander, TX, 78641-1474
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Wired Orthodontics - Austin Four Points

6611 Sitio del Rio Blvd, Austin, TX, 78730-1171