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Braces vs Invisalign: Which will you choose?

Braces and Invisalign are both popular options to obtain the perfect smile. Is one better than the other?

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We all know that a trip to the dentist is in our best interests, but what happens if you actually need (or want) your teeth straightened?

You might get offered a choice between braces and Invisalign. So, how should you decide?

This comparison breaks down the differences between braces and Invisalign to help you pick the right one for you.

How do they work?

What are braces and how are they put on?

Braces are the traditional option for teeth straightening. They rely on brackets that are glued to your teeth and are tied together by wires and rubber bands.

Brackets can be made from metal, ceramic, resin or composite material and cannot be removed. Braces are seen as a safe option, as they guarantee patient compliance and can tackle difficult dental issues.

If you need your teeth straightened, braces will most likely be an option. In fact, braces are often the only option for complex dental issues.

What is Invisalign and how does it work?

Compared to braces, Invisalign is a much newer product. It is considered a breakthrough in the teeth straightening game.

As the name suggests, Invisalign is designed to be invisible. Aligner trays made of plastic are worn over your teeth and can be removed.

They are made through a process that includes the taking of x-rays and impression casts of your teeth. Invisalign can be a smooth and painless process, but is not an option for all dental issues.

Bear in mind that Invisalign may not be appropriate for everyone. For example, other dental procedures will be required if you need bridgework, your teeth moved vertically or have back-bite issues.

How much does each cost?

How much do braces cost in Australia?

The price of braces depends on the specifics of the procedure and the manner in which your teeth need straightening.

Prices can range from $1,800 to $6,000.

How much do braces cost with insurance?

You might be able to get braces for free from Medicare if your case is severe and essential.

Otherwise, you can get cover for braces with private health insurance under a policy that includes orthodontics.

Sometimes this may be included if you have major dental as an extra. If you're joining the policy as a new member, you'll have to serve the 12-month waiting period before claiming braces.

As for cost? That depends on your insurance policy, its benefit limits and how much your dentist charges for your braces.

You can compare health insurance providers that offer orthodontics here.

How much does Invisalign cost in Australia?

Invisalign is often more expensive than braces. Prices vary from dentist to dentist depending on the number of steps in the design process. You can expect to pay around $5,000 on average for Invisalign treatment.

How much does Invisalign cost with insurance?

Select health insurance lets you claim Invisalign so long as you have cover that includes orthodontics. However, this treatment isn't covered under Medicare as it's not considered essential for a patient's wellbeing.

The end amount you'll pay for Invisalign with insurance depends on how much your dentist charges as well as your insurer's standard rebate amount.

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What's the initial procedure time?

How long does it take to get braces?

The process of applying braces takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

The exact time depends on whether you need braces on both the top and bottom rows of teeth and the speed of your dentist.

How long is the Invisalign process?

Once you decide on Invisalign, you'll need to go for x-rays and have a cast of your teeth taken. When your Invisalign is ready, you'll only need to pop into the dentist to pick it up.

What's the total treatment length?

How long do braces stay on for?

A full set of braces stays on for around two years. However, this can vary depending on how much straightening is required.

Once your braces come off, your teeth will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Most people usually need a retainer for at least a short period of time afterwards.

How long does Invisalign take?

Most adults need Invisalign for 6-18 months with new trays every two weeks though this may be more or less dependent on your doctor's recommendation.

Once your treatment is over, you may just need to wear your Invisalign when you sleep so that any progress is not lost.

How does each look?

Teenage girl headshot wearing braces.

Woman wearing braces.

Woman with clear braces/Invisilign.

Woman wearing Invisalign.

What would I look like with braces?

While technology has improved, people still find braces to be overly visible – if not an eyesore.

You may be able to choose the colour of your braces. Some dentists can also attempt to find brackets that match the colour of your enamel to make them more invisible to the eye.

What does Invisalign look like?

Invisalign is a clear, transparent product. This is one of the most attractive features of Invisalign over braces.

How does cleaning work?

How do I floss and brush my teeth with braces?

Once braces are on, you can't take them off. You'll have to wait until the end of the treatment period for your dentist to remove them.

You'll need to clean the spaces behind wires and can do this with teeth brushing and dental floss. Waxed is preferred so the fibres don't get stuck in your teeth. Self-threading dental floss is designed to get under braces to give you a better clean.

You can also tidy your braces with a pick.

All of these actions can be fiddly, so most dentists require you to come in for a checkup every four to six weeks.

How do I clean Invisalign retainers?

Invisalign is removable and you'll have to take it off for eating, drinking and teeth brushing. Most dentists advise that you should have Invisalign in for at least 20 hours a day.

To clean your retainer, rinse it in warm water. Invisalign trays need to be changed every couple of weeks, but you should receive the entire set of trays for your treatment upfront.

You'll still need to see your dentist, but only once every six to eight weeks.

What can and can't I eat?

What can't you eat with braces?

You can't bite into things like apples when you've got braces, as it increases the chances of snapping one of the braces off.

You'll also find that certain foods have a habit of getting caught in the wire, which can be embarrassing (spinach is a common offender). However, after some time, you'll become better at avoiding these foods.

What to eat with Invisalign?

You'll need to take your Invisalign off when you eat. This can be annoying and a bit inconvenient especially at events or when dining out. However, it does mean that you can pretty much eat whenever you like.

As an aside, excessive amounts of coffee and tea can stain your Invisalign.

Which is more comfortable?

How long do braces hurt for and how do I stop braces pain?

As your mouth adjusts to wearing braces, you'll experience some pain and tenderness. This generally lasts anything from a week to four weeks.

Oral anaesthetics and pain medication can help relieve pain. For a more natural way, you can drink ice water to numb the pain, eat soft foods or apply an oral wax to your braces to stop them from rubbing against the inside of your mouth so much.

How long does Invisalign hurt for and how do I relieve Invisalign pain?

You'll experience some level of pain as your teeth adjust to wearing the Invisalign retainer. This is because the retainer applies pressure to your teeth to realign them. Generally though, this is less than if you'd chosen to wear braces.

This pain is likely to occur every time you get a new retainer, which is typically every fortnight.

Generally, discomfort lasts only a few days. While many Invisalign patients ride it out, you can relieve the pain with medication or cold or hot drinks.

Braces vs Invisalign: Which is for you?

You should always discuss your decision with your dentist and take heed of any advice. You may face a particular dental issue that demands the use of braces. There's not much point in fighting for Invisalign if braces are your only route to a straight smile.

If your dentist offers you the choice between braces and Invisalign, and assures you that both options will be effective solutions, then you can weigh your options.

The best choice ultimately comes down to what's most important to you: cost, speed, aesthetics or comfort.

Ask your dentist to lay out the specifics of both treatment plans specific to your needs so that you can make an educated decision.

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