Invisalign vs. Braces: Which Is Better?

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard countless people raving about invisible liners in recent years. This alternative to traditional metal braces offers a comfortable and discreet way to straighten your smile. Trust us when we say that dentists also love invisible aligners. However, clear aligners haven’t completely replaced regular braces. There are still cases where traditional braces can help with specific types of correction. Of course, patients also need to factor in cost, lifestyle, and other details when making a choice about the best type of braces. This post will hopefully clear up some of the questions you have about invisible teeth aligners versus braces.

What Do Braces and Clear Aligners Have in Common?

A lot! Both clear aligners and traditional braces are orthodontic treatments that can straighten teeth gradually to correct a variety of issues. They use pressure to correct your bite and realign teeth. Both are also FDA-approved methods that are offered by your local family orthodontic practice in Salem.

A Closer Look at Clear Aligners

Adult with clear aligners at JFO

The most popular option for clear aligners is the brand name of Invisalign. That’s why you’ll often hear Invisalign used interchangeably with clear aligners or invisible aligners. A clear aligner is a custom-made orthodontic device that’s made from medical-grade plastic.

The Pros of Clear Aligners:


Clear aligners are barely visible because they fit closely to the teeth. While someone who is talking with you at a close distance will probably notice that you’re wearing aligners, these clear trays are mostly undetectable from a distance.


Unlike metal braces, clear aligners don’t cause the scraping and chafing that sometimes cause discomfort while teeth are being repositioned.

Better Access When Brushing and Flossing

This benefit is good for both your time and your oral health! With removable aligners, you’re able to remove your appliance to brush and floss just like you normally do. Nothing about your dental hygiene routine needs to change. Metal braces require specialized threaders to remove food from between metal wires. This time-consuming process can deter people from staying on track with brushing and flossing properly.

Food Restrictions Aren’t as Strict

First, let’s make it clear that chewy, sticky, and rock-hard foods aren’t ideal for teeth! However, eating nuts, popcorn, candies, hard bagels, and other foods that require some effort isn’t impossible with aligners the way it is with metal braces because you’ll always remove your aligners before eating.

The Cons of Clear Aligners:

Only Appropriate for Mild to Moderate Dental Issues

If you have your heart set on aligners, it’s important to know that this option isn’t ideal for complicated corrections. We generally recommend Invisalign only for standard overcrowding or crookedness. In cases of severe crowding, bigger gaps, and tooth rotation, traditional metal braces will be more effective.

Eating Can Be Challenging

First, let’s talk about what is approved with invisible aligners. It’s fine to keep aligners in when drinking plain water. However, trays should be removed before consuming any food or drink other than water. Food and beverages can easily destroy, melt, or discolor the soft plastic material used to create aligners.

The Responsibility Is on You

While the “removable” factor is one of the main draws of invisible aligners, it’s also one of the biggest reasons why this orthodontic treatment can be less effective. Failure to wear aligners at least 22 hours daily can slow progress or create incomplete final results. Being an aligner owner takes discipline! There’s also a risk that you could misplace or break aligners when they are not in your mouth.

Not Guaranteed to Be 100% Invisible

Your orthodontist might recommend using attachments that connect to your aligners when correcting certain issues. For example, buttons are commonly used to help rotate teeth. These attachments will reduce the “invisible” factor of your trays to a certain extent.

A Closer Look at Metal Braces

Adult with braces at JFO

The metal wires and brackets that most people associate with traditional braces haven’t gone anywhere! The good news is that this option can now be done with ceramic and other low-visibility options that make wearing metal braces far less obstructive than it used to be. Here’s what you need to know!

The Pros of Traditional Braces:

Effective for Complicated Orthodontic Issues

Metal braces work universally for all types of orthodontic corrections. By being placed directly over each tooth, they are generally able to create more movement compared to aligner trays. This is why they’re recommended for severe overbite, severe crowding, large gaps, rotated teeth, extrusions, and intrusions.

Not Removable

There’s simply less responsibility involved with metal braces. Unlike trays that can be removed, metal braces are permanently attached for the duration of treatment. That means that wearers are getting 24 hours of wear per day instead of the 20 to 22 that the average Invisalign wearer might be getting. This is one of the reasons why metal braces are often recommended over removable aligners for kids.

Beverages Are Fine

The staining and melting that are possible when drinking beverages other than water with clear aligners aren’t issues with metal braces. You won’t be asked to alter any of your beverage habits!

The Cons of Traditional Braces:


Metal braces can be uncomfortable for some people. Some people experience chafing and irritation when getting used to metal rubbing against the insides of their cheeks. Generally, discomfort eases after the first few days. However, tension is common with each adjustment.


Metal braces are more noticeable compared to clear aligners. This can make a person feel self-conscious while wearing them. Additionally, it’s easy for food to get stuck between wires when eating.

Food Restrictions

People who get metal braces are given a list of foods to avoid for the duration of treatment. Hard and sticky foods can damage or break brackets and wires. The list of foods that are restricted with braces includes gum, gummies, hard nuts, hard candies, bagels, chips, and popcorn.

Oral Hygiene Can Be Harder

The good news is that people who maintain strong flossing and brushing habits while wearing braces typically don’t experience any adverse effects. However, the difficulty of properly cleaning through wires can cause some people to become relaxed with brushing and flossing. This can lead to cavities. It’s also possible to experience staining once brackets are removed.

Comparing the Cost of Braces and Invisalign

First, the cost of treatment can vary by patient when using braces and Invisalign. That’s because your quote is based on the specifics of your smile. However, invisible aligners are generally more expensive compared to braces. In some cases, this is offset by the fact that your insurance may offer more coverage for metal braces versus clear aligners.

Comparing the Process of Getting Braces and Invisible Aligners

The process for both begins with a consultation where your orthodontist will examine your teeth, learn about your goals, and talk a bit about your dental history. Dental imaging is often used to get an idea of the inner workings of your smile and bite. The next part is where the process changes based on whether you select clear aligners or traditional braces.

If it’s decided that traditional braces offer the best option for getting your desired results, an appointment will be scheduled to install metal or ceramic brackets by securing them to your teeth using bonding adhesive. Next, the brackets are threaded together with metal wire. Finally, bands are used to keep the wires steady. You can expect to see us about once a month for adjustments for the duration of your treatment. Once your treatment is finished, it’s likely that you’ll be fitted for a custom retainer that will help you to maintain your results.

If it’s decided that invisible aligners offer the best option for getting your desired results, a mold of your teeth will be created to get the process of creating your custom aligners started. You’ll be instructed to wear your aligners at least 20 to 22 hours daily to ensure that your progress will be on pace. Your aligners will be updated throughout your treatment.

Who Can I Talk to About the Best Teeth Aligners and Braces in Salem, Oregon

Johnson Family Orthodontics is the kid-friendly practice in Salem offering braces and aligners. Dr. Cole Johnson know that selecting the right orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child can feel like a big responsibility!

Consider us your partners in creating a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. The best way to learn about the best options for braces and clear aligners here in Salem is to book a consultation at our friendly, conveniently located office. The truth is that it’s difficult to understand if braces or Invisalign will work best without a one-on-one consultation that includes an examination. We’ll be happy to go over the pros and cons of both options to help you make an informed decision you can feel confident about! Call today!