Invisalign vs Braces: Which to Choose?

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Considering a teeth-straitening solution but aren’t sure which is right for you? Let’s discuss your options!

Teeth-Straightening Option #1: Braces


Braces are generally considered the traditional route when it comes to straightening out your chompers.

Braces are basically a series of metal brackets that are attached to your teeth via glue. These brackets are then tied together with wires and small rubber bands. Hence, the term metal mouth! The wires are then tightened or loosened to adjust how your teeth should move.

Today even the old-school braces have a come a long way, as you can opt to actually get brackets colored to match the enamel of your teeth for a more discrete look. Kids often enjoy picking out the color of their rubber bands, which adds a bit of fun.

Teeth-Straightening Option #2: Invisalign


Invisalign is a more modern solution to the teeth straightening problem. Invisalign is a system designed around a series of aligner trays that you wear (imagine them like a retainer, but lighter and completely clear).

The trays are made of smooth plastic and, when worn, they are virtually invisible. Each series of trays is worn for different lengths of time, which each tray making additional adjustments to your teeth. A dentist helps create your custom trays through the use of x-rays and impression molds.

Invisalign vs. Braces: Major Things to Consider

We’ll cover the pros and cons of both Invisalign and braces further down, but in short, these are the major differentiators that may determine your choice:

  • Removable vs. Permanent. Invisalign trays are removable, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it. On one hand, the convenience of being able to remove trays for sports or eating is certainly handy. However, removable trays can easily be lost or misplaced. There’s also the matter of how committed you are to the plan – with removable trays, it’s up to you to stick to the plan and keep them in, vs not having a choice when it comes to braces.
  • Appearance. Naturally, Invisalign will look much more attractive than traditional braces. While a mouth full of metal isn’t the end of the world, there’s no denying that the subtle, un-noticeable Invisalign braces are much more orally attractive than traditional braces. Still, if you don’t need braces for a long period, they aren’t the end of the world. In fact, some might say they’re a right of passage!
  • Pricing. Invisalign can cost quite a bit more than braces. The exact cost depends on the complexity of your treatment, where you live, and your insurance coverage. Many insurance companies will cover a portion of Invisalign treatment, but you may still end up with a much bigger final bill than you would with braces.

Inivialign vs Metal Braces: Quick Comparison

Appearance Metallic Clear, nearly invisible
Cost Approximately 3-8k Approximately 3-5k
Treatment Time6-18 months depending on needsApproximately 2 years depending on needs
Cleaningsbrushing and rinsing trays in warm waterregular brushing of wires and metal – Waterpik also helpful
Removable?Yes, can be removed for eating and for certain situationsNo, permanent and can’t be removed without a dentist

Invisalign Pros & Cons

Let’s explore the pros and cons of the Invisalign option.


  • Look Great. Since Invisalign is virtually invisible, it’s a popular choice for professionals and teens who don’t want a mouth full of metal.
  • Removable. Invisalign’s teeth aligning trays can be removed temporarily for eating and added convenience.
  • Food Doesn’t Get Stuck In Teeth. This is a common complaint of traditional braces. Since Invisalign braces are removed for eating, users don’t need to worry about food getting stuck.
  • No Discomfort. While wires from traditional braces can hurt and irritate teeth (albeit this is usually temporary and minor), Invisalign is very comfortable with no protruding edges. Those with sensitive gums and mouth may prefer Invisalign.
  • Payment Options. Invisalign offers a few different payment options that can be helpful. Invisalign is FSA eligible, and can also be set up for flexible, monthly payment plans for those who would rather pay over time.


  • Must Be Removed for Eating & Drinking. Some may find it a nuisance that Invisalign must be removed when individuals choose to eat or drink.
  • Brush After Meals. Invisalign users must also brush their teeth after every meal to avoid any staining the trays.
  • Users Must Have Discipline. Since trays can be removed, it’s up to the user to remember to put the trays in and stay committed to Invisalign. Those who aren’t disciplined or forgetful may not fare as well with Invisalign.
  • Can Get Lost. Trays must be removed for meals, which provides ample opportunity to lose the trays if you are forgetful.
  • Not Ideal For Complex Work. Invisalign isn’t a great choice for more complex dental work, such as bridgework, back teeth bite issues, canine or premolar rotations, or vertical teeth movements.
  • Pricier. Invisalign comes at a much heftier price than traditional braces, although the exact cost may vary depending on your dental coverage.

Braces Pros & Cons


  • No Temptation to Stop. Since metal braces are cemented to a user’s teeth, they can’t be removed. While the removable Invisalign braces are an advantage for some, those who are forgetful could potentially lose the trays, and users who lack discipline may be tempted to leave the trays out. Classic braces can’t be lost or removed, so you’re committed no matter what!
  • No Extra Cleaning Required. Invisalign trays must be regularly brushed and rinsed with warm water, while metal braces can be brushed along with your regular teeth.
  • Better For Complex Dental Work. Classic braces are often the best option for those who need to do extensive dental work. Your dentist can help you assess whether or not your dental work qualifies for Invisalign or traditional metal braces.


  • Can Cause Pain & Irritation. Those with sensitive mouths can sometimes suffer sores, pain, and other discomforts from the metal brackets and wires.
  • Can Cause Discoloration. Braces can cause some teeth discoloration from areas where metal covers your teeth, but this is not due to the braces themselves – rather, it’s the result of plaque buildup. If you brush and care for your teeth appropriately, spots shouldn’t be an issue.
  • Problems Eating. While Invisalign trays can be removed, metal braces are permanent, which means users need to avoid certain sticky foods and may also have trouble with hard foods.
  • Bad for Contact Sports. Metal braces are also less than ideal for those who play rough contact sports.

Alternative Option: Smile Direct Club

smile direct club

Smile Direct Club is a service that resembles Invisalign in many ways – you wear a series of trays on your teeth that will slowly adjust and move your teeth back into proper positioning.

Smile Direct Club is more affordable than Invisalign, largely because you don’t need to visit a dentist’s office to do it – you just send in a mold of your teeth in the mail, and the Smile Direct Team designs trays for you.


  • Affordable
  • No need to visit a dentist office
  • Clear, comfortable, removable trays


  • No relationship with dentist or quick help if something goes wrong
  • No checkups following the conclusion of the treatment plan.

If you do decide to give Smile Direct Club a try, the first step is sending in an impression of your teeth by biting into material to make a mold. Another option is to get a digital scan at one several Smile Direct Club SmileShops (which is only available in some cities).

The cost of getting the impression is $99. While it’s a bit annoying to have to pay the cost of the impression upfront, it’s essential that the team evaluates whether or not you are a candidate (Smile Direct Club won’t work with you if they feel your dental needs are beyond the scope of their treatment services.

Even if Smile Direct Club decided not to move forward with your treatment, you’ll be able to keep the information they’ve collected and use the material when you visit a dentist’s office. Plus, if they turn you down, you get reimbursed the $99, so it’s basically risk-free.

As a bonus, you can actually get your impression kit done for 50% off when you use our link (hurrah)!

Many folks are skeptical of dental treatment not performed by a dentist, but many people have had great success with Smile Direct. It really is only an option for simple alignment – more complex treatments will need to be handled by a dentist.

Even though a dentist isn’t working with you directly at Smile Direct Club, they have a team of licensed dental professionals that create your treatment plan and monitor your progress virtually.

Many also love the convenience of not being forced to visit a dentist every few months – everything comes to you via mail. The cost is another incentive – Smile Direct Club offers monthly payment options so that you don’t need to cover a big upfront cost.

Despite all the good, there are some drawbacks to consider. As already noted, Smile Direct Club won’t be an option for those who require more aggressive or extensive treatment.

There’s also no guarantee of outcome – because Smile Direct Club can’t force users to wear the trays, they won’t make any promises about results. However, most who wear the trays and follow the treatment plan are happy with how their teeth end up.

If you want to learn more about Smile Direct Club, check out our review where we detail the full pros and cons of the program.

So what do you think – braces, Invisalign, or Smile Direct Club? Have you used any of these for your teeth straightening efforts? Share your stories in the comments!

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about the author:
Meg Mars
Meg is a writer who is passionate about healthy eating. From Whole30 and South Beach Diet, to paleo and intermittent fasting, she's experimented with several healthy eating regiments and is passionate about helping readers find the perfect food plan match for their lifestyles.

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