Invisalign and Braces: Here’s How
They Compare

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At Northern Virginia Orthodontics, we believe that your smile is a crucial part of your confidence and want to give you one that you can’t wait to share. We know that figuring out which straightening option you’ll use can be a difficult decision to make.

There are advantages to both Invisalign and braces, but they do differ in many ways, which is why we are here to pick our winners for each category so that you can figure out what is right for you!

Invisalign vs. Braces: Price

When it comes to the price of braces vs. Invisalign, many factors can affect your total cost. In both cases, the cost of any orthodontic treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of your case.

The good news is , you can generally expect the cost of Invisalign to be similar to braces due to the advances in 3D scanning technology. As always, it’s important to visit our offices for a free consultation where you can learn exactly what your custom treatment plan entails. .

Winner: It’s a tie!

Because braces and Invisalign are usually similar in price, one doesn’t outshine the other in this category.

Payment Options

At Northern Virginia Orthodontics, we want to do everything we can to find a financing plan that works for you. We work with all insurance providers, and offer a variety of flexible payment options and financing plans.

Appearance: Discreet vs Customizable

Appearance is a crucial part of the decision-making process, and we understand that this is an important factor to consider.

The appearance of Invisalign and braces differ greatly. If you’re looking for a discreet, virtually unnoticeable look, Invisalign could be a good option for you. Invisalign aligners are clear, which makes them difficult to detect without a second look. This option tends to be popular among adults.

On the other hand, braces are much more customizable with many styles to choose from.

Our winner: This round goes to Invisalign!

Even though there are discrete braces, clear aligners are virtually invisible, making them a great option for your overall appearance.

What Are The Different Styles Of Braces?

Metal braces

Metal braces are often the deciding factor for children and teenagers due to the variety of colored rubber bands to choose from. With each appointment, your child can express their personality and have fun showing off their smile to friends.

Damon Braces

Damon Braces are the more discreet type of braces. Damon braces use a slide mechanism to hold the wire, allowing teeth to move more freely, quickly, and comfortably. Damon braces come in both metal and clear, so if you like the idea of Invisalign but would like to stick with braces, this could be a good option for you!

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-Ligating Braces are made the same way as metal braces, with the only difference being elastic bands. Self-Ligating braces are often another good choice for adult patients or those that desire a slicker, to-the-point look.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic Braces are clarity brackets made of a translucent material designed to blend with one’s tooth color. A key feature of these braces is their ability to resist staining and discoloration. Out of all the braces, ceramic braces are the closest you can get to Invisalign in terms of appearance.

Our winner: This round goes to Invisalign!

Even though there are discrete braces, clear aligners are virtually invisible, making them a great option for your overall appearance.


Regardless of the type of straightening choice you make, shifting the alignment of your teeth can feel uncomfortable at times. However, out of the two, Invisalign is thought of as the more comfortable option since braces have metal brackets and wires that can poke your gums and get caught on your lip from time to time.

It’s important to note that if you give yourself a little time to get used to the adjustment, both braces and Invisalign will likely feel comfortable.

Are There Any Ways to Help With the Discomfort?

Fortunately for you, comfort doesn’t have to be your deciding factor. There are a couple of different ways to help mitigate any pain that comes with braces.

Over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen and Aleve usually offer some relief from dental pain. Remember to always take the recommended amount according to the bottle instructions.

If you notice certain areas hurting with braces, such as a wire rubbing against your cheek, you can use orthodontic wax. Orthodontic wax can be ripped off in small pieces so that you can place the wax on the area that is giving you trouble. If you’d like more detailed instructions on how to use the wax, we would be happy to show you!

If you’re unsure about the wax, you can use topical anesthetics to help numb the pain and reduce inflammation. Orajel is a common, easy-to-find anesthetic you can try.

Effectiveness: Reaching the Goal of Straight Teeth

Braces and Invisalign are both incredibly effective at strengthening teeth, and there are countless success stories on both sides.

With Invisalign, the one variable that could affect the effectiveness is the ability to remove the trays. For the most part, this is a perk because you don’t have to worry about getting food in your teeth, and you can remove them for special occasions.

What if I Have A More Severe Case?

Northern Virginia Orthodontics is the #1 Invisalign provider in the nation, which means NVO can treat any case with Invisalign, from mild to complex malocclusions. If you’ve been told in the past you’re not a candidate for Invisalign, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation at NVO to see how our doctors can make your smile dreams a reality!

Convenience of Invisalign vs Braces

Both Invisalign and Braces are convenient in different ways. Braces are because you don’t have to worry about removing trays every time you eat or worry about soaking and rinsing the aligners.

Invisalign is convenient because the aligners pop right out, so you don’t have to restrict certain foods like you would with braces.

Removable aligners can be a negative to some, though, as it’s easier than you think to misplace them or forget to store them properly. NVO provides Invisalign patients with all their aligners at your first appointment, so you are able to move into your next set of aligners if you do misplace a set. We also recommend you hold onto your previous sets of aligners so if you do misplace a set, you’re able to go back into an older set to hold in while waiting for any replacements to be ordered.

Is There A Way to Help Me Keep Track Of My Aligners?

Remembering where you put your aligners can be difficult. Luckily, your Invisalign starter kit includes a slim and convenient aligner case that you can use to store your aligners when you are not wearing them. This case can easily be stored in a backpack, purse or even your pocket, and keeps your aligners from collecting any germs while not being worn. We recommend you bring your case with you anywhere and everywhere you go to ensure you’re never putting your aligners somewhere you may lose them.

If your issue is remembering to put your aligners back in, you can set yourself a phone reminder that coincides with when you think you’ll finish the activity.

Braces vs Invisalign Care & Cleaning

Whether you have Invisalign or braces, it is crucial to brush and floss after every meal to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your treatment.

If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us. We can help you choose the right products for your teeth and your appliance.

With Invisalign, brushing and flossing remain unchanged since you can take the aligners out, but there are extra steps you’ll need to take to make sure your aligners are taken care of. Every time you eat, you should brush your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This ensure that no food or bacteria are getting stuck in your aligners.

Braces may seem like they would be harder to clean, but with time and learning how to brush and floss, it should feel like the regular care and upkeep you’re used to. The only tricky part is when you need to get into a small space to get food. To do this, you’ll have to use a small brush to get into the metal.

How To Brush With Braces

If you need more detailed instructions on how to brush with braces, follow these steps.

  1. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum.
  2. Brush gently in a circular motion.
  3. Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
  4. Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.

How To Floss With Braces

Flossing with braces may seem difficult, but there are steps you can follow to help!

  1. Using a piece of floss about 18 inches long, carefully thread the end between braces and wire. You may find a floss threader helpful.
  2. BCarefully floss around the braces.
  3. Carefully floss around the gum areas.
  4. Carefully floss around each tooth..

Treatment Times

The amount of time you have Invisalign aligners or braces will depend on your case and diligence. If you are diligent and wear your aligners for the recommended 22 hours, the pace of your treatment shouldn’t be affected.

It becomes tricky when you wear your aligners casually or forget to put them back in. These choices can hinder your treatment plan and increase the time it takes to achieve your desired result.


After your treatment plan is complete with braces or Invisalign, you will need to remain diligent to avoid your teeth moving. With braces, you’ll have to wear a retainer (there are nightly retainers and permanent retainers), while with Invisalign, you will have to wear a tray at night.

NVO suggests retention patients visit our offices 1-2 times a year to ensure that their smile is staying 100% perfect.

Our Final Thoughts

Both braces and Invisalign have advantages and disadvantages in each category. The choice will ultimately come down to the treatment plan you and one of our doctors discuss.

Due to the effectiveness of both, you shouldn’t have fears of getting one or the other. We are dedicated to answering any questions you have and ensuring that you feel comfortable with the plan in place.