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Braces vs. Invisalign

The decision to straighten your teeth is not an easy one. Orthodontia is a financial commitment and can take months or years to achieve your desired results. Orthodontic treatment usually involves deciding between two popular options: braces or Invisalign.

There isn’t one treatment that is perfect for everyone. Both treatments have advantages for certain individuals, and we are here to help you determine which form of realignment is right for you.

What You Should Know About Braces

The main types of braces are:

  • Traditional metal braces, which are the most common
  • Ceramic braces that have a more natural, tooth-colored appearance and are less noticeable
  • Lingual braces, which are the same as metal braces but are placed on the backside of your teeth

After choosing the type of braces, the brackets are applied to your teeth using a strong adhesive and connected with a wire.

You will need to come in for subsequent appointments every six to eight weeks so your braces can be adjusted. The wire is tightened or altered a little bit each time, causing your teeth to move into a straighter, more attractive position over time.

Braces can also be paired with other orthodontic treatments. Palate expanders can be used to widen the upper jaw, or elastic bands can be used to alter your bite.

How long will I need braces?

The length of time you will need braces depends on many factors. Braces can take as little as six months and as much as two years, with most people falling somewhere in the middle.

Your treatment will be impacted by the severity of your misalignment among other factors. Children may have shorter treatment times because their bones have not fully developed and are more malleable than adults’ bones.

Attending all follow up appointments and practicing good oral health will also keep your treatment time as brief as possible.

What results can I expect?

Once your treatment is complete and the braces are removed, you will be fitted for a retainer. The retainer is made of hard plastic that fits against the roof of your mouth and a metal wire that holds your teeth in place. It can be removed while eating but must be worn for most of the day for the first few months. You can then transition to wearing it only at night.

Braces, in combination with any other orthodontic treatment, can result in beautiful teeth and increased self-confidence. Straight, properly aligned teeth can also make speaking, eating, and practicing good oral hygiene easier.

Advantages of Braces

Metal braces are often a more cost-effective option for achieving straight teeth. Braces also work well for complicated or severe cases of crowded teeth, abnormal bite, and gaps. Treatment is often efficient and you will start to see results soon after beginning treatment.

Most types of braces are customizable, and during each adjustment you will have the opportunity to choose one or more colors for your rubber bands that secure the wire to each bracket. Many patients enjoy the personalization of their braces and it can be a fun way to show off your personality.

Invisalign: How it Works

Invisalign involves removable, clear aligners that are virtually undetectable. They are made of a hard plastic material that is smooth and won’t irritate the inside of your mouth.

After your teeth are molded, a series of custom aligners are made to gradually move your teeth. Each aligner is slightly different than the last and moves your teeth into the desired position. Invisalign users typically change out their aligner every two weeks. You will still need to go to the orthodontist for follow-up appointments every six to eight weeks to monitor your progress.

Your aligners must be worn for 22 to 24 hours per day. You will typically only take them out to eat, brush your teeth, or for a rare special occasion.

Learn more about Invisalign »

How long will I need Invisalign?

Similar to braces, the length of your treatment will vary. Most of our La Jolla Invisalign patients’ treatments will last approximately 18 months to 2 years, but can be as little as a few months in minor cases. We understand the temptation to resist putting your aligner after eating, but it’s important to keep them in for at least 22 hours per day to keep your treatment time short.

Invisalign can also be combined with other orthodontia, which can impact the length of your treatment. Palate expanders are often used for those with a narrow jaw. Some patients even have metal braces for a few months before finishing out their treatment with Invisalign.

Results of Invisalign

After your treatment is complete, you can enjoy straight, attractive-looking teeth. You will also have a retainer to prevent your teeth from moving back to their original position. The retainer must be worn for 22 to 24 hours per day for the first few months. Then you will likely be able to transition to wearing it only at night. Just like metal braces, Invisalign can make your daily activities easier and reduce your risk for complex dental work later on.

Advantages of Invisalign

Many people seek out Invisalign over metal braces because it is discreet. The aligners are clear and do not draw attention to your teeth. Adults who choose to undergo orthodontic treatment often want Invisalign because of the inconspicuous look. People with metal braces should avoid sticky foods, hard foods, and snacks like popcorn that can get lodged in between teeth. Invisalign can be removed while eating, so there are no food restrictions during your treatment.

Cleaning your teeth is easier with Invisalign because you do not have to clean in between brackets and wires. Once the aligner is removed, your teeth can be cleaned like normal. The smooth plastic of the aligner is very easy to clean, and it won’t cause sores or other discomfort inside your mouth.

Deciding Between Braces and Invisalign

Choosing between braces and Invisalign can be difficult. Your decision may be impacted by your age, budget, degree of required orthodontic work, and aesthetic preferences.

Orthodontia not only improves the look of your teeth but can also impact your oral health for years to come. During your consultation, Dr. Han will evaluate your teeth and help you determine which treatment is most appropriate for your unique situation.

Blue ombre digital art of teeth

For a consultation with Dr. Han, please call us at (858) 281-4121 or click here to schedule online.


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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19 View Update Virtual Consultation

Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19


La Jolla Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry are committed to the health and safety of our patients, team members and communities. We want to assure you that we are being extra vigilant about your safety during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We are posting this to keep you informed about the additional safety measures we are taking to protect you during this time.

We have reinforced our already comprehensive Infection Control procedures with our team members, which include frequent handwashing, use of clean masks and gloves, and disinfecting all surfaces in the treatment rooms and reception areas. We are also taking the following additional steps:

  • Increasing the frequency of thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces of the office
  • Instructing patients and team members to stay home if they’ve traveled to high-risk areas or if they have any COVID-19 related symptoms
  • Removing communal items that may be touched by multiple people throughout the day such as our coffee station and magazines
  • Maintaining a lower flow of patients to alleviate any traffic in the office and allow for social distancing

In closing, the safety of our patients, team members and community are paramount. As the coronavirus pandemic evolves, we will continue to actively monitor the local situation and follow CDC recommendations.

We are hopeful these proactive changes will contribute to helping our community get past the Coronavirus situation soon. We are committed to serving our community and are here to help.

Thank you for choosing La Jolla Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry as your family’s dental provider!

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