If you are considering braces or Invisalign, you likely have a number of questions such as: Which is more effective? Which is affordable? With so many options in the world of orthodontic treatment, patients ask a number of questions such as these and more. But in the end, they want to choose the treatment that will do the best job. The popular choice is usually between traditional metal braces and Invisalign. But if you had to make the choice today, do you know the difference?

Here at Craig & Streight, we believe patient education should play a major role in the treatment process.  With that in mind, we design treatment plans that are unique for each patient we see – one that keeps you informed and works for you and your lifestyle.

Let us explain the difference between traditional metal braces and Invisalign, so you can be one step closer to that smile you’ve always dreamed of having!

Treatment basics

Braces and Invisalign are both designed to straighten teeth while improving your smile and overall oral health. Metal braces consist of a metal bracket that is adhered to each individual tooth, and are then connected by a wire which will be tightened in a way that will adjust each tooth gradually into its proper place. The wire is held into place by small rubber bands, which come in a variety of colors.

Invisalign straightens your teeth without wires and brackets, using a series of clear, customized, removable appliances called aligners. Unlike traditional metal braces, the Invisalign system has only been around for a little over fifteen years, but that doesn’t lessen its effectiveness as we will see in a minute.

Metal braces

Young woman with braces

Metal braces are the most common and widely used form of braces. The most obvious difference between braces and Invisalign is that braces are not removable. However, they are extremely efficient at fixing complex issues, and they typically work faster than Invisalign.

While treatment time varies from patient to patient, the average with braces tends to be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. But you’ll often see signs of improvement fairly early. This can give your self-confidence a boost while encouraging you to stay the course.

One of the things that causes some people to shy away from braces is the amount of maintenance that goes into this treatment plan. There are quite a few foods to avoid, the brackets and wires need adjusting from time to time, and they can be difficult to navigate around while flossing. But the good news is there are a number of accessories available to make your oral hygiene routine easier. Additionally, the majority of issues that might arise can be resolved at home with simple tricks.

Patients will schedule follow-up visits for traditional braces every 4-8 weeks. During these adjustment appointments, we will change the bands that are attached to the brackets, and the wire will also be tightened or changed. Generally speaking, you should be in-an-out in half an hour or so.

There may be some residual soreness after each appointment, but it should subside in a day or two. It’s highly important that you don’t skip these crucial appointments.  Doing so will most likely prolong your original treatment plan.


woman in cafe with Invisalign

What makes Invisalign such a popular treatment option is the fact that they are removable and invisible. This allows you to remove the aligners to eat, brush, and floss, or for special occasions when you don’t want your treatment to interfere with your lifestyle. Since these aligners are removable, you can eat and drink what you’d like, without the worry of breaking a bracket or loosening a wire!

The comfortable plastic trays are virtually invisible, and depending on the plan, your treatment might include as little as 12 trays or as many as 48.  We will give you instructions on how and when to use them. Average treatment time is between 6 and 18 months, but that can vary from patient to patient. This is also based on a patient’s willingness to wear his or her aligner for the designated 20-22 hours a day because any deviation from this can prolong treatment time.

Office visits for Invisalign users range from every 4-6 weeks, and at each visit you will be able to see just how much closer you’ve gotten to achieving your smile. Patients will also switch out aligners every 1-2 weeks in order to keep up with the shifting of teeth. This is an important part of the straightening process. If a patient skips appointments or doesn’t change out aligners when ready, treatment can be prolonged.

Let Craig & Streight help you decide

Whichever treatment option you choose isn’t just about improving your smile but improving your overall oral health. This decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so it’s important to find a provider such as Craig & Streight who is experienced with both braces and Invisalign. We will recommend which method will best perfect your smile and teeth. Our team has years of experience working with both braces and Invisalign, and we’ll make sure you’re an active partner in any treatment plan we design.

If you’re in the Norman, Mustang, or Oklahoma City areas and are considering orthodontic treatment, get in touch with us today! Craig & Streight Orthodontics recognizes that the best dental and orthodontic care begins with world-class communication, and we specialize in making our patients feel right at home. We’re here to help you find your very best smile!