In our article ‘Advantages of Invisalign vs fixed braces’ we’ve covered why Invisalign is a great solution to straighten your teeth and its main benefits over other types of fixed braces.
In this guide, we will aim to look the main disadvantages of Invisalign vs fixed metal braces, but before jumping straight in the subject and for those not familiar with the Invisalign appliance, let us remind you what Invisalign is and what it does. If you have read our previous guide, just skip to our ‘Main disadvantages of Invisalign’ section.
Invisalign is a revolutionary product that allows you to straighten your teeth in a discreet and pain-free way, whilst still enjoying all your favourite food and drink.
Invisalign utilises clear plastic and removable aligners in order to straighten your teeth. The aligner itself is a series of custom moulded, very comfortable and nearly invisible plastic (It’s a BP free type of plastic which is 100% safe) that fit perfectly over your teeth like a mouth guard. The aligners are removable and each one is worn for a period of 2-weeks at a time before moving to the next set of aligners which gradually move your teeth to your final desired position.
To date, over 4 million people Worldwide have already benefited from the Invisalign treatment which is not only limited to those celebrities or the rich and famous but developed for everyday people like you and I in mind.
Fixed metal braces have been around for a long time and whilst fairly archaic in their nature (a few metal brackets and wires), they allow very specific types of movements which Invisalign, until recently, struggled to replicate.
Conventional braces were therefore considered for treating malocclusions that were severe in complexity, whereas Invisalign used to be limited to mild to moderate cases. This was one of the main disadvantages of the appliance.
However, the recent addition of ‘attachments’, ‘buttons’ and ‘elastics’ (see ‘what are Invisalign attachments’ and ‘what are Invisalign buttons’ for more information) to the Invisalign technology has allowed Invisalign to catch up with its counterparts and offer treatment for more severe malocclusions.
So in what cases do conventional braces perform better than Invisalign clear braces?
Fixed metal and porcelain braces are very visible in that the brackets are glued to the face of a patient’s teeth. Invisalign, due to the clear nature of the brace therefore sounds like a more discreet option.
One of the very important things to notice is that most Invisalign patients will require attachments. Whilst this is not a disadvantage compared to fixed braces which have brackets, it often comes as a surprise to patients that they will need to wear attachments.
We have dedicated an entire page on our site to Invisalign attachments so feel free to head that way if you want more information about them.
In a nutshell, attachments are small tooth-coloured dots of dental bonding (usually matching the colour and shade of your teeth), usually in the shape of a small square or round button, applied to very specific locations on a patient’s teeth. The purpose for this attachment is to provide an anchor point to the Invisalign aligner, one that helps to direct the forces of the aligner more effectively to the tooth.
The number of attachment will depend upon your personal treatment plan and severity of your case (in other words how much movement or rotation is required). Your Invisalign practitioner should be able to tell you if any phase of your treatment will require the placement of attachments.
Are attachments visible?
At first, most patients will feel annoyed about the fact they have attachments and will be very self-conscious about them. They will usually feel other people can see them which in their mind defeats the purpose of choosing invisible braces in the first place. In reality, most people will never notice your aligners or your attachments – the former being transparent and the latter matching the shade of your teeth.
And more importantly, remember than no matter how visible you believe the attachments are, they are far less visible than brackets and wires from conventional braces.
More of a disadvantage than attachments, Invisalign buttons and elastics might be required to allow for the relevant tooth movement and rotation, especially in cases where the occlusion is more severe.
As with attachments, we have dedicated an entire page on our site to Invisalign buttons as we feel it is important for potential patients to fully understand the impact of having buttons and elastics as part of your treatment course.
In a nutshell, “buttons” are similar to attachments in the sense that they applied to the tooth, but vary slightly in that they ate small brackets made of either plastic or metal. These buttons serve as anchor points for elastic rubber bands and allow of a better grip of the tooth to move in into the desired position.
The number of buttons will depend upon your personal treatment plan and severity of your case (in other words how much movement or rotation is required). Your Invisalign practitioner should be able to tell you if any phase of your treatment will require the placement of buttons and elastic bands.
Are buttons visible?
Your practitioner will usually try to position buttons close to the tooth’s gum line which usually keeps the visibility of those buttons to a minimum.
However, patients tend to get very self-conscious about is the elastic bands that run between 2 buttons as these are usually quite visible.
In those cases, choosing Invisalign might seem like a waste of time but remember that you might only need buttons and elastics for a few weeks until one tooth has reached the desired position. Brackets and wires on fixed conventional braces on the other hand will be visible throughout the duration of your treatment.
In instances where the shape of a patient’s teeth is very specific, Invisalign might not be a suitable option.
For patients with small, round, pegged or severely tipped teeth, it can be difficult for the Invisalign aligners, even with the use of attachments, buttons and elastics, to have enough of a grip onto the teeth to rotate or move them into the desired position.
For those patients, the use of conventional fixed or porcelain braces might therefore be more appropriate.
Unlike conventional fixed metal braces where brackets can easily be removed and replaced, your plastic aligners will be custom made to fit your teeth and will be based on your treatment plan.
Any new or replacement dental restorations which affects the shape of your teeth, may alter the actual fit of your aligners. This can be the case for crowns or extractions, particularly extractions of the wisdom teeth.
In those cases, it is usually recommended to complete all required dental restoration work prior to the start of your treatment. In instances where this is not possible, your Invisalign practitioner might recommend a “mid-course correction” by taking new impressions of your teeth and sending those to the Invisalign lab in order to create a new set of aligners for the remainder of your treatment.
Patients requiring mid-course correction will usually incur a small financial cost – which could be from £100 to £500.
The invisalign system requires the bonding of small “attachments” and “buttons” onto the patient’s teeth. Whilst the process of bonding these onto normal enamel is rather straightforward, bonding them onto other materials might be more complicated and not offer the same level of grip required to move the teeth into the correct position.
It’s also worth noting that patients with dental bridges will, in most cases, not be able to use the Invisalign system at all.
Whilst no study has yet proven the correlation between Invisalign and cavities, the treatment can, under specific circumstances increase your risk for cavities.
This is likely to apply to patients who already have and keep a poor dental hygiene throughout the treatment, or those that do not follow simple directions given to them by their dental practitioner such as:
In those circumstances, wearing the aligners can increase the risk of tooth decay as your teeth will be encased in a moulded-plastic mouth guard which will prevent your teeth from benefiting from normal biological anti-cavity function that would otherwise usually take place in the patient’s mouth.
For those patients that do take the aligners out when eating, avoid the consumption of alcoholic or sugary beverages whilst wearing the aligners and brush their teeth regularly after eating, the increased risk of cavities is likely to be non-existent.
One of the things to bear in mind with Invisalign is that unlike more conventional fixed braces where the brackets and wires sit on the front of your teeth, the custom made plastic moulded aligners will sit on top of your teeth, encasing both your upper and lower teeth.
The presence of such device in the mouth can, for certain patients, affect the way they speak with some developing a slight lisp.
However, it is important to note that the aligners are very thin and whilst most patients will have a slight lisp during the first couple of days of wearing the aligners, this lisp should really quickly disappear as they get use to wearing them and their speech returns to normal.