Invisalign vs. Traditional Metal Braces

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Barakat Orthodontics

Dear Dr. Barakat,

My son is 13-years-old and really wants Invisalign. However, I’m worried it won’t give him the same end result as traditional braces. Should I let him get Invisalign or stick with the metal?

– Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent,

Of course you have questions about letting your son wear Invisalign instead of traditional metal braces. Traditional braces have been around for a long time, and that’s the first image in your head when you find out that your child needs to have braces. You want to make the best choice for your son so that he will get the best results possible from his orthodontic experience.

Both traditional braces and the Invisalign aligner system were designed to straighten teeth and improve overall dental health. There are pros and cons to both systems, and it’s important to understand them all before making your decision.

Both types of braces will give your son a straight smile but how they each achieve it is very different. Traditional braces are bonded to your son’s teeth using an adhesive so that they cannot be removed. This means that your son will wear them continuously until his treatment is completed, usually for approximately 1-2 years. He will have to modify his diet to avoid foods that could damage his braces, such as gum, popcorn, hard candy, and other sticky or crunchy foods. He will have to be very vigilant with his brushing and flossing routine to avoid gum disease, as braces can trap food particles between the brackets and cause cavities that can’t be seen by the eye. However, because he can’t remove traditional braces, he can’t lose them. Traditional braces are proven to work to align teeth, fix bite issues, and give consistent results to patients.

Invisalign can be removed so that the patient can eat and drink freely. There are no restrictions for diet changes. The clear aligners don’t have wires or brackets to cause sores or pain to the gums and inner mouth skin so there is less overall discomfort, and the treatment time is similar to traditional braces, though occasionally it is shorter. It is an excellent choice for teens who play sports because they won’t need a specialty mouth guard to fit over braces; your son will simply put a normal mouth guard over the top of his clear aligners. However, even though the aligners can be removed to eat, they must be worn at least 22 hours a day to be effective. Also, they can be easily misplaced because they are removable. Invisalign isn’t recommended for every situation. Certain dental rotations and vertical corrections may be best handled with traditional braces.

Both traditional braces and Invisalign require a retention period after the orthodontic treatment is complete. Retainers must be worn to the direction of your orthodontist in order to maintain the results achieved by whichever braces system you choose.

Only you can make the decision about which treatment option would be best for your child. Be assured, your orthodontist has recommended Invisalign because he or she has already evaluated your son’s orthodontic needs and believes that Invisalign is an excellent option for your teen. If you believe your son can be trusted to wear his aligners correctly, store them appropriately, and take on the responsibility of caring for the Invisalign system, then it’s a great option for your son. Good luck on your Invisalign journey!

– Dr. Barakat


Dr. Rana Barakat, a board-certified specialist in Orthodontics, has been proudly serving Northern Virginia for more than 20-years! She has built her practice on a personal touch and excellent treatment.

As a parent, she understands wanting the best for your children in giving them beautiful, confident smiles. She makes it a priority to ensure optimal results, but also believes that each patient’s experience during treatment is just as important as the clinical result. As the 2015-16 President of the Virginia Association of Orthodontists, Dr. Barakat’s dedication and expertise reflect why her peers continue to nominate her as a Top Dentist.

Barakat Orthodontics is located at 45745 Nokes Blvd., Ste. 175, Sterling, VA 20166. Connect with them by clicking: online, Facebook, Twitter, and calling: (703) 433-9330.

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