Invisalign® Aligners vs Braces

This post about Invisalign® aligners vs braces is sponsored by the Invisalign brand and all opinions are my own.

Zoë smiling wearing Invisalign aligners while snowboarding down the mountain

Since Zoë got Invisalign, we’ve had a lot of questions from other parents about the benefits of getting Invisalign vs braces. There are so many kids in her age group that are ready for orthodontic treatment, and many people are curious about her experience with Invisalign clear aligners.

The big question we get is: “My children play sports… should I get them Invisalign or braces?”

There’s a lot to unpack in that question. Everything from “what is most cost-efficient” to “what’s the total length of time of the treatment” to “are Invisalign or traditional braces better” to “which is safer” and so much more.

We had the exact same questions as you… and I’m going to try to answer all of them so you can make an informed decision whether you should go with traditional metal braces for your child or Invisalign. 

We have student-athletes in our home.

If you’re like us, you have at least one student-athlete in your home and the thought of putting metal brackets in our kids’ mouths is a scary thought.

We are a snowboarding family. Both Zoë and Kaylee have been riding since they were 3-years old. Their dad is both a certified snowboard instructor and a certified snowboard coach, and he coaches kids on the local freestyle snowboard team. They all spend a lot of time on the snow every season.

For those who don’t know… even though it’s not a contact sport, snowboarding can have serious detrimental effects on a person’s teeth due to impacts from jumping and crashing.

Our kids already have orthodontic issues.

A little background. Zoë has an overbite and a slight crossbite and some offset. Although Kaylee isn’t ready to have Invisalign yet (she has to have all of her permanent teeth come in first), she does have a few offset teeth that will need to be straightened.

So, like you… they’re at the age where they need orthodontics and we’re having that discussion as a family. We had all heard about Invisalign, but we didn’t know much about them. And we were torn on getting them new technology like Invisalign or traditional braces like I had… then out of the blue, Invisalign contacted us.

You can read about how we got involved with Invisalign and our first appointment in our first post in this series.

The biggest reason we chose Invisalign.

Zoë’s confidence has soared!!! 

I can give you tons of reasons why Invisalign is awesome… from how kids have better oral hygiene because it’s easier to brush & floss to how it’s easier to chew food. And the most important reason, which we didn’t realize until after Zoë had Invisalign for a while, her confidence has gone through the roof.

I’ll let Zoë share her Invisalign treatment review with you as a snowboarder in this video! Then I’ll share the answers to some of the top questions about Invisalign that we’ve heard.

Isn’t Zoë’s smile beautiful?! Everyone who sees her for the first time since she started Invisalign comments on her smile.

Of course, the compliments always spark a discussion about our experience with Invisalign treatment. If you’re considering plastic aligners for your active kid, here are some of the questions we’ve been getting from other sports parents.

“How much does Invisalign cost?”

That’s the second most asked question we get. Everything comes down to cost, right? 

The answer is… it depends on the complexity of the case and your location. One would expect to pay more if they lived in Beverly Hills, CA as opposed to living in a small town in rural Missouri.

Most often, the cost of Invisalign is very comparable to that of braces. You can expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 – $8,000 for Invisalign, give or take, which is very comparable to braces.

You can pay out of pocket, but you may also be wondering does insurance covers Invisalign treatment? You’ll need to check with your provider, but many dental insurance companies do cover Invisalign aligners and often times they will cover up to $3,500 (or roughly 50%) of the cost, so it’s worth checking into.

How Long Does Invisalign Treatment Take?

Before and after Invisalign treatment

It really varies based on your child’s individual orthodontic needs.

Since Zoë had an overbite and crossbite that needed to be corrected, her treatment will be a bit on the longer side. She started treatment in June 2019, we’re now in December 2019 and she should be finishing up by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

How Does Invisalign Work for Overbites?

If you’re wondering if Invisalign aligners can fix an overbite, the answer is yes. This point was really important to us since Zoë had such a severe overbite that her bottom teeth would dig into the roof of her mouth.

We’ve also been asked how Invisalign aligners work to correct overbites since they’re “just plastic trays.” Invisalign aligners use little tooth-colored buttons called SmartForce® attachments on the teeth to grip onto and move teeth into position. And she is able to wear rubber bands, which help to move everything into place.

Her treatment isn’t even over yet, but her teeth no longer dig into the roof of her mouth! She is on weekly aligner changes, so her treatment has been moving along quickly.

That’s because her Invisalign aligners are made with SmartTrack® material, which is designed to fit better, be more comfortable and provide more predictable tooth movement (compared to aligners made from off-the-shelf, single layer .030in material).

Does Invisalign Hurt?

This question is one we hear often, especially since braces are known to be uncomfortable. I can personally vouch for braces being painful!

According to Zoë, her aligners hurt for a little bit each week when she changes them out. Her teeth shift quickly and the pain subsides equally as fast. They’re not pain-free by any means, but it doesn’t seem like she’s in nearly as much pain as I was as a teen with braces.

She talked a little bit about pain levels during the first couple of weeks in our post, What to Expect When Getting Your First Set of Invisalign Aligners.

What’s the Best Invisalign Treatment Alternative?

I’ve been really surprised by how many times we’ve heard this question! I’m going to come right out and say that we wouldn’t consider using an alternative to Invisalign clear aligners. There are plenty of home treatment aligner brands on the market now, but I personally wouldn’t use any of them without an orthodontist’s guidance.

Here’s why… Our next-door neighbor was a few months into her Invisalign treatment when she realized her bite was out of alignment. Her orthodontist caught it early, re-scanned her and corrected her treatment plan. Now she’s back on track.

If you’re using an at-home aligner brand, you won’t have an orthodontist watching for these types of changes. And when you’re busy with sports like we are, it’s important to have someone looking out for things you may not even know you need to be looking out for!

When it’s time for Kaylee to get orthodontic treatment, we’ll be looking at Invisalign for her too.

Is Invisalign Worth it?

When I was a teen, I had braces and I played softball. I was always terrified of being hit in the face with a ball, and it made me more skittish on the field during that time than I should have been.

There was no question that Zoë needed orthodontic treatment. It was really important to us to choose what we felt was the safest orthodontic treatment for sports for her, especially since she spends 100+ days on the snow each year.

Fortunately, Zoë doesn’t have to worry about the same things I did with her Invisalign aligners. There is no metal like with braces, so there’s no risk of tearing a lip on a bracket or popping a wire.

I believe choosing Invisalign treatment vs. braces has helped Zoë have more confidence in her active lifestyle. She gets on her snowboard and rides without fear of what braces might do to her, and that’s pretty awesome.

So I’d say absolutely yes, Invisalign treatment has been completely worth it for Zoë! So much so that we’ll be looking at it for Kaylee soon.

Invisalign vs Braces for Sports

Going over a jump on a snowboard

Can you wear a mouthguard with Invisalign?

Orthodontic mouthguards are a must for kids who participate in high-impact sports like snowboarding or contact sports like basketball or even full-contact sports like football. 

In our experience with Invisalign and Zoë’s treatment time, she has to change her Invisalign trays once per week. 

That means her teeth are moving every week… in fact, they’re moving every day.

That means to fit her teeth’s daily movements, she basically needs a custom mouth guard each time before she goes and rides (as our girls ride for 3-6 hours at a time multiple days each week).

For us, boil & bite mouthguards are the way to go.

In less than 10 minutes we can get her mouthguard remolded so they precisely fit her teeth for that day. 

By all means, schedule a consultation with your orthodontist or dentist and ask them their opinion about your child before you make a decision.

Can you wear a mouthguard with braces?

Yes, you can and should… and unlike Invisalign, you probably don’t need to remold the boil & bite each day. More than likely you’ll only need to remold it each time after the braces are tightened. 

So with braces, there’s definitely a little less mouthguard maintenance than there is with Invisalign… in our situation.

Again, consult with your orthodontist or dentist and ask their opinion about what needs to be done for your child.

Is the Invisalign Treatment Right for Your Child?

We love the flexibility of Invisalign with Zoë being able to eat whatever she wants, the ease of her being able to clean her teeth (not having to worry as much about cavities). We also love the confidence she has with her smile. 

At the end of the day, I feel it’s totally a personal choice. Regardless if your child gets braces or Invisalign, the main goal is for you to make sure your child receives orthodontic care.

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