Is Invisalign Cheaper Than Braces?

Is Invisalign cheaper than braces – or is it the other way around? This article is going to provide you with the answers you need.

So you have made the decision to get that beautiful smile you deserve by getting an orthodontic treatment that will fit your bite and straighten your teeth. Now the only question left to answer is, which treatment should you choose?

With so many options out there, it can be really confusing which treatment to choose. While all choices are effective treatments for various types of orthodontic issues, given that they are administered by a qualified orthodontist, perhaps the deciding factor for you is the cost. Two of the most common options out there are the traditional metal braces and the Invisalign treatment. The latter surged in popularity over the last decade for its many advantages. But is Invisalign cheaper than braces? Perhaps this entry can help you narrow down your choices.

Braces and Invisalign: A quick look

Braces are a time-tested orthodontic treatment for a wide range of bite and malocclusion problems, from misaligned teeth, crooked teeth, gapped teeth, overjet, overbite, underbite, etc. Traditionally made with metal brackets, wires, and elastics, braces apply pressure on teeth to gradually force tooth movement and push each tooth to its correct position.

Traditional braces, however, come with a lot of downsides; they are uncomfortable and even painful, they require a tedious amount of cleaning, can easily scratch or rub against the soft tissue in the mouth and cause irritation, has tons of restrictions, can break easily which needs an emergency trip to the dentist. Not to mention wearing metal braces can cause a lisp, which can make anyone extra conscious.

Over the years, orthodontic advancements led to the development of variations of braces, such as ceramic braces, self-ligating braces, lingual braces, etc. These types try to address the shortcomings and downsides of wearing braces.

Then came the Invisalign in the early 2000s which took the world of orthodontics by storm.

Invisalign clear aligners introduced a whole new kind of treatment plan – wearing of removable braces (that look like a mouthguard) to gradually correct malocclusions all without the downsides that come with traditional braces. The clear aligners claim to align teeth while looking virtually invisible (hence the word Invisalign, a play on “invisible aligners”) and removable which means easy to clean and no food restrictions.

Understanding traditional braces

Traditional braces are made with small metal brackets fixed on the front side of the teeth and linked with each other through wires and held to each bracket by rubber bands. By manipulating pressure, dentists and orthodontists can correct malocclusions by moving each tooth in the right direction and position.

To consistently apply pressure on the teeth, each wire is tightened every four to six weeks. This means regular visits to the clinic every few weeks. On average, braces treatment time takes around 24 months to complete, which is a concern for most people, especially adults. While some cases may require 12 months to correct, some may need more than 36 months, depending on the complexity and severity of the malocclusion.

Pros and cons of traditional braces


  • Extremely versatile – Brace can treat wide range of malocclusions, even severe dental and facial problems.
  • Unquestionable results – Braces are time-tested treatment, you can expect perfect results by the end of the treatment
  • Different options – There are different types of braces to suit your needs, preferences, and budget
  • Treatment time –When closing gaps or fixing complex malocclusions, traditional braces can provide faster results


  • Unappealing aesthetics – Wearing metal brackets over teeth doesn’t sound too exciting for most people, especially adults. They can easily make people feel conscious about their appearance, especially in social settings
  • Maintaining oral health – Wearing braces over your teeth means taking extra care of your oral health. The braces are fragile, which means it requires a specific type of brushing and flossing so as not to damage or break them. Moreover, it requires a thorough cleaning, failing to take extra care of braces increases your risk of plaque buildup, which can result in irreversible damage to the teeth (tooth decay).
  • Food restrictions – You also need to be mindful of the food you eat and beverages you drink when you have braces. For one, food can get trapped between the wires or in the tight pocket spaces of the brackets. Hard and chewy food can break the wires or snap the elastics. Emergency visits to the dentist’s clinic to fix the problem can add up to the overall cost of the teeth straightening treatment.
  • Regular checkups – To ensure the braces are in working and in good shape, and to keep your oral health on point throughout the treatment, you need to see your dental health provider consistently for checkups and re-adjustments.

Understanding Invisalign

Clear braces have become an increasingly popular teeth straightening treatment in the last few years, but it is actually the brand Invisalign that pioneered this kind of treatment in the market. The clear removable trays fix a wide range of mild to moderate or even sometimes complex malocclusions without the inconvenience of wearing traditional metal braces. Moreover, the brand Invisalign is the most trusted name in the market for its efficacy and cost.


  • Aesthetic appeal – This is by far the biggest advantage of clear aligners like Invisalign over traditional braces – they are discreet, almost invisible. This is why it is also a popular choice among teenagers and adults who are self-conscious about their smiles.
  • Removable – Though they must be worn for at least 22 hours every day throughout the whole treatment, the removability of the aligners makes eating, drinking, and cleaning both teeth and the aligners easy. There are no food and beverage restrictions with clear aligners, unlike in braces.
  • Easy oral health practice – Since the aligners are removable, taking care of your teeth with a thorough brush and flossing is a lot easier with clear aligners. Similar to what you normally do before the treatment.
  • Fewer visits to the dentists – The treatment plan package includes everything you need throughout the treatment. You have to wear each tray for about 6 weeks before moving to the next tray. This means you can complete the treatment without visiting your dentist for readjustment every 6 weeks, unlike in conventional braces. Of course, you still have to see your dentist every couple of months for monitoring; to make sure the treatment is going according to the treatment plan, and for general oral health.
  • More comfortable, less discomfort – Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign aligners don’t hurt a lot and cause irritation to the inner tissues of your mouth. There will be some discomfort since the trays are trying to force the teeth to move, but they are a lot more tolerable than in traditional braces. Moreover, each tray is custom-fit to perfectly snap in and fit snugly on your teeth.
  • Faster treatment time – As said earlier, treatment time for Invisalign tends to be a lot faster compared to braces. This is because unlike in braces, the trays can move multiple teeth or even the whole upper and lower set of teeth all at once.
  • With teeth whitening – What is great about Invisalign is that they included professional-grade teeth whitening in their treatment. That means you can get your teeth whiter or keep them white while getting them straight. Their product is specially designed to use with both their clear aligners and retainers.Cons
  • Requires maximum compliance – For best results, Invisalign patients must stay disciplined and compliant with the whole treatment plan. The trays must be worn at least 22 hours a day, even when sleeping, and must only be removed when eating and brushing.
  • Can be inconvenient for some occasions – Removing and placing your aligners back into your mouth before and after eating and drinking can be quite inconvenient, especially when you are outside of your house. Drinking anything except water when wearing the trays can be quite cumbersome.
  • Treatment is limited for mild to moderate malocclusions – Not everyone can be a good candidate for Invisalign treatment. This is why a consultation with the orthodontist is important. The orthodontist will make impressions with your mouth and teeth before sending them to Invisalign for assessment. Invisalign will then determine whether you can have the treatment or not. Invisalign can fix overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite, overcrowding, gap teeth, etc. However, severe cases may require additional procedure, such as tooth extraction before the Invisalign treatment. In cases where they determine you aren’t a candidate for their treatment, they will give you your money back.
  • Cost – Depending on the complexity and severity of the malocclusion, Invisalign tends to cost more than traditional braces. In most cases, however, especially for mild to moderate cases, the cost of braces and Invisalign are relative close, if not similar.

So is Invisalign cheaper than braces?

Braces cost

Orthodontic treatments like traditional braces are expensive for a lot of reasons. It’s a complex treatment that requires special knowledge and skills in orthodontics, and tools to be done safely and effectively. However, compared to Invisalign, braces’ initial cost tends to be cheaper.

But before concluding which one is cheaper, it is a good idea to consider all the factors involved in both treatments. For example, it can be impossible to conclude the actual braces cost without accounting for the cost of initial consultation, succeeding visits for readjustments, and even emergency repairs should the braces get broken. Moreover, braces cost differs from one case to another, depending on the complexity and severity of the dental problem, and the duration it takes for the whole treatment.

With adult braces, you can expect to pay at least $3,000. However, your location, orthodontist’s rate, and type of braces can also affect the price. Sometimes, the cost could balloon up to $10,000, depending on the specifics of the treatment.

Here is a quick list of the price range for different types of braces:

• Traditional metal braces – $3,000 – $7,000

• Ceramic braces – $4,000 – 8,000

• Lingual braces – $8,000 – 12,000

• Self-ligating braces – around $5,500

Obviously, the more complex the type of braces, the more expensive they can be. Take for example lingual braces, they are more discreet than traditional braces, but they require a lot of work and different materials and tools. Lingual braces are attached behind the tooth, rather than in front of the tooth, which means it requires a different set of orthodontic skills as well, which takes time to hone.

Invisalign cost

Like most orthodontic treatments, Invisalign comes with a hefty price tag. Again, the cost can differ from one case to another, depending on the complexity and severity of the malocclusion, length of treatment, your orthodontist’s rate, location, etc. Also, Invisalign is the most expensive clear aligner brand in the market today. This is because their treatment requires in-person consultation and monitoring with their partner orthodontist, which definitely adds up to the cost of the whole treatment. At-home aligners do away with this aspect, which is why they are able to slash huge chunks from their price tag.

The average cost of Invisalign is around $5,000. Some can have $3,000, while others may reach up to $8,000. Again, this depends on the different factors listed above.

Also, it is worth noting that while more and more insurance companies include Invisalign in their coverage, you will still be more likely to have more coverage when you opt for metal braces. If your dental insurance doesn’t cover Invisalign, you can use your FSA or HAS accounts to cover it.

However, if your insurance plan includes orthodontic treatment benefits, there is a good chance you can get covered with your Invisalign treatment, which can make the price really accessible for you. However, this still depends on your specific case (and your orthodontist). If the teeth alignment procedure is purely for cosmetic reasons, then you might get denied. However, if the procedure is necessary for overall oral health, then your insurance may help you out. Obviously, this will depend on the specific plan you have. The only way to know this is to check with your insurance provider. Contact your insurance provider to make sure whether you are covered for the Invisalign treatment or not. You can also ask your orthodontist which insurance plans he/she accepts. They can also call your insurance provider to check your insurance coverage.

Also, most dentists and orthodontic clinics offer payment or financial plans for Invisalign treatment. They can arrange monthly payments to make it accessible. Some don’t even have down payments. However, this usually requires a credit check.

Braces or Invisalign: which one should you choose?

The only person who can answer this question is you. It all boils down to your preferences, your goals, and of course, your financial situation. At the end of the day, you can get fantastic results with both procedures.

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