three teen girls sitting together, smiling

Invisalign Teen vs Traditional Braces

Orthodontists considered traditional braces the treatment of choice for centuries.Today, there is a more aesthetic option called Invisalign. It is known as “the clear alternative to braces”. Invisalign is highly popular today and can treat most cases as well as braces if not better. Unless your orthodontist has a specific reason for you to use one or the other, you are free to make the decision. Here are some important considerations.

What Is Invisalign Teen?

Invisalign Teen is extremely similar to Invisalign for adults. Both systems use a series of clear plastic aligners to gently move your teeth into the desired position. In both cases, the aligners are removable, and you will change them at home according to your orthodontist’s instructions.

The key differences between Invisalign Teen and Invisalign are that Teen aligners have built-in indicators to check compliance and provides six free replacement aligners throughout the course of treatment. Invisalign Teen can also accommodate erupting dentition, so an orthodontist may start treatment when primary teeth are present if necessary. Depending on the current position of your teeth and your desired results, you might even qualify for fast-track treatment, changing aligners every week rather than every two weeks. Your orthodontist will let you know if this is right for you.

Visualizing Your Finished Smile

Traditional braces leave you guessing how your finished smile will look. Your orthodontist shows you the problem areas and talks about the expected results. You will not see the results until your braces are removed.

With Invisalign, there are two ways to see a 3-D digital model of your finished smile. If your orthodontist has a 3-D scanner, he or she can show you a simulation of your end result. If not, once your orthodontist finishes the necessary adjustments before fabricating the aligners, you can see the progression of your treatment virtually as you change your aligners. If you like to know what to expect, Invisalign is the better choice.

Lifestyle Considerations

Traditional braces stay on your teeth from the moment they are placed until the final reveal. Your orthodontist is responsible for all adjustments, which means lots of visits, and possibly even emergency visits if your wire shifts or one of your braces breaks. Invisalign requires fewer visits and on average, less chair time. Parents love Invisalign Teen, because they find that their children miss less school or after school activities for orthodontic appointments.

Invisalign is an amazing alternative to traditional braces. As braces present with their own sets of responsibilities, Invisalign does as well. Invisalign requires patient compliance as it is up to you to remember to replace the aligners after removing them for eating, drinking, brushing your teeth and changing to the next set according to your orthodontist’s instructions.

Since you won’t wear Invisalign when eating or drinking, you don’t have to stop eating your favorite foods. However, you must brush your teeth and replace the aligner right after eating, every time. For this reason, parents choose Invisalign Teen, because it allows their child to brush normally.


Many parents worry that Invisalign Teen will cost a lot more than braces. However, this is frequently no longer the case. The price of adjustments must be added to the quoted cost of braces, while Invisalign Teen is a full package including all office visits. You are far less likely to need emergency visits with Invisalign Teen, which can drive up the cost of braces.

Dental insurance is complicated, but more and more insurers are now covering Invisalign Teen. Your orthodontist’s office can help you find out the total out of pocket cost for both treatments.


Let’s be honest: most teens care very much about how they look. Some enjoy wearing braces in bold fashion colors, but many prefer not to show off braces whenever they eat, speak, or laugh. School photos, prom, and job interviews are just a few times when you may prefer to wear clear, almost-invisible aligners rather than traditional braces.


Although it is normal to feel some discomfort when the Invisalign Teen tooth colored attachments are first placed on your teeth, most people agree that Invisalign is far more comfortable than traditional braces. Sores are common with braces and wires, and monthly adjustments can be uncomfortable as well.

Both traditional braces and Invisalign are viable treatment options for orthodontic cases. Before you make your decision, consider the factors listed above.

Dr. Jennifer Stachel is a New York City dental specialist who has completed an advance post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, in the specialty of orthodontics. Dr. Stachel is currently a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, American Dental Association and the New York State Dental Association. If you are ready to get started with a compassionate, trustworthy orthodontist, call us today at 212-877-7177 to schedule your initial consultation.