How Do Oral Hygiene Practices Differ for Braces and Invisalign Users?

At a time not all that long ago, there were limited options for orthodontic treatment. Today, there are several routes to select from, and Texas Family Orthodontics is here to help you answer this question: How do oral hygiene practices differ for braces versus Invisalign?

Which is Which?

  • Traditional braces consist of several components – brackets and wires – that work in unison to gradually straighten teeth through periodic adjustments. The brackets used can be made of either metal or ceramic.
  • Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are worn as trays that progressively shift teeth. Each set of aligners is slightly different to facilitate this movement.

Alike and Different

Before looking at maintenance, let’s break down more information about these two options. Choosing braces or aligners will come down to you as you work with Dr. Vo and our team. Here are some of the basic qualities of each method:

  • Comfort:
    • Invisalign: These custom-made plastic trays fit snugly over teeth and have smooth edges, reducing the likelihood of irritation to the gums and cheeks. They are generally more comfortable than traditional braces.
    • Braces: Traditional braces can initially cause discomfort and irritate the soft tissues of the mouth. Patients may experience soreness after adjustments or when wires or brackets rub against the cheeks or lips.
  • Treatment Duration:
    • Invisalign: Treatment duration depends on the case’s complexity and the patient’s compliance with wearing the aligners as instructed. On average, treatment may take 12 to 18 months.
    • Braces: The duration also varies significantly with braces. More severe orthodontic issues require more time, ranging from 12 months to 3 years.
  • Effectiveness:
    • Invisalign: Clear aligners are effective for treating mild to moderate orthodontic issues, such as crooked teeth, gaps, and minor bite problems. They may not be suitable for complex cases or severe malocclusions.
    • Braces: Braces can address a broader range of orthodontic problems, including severe misalignment, overcrowding, overbites, crossbites, and underbites. They provide precise control over tooth movement and are often recommended for complex cases.
  • Adjustments:
    • Invisalign: Treatment involves changing to a new set of aligners every one to two weeks, with each new set working to shift your teeth. These adjustments are made at home, though you’ll likely visit our office for progress checks.
    • Braces: Adjustments are made in-office by our Texas Family Orthodontics team, on average every six weeks. During these appointments, the wires may be tightened or changed, and adjustments may be made to the brackets.
  • Dietary Restrictions:
    • Invisalign: There are no dietary restrictions with clear aligners since they are removable. While it’s advisable to avoid excess sugar for general oral health, you can eat your favorite foods without worrying about damaging the aligners.
    • Braces: Patients with braces should avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods, as they can damage wires and brackets. Foods like nuts, popcorn, and hard candies should be excluded or eaten with extreme caution.

How Do Oral Hygiene Practices Differ for Braces and Invisalign Users?

Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

So, what are some of the differences between maintaining these appliances? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Braces
    • Brushing: We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. It’s important to brush in the morning and before bedtime. You must pay extra attention to the areas around the wires and the brackets, as a lot of debris can become trapped.
    • Flossing: If using traditional floss is too difficult, a water flosser might be a good investment.
    • Interdental Brushes: This is a smaller additional tool that can help with small spaces.
    • Mouthwash: Antibacterial/fluoride mouthwash is best used to reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Invisalign
    • Brushing: You may be able to clean a bit more thoroughly with clear aligners simply because you have the option to remove them after meals. However, they should always be cleaned after eating to prevent food particles from being caught against your teeth.
    • Flossing: Flossing after meals is also a smart practice. You should floss regularly every single day.
    • Cleaning Aligners: When you remove your aligners, rinse them off with water. You can clean them further with a soft toothbrush and unscented soap or try using specialized aligner cleaning crystals.
    • Mouthwash: Just like with traditional braces, antibacterial mouthwash is a great tool.

The last key to both of these treatments is to make sure you attend your regular check-ups with Dr. Vo at Texas Family Orthodontics. This is a critical part of your process, so don’t miss them! 


How Do Oral Hygiene Practices Differ for Braces and Invisalign Users?

Choosing Your Path

Braces and clear aligners both have amazing advantages for our patients! We cannot wait to talk with you more about your orthodontic journey. Please reach out to our San Antonio or Windcrest offices to schedule a free consultation.