Accepting New Patients! Text or call: 415-874-1677

Clear Braces Vs Invisalign: Pros and Cons

November 24th, 2021


The blog post “Clear Braces Vs Invisalign: Pros and Cons” offers a detailed comparison between clear braces and Invisalign, two popular orthodontic treatment options. It presents how both treatments work, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as factors that influence the cost of each treatment. The article acts as a comprehensive guide for those considering these two options to achieve a straighter and healthier smile.

Both Invisalign and Clear Braces are less noticeable than traditional braces. They offer an aesthetic alternative for patients that seek less visible options. 

Our San Francisco orthodontic office is proud to offer both of these options. Learn more about each of these methods and their pros and cons down below. 

What is Invisalign? How does it work?

Invisalign is a type of removable clear aligner. It uses plastic trays that gradually move your teeth to straighten them over time. They are low profile and fit perfectly over your teeth, making them practically invisible. These trays are changed out every few weeks. Each new aligner is designed to move your teeth towards the correct position.

The way it works is that your orthodontist creates a unique and digital treatment plan that maps out the exact movements of your teeth. From here, your custom made clear aligners are designed. They are made to apply the right amount of force to the right place.

Once the digital treatment plan is complete, it is transferred directly to Invisalign. Once manufactured, they are sent to your orthodontist’s office ready for use. 

Before the Invisalign is worn, a series of attachments or “bumps” are sometimes bonded onto some of your teeth so that the aligners have something to grip onto. These bumps will match your teeth color. Your aligners will need to be worn for 20-22 hours a day in order for the treatment to work. You may take them off for eating, brushing your teeth and flossing. 

Pros and Cons of Invisalign


  • Since your trays are removable, you have the luxury to eat as you please with no food restrictions. No worrying about getting food stuck in your braces! 
  • Because these aligners are custom fit for your mouth and are clear, they won’t typically affect your appearance at all. It’ll look like you’re wearing nothing at all! 
  • Generally, Invisalign is more comfortable than braces. Invisalign doesn’t come with any scratching of the mouth or won’t have issues with food being stuck in random places. 
  • For professional working adults, Invisalign is a perfect option to maintain a clean smile.
  • Due to the aligners helping to keep whitening agents in close proximity to the teeth, this whitens teeth throughout the treatment. Such whitening agents can break down surface stains. While this happens, tiny abrasive particles scrub and polish the teeth. 
  • Dental hygiene is easier with Invisalign since they are removable. 


  • Cost can sometimes be more than other types of clear aligners and braces. 
  • Depending on the progress and results, fees and treatment time may fluctuate.
  • Retainers and aftercare costs are not included in the initial treatment. This may up the cost of overall treatment.
  • Must remember to wear aligners for 20-22 hours a day. 
  • Can stain or discolor. This may require you to get a new set of trays depending on how well you can take care of your aligners.
  • Invisalign aligners are easier to break or lose. This is mainly due to them being removable. Being careful with your Invisalign is crucial to avoid needing new ones. 
  • Must not drink anything but water while aligners are in. Otherwise, sugary drinks can seep under your aligners and allow for bacteria to grow. 

What are Clear Braces? How do they work?

The process for Clear Braces is the same as metal braces except the materials used are clear. With metal braces, a bracket is applied to each tooth. A small rubber band is placed around each bracket then a metal wire connects all these brackets together.

Instead of metal, Clear Braces use porcelain brackets that are tinted to match your tooth color. The elastics used are also clear so that they are hardly noticeable. The elastics can yellow over time but are switched out at every orthodontic visit. 

Pros and Cons of Clear Braces


  • Clear Braces are attached to your teeth permanently until the end of your treatment plan. This means that you do not need to worry about keeping track of the “20-22 hours a day” regimen with Invisalign. Many teens do better with Clear Braces as they do not need to remember to put them back in their mouth. 


  • Food restrictions are present with Clear Braces. You will need to shy away from biting directly into hard and sticky foods such as popcorn and candy. 
  • Clear Braces require more visits to the orthodontist than Invisalign. Your orthodontist will need to have regular visits with you for adjustments. With Invisalign, all the trays are given to you at the beginning of your treatment meaning you will not have to visit the office as often. 
  • Must be diligent about brushing your braces and teeth to avoid plaque buildup and decay from occurring in small and hidden places. 

Invisalign Cost in San Francisco

Invisalign and braces are typically comparable in cost. Both can sometimes be covered with dental insurance. To be sure if you’re cost can be covered, make sure to speak with your specific insurance provider. 

The price will vary depending many factors, such as:

  • The office you go to for treatment
  • The severity of your case
  • The experience of your orthodontist
  • Insurance coverage
  • Monthly payment plans
  • Promotional savings

Dental insurance plans often cover at least a portion of the cost of Invisalign and braces in the same way. Your insurance may pay for a certain percentage or a certain dollar amount. There is usually a lifetime cap on the amount. Always speak with your provider to get exact numbers.

However, monthly payment plans are sometimes an option as well. Some offices even offer things like seasonal promotions and family-pack discounts. These can all lower the cost of both Invisalign and braces. Check with your orthodontic team to see what options are available to you.


In updating this content, it’s important to note that both clear braces and Invisalign have seen advancements in technology. Clear braces can now utilize heat-activated archwires that leverage body heat to move teeth more quickly and with less discomfort. On the other hand, Invisalign has unveiled SmartTrack material, enhancing the fit and comfort of their aligners. Also, a recent study in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics indicated that digital impressions used for Invisalign could deliver better patient experience compared to traditional impressions. It’s also worth noting that many orthodontists offer virtual consultations and remote monitoring technology today, which can reduce the number of office visits required, no matter which treatment option you choose.


There are various pros and cons between Invisalign aligners and Clear Braces. They provide the same aesthetic outcome of a beautiful and confident smile. But they both work differently. Invisalign is a removable tray that is custom-fit to your mouth and Clear Braces are a more permanent solution that require more orthodontic visits. 

Call our San Francisco office today at (415) 874-1677 to discuss any of these orthodontic alternatives in further detail. We are always happy to help you with your inquiries and needs and to determine which is a better fit for you.

Contact Camilo Riaño: Your San Francisco Orthodontist

77 Van Ness Ave #303
San Francisco, CA 94102

Office Hours

Mon: 8:15 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:15 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 9:15 AM - 6:00 PM
Thur: 8:15 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 7:45 AM - 3:30 PM
Sat: By Appointment Only
Sun: Closed

© 2024 Camilo Riaño Orthodontics

Built with Connect the Doc