Are you trying to decide which orthodontic treatment is best for you or your children?  Both Invisalign and traditional braces offer benefits to the patient and we’ll explore the pros and cons of each treatment to help you better understand your options for orthodontic treatment.


Instead of the brackets and wires used with traditional metal braces, Invisalign straightens teeth using a series of custom-made aligners.  

No need to avoid specific foods

The custom-made aligner trays consist of smooth, virtually invisible plastic that is worn over the teeth. Invisalign’s aligner trays are very comfortable to wear and can be removed to allow for consumption of foods that you would have to avoid with traditional metal braces. These foods include: nuts, pretzels, chips, popcorn, hard-crusted breads, corn on the cob, apples and carrots.

No wires to tighten or metal brackets

The aligners are designed to gently and gradually shift your teeth into the proper place and there aren’t any metal brackets to contend with or wires to tighten. Instead, you will receive a new set of aligners (about every two weeks) until your Invisalign treatment is complete.

Invisalign rarely interferes with daily life

Invisalign allows you to attain the great smile you have always wanted with very little interference in your life; furthermore, the majority of people will not even know you are wearing aligners.

Invisalign Treatment Specifics

  • Invisalign aligners remain in the mouth for 22-24 hours a day for a period of 6 to 18 months (the length of time depends on the needs of the patient).
  • Individuals who choose Invisalign visit their orthodontist every 4 to 6 weeks (aligners are changed every two weeks).
  • The average cost of Invisalign is $5,000.
  • Maintaining Invisalign aligners is simple: Trays are brushed and then rinsed in lukewarm water. Teeth are brushed and flossed as usual.
  • A retainer or positioner may be necessary.
  • May need to purchase an Invisalign Cleaning System.

Advantages to Invisalign

  • Aligners are removable.
  • No brackets or wires to cause discomfort.
  • Virtually invisible.
  • There are no food restrictions with Invisalign.
  • No concerns about food getting trapped in braces

Some Patients are not good candidates for Invisalign, these patients include those who have:

  • Issues related to biting with the back teeth
  • Premolars or canines that need to rotate
  • Bridgework
  • Lack of discipline (aligners must be kept in for at least 22 hours a day); and/or
  • Teeth that need to move vertically

Traditional Braces

When applying braces, metal brackets are glued to the teeth: These brackets are tied together via wires and small rubber bands. Today, braces can be more discreet because there are brackets available that closely match the various colors of enamel. Moreover, some people make a fashion statement by choosing a fun, unexpected bracket color.

Traditional braces can interfere with daily life and at times can cause discomfort and some pain.  Other concerns include:

  • Eating difficulties
  • Tooth decay due to the buildup of plaque (inadequate flossing and brushing)
  • Discoloration/Breakage of the teeth
  • The breakage of brackets

Traditional Braces Specifics

  • Braces remain in the mouth 24/7 for approximately two years
  • Individuals who have traditional metal braces typically visit their orthodontist monthly
  • The average cost of traditional braces ranges from $1,800 to $5,500 (for traditional silver-colored metal braces)
  • Maintaining traditional braces is more tedious in that the brackets and wires need to be brushed regularly, flossing is more difficult due to the numerous brackets; however, a water pick is usually helpful
  • A retainer or positioner may be necessary

Advantages to Braces

  • Less self-discipline is necessary since there is no temptation to avoid putting in the aligners 
  • Braces are extremely effective for complex dental issues
  • No additional cleaning steps required (trays to clean, etc.)

Camilo Riaño, D.D.S., is a certified orthodontist in San Francisco who specializes in Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, AcceleDent, and Incognito lingual braces. Dr. Camilo Riaño is also experienced in applying and maintaining traditional braces. He assists his patients in determining which treatment will best suit their needs.

If you reside in or near San Francisco, have misaligned teeth and you are interested in learning more about Invisalign and/or traditional braces, contact Dr. Camilo Riaño’s office today to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation. We look forward to making you smile!