Aligners vs braces: the differences and which is best for you

23 February · 5 minutes

There are a number of reasons people of varying ages may need orthodontic treatment, such as crowding, bite misalignment, and gaps. Thankfully there are many orthodontic treatments made to correct and align smiles. Let’s jump into the differences between braces and aligners so you can learn which option is more suitable for your smile case.

Braces vs clear aligners

First, let's define what braces and clear aligners are before we get into the differences between them.

Braces. These are small metal pieces (also known as brackets) that are attached to the surface of a tooth and are joined together by a metal arch. This arch works by connecting and applying continuous pressure on the brackets to progressively move teeth into their desired positions. There are several different types of braces: metal, clear, lingual, and self-ligating. The common theme across all types of braces is that they are fixed in place.

Clear aligners. Clear or invisible aligners are removable, 3D printed splints that are placed on top of the teeth and perform the same function as braces: correcting misalignments by applying continuous pressure.

When it comes to dental aligners vs braces effectiveness, aligners are just as capable of correcting orthodontic issues as braces. It is actually more imperative to consider the method each uses to achieve the desired smile goals. Below we will dive into the differences between clear aligners vs metal braces.

Patient smiling with braces on


When considering removable invisible aligners or braces many take into account their level of discreteness.


In general, braces are far less discreet than clear aligners since they can be visible from the outside when a person smiles or opens their mouth. This is because the brackets are placed on the front of the tooth, so whether they are metal or clear, they will always be less discreet than clear aligners.

The only exception to braces being visible are lingual braces. This type of orthodontic treatment is placed on the inside of the teeth (facing the mouth), and are not visible from the outside when a person smiles or talks.

Clear aligners

Unlike traditional braces, aligners are more discreet. They are lightweight and are nearly invisible when worn. Additionally, they are 3D cut to precisely fit your teeth and do not cover your gums, making them more invisible to the eye and comfortable to wear. This type of cut also helps with avoiding any chance of gum recession or inflammation.

When considering teeth aligners vs braces, discreteness is usually on the top of peoples list.



Because braces are a fixed orthodontic appliance, patients are unable to stop wearing them until their treatment is completed. Their inability to be removed really breaks down to an inconvenience a patient must take into consideration. They cannot be removed when playing sports (when impact is a risk), nor can they be removed for dental hygiene or the consumption of certain types of foods. Removability is a big consideration when comparing braces vs teeth clear aligners.

Clear aligners

Clear aligners are fully removable. The ability to take them on and off allows for better hygiene practices, protection playing sports, and for normal eating habits. However, in order to complete treatment on time, our doctors recommend wearing aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day. When it comes to comparing the two in terms of removability, clear aligners are better than braces.



Comfort is a huge consideration to think about when comparing clear aligners vs metal braces. Traditional braces usually cause some level of discomfort since there can be chafing on the soft tissues inside of the cheek. Even deeper wounds can occur if a patient with braces experiences any impact or trauma to the mouth. Luckily, there are special waxes that can provide comfort when wearing braces to avoid poking and discomfort.

Every time there are adjustments done to braces, you can expect to notice some pressure on the teeth. This is another difference between aligners and braces. Due to the movements with braces being more abrupt than those made by clear aligners, there can be more discomfort in the dental arches.

Clear aligners

Clear aligners are made with a tough polymer backbone that has a reputation for being crack resistant. Although they are strong, aligners are not bulky and their surfaces are smooth, which works well with the mouth’s soft tissue. Thus there is a high probability that chafing and sores will happen with invisible aligners vs with braces.

When it comes to pressure on the teeth, it is possible to notice some slight changes when moving from one aligner to the next. However, because aligners change so frequently, this sensation is hardly noticeable and is very light.

Patient using an interdental brush on their braces



Maintaining good oral hygiene practices is another concern when considering invisible aligners vs braces. Traditional braces make daily oral hygiene practices a bit more difficult. Because the brackets of the braces are attached to the surface of the teeth, brushing and flossing requires more attention to detail. The brackets and metal wire block both the surface of the teeth and the spaces between them.

Clear aligners

Still wondering if clear aligners are better than braces? With clear aligners, there is nothing getting in the way when it comes to good oral hygiene practices. Brushing and flossing is done seamlessly just by removing the aligners, allowing for full accessibility.

Eating habits


Unfortunately with braces, you have to be especially careful with certain types of food‚ÄĒlike breads, candies, and apples. Braces brackets are glued to the surface of the tooth with a special adhesive. When too much force is applied to the brackets they can pop off. If this does happen during your braces treatment, you must go into your clinic to have them replaced. Additionally, the consumption of sticky foods like candy and sweets can cause issues with cleaning your braces. The need to avoid certain types of foods and beverages is just another reason people consider choosing clear aligners when contemplating teeth aligners vs braces.

Clear aligners

Being able to enjoy any type of food with no problems is another difference between braces and aligners. When you eat during your clear aligner treatment, you only have to take the aligners out and store them in your box. After eating, you brush your teeth and put your aligners back on.

The only time a patient must be a little extra cautious with clear aligner treatment is when they have attachments placed on their teeth. Attachments can come off when chewing very hard food. However, orthodontic treatment can continue without a problem for a few days if an attachment has become dislodged or has fallen off.

What type of orthodontic treatment is best for me when it comes to clear aligners vs metal braces?

Comparing the advantages of clear aligners vs braces

We recommend before deciding between invisible aligners vs braces to consult with an orthodontic specialist to see which type of treatment will best fit your needs.

Braces are a traditional, well-known orthodontic option. So it is not surprising that many opt in for braces vs clear aligners when they don’t know there are alternatives. Thanks to advancements in technology, there are other options on the market. As previously mentioned, the effectiveness of clear aligners vs braces ends up being quite similar, but aligners have many advantages over braces.

Impress: the experts in clear aligner treatments

If you are interested in beginning your smile journey, Impress is a great place to start. Orthodontic treatment at Impress is also catered to fit into your lifestyle‚ÄĒour mobile app allows you to check-in remotely with our Care Team. Throughout the course of your orthodontic treatment at Impress you will only have 3-4 in-person visits instead of the traditional monthly visits.

At Impress, our treatments have no hidden fees. All of our prices are fixed. To make treatment even more affordable, we offer monthly payment plans, take FSA/HSA, and reimburse up to $2,500 through insurance.

At your free consultation, our expert doctors examine your teeth from the roots up using both a CBCT X-ray and 3D intraoral scan before you start treatment. Our state-of-the-art Impress Lab technology allows us to see your teeth from the roots up, so treatment is precisely designed to rotate each tooth into its desired location. Our doctors are constantly evolving our technology practices to have cutting-edge capabilities for moving teeth.

Interested in seeing if clear aligners are better than braces for you?

Visit us for your free consultation with an expert doctor today! You can schedule via email,, by calling us at, 888.490.1421, or by booking online. Discover what Impress can do for you at your nearest clinic.

We look forward to meeting you!

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