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“The Ugly Betty Effect” and the Case for Invisalign

There's no shame in braces, but Invisalign can often be cheaper, take less time to straighten your teeth, and look a whole lot better. Here's an unbiased look at the pros and cons of Invisalign.

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The Ugly Betty effect and the case for Invisalign

The British Orthodontic Society claims it’s the “Ugly Betty Effect” that’s causing adults in the UK to opt for train-track braces despite the more discreet option of Invisalign to straighten teeth.

Hmm…I smell product placement.

The article gets the most important part right: Straightening your teeth is pivotal in preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and early tooth loss (that’s right, it’s not all about looks!) and there is no shame in being an adult with braces (I had ’em in my thirties).

It’s also cosmetic: since teeth shift over time, straightening them can take 10 to 15 years off your appearance.

But what the article forgets to mention is that Invisalign can often be cheaper, take less time to straighten your teeth, and look a whole lot better.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign treatment straightens teeth just as braces do by using sets of aligners that look like clear retainers.

You get new aligners (one for the top set of teeth and one for the bottom) roughly every two weeks and these aligners are custom-made to gradually shift your teeth into proper alignment.

I charge my patients less for Invisalign since my costs are less. However, some dentists charge more for Invisalign because of the convenience factor – people are very willing to pay more for Invisalign because of the aesthetics.

The Pros:

  • Unlike regular braces, Invisalign aligners are removable, so you can take them on and off.
  • You can eat what you want and not worry about food getting stuck in your braces.
  • You can take off your aligners to brush and floss normally.
  • A lot of people like that their snacking decreases substantially since it’s just not worth taking the aligners out and brushing to put them back in.

The Cons:

  • You can easily lose them. A common mistake is taking out your aligners when out to eat, wrapping them in a napkin, and forgetting them at the restaurant.
  • Even though you can take them out, they won’t work unless they’re in your mouth 20 hours per day.
  • Invisalign can’t always be the method of choice for certain patients. The fall back is, of course, conventional braces.
  • You might talk a little funny. Some patients complain for the first few weeks that they speak with a lisp. It takes a little getting used to.

Personally, I’ve had both braces and Invisalign as an adult since I didn’t have the privilege of braces as a kid. I preferred the aesthetics of Invisalign.

Bottom Line: Invisalign, in many cases, can be a cheaper (and prettier) alternative. If you need to straighten your teeth, know that it’s not just about having a good smile – it’s also about your health!

P.S. If you were wondering, those aren’t actual braces on Ugly Betty. America Ferrera admitted on Oprah that they are a clip-on device that she takes on and off for shooting.

Mark Burhenne DDS

read next: 7 Benefits of Oral Probiotics—And How to Choose the Right One

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

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