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Braces for Adults & Teens: UK Costs and Types Explained & Compared

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How much do braces cost in the UK? It's an important question if you're hoping to get your teeth straightened, but the answer depends on several factors.

Adult braces are becoming more and more popular, and along with this demand there has been some great innovation in the materials and technology used in orthodontic treatment. This means that treatment can be more effective and less noticeable than ever before.

With so many different choices, the matter of braces prices becomes complicated, and working out which is the right type for you can be overwhelming. But it's important you know what different types of braces cost so you can choose a solution that works for you in terms of both aesthetics and budget.

braces as an adult
Clear aligner braces are just one of the types of braces for adults

If you're considering having your teeth straightened or have a teenager who may need orthodontic work, this guide is for you. You'll find answers to questions including:

  • What types of braces for teeth are available in the UK?
  • Which brands are the best?
  • How does the process work?
  • How long will treatment take?
  • What's it like wearing braces?
  • How much do braces cost in the UK?
  • Can I get braces on the NHS?
  • What about cheaper ‘mail-order aligner' options?

We know that the cost of braces in the UK can be a sticking point if you have to pay for private treatment. So we have also included some tips for finding the right provider and making your orthodontic treatment fit your budget.

We hope that by the end of this guide you'll feel much more confident about taking the first steps towards a straighter smile!

How do braces work?

There are several types of braces used in modern orthodontics. Each one works in a slightly different way, but the main aim of braces for teeth is to correct problems with dental alignment. We'll cover the different types in more detail later on so you can understand how they work.

braces inside mouth
Expanding the upper arch

There are three main reasons why your dentist or orthodontist may recommend you have dental braces fitted:

  • Your teeth are crooked, crowded or protruding and need to be realigned
  • You have gaps between your teeth that need to be closed
  • You have a malocclusion (e.g. overbite or underbite), meaning your upper and lower teeth don't meet properly and this is affecting your bite

This video animation demonstrates the correction of some of these dental problems:

Here is a great video on How Braces Work

If these problems are left untreated they can lead to:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty cleaning teeth properly, resulting in further dental problems
  • Increased chance of damage to prominent teeth
  • Headaches from jaw and muscle strain
  • Speech impediments
  • Self-consciousness with the appearance of teeth

Do you want to see what you would look like with straighter teeth? You can use Invisalign's free SmileView tool to find out. Even if you're not an Invisalign patient, you just need to upload a selfie and you'll have an image of yourself with straighter teeth in about a minute. Give it a try now!

smile view invisalign test

Who can have orthodontic braces?

Teeth straightening works best when the teeth and jaw are still growing, but treatment won't usually begin until most adult teeth have come through. This means the ideal age to start wearing dental braces is usually around 10-14.

However, braces can still be effective at any age. The British Orthodontic Society reported in June 2020 that 80% of its members had been fitting more adults with braces, up from 75% in 2016.

The typical adult patient is female and aged 26-55, but a previous survey showed that the number of men seeking orthodontic work as adults is on the rise.

Ask a dentist: Am I ready for adult braces?

Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. More than 20% of people with braces are now adults and 1.4 million Americans over the age of 18 have braces – a 40% increase since the late 80s.

Adults are getting braces for a variety of reasons: to achieve a better smile or to fix the effects of conditions like gum and bone loss, tooth decay or jaw joint pain.

But braces aren’t for everyone and you have to make a commitment. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your orthodontist before you begin adult orthodontic treatment:

  • Are you willing to put up with minor changes in your appearance during treatment?
  • Are you willing to abstain from certain sticky and hard treats?
  • Are you willing to endure some tenderness in your mouth and teeth after adjustments?
  • Are you willing to cooperate with the instructions and suggestions of your orthodontist?
  • Are your treatment expectations realistic?

Dr. Clarke Stevens

Some adults may have braces fitted for health reasons, but in many cases, it's more to do with the aesthetic appearance of their teeth and smile.

Although fixed braces are still the most common choice, more and more adults are opting for clear aligners, like Invisalign, which let them straighten their teeth without it being so obvious.

One condition of having braces is that your teeth are in relatively good condition and you maintain good oral hygiene.

If your teeth have already been damaged by decay, you have gum disease, or you have had extensive restorative work such as crowns, you may not be able to have all types of orthodontic treatment. In this case, you could consider veneers or other cosmetic dental work to improve the appearance of your teeth.

Different types of braces

Wearing teeth braces as a teen can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance, but worrying about the way you look doesn't stop when you reach adulthood. If anything, you become more aware of your appearance. It's natural to want to avoid the ‘train track' look which makes it so obvious you're undergoing orthodontic work.

clear ceramic braces for adults
Adult braces with ceramic brackets are less obvious

In fact, many adults and teens are put off the idea of wearing braces because of how others may perceive them.

This is especially true if they have a professional appearance to maintain at work, or have a big event like a wedding or graduation coming up. Adults might also worry they'll look immature if they wear braces.

Fortunately, conventional ‘metal mouth' braces are no longer the only option for those wanting a perfect smile. Modern ceramic materials can be made to match your natural tooth colour, while clear aligners like Invisalign are almost impossible to detect. This draws much less attention to the fact that you are having your teeth straightened.

Below is a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages of dental braces of different kinds. Following that you will find more detailed information to help you decide which type is right for you.

Pros Cons
Invisalign (clear removable aligners) Invisalign (clear removable aligners)
✔️Almost invisible ❌May be more expensive
✔️Removable ❌Treatment can take longer than expected
✔️Easy to clean ❌Teeth must be brushed and flossed after eating or drinking
✔️No uncomfortable metal
Lingual (incognito)
✔️Hidden behind teeth ❌Difficult to clean and adjust
❌Treatment takes longer and is more expensive than traditional styles
❌Can have a greater effect on speech and cause discomfort
Ceramic (tooth coloured or white)
✔️Tooth-coloured or clear material ❌Can stain easily
✔️As effective as metal braces ❌Same discomfort as metal
❌A more expensive option
Self-ligating (including Damon)
✔️Less painful than traditional methods ❌More noticeable if metal brackets used
✔️Available with clear materials ❌Ceramic materials can stain
✔️Potentially quicker treatment ❌Not suitable for every patient
Traditional metal
✔️Usually the cheapest option ❌Most noticeable style
✔️Available on the NHS for eligible patients ❌Certain foods can't be eaten
✔️Can be customised with coloured bands ❌Can be uncomfortable or painful

Invisible braces / Invisalign

Invisalign removable braces are a completely different alternative to conventional metal braces. They use a series of clear plastic aligners which fit over your teeth and guide them into their correct position over time.

The official term for this method of teeth straightening is ‘clear aligners', however you'll most often hear them referred to as ‘invisible' or ‘removable' braces. There are several brands of clear aligner braces in the UK, other examples being ClearCorrect and Smilelign, but Invisalign is arguably the best known and most established brand.

best adult braces uk
Invisalign aligners are barely noticeable

Invisalign also produce a special kind of aligner brace for teenagers. Invisalign Teen is designed with features specifically to help teenagers get the most out of wearing them.

This includes an indicator to show your dentist or orthodontist whether you've been wearing them enough! It's also an alternative to uncomfortable twin block braces if your jaw needs to move forward.

Invisalign treatment is suitable for a wide range of orthodontic cases; in fact, 90% of people are suitable candidates for this type of brace. To find out if you're one of them, you can fill in Invisalign's handy Smile Assessment. It just takes two minutes to submit some simple information about your teeth and get an instant answer for free.

Invisalign treatment

If you choose Invisalign braces, your dentist or orthodontist will scan your mouth to create a 3D image of your teeth. This will then be used to plan your treatment. Your tailor-made aligners should be ready within a month of this initial consultation.

The treatment consists of a series of aligners which you change for another set every one to two weeks to gradually shift your teeth. You'll need to go for a checkup every six weeks to see how your treatment is progressing. Unlike other treatments, there is no need to worry about emergency appointments to fix broken wires.

different types of braces Invisalign
These clear, removable aligners have many benefits

The average Invisalign treatment takes 12-18 months, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the degree of correction required. For milder cases, Invisalign Lite treatment can take just 6 months.

Following your treatment, you will be advised to wear a retainer to stop your teeth moving back to their previous position.

Invisalign braces are completely removable which means you can clean and floss your teeth as normal, decreasing the chances of tooth decay and gum disease while you're wearing them.

However, they still need to be worn for 20-22 hours a day. Those few brace-free hours are for eating, drinking and cleaning, as the aligners are supposed to be removed to eat and drink anything except water. A positive side-effect of this reported by some Invisalign patients is improved eating habits with less snacking.

In short, Invisalign braces offer efficient and convenient teeth straightening that's very hard for other people to notice. The fact that they cost roughly the same as other braces makes them the best type of braces for many adults and teens.

Our guide to invisible braces has more information on this treatment and costs. But if you're interested in discussing your treatment further and getting a personal quotation, you can find your local Invisalign provider and book an appointment online by clicking on the button below.

Invisalign work with a wide network of dentists in the UK, so your nearest one may be closer than you realised. Most of them offer a free initial consultation with no strings attached.

Metal braces

If you think there is only one type of metal teeth brace, you're in for a surprise. Yes, traditional fixed braces are still around and are probably the best option if you want cheap braces. But there are other styles to consider, which offer different benefits.

Traditional metal teeth braces

silver braces with coloured elastics
Coloured elastics add an element of fun

Even plain old metal fixed braces have come a long way from the ‘train tracks' you or your parents may have experienced at school. They have become lighter, smaller and less noticeable as technology has improved.

Having these braces fitted takes 1-2 hours. The process itself shouldn't hurt but it's normal for teeth to feel sore after the initial fitting, and after each adjustment.

Treatment using a conventional fixed appliance usually takes 12-24 months. During this time you'll be at increased risk of tooth decay so it's important to take good care of your teeth and clean your braces carefully.

What are metal braces made of?

The metal brackets used in fixed metal braces are usually made from high-grade stainless steel, sometimes combined with titanium. These brackets are attached to each tooth and a flexible metal wire, made from stainless steel and other metals, is threaded through each one.

Small rubber bands or metal ties are used to secure the wire. By tightening the wire in different places, orthodontists can manoeuvre teeth into the desired position.

braces components
Metal brackets and elastic bands

Other components of metal teeth braces may include:

  • Larger rubber bands or chains used to connect different teeth (from top to bottom) and pull them in certain directions
  • Metal bands (orthodontic bands) placed around some molars to help with straightening
  • Some kind of headgear that must to be worn at night to aid treatment (usually only when significant correction is required)

For teens (and even some adults!) one bonus with this style of brace is you can choose the colour of elastic band used on each of the brackets. Coloured braces at least allow you to make a style statement while your teeth are being fixed. Another advantage is that metal fixed braces cost less than most other styles – and may be available on the NHS.

Self-ligating braces

Self-ligating braces are a different type of metal brace designed to make braces treatment faster and more comfortable. In terms of outward appearance, self-ligating braces are much the same as conventional styles in that they use a bracket and wire system.

However, the modern technology used means that no elastic bands or metal ties are required to keep the straightening archwire in place.

braces straightening teeth
Self-ligating braces gradually tighten themselves

Some brands, such as Damon, have a clear option with transparent brackets for patients who are more image-conscious.

The self-tightening system used in Damon braces combined with advanced technology heat-activated wires mean that the process of aligning teeth is relatively gentle.

With traditional brackets, patients usually experience pain or discomfort after each adjustment, but self-ligating braces are constantly adjusting at a much steadier pace.

The lack of rubber bands in this style of brace means they are more hygienic, too. The brackets are designed to hold onto less food than the traditional style.

Self-ligating metal braces can also work faster than traditional styles because they are more efficient at moving teeth. This, along with the fact that they require fewer checkups with your orthodontist, makes them one of the more affordable braces for teeth.

Lingual braces

Another option for people who want to straighten their teeth inconspicuously is lingual braces. These are similar to traditional fixed metal braces for adults, except the fittings go behind the teeth, facing inwards, so are hardly noticeable from the outside.

lingual braces for adults
Lingual appliances are hidden on the back of the teeth

These are also known as ‘hidden' or ‘Incognito' braces (which is actually a brand name). The brackets fixed to the inner surface of the teeth can be standard fittings, but they can also be moulded to the shape of each tooth individually. The latter option is, understandably, much more expensive.

These braces are still visible when the mouth is open wide, but it is not immediately obvious that the person is wearing them.

The awkward position of lingual brace brackets means they can be difficult to clean and adjustments are likely to take longer than with regular braces. They can also cause more severe speech problems due to their position in relation to the tongue.

Finally, these braces cost more than traditional styles – especially if the metal brace brackets are custom made to fit each tooth. So although they may be appealing at first glance, it's worth considering the pros and cons carefully, especially when compared to clear aligners.

Ceramic braces

The brackets for ceramic braces are made from a material that's either clear or the same colour as teeth, making them less obvious than conventional metal braces. The wire used to connect the brackets can also be tooth-coloured.

woman smiling with braces
The colour makes them much more subtle than metal

Because these work in the same way as traditional braces, they are just as effective. This does also mean that they carry the same potential for discomfort.

The main downside of clear or white braces is that the elastic bands used on them can stain easily if not cleaned properly. The material used also makes them more expensive than what metal braces cost on average.

For many people, ceramic braces like Clarity braces, or Damon braces provide a good balance between cost, speed and appearance. Transparent brace brackets are not noticeable from a distance and are less distracting close-up than metal braces. Treatment speeds can be comparable with clear aligner systems such as Invisalign.

Some ceramic braces are slightly more expensive, such as Radiance Plus which is the most luxurious option. The brackets are completely clear and are made from polished sapphire, making them stain-resistant and more comfortable due to the polished rounded edges. However, they fall into a similar price bracket to Invisalign which is an even less visible option, so it is worth consulting a dentist to see which would be a better option.

Inman Aligners

Inman Aligners are similar to clear aligners as they are made from a clear plastic material, and are removable.

However, they are also made up of metal springs and bars which make them visible when worn. This also makes them quite bulky to wear as the clear plastic envelops the metal parts as well as covering your teeth.

These are suitable for people who only need to make small adjustments to their front few teeth. It isn't possible to treat the entire mouth with this appliance, and the cost of Inman Aligners becomes less competitive with this in mind.

How much do braces cost in the UK?

The cost of braces in the UK is very wide-ranging. Private braces cost £1,500 to £5,000 for most people, with the average cost of metal braces for adults around £2,000 to £3,000. NHS braces for children up to age 18 are provided for free, if deemed medically necessary.

But UK braces prices can reach five figures, for example with custom lingual braces. Don't panic though; whichever type you choose, there are ways you can make your braces more affordable.

NHS braces for adults and teens in the UK

If cost is your main concern, the first question to answer is “Can I get braces on the NHS?”

Orthodontia is free on the NHS for people up to age 18 who have a clear need for treatment. If you or your children are approaching this age and are considering teeth straightening, it's well worth investigating NHS braces now to avoid paying private braces prices later on. You can read more about the eligibility criteria in our article on braces for kids.

Here is one teenager's account of getting metal braces on the NHS, along with some tips for living with them:

Hi, this is my video about my braces experience on the NHS (National Health Service, in the UK). If you don't live in the UK there is information about braces generally as well, so you can still watch this video! I talk about, the process before getting your braces on, my treatment, eating, cleaning, speaking and the process after getting your braces off, retainers, and cleaning your retainers and more! Please tell me about your braces in the comments below and don't forget to give this video a thumbs up! Natalie x Vlog channel: Links My pinterest: My instagram: My twitter: Beauty guru helper twitter: Vine: (itsallthingsme) Tumblr: For any business enquires please email me at: [email protected] My channel: My channel is called itsallthingsme and it is a beauty and fashion channel! On this channel I do things like makeup tutorials, ootws, and also other random videos! I was inspired to make this channel by people like Bethany Mota, makeupbymandy24, mylifeaseva, and zoella. I hope you enjoy my channel!

Can adults get braces on the NHS? Usually not. Exceptions are only made in severe cases where orthodontic treatment is needed to avoid serious health problems later in life. You'll need to visit your dentist to find out whether you may be eligible for adult braces on the NHS.

NHS braces for adults cost £282.80 in England (the Band 3 treatment fee for 2020/21 – see other NHS dental charges). This is significantly lower than the cost of private braces treatment in the UK, but very few adults are eligible for NHS braces treatment.

If you are deemed eligible, bear in mind that this NHS braces fee only covers the cost of metal braces for adults. Similarly, children being treated on the NHS will only be offered metal braces. Many people prefer to pay for private treatment in order to access a choice of less obvious styles for themselves or their child.

If you have private dental insurance, it's worth checking whether orthodontic work is included. However, it's unusual for basic dental insurance plans to cover the cost of braces and other cosmetic dentistry.

What do private braces cost in the UK?

The cost of braces for adults is one of the things that prevents many people from seeking treatment.

You're not only paying for the materials used to create the appliance; you must also factor in the time it takes for your orthodontist to fit it and adjust it at each checkup. The price will depend on the style you choose and the length of treatment required, but usually private adult braces cost thousands of pounds.

Here you can see roughly how much different types of dental braces cost for adults and teens with private orthodontic treatment in the UK. These prices assume that both the upper and lower teeth are treated. Higher costs may apply if particularly complex work is required.

Type of Appliance Approximate Price
Invisalign £1,500 - £5,500
At-home aligners £1,000 - £1,600
Lingual (incognito) £2,000 - £10,000
Ceramic £2,000 - £6,000
Self-ligating (including Damon) £1,500 - £6,000
Traditional metal £1,500 - £3,000

Since metal braces cost less than clear and white ceramic fittings, a common solution is to use ceramic or clear brackets for the top front teeth (which are most visible), then have cheaper metal braces on the remaining teeth which usually stay out of sight.

However, if you really don't want it to be obvious that you're wearing braces, clear aligners like Invisalign offer the best balance between appearance, cost and efficiency.

If you need help covering the cost of braces, there are various ways to finance dental work.

Finding an orthodontist with the best braces prices near you

First and foremost it is important to check if the dentists or orthodontists in your area are experienced, well qualified, and have opening hours to suit you. Asking family and friends for a recommendation is also a good idea.

dentist's surgery
Finding the right dentist takes some research

Braces prices in the UK will vary across different regions and from one dentist to another, so it's worth shopping around to get an idea of costs.

An orthodontist won't be able to provide a final quote until they have examined your teeth during a consultation, which may itself incur a small fee. Many dentists offer payment plans to make treatment more affordable.

Be sure to check exactly what is included in your quotation and what you'll have to pay for separately. Consider things like tooth extractions, retainers, mouthguards, and ongoing checkups after your braces are removed.

Also remember that you'll need to travel to your dentist for regular checkups, so it's more convenient to find one located near your home or office. If you're interested in Invisalign braces, you can search for your local Invisalign dentist here – they have a wide-reaching network so you shouldn't have to travel too far.

What are the alternatives to braces for teeth straightening?

In most cases, it's possible to realign teeth without having metal glued to them – which is what most people consider braces to be. Clear aligners are one way to do this. Remember, you can check whether you're a suitable candidate for Invisalign with a free, no-obligation online Smile Assessment. 90% of cases can be treated in this way, without the need for metal braces.

However, some people want to avoid braces altogether, can't visit a dentist's office regularly, or simply can't afford the treatment. Fortunately, there are other ways to straighten teeth without braces – at least in certain cases.

It may be possible to use a dental retainer to correct minor problems such as overcrowded teeth, for instance. Veneers can be used to improve the appearance of crooked teeth, and composite bonding may also help in some cases.

Then there is the option of home teeth aligner kits, which are usually cheaper than getting braces at the dentist but have some limitations and risks.

Adult braces before and after

Orthodontics can achieve some pretty amazing transformations. The time-lapse video below shows how a variety of patients' teeth looked before and after braces treatment.

10 cases before and after braces at The Orthodontic Centre

Your teeth after braces will be better aligned so you can eat and take care of them more easily. When you have crooked teeth, more surfaces are exposed to plaque and the spaces between are harder to clean. So getting braces may reduce your chances of cavities later in life.

Orthodontia should also improve the aesthetics of your smile. These ‘before and after braces' photos show the transformation that can occur:

Before braces After braces

Orthodontic appliances usually get to work quite fast; the third example above shows teeth just nine weeks after the initial fitting. But even if your teeth start to look better after just a couple of months, it's likely your treatment will need to continue for a while longer to get your teeth moved into their final position.

We have a separate page of Invisalign before and after pictures which may also be of interest.

Remember, you can see what your teeth could look like after braces by using Invisalign's free SmileView. Simply upload a selfie and wait one minute while their smart tool does its thing. There's no obligation to continue with Invisalign treatment but you'll have a snapshot of your new smile!

smile view invisalign test

Wearing retainers after braces

After your braces come off, your teeth won't necessarily want to stay in their new, straighter position. A retainer will help keep them in place. The length of time you have to wear one will depend on your individual circumstances – your dentist will advise you on this.

retainer after braces
A retainer helps keep teeth in position

If you've only had your front teeth straightened, you may be able to get a fixed retainer. This is a metal wire that's glued to the back of your teeth to keep them in place.

The other option is a removable retainer, and these come in a couple of different styles – Essix (clear) and Hawley (pictured). They might need to be worn during the day, at least at first, but can easily be taken out for special occasions and to eat. On the downside, they're easy to lose and expensive to replace.

Whichever type you choose, you'll need to clean your retainer properly to prolong its life. Read more about how retainers work and the different types available in our full guide to retainers.

What's it like wearing braces as an adult?

In many countries, including the US, the high cost of braces for adults (even with insurance) has turned them into a status symbol of sorts. This view has been slower to spread to the UK, where there is still some stigma attached to wearing braces.

Nowadays, it's becoming more common for adults to seek treatment later in life – either because they missed out on it as a child or because of the amount that adult braces cost in the UK with private treatment.

“Many adults who have undergone orthodontic treatment report higher levels of self-esteem and their quality of life is often significantly improved”

Alison Murray, President of the British Orthodontic Society

It's still understandable for adults to worry about being treated differently at work, being teased by friends, or being viewed differently by potential partners as a result of wearing braces. This is one of the reasons why alternatives such as removable aligners and clear braces are so popular.

Invisible braces not only make it easier to eat but can be taken out for short periods – for example, important meetings – if the wearer is particularly self-conscious.

On a practical note, some adult brace-wearers report difficulties with speaking and eating at first, but soon become accustomed to their new appliance and find ways to adjust. Most people get used to wearing braces within a month, and no longer notice them after six months or so. 

Cleaning around fixed braces takes a little extra time, but there are special tools such as orthodontic floss, interdental brushes and oral irrigators which can make the job easier.

Do adult braces hurt?

If you get dental braces as an adult you're asking your body to break down bone in your jaw that holds your teeth in their current position, then re-grow securing teeth in their new position. The following video shows how this happens:

Braces are a lot more barbaric – and awesome – than you might think. But they actually just copy the process that the rest of your bones naturally undergo! Andrea, an MIT Sloan Fellow, explains. Learn more about the related research that's happening at MIT: ———- Find us online! Facebook: Twitter: ———- made with love at MIT Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA, MIT Hosted by: Andrea Derosiers Written by: Andrea Derosiers & Elizabeth Choe Additional Scripting by: George Zaidan Content Reviewer: H. Elaine Cheong, DDS Executive Producer & Doodles: Elizabeth Choe Director: George Zaidan Camera: Adam Morrell Editor & Motion Graphics: Per Hoel Theme song: Anthony Thomas & Neil Aggarwal Special thanks: Dimensional Photonics International, Inc. Prof. Paula Hammond ( Prof. John Essignmann & Ellen Essignmann

So yes, it's normal to feel some discomfort – especially in the days following each visit to the dentist or orthodontist where your brace is adjusted. There's a chance you may also experience some irritation to your cheek tissue, which can lead to mouth sores.

However, in return for a year or two of occasional discomfort, you get a smile you're confident to show off for the rest of your life.

Some people need to get dental spacers before braces to create some space around certain teeth, especially for fitting molar bands. Spacers usually cause some pain and discomfort for the first day or two after fitting.

Here are some ways to stop braces from hurting:

  • Take over-the-counter painkillers to ease any occasional soreness and aches
  • Eat soft foods such as soup, eggs, pasta, mashed potato and yoghurt if you experience discomfort when biting
  • Use orthodontic wax to cover any brackets or wires that are irritating your mouth
  • If you do develop mouth sores, avoid touching them with your tongue or fingers as this will make them worse
  • Anaesthetic mouth gels can be used to numb painful areas – this can be especially useful at night if you're having trouble sleeping
  • Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will help ease oral pain

If you experience severe pain from wearing braces or a wire comes loose and is at risk of causing injury to part of your mouth, you should contact your dentist or orthodontist to make an urgent appointment.

Eating restrictions

While there are some foods you may avoid simply for comfort, there are others that are prohibited altogether if you have a fixed appliance.

avoid apples if you have braces
Crunchy foods like apples can damage brackets and wires

Invisible aligners offer most flexibility with eating as they can be completely removed – but remember you must clean your teeth before putting them back in again.

Your orthodontist will tell you which foods to avoid eating with fixed braces. These usually include:

  • Hard foods like nuts and boiled sweets
  • Foods you bite into like apples, raw carrots, crusty bread and corn on the cob
  • Sticky foods like caramel and chewing gum
  • Crunchy foods like popcorn, crisps and ice
  • Chewy foods like gummy sweets, bagels and tough meats

You can also cause damage just by biting on hard things like your fingernails or the end of a pencil, so you must be mindful of what you put in your mouth.

If your braces get damaged while you're eating you may not even realise it, and this can prolong your treatment. You may have to pay for certain parts to be replaced, too. These are both good reasons to follow the instructions from your dentist!

How do I know if I need orthodontic work?

After reading all of this, you might be wondering “Do I need braces?“. The simple answer is that even if there is no medical need, there is nothing stopping you from getting cosmetic teeth straightening.

So if you're unhappy with how your teeth look and you think adult braces would help, go ahead and book an appointment to find out more.

If you think you're eligible for NHS braces you'll need to make an appointment with your dentist who will then refer you to an orthodontist. With private treatment you can skip straight to having a consultation with your chosen orthodontist or dentist.

This video from the British Orthodontic Society explains more about your choices when it comes to braces:


Should you decide you want a certain brand for you or your teenager, such as Invisalign or Damon, you will need to search for orthodontists or dentists near you who offer that particular system.


It's never too late to take the first step towards a more confident smile. Now you understand how much different kinds of dental braces cost in the UK, you just need to decide which type will suit you best. This probably comes down to a balance between price, comfort, appearance and results.

Invisalign dentist
Are invisible braces the best solution for you?

In summary we can say that:

  • Most teens and adults would prefer to avoid the ‘train track' metal braces look.
  • Ceramic braces are less obvious than metal, but only from a distance, and can be just as uncomfortable.
  • Lingual braces have the ‘invisibility' factor, but with a high price tag.
  • Invisible braces arguably provide the most comfortable, affordable and efficient straightening solution if you don't want it to be obvious you're wearing braces.

Invisalign is a well-established brand of invisible brace which is provided through dentists and orthodontists. This is a good option for around 90% of orthodontic cases, and you can take their free Smile Assessment now to find out if you're one of them.

Alternatively, search for an Invisalign dentist near you and book an appointment online so you can discuss your treatment options and get a personal quotation.

The price of Invisalign compared to metal braces is similar, and sometimes a little more – but in return you get to avoid the discomfort and appearance of fixed brace brackets. If you have a very complex case then you may need fixed braces, but you can still opt for clear brackets to make them less noticeable.

Whatever you decide on, we hope this article has helped you understand all the options available and which would be best for you.


Still have some burning questions about getting braces for adults or teens? Take a look below for the answers.

Do I need braces?

There is a difference between a medical need and a desire for cosmetic improvement. Even if you don't technically need braces, you may still choose to get them if you're unhappy with your teeth. Treatment for cosmetic straightening is usually quicker than if significant realignment is needed.

What are the best adult braces?

Metal braces are effective, but they don't look great. Adults wanting a more discreet way to straighten their teeth usually opt for clear aligners like Invisalign. These cost about the same as metal braces but are much harder to notice.

How long do braces take to work?

Orthodontic treatment can be as fast as six months if you only need minor tooth movement. However, for more complex cases it can take 18-24 months and perhaps even longer.

How are braces put on?

The orthodontist precisely applies a small bracket to each tooth using cement. Once all brackets are in place, a wire is threaded through them and small elastics keep the wire in place.

How long does it take to put braces on?

It takes around an hour for each jaw to be fitted. Since it can be uncomfortable keeping your mouth open for this long, your orthodontist may spread the process over two appointments. This also gives you time to get used to the first arch before you have the second one fitted.

Does it hurt getting braces fitted?

It might be a bit uncomfortable, and your teeth will probably feel tight once the wire is in place, but the fitting process itself shouldn't cause you any pain. If your jaw starts to ache, you can ask your dentist to stop for a minute while you move around a bit.

Does it hurt getting braces off?

Your dentist will remove your elastics one last time and then use special dental tools to break the brackets off your teeth. You will feel some pressure, but it shouldn't hurt.

After that, you'll need a thorough teeth clean and polish to remove all the cement and make sure your teeth are in good condition.

Can you get braces for adults in the UK on the NHS?

Yes, but only in very specific circumstances if medically necessary. Most adults in the UK will not be deemed eligible for NHS braces and should instead look at private treatment.

Can I do teeth whitening with braces?

You should check with your orthodontist first to make sure that none of the whitening gel ingredients will harm your braces. If you have fixed metal braces, it's best to wait until they come off. Otherwise, you'll end up with darker patches on your teeth where the brackets were.

Braces for Adults & Teens: UK Costs and Types Explained & Compared
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Dr. Koch is a board-certified orthodontist committed to keeping himself current with the latest in orthodontic treatment and technology at Koch Orthodontics at Lawrenceville and Loganville, GA. In his quest to provide the best possible care to patients, he actively participates in progressive study clubs and frequently blogs about orthodontic innovations and latest treatment modalities like Invisalign and self-ligating braces. Dr. Koch’s informative posts are a great resource for prospective patients needing a better idea of what orthodontic treatments are really like.
Amanda specialises in writing informative content about dentistry. She has been a regular contributor to since 2017, and collaborates with dozens of dentists to keep this content accurate and up-to-date.
Dr. Stevens is board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontists. As an assistant professor, he founded the dentofacial program at the University of Nebraska and has taught at the Creighton University Dental College. Dr. Stevens is the creator of WildSmiles® Braces, a product that lets patients personalize their orthodontic experience with unique bracket shapes.
Dentistry Online: Orthodontic treatment increases in popularity amongst adults. Consulted 24th April 2019.  British Dental Journal: Number of UK adults seeking braces is rising. Consulted 16th November 2020. British Orthodontic Society: As orthodontic practices re-open new statistics reveal rise in adults seeking tooth straightening treatment amid concern over ‘DIY’ treatment. Consulted 16th November 2020.