Are you considering removable braces as an alternative to fixed metal braces? Clear plastic aligners are an effective way to straighten teeth, and they work for up to 90% of orthodontic cases. The fact that they are almost invisible makes them especially popular!
If you're researching removable braces in the UK, you've probably come across Invisalign, as well as other brands like ClearCorrect, Smilelign, Smile Direct Club and Straight My Teeth. We'll go into the pros and cons of each of these later on so you can figure out which is best for you.
But first, let's look at exactly what removable braces are, how they work, and who they are suitable for.
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How do removable braces work?
All orthodontic appliances work by putting pressure on your teeth to move them into better alignment. Whereas traditional braces use wires and brackets fixed to your teeth, removable braces fit over your teeth a bit like a mouthguard. Each aligner is worn for around two weeks, and step by step your teeth are pushed into their new position.
The companies that make removable braces use computer programs to plan your treatment, so you can see a 3D ‘before and after' view of your teeth. Each aligner is custom-made to fit snugly at each stage of your progress. You simply clip your clear aligners over your teeth and go about your day, while the people around you are none the wiser that you're wearing braces.
When wearing removable braces you must:
- Keep your aligners in for 20-22 hours per day
- Only drink water while wearing them
- Take them out to eat or drink anything else
- Clean your teeth and your aligners properly before putting them back in your mouth
These things can be quite inconvenient. But on the plus side, there aren't any restrictions on what you can eat, whereas with fixed braces certain foods are off-limits.
Treatment can take anywhere from a few months to two years; it all depends on how misaligned your teeth are to begin with. Aligner treatment is often faster than with fixed braces, and certain brands specialise in shorter treatment times.
Some brands also make nighttime-only aligners. You only have to wear these for 10 hours each night, which leaves you free to eat and drink what you like during the day. Because you're wearing them for less time each day, you can expect your treatment to take around 50% longer.
Who can wear removable braces?
In-office brands like Invisalign can treat up to 90% of orthodontic cases, including some overbites, underbites and crossbites. The remaining 10% of very complex malocclusions will require traditional braces. But if you need just mild or moderate tooth movement, chances are you're a good candidate for removable braces.
Is there a minimum age?
Invisalign have a special kind of removable brace designed for teenagers, called Invisalign Teen. These aligners are just like the regular ones but have some extra features to encourage good results from younger wearers. Other brands set a minimum age ranging from 14 to 18 years.
Removable braces are ideal for people who:
- Want to straighten their teeth discreetly
- Don't want the inconvenience of cleaning around fixed braces
- Have the willpower to wear aligners for the required time each day
It's easy to check whether you're eligible for Invisalign using their free Smile Assessment. You'll have an answer in just two minutes!
In-office vs. at-home
One important consideration is whether you want to visit a dentist in person for your treatment, or do it all from home. In recent years, new technology from ‘teledentistry' companies has made it possible to carry out the whole process without setting foot in a dentist's office. You can take your own teeth impressions at home or visit a clinic for a teeth scan. Then they plan your treatment and post your aligners to you with instructions on when to switch to a new set.
At-home removable braces are generally cheaper than in-office, but can only treat a limited range of cases. And of course, your dentist or orthodontist is relying on images and videos to check how your treatment is progressing, rather than being able to examine your teeth in person.
If you don't want the inconvenience of visiting a dentist every few weeks and you need mild or moderate cosmetic straightening, an at-home brand could be right for you. If, however, you would prefer in-person monitoring or you need more complex treatment, in-office is probably the way to go.
Fixed vs. removable braces
Let's quickly recap these main points about removable vs. fixed braces before looking at costs in more detail:
Removable braces costs in the UK
Removable brace prices in the UK range from around £1,000 to £5,500. The cheapest clear aligners cost £999 from Straight My Teeth, a company which conducts treatment remotely. In-office treatments like Invisalign and ClearCorrect are typically more expensive, but that's because you're paying for regular one-to-one checkups and the experience of a more established brand. We have more detail on Invisalign costs in a separate article.
Whereas at-home brands usually have a fixed price for their treatments, in-office providers require you to have a consultation in order to determine your exact treatment cost. You can find an Invisalign provider near you here and book an initial consultation, usually for free, to receive a personal quotation.
If you only need slight teeth straightening you may be eligible for Invisalign i7 or Lite. These have a reduced treatment time with a fixed number of aligners, and cost from £1,200 and £1,500 respectively.
Best removable brace brands in the UK
Invisalign has been operating for over 20 years, and is probably the best removable brace brand if you want a well-established company that has been refining and improving their aligners for a long time. Other in-office brands to consider include ClearCorrect and Smilelign.
We've already mentioned that Straight My Teeth have the cheapest removable braces in the UK, costing £999 for a complete package. Another good brand is Straight Teeth Direct. They cost a little more, but they guarantee an orthodontist (not just a general dentist) will oversee your treatment. You may also have heard of Smile Direct Club. They are one of the biggest names in remote orthodontics here and in the US, but they don't get the best reviews, especially when it comes to customer service.
If you're leaning towards in-office treatment, you can easily search for Invisalign providers in your area. They have a big network so you should have several to choose from nearby. Then, book an appointment for a no-obligation consultation and treatment plan.
If you're interested in £999 removable braces from Straight My Teeth, the first step is to take this quick assessment to make sure you're eligible. Alternatively, view more details about their nighttime aligners. They have a Studio in London which you can visit for a consultation and scan, or you can get an impression kit sent to your home.
You can watch the following video for a recap of what removable aligner braces look like and how they work:
Removable braces are an appealing option for many adults and teens who want straighter teeth but would prefer to avoid traditional fixed braces. There are several good brands to choose from, including Invisalign who have been doing this for the longest.
More recently, it has become possible to undergo orthodontic treatment with removable braces from home. Patients receive their aligners in the post and check in with their dentist or orthodontist remotely by sending pictures or videos of their teeth.
Aligner treatment can be very effective for most patients. Hopefully this article has helped you understand the different options so you can decide on the right treatment for you. If you'd like to know more about what it's like wearing removable braces, check out these Invisalign reviews.