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Clear Braces Guide: Types, Costs, and Real Reviews

Amanda Napitu
Contributor:
Amanda Napitu
David Omolaso
Contributor:
David Omolaso
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Clarke Stevens
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Karen Kemp-Prosterman
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Up-to-Date

Are clear braces cost-effective compared to traditional metal braces or Invisalign? Where can I find clear braces for adults? You've got questions, and we've got answers!

Clear braces are similar to traditional metal braces but have clear brackets instead of metal ones. This feature makes them less noticeable and a more popular orthodontics choice for adults who want to straighten their teeth discreetly.

In case you are wondering how much clear braces cost? Clear braces typically cost more than all-metal braces because of the technology and materials used. You can read more about the cost of clear braces below.

To help you figure out the best braces for you, we'll go over the following:

  • What's the difference between clear and traditional braces?
  • What do clear braces look like?
  • What about clear aligners like Invisalign?
  • How much do clear braces cost in the US?
  • How do clear braces for adults work?
  • Which different brands are available in the US?
  • Clear, invisible, and Invisalign braces pros and cons
  • …and more!

Keep reading to get informed about which type of clear braces or aligners would suit you best!

What are clear braces?

clear braces cost
Clear braces are more discreet than metal braces

Clear braces are less noticeable orthodontic braces similar to conventional metal braces but that use clear brackets to straighten teeth. They are typically made of ceramic or composite materials.

How do clear braces work?

Clear braces work similarly to conventional metal braces, gradually using mild force to move your teeth into proper alignment.

  • These braces are attached to each tooth and interconnected with a wire, effectively treating all forms of tooth misalignment.
  • Your orthodontist can manipulate your teeth in all directions by carefully placing the brackets to ensure proper alignment.
  • Treatment usually takes 18–24 months, which can be faster based on the brand's technology.
  • Although most systems use a metal wire, patients also have the option of the more expensive and less visible white archwire to connect the brackets.
  • While wearing clear ceramic braces, you must take extra care to keep your teeth clean, especially in places that are hard to reach with normal brushing.
  • Although they can be a little uncomfortable at first, most wearers soon get used to their braces and don't experience any ongoing discomfort.
  • The bonding and debonding process of placing and removing the ceramic brackets is different from the metallic brackets, which may lead to an increase in the enamel fracturing of the tooth.
  • There is the possibility for mouth sores while the cheeks and gums adapt to the new fittings, but using dental wax will help reduce abrasion.
  • Depending on the type of malocclusion being corrected, there is a possibility of enamel attrition or wear if opposing teeth make contact with the ceramic brackets on a consistent basis and should be avoided with patients diagnosed with deep bites.
  • You are strongly advised to avoid caffeine beverages, certain mouthwashes, and high-staining foods like curries and certain fruits that can result in severe discoloration, affecting the overall goal of aesthetics in choosing these braces.

In the video below, Kamari shares her experience with metal and clear braces on her lower and upper teeth, respectively.

She gives tips about choosing braces colors and whether getting clear braces is worth it. If you're interested in invisible braces for adults or clear braces for adults, it's worth taking a look.

How much do clear braces cost?

The cost of clear braces usually falls within a range of $3,800 to $8,000 before insurance. In general, clear braces cost more than their all-metal counterparts because of the materials and technology used.

Some patients may opt for metal brackets on the lower teeth to save money, and choose the more expensive clear brackets as top braces for the upper teeth.

Keep in mind that prices for invisible and clear braces vary depending on your orthodontist, location, and complexity of treatment.

If your teeth don't require treatment for severe malocclusion, we recommend you consider at-home clear aligner options like Candid, NewSmile, Byte, and ALIGNERCO.

Clear braces vs. Invisalign braces

Although they have similar names, Invisible braces, also called Invisalign, are very different from clear braces and have several variations, so mixing them up is possible.

We will explore some of the most popular brands of clear braces in the US, including Damon Clear and 3M Clarity, to help you understand their differences.

We have also included information about invisible braces so you can easily compare the two options.

Here's a quick breakdown for you on the general differences between clear braces, Invisalign or invisible braces, and at-home clear aligners.

Braces type

Clear (fixed)

Invisible in-office aligners

At-home clear aligners

Appearance

Less noticeable from a distance than all-metal braces

Very hard to spot

Very hard to spot

Cost

$3,800 - $8,000

$3,500 - $8,500

$1,000 - $3,000

Length of treatment

18-24 months; from 12 months with self-ligating braces

9-18 months

Average 6 months

Frequency of checkups

Every 4-6 weeks; every 6-10 weeks with self-ligating braces

Every 2-6 weeks

No in-office checkups

Indications

Recommended for severe forms of misaligned teeth and malocclusions 

Recommended for minor to moderate forms of malocclusion

Recommended for minor to moderate forms of malocclusion

Eating

Avoid certain foods which may damage braces

Removed to eat; no restrictions on what can be eaten

Removed to eat; no restrictions on what can be eaten

Cleaning

Extra care to clean braces and floss teeth

Teeth must be cleaned after eating or drinking anything except water

Teeth must be cleaned after eating or drinking anything except water

Comfort

Uncomfortable at first and after tightening

Usually a comfortable and natural fit

Usually a comfortable and natural fit

Other

No need for willpower; can't be lost

Can be removed for important events or occasions

Can be removed for important events or occasions

Irrespective of your choice, both types of brace do an effective job of discreet teeth straightening for misaligned teeth.

Ask a dentist: What is the difference between clear braces and Invisalign?

Other than the fact that both options are constructed with clear/light-colored materials, there aren’t many similarities between clear braces and clear removable aligners like Invisalign. They’re different products and different ways of fixing misaligned teeth.

Clear braces are simply traditional braces with wires, except they’re less noticeable. Aligners are plastic trays that you can take in and out to eat, brush or attend an event like an important business meeting.

Products like Invisalign are less noticeable than clear braces because there are no brackets or wires.

When making a decision between clear braces and Invisalign, start at the beginning and think about whether you’re interested in traditional braces or removable aligners. With aligners, the patient is responsible for wearing them 20 hours a day to achieve optimum movement.

On the other hand, braces are attached and cannot be removed. Determine if you would prefer to be in control of your aligner wear or let the braces do their work. In addition, keep in mind aligners are not always the best treatment option in severe cases of teeth misalignment.

Dr. Clarke Stevens, Braces Omaha

Who can wear clear braces and aligners?

Clear braces and aligners are effective in the teenage years for teeth straightening when the teeth and jaw are still developing, as we explain in this article on braces for kids.

However, this doesn't mean you can't wear braces later in life. In fact, many adults also undergo orthodontic treatment with great results. You do not have to feel self-conscious about wearing braces as an adult.

transparent brace
Invisible braces are great for mild cases

According to the American Association of Orthodontics, many adults get braces and make up 40% of orthodontic patients in the US.

Thanks to the advanced technology of invisible aligners, you might not even detect if someone is wearing braces.

One thing that may limit your choice of braces is the severity of your case. For example, Invisalign braces can treat 90% of orthodontic cases, but in the other 10% where teeth are badly misaligned, braces that use a wire and bracket system might be the only option.

Six Month Smiles is one brand that offers both clear braces and aligners, depending on the complexity of your case. Tooth-colored ceramic braces are another option for people who want a subtle way to straighten their teeth.

The choice between clear and tooth-colored braces may depend on the natural color of your teeth, although they function in the same way. Based on the tooth color, transparent braces are typically the least noticeable option for individuals with naturally bright, light teeth.

On the other hand, tooth-colored ceramic material appears more natural for those with darker tooth shades.

Clear braces cost with insurance

If you have dental insurance that covers orthodontic work, this may include treatment with ceramic braces, and could cover up to 50%.

However, your annual cover limit may be less than the overall cost of clear braces treatment, and may have some out-of-pocket expenses.

You can also ask your dentist if they offer an interest-free payment plan to help you spread the cost of your treatment.

If you need help finding the right dental insurance plan for you, Dentalinsurance.com can help.

This online marketplace makes dental insurance easy to understand, with helpful articles and tips for choosing the best plan for you.

You can also call one of their helpful licensed agents at 888-626-0057 if you need extra guidance. It’s easy to get started—just click on the link below and type in your zip code and date of birth!

How do invisible braces work?

Transparent aligner systems are a completely different solution for straightening teeth and consist of a series of clear plastic removable aligners (or ‘trays') that fit snugly over the teeth. Trays are custom-made for each patient from dental scans or impressions.

The patient must switch to a new aligner every two weeks and, bit by bit, gradually shift the teeth to the desired position. Treatment with invisible braces typically takes between 9 and 18 months, but it may be as little as 3–6 months for minor correction.

One big benefit of these braces is that you can remove your teeth aligners at home, although only for two to four hours per day. This allows the wearer to eat what they like and clean their teeth as normal.

They are also far less noticeable than any kind of fixed braces—even those with clear brackets—so they are the perfect solution for people who want to straighten their teeth discreetly.

There are many brands that offer at-home aligner treatment, but not all of them provide the same level of care and customer service. Have a look at some of the top brands to see which best suits your needs:

Find the right clear aligners for you
There are so many companies offering remote teeth straightening with aligners! Take a look at our top picks and discover why we recommend these over any others.
  • Hybrid in-office and remote treatment
  • In-person visits with your orthodontist for safe, effective treatment
  • Treats even complex cases of misalignment
  • Various pricing options
Schedule your appointment!
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Discover the flexibility and effectiveness of Impress Invisible Braces, the hybrid orthodontic solution that blends in-person care with the convenience of remote appointments. Suitable for both kids and adults, Impress offers a range of treatment options designed to cater to various needs, from mild to severe cases of misalignment. With the initial consultation happening in person, you're assured of a tailored treatment plan that can address even the most complex orthodontic issues.

Impress Treatment Plans:

  • Impress Super Light ($6,999): Perfect for mild cases, this plan promises results in up to 3 months, making it the quickest route to a better smile.
  • Impress ($4,599): Designed for moderate cases, this option aims to perfect your smile within 4-10 months.
  • Impress Plus ($5,599): Tailored for moderate cases requiring a bit more time, this plan spans 11-14 months.
  • Impress Advanced ($6,999): The go-to choice for complex cases, offering comprehensive treatment over 11-24 months.
  • Teens ($4,599): Specifically designed for teenagers, this plan addresses mild cases within 4-10 months, ensuring a confident smile during those crucial years.
  • Impress Kids ($4,599): Offering orthodontic treatment for children, this plan covers a period between 8-18 months, setting the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

With flexible payment plans available, starting your journey to a perfect smile has never been easier or more accessible. Whether you're looking for a quick fix or need extensive treatment, Impress Invisible Braces provide a tailored solution that meets your needs and budget. Click below to get started!

Find out if you're a candidate!
  • Complete treatment 100% remotely
  • Amazing customer service
  • Nighttime-only option
  • $1,495 or $55/month
Get NewSmile aligners
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NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest Essix plastic and come with a daytime or nighttime-only option to suit you. For just $1,495 you'll receive everything you need to straighten and whiten your teeth – and maintain your new smile:

  • Home impression kit
  • Full aligner treatment
  • Free whitening
  • First set of retainers
  • A full refund if you're not a good fit

NewSmile goes above and beyond to provide a great experience to all their customers, beginning with a live video call to help you with your teeth impressions. Mail these back, and they'll send a 3D Treatment Preview for you to approve before going ahead.

Alternatively, click here for an extra $20 off an impression kit!
  • Complete treatment 100% remotely
  • 4-6 month average treatment time
  • Nighttime-only option
  • $949 or $77/month
Get this deal
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If you're looking for the best value aligner package, here it is! For just $895 you'll get:

  • Impression kit
  • Full aligner treatment course
  • Free teeth whitening kit
  • Your first set of retainers

In short, everything needed to straighten your teeth remotely and keep them looking great, with a full money-back guarantee if you're not a suitable candidate.

This low price doesn't mean you're compromising on quality of care, though. ALIGNERCO just choose not to put so much into marketing, and they pass on the savings to their customers. They are also known for their responsive and helpful customer care, which is important when you're doing things from home.

Plus, if you're in New York, you can visit their SmileStudio for a free consultation and help taking your impressions.

Nighttime-only aligners are also available for anyone who doesn't want to wear aligners during the day.

  • 3-4 month average treatment time
  • Assessed and planned by orthodontists
  • Includes whitening and first retainers
  • $1,999 or $70/month
Get faster treatment
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Byte's HyperByte technology uses High Frequency Vibration to help your teeth move faster and with minimal discomfort. Their average treatment time is just 3-4 months, compared to 6 months for most others.

Treatment includes your first set of retainers. You'll also get their BrightByte 3-in-1 foam to whiten your teeth, clean your aligners and freshen your breath. And their Byte-for-life guarantee means you'll get free adjustments if your teeth start to move again.

Begin by ordering an impression kit so their orthodontists can assess whether you're a good match.

Get 80% off with code SMILEBRYTE
  • Single-arch treatment option
  • Nighttime aligners available
  • Free refinements & 2 sets of retainers
  • $699 (single-arch) or $999 (dual-arch)
Check Smileie's offers
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Smileie's aligner treatment is not only affordable, but flexible too. You have the option of single-arch treatment for just your top or bottom teeth, as well as nighttime-only treatment. And whichever package you choose, monthly payments are available.

On top of this, Smileie offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee which includes free refinements if needed. Their aligners are made in the US and treatment takes 4-6 months on average.

Get the best discount when you purchase your aligner package up-front, including:

  • Home impression kit
  • Teeth whitening kit
  • Two sets of retainers
  • A full refund if you're not a good candidate

Packages start at $699 for single-arch treatment. Click below to check for current discounts!

cost of clear braces
Invisible teeth aligners are easy to remove

Brace wearers may want to remove their aligners for important meetings or special occasions, and clear aligner braces offer this flexibility.

To find out more about the costs and the practicalities of wearing Invisalign braces and other types of invisible aligners, read more on aligner braces. You can also check out our comparison of Invisalign vs. braces.

Despite their benefits, these aligners can present some inconveniences. If you have clear aligner braces, you should clean your teeth after eating or drinking anything other than water. Cleaning helps to prevent bacteria from getting trapped within the aligners, decreasing your chance of dental caries and gum disease.

They also require the wearer to have some willpower because you need to have the discipline to only take them off when necessary, and if you lack this, fixed braces may be the better choice.

Clear braces brands

Damon Clear braces

There's an important difference between Damon Clear braces and metal braces.

Damon braces are a kind of self-ligating brace—one which ‘tightens' itself. This has several benefits over the traditional system:

  • The adjustment process happens continuously over time, so it is more comfortable than adjustments in stages
  • The sliding mechanism means less pressure on the teeth
  • Fewer dental checkups are needed
  • They are easier to keep clean as they don't use elastic bands
  • Available without any visible metal parts

However, these braces still share concerns of discoloration from staining beverages or mouthwashes. In addition, there is also the risk of enamel fracture in the debonding or bracket removal process, as with other brands of ceramic brackets.

Despite the higher cost of these braces, many patients are willing to pay for the convenience, discreetness, and comfort offered by Damon Clear braces.

You can read more to learn why braces hurt and how you can relieve the pain.

Watch a patient with Damon braces share her experience three months into her treatment:

3M Clarity ADVANCED

Clarity ADVANCED clear braces from 3M are designed to be stain-resistant, so you don't need to restrict your food and drink choices to avoid discoloration.

The brace brackets have rounded corners and a low profile to reduce the chances of irritation to the inside of the mouth. Comfort is certainly a top consideration when it comes to choosing the right braces for you.

Although you're probably choosing clear braces to make them less noticeable, these ones do come with the option to wear your clear braces with colored bands if you fancy a splash of color for a change.

Radiance Plus

American Orthodontics makes Radiance braces. They are extremely strong since they are made of sapphire (the next strongest thing to diamond).

Their glass-like appearance makes them the clearest braces available on the market. In fact, they're actually rather alluring as far as braces go.

This is definitely a luxury option, though, as they are one of the most expensive brands of braces available.

Choosing a clear braces brand

Choosing a clear braces brand depends on the level of malocclusion of your teeth, and your personal preference for orthodontic brands. You need to know that severe malocclusion cases may not be suitable for at-home braces.

best invisible aligners
Invisalign clear braces and other aligners all look very similar

There are many other brands available that we haven't listed here, and many orthodontists prefer to work with one or two particular brands, so you're unlikely to find a dental clinic offering this full range of choices.

They may have a preference based on costs, performance, service from the company, technology, and a number of other factors. If you're unhappy with the one they use or think they are putting their profits above your personal needs, you can always look around for an alternative.

You can search online for clear braces pictures to find the ones you like best.

Caring for your clear teeth braces

You need to take extra precautions while wearing clear braces.

Your orthodontist will show you how to clean your braces and teeth properly. If possible, you should clean your teeth and braces right after eating. If this isn't possible, at least rinse very well with water. It will help to use a floss threader or interdental cleaner to floss below the archwire.

what foods stain clear braces
It's ‘no' to nuts and chewy bars if you have fixed clear bracket braces

Your dentist will also tell you which foods are best to avoid while wearing braces to keep your braces and teeth in good condition. These include:

  • Hard foods like nuts, biscuits, and ice
  • Chewy foods like candies, cereal bars, bagels, and chewing gum
  • Crunchy foods like apples, raw carrots, crusty bread, and potato chips
  • Acidic foods like pickles, vinaigrette dressings, and fruit juices

Habits like nail biting or pencil chewing can also cause damage to the wires or fittings.

Since the ceramic material used in clear brackets is more brittle than metal, it's crucial that you follow your dentist's instructions.

Aftercare for clear braces

Did you know that it's just as important to look after your teeth carefully after your braces come off?

After spending all that money on braces and having gone through the inconvenience of wearing them, you finally have that smile you'd been dreaming of. You can look after it by:

  • Brushing twice a day and flossing at least daily – learn about flossing with braces
  • Using an electric toothbrush
  • Visiting your dentist regularly
  • Wearing your retainer as advised (see below)
  • Cleaning your retainer daily
  • Rinsing with a mouthwash recommended by your dentist

Most patients will want a thorough dental cleaning to remove any plaque or stains that build up while wearing braces.

Wearing a retainer

As with any tooth straightening treatment, you'll probably have to wear a retainer every night (and perhaps during the day at first) for your teeth to remain in their new position.

Teeth left to their own devices can soon revert to their previous crooked state even after years of braces and retainer use.

There are two types of retainers: removable and permanent.

Permanent (or ‘bonded') retainers consist of a thin wire inconspicuously attached behind the front 4-8 teeth to stop them from moving out of position. You need to clean the retainers with the same attention as fixed braces.

Removable retainers come in two styles:

  • Wire retainers wrap around the teeth and are secured with an acrylic plate
  • Clear retainers look like aligner braces, the difference being that they don't need changing every two weeks
clear aligner
A wire retainer and clear retainer

Removable retainers are much easier to clean and allow the wearer to eat and brush their teeth as normal. However, there is the potential for loss or damage.

This can get expensive over the years since dentists charge anywhere between $150 and $400 for wire retainers (such as Hawley retainers) and $100 to $250 for clear retainers (such as Essix retainers).

You will have to replace both types of removable retainer at some point anyway. They can last for five years or more if you look after them well.

Your dentist will be able to advise you whether a fixed, wire, or clear retainer would be most appropriate for preserving the new position of your teeth.

You can get your Essix retainers online through Sporting Smiles. They custom-make your aligners in a lab with professionally trained technicians. And you never have to step foot in the dentist's office.

You can get started by ordering your impression kit, and you can get 10% off your order with promo code SMILE10.

Conclusion

Adults and teens looking for a less obvious option to straighten their teeth can consider clear braces as an alternative to traditional braces. If you only want to make mild adjustments you may want to look into clear, at-home aligners.

If you're still unsure which type of brace is right for you, take a look at our full article on orthodontics and teen and adult braces, or our article on “hidden” lingual braces. You can read our article about the best clear aligners for more on invisible braces and clear aligners for teeth straightening.

While Invisalign is the leading brand of invisible braces, it is also one of the most expensive options and may not fit into your budget. If that's the case, you can take a look at our pages on Byte, Smileie, ALIGNERCO reviews, NewSmile reviews, Candid, and SnapCorrect braces to learn more about each of them and find out which is best for you.

You can also read more about Invisalign alternatives in our complete guide.

Our goal at Dentaly.org is to give you all the information you need to make the right decisions when it comes to your oral healthcare. We hope you found this article helpful!

FAQs

Can you get clear rubber bands for braces?

You can get clear rubber bands for braces as clear, transparent, and invisible bracket braces can have tooth-colored or clear ceramic or polymer brackets.

Can you get clear metal braces?

Clear metal braces are not a type of clear braces. However, you can choose to have clear teeth braces on your front teeth and metal brackets on the back teeth that are not readily visible. You can also get clear braces on your top teeth, metal braces on the lower teeth, or clear bands on your metal brackets.

How much do clear braces cost for adults?

Clear braces for adults can cost anywhere from $3,800 to $8,000 without insurance. Less noticeable clear and invisible materials cost more than traditional metal braces.

Do clear braces turn yellow?

No, clear braces do not turn yellow, but the clear elastic bands holding the wire to your brackets can change color over time due to exposure to certain foods, drinks, or poor oral hygiene. You can maintain the color of your clear braces through regular adjustment visits to the orthodontist for replacements and cleaning.

Do clear braces break?

Yes, clear braces can break, but it's not common. Any of the following can cause them to break: hard or sticky foods, inappropriate cleaning, or accidental physical impact. Your orthodontist can detect and repair any issues during your scheduled visits.

Can you eat pizza/ice cream with clear braces?

Yes, you can enjoy pizza and ice cream while wearing clear braces. However, cutting pizza into small pieces and avoiding ice cream hard toppings like nuts is advisable to prevent damage. Remember to follow approved diet recommendations and limitations set by your orthodontist.

How long do clear braces last?

Clear braces typically last between one to three years, depending on your teeth straightening needs. You stand a chance at shorter durations if you follow your orthodontist's recommendations of regular visits and cleaning.

Clear Braces Guide: Types, Costs, and Real Reviews
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