What are clear braces? How do they differ from regular braces? And what about Invisalign? You've got questions, and we've got answers!
Clear braces are similar to traditional metal braces, except they have clear brackets instead of metal ones. This makes them less noticeable, and a more popular choice for adults who want to straighten their teeth more discreetly.
Invisible braces like Invisalign and other clear aligners are not the same as clear braces, because they don't use a wire at all; instead, they're plastic trays that are completely removable.
To help you figure out if clear braces, normal braces or clear aligners are the best option 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 do clear braces for adults work?
- Which different brands are available in the US?
- How much do clear braces cost 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!
Table of contents
- 1 What are clear braces?
- 2 How do invisible braces work? (Clear aligners)
- 3 Types of clear aligners
- 4 Clear braces brands
- 5 Choosing a clear braces brand
- 6 How much do clear braces cost?
- 7 Caring for your clear teeth braces
- 8 Summary: pros and cons
- 9 FAQs
What are clear braces?
Clear braces are just like conventional metal braces but with clear brackets. Sometimes they include clear wire braces as well. Read on to find out more!
What are clear braces made of?
Clear braces brackets are made out of a ceramic or plastic material. We have a whole article dedicated to just ceramic braces if you want more information specifically about those.
How do clear braces work?
Just as with conventional metal braces, clear ceramic braces are attached to each tooth and then connected with a wire. This system is effective in treating all kinds of tooth misalignment.
Through careful placement of the brackets, your orthodontist can manipulate your teeth in all directions to pull them into proper alignment. Treatment usually takes 18–24 months, although some brands offer faster treatment thanks to the technology they use.
Most systems use a metal wire to connect the clear brackets, but patients may have the choice of a white archwire. These are generally more expensive but have the benefit of making the braces far less obvious, especially from a distance.
While wearing clear ceramic braces, you will need to take extra care to keep your teeth clean, especially the 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. There is the possibility for mouth sores while the cheeks and gums adapt to the new fittings, but using orthodontic wax will help reduce abrasion.
The following video is an in-depth review of Kamari's experience getting metal braces on her bottom teeth and clear ceramic braces on her top teeth. She gives tips about choosing colors for your elastics and if it's worth it to get clear braces. If you're interested in invisible braces for adults or clear braces for adults, it's worth taking a look.
But what about clear braces and invisible braces, also called clear aligners? Read on to find out the differences!
Clear braces vs. Invisalign braces
Invisible braces are very different than clear braces. But, the names are so similar, and there are so many variations, that it can get quite confusing! So here's a quick breakdown for you of the general differences.
Both types of brace do an effective job of straightening misaligned teeth in an inconspicuous way.
We will look at some of the most popular brands of clear brace in the US, including Damon Clear and 3M Clarity, so you can understand the differences between each one.
We have also included information about clear invisible braces like Invisalign so you can easily compare the two options.
Who can wear clear braces and aligners?
Teeth straightening with braces is often most effective in the teenage years when the teeth and jaw are still developing. This doesn't mean you can't wear braces later in life; in fact, many adults also undergo orthodontic treatment with great results.
If you're feeling self-conscious about wearing braces as an adult, there is no need. According to the American Association of Orthodontics, plenty of adults get braces. More specifically, over 1.5 million adults in 2016 were treated by US and Canadian members of the AAO.
Thanks to the development of technology used in invisible aligners, you might not even realize that the person you're speaking to 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 very are badly misaligned, braces which 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.
Similarly, at-home clear aligners like Candid, Byte, NewSmile and AlignerCo are only suitable for mild to moderate straightening. However, they are becoming a very popular option because of their convenience and lower cost—around 45–75% less than Invisalign Full and fixed clear braces.
Fortunately, it's very easy to check whether you are a good candidate for this type of clear aligner. Simply fill in a few details below and you'll be able to compare offers from our recommended brands.
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 come down to the natural color of your teeth.
People with naturally bright, light teeth usually find that transparent braces are the least noticeable option. For people with darker tooth shades, the tooth-colored ceramic material can be a more natural match. Apart from this, these two types of brace function in the same way.
How do invisible braces work? (Clear aligners)
Transparent aligner systems are a completely different solution for straightening teeth. They consist of a series of clear plastic removable aligners (or ‘trays') which fit snugly over the teeth. Trays are custom made for each patient from dental scans or impressions. Every two weeks or so the patient must switch to a new aligner, and bit by bit, they 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.
Brace wearers may want to remove their aligners for important meetings or special occasions and clear aligner braces offer the flexibility to do this.
They can present some inconveniences, though. If you have clear aligner braces you should clean your teeth after eating or drinking anything other than water, otherwise, bacteria gets trapped inside the aligners and increases your chance of dental caries and gum disease.
They also require the wearer to have some willpower – if you lack this, fixed braces may be the better choice!
To find out more about Invisalign braces and other types of invisible aligner, read our full article on aligner braces where you will discover a lot more information about costs and the practicalities of wearing them.
If you discover that you aren't a suitable candidate for clear aligners, fixed transparent braces are probably the next best option.
Types of clear aligners
Invisalign is the leading brand of clear teeth aligner around the world, and arguably the best teeth aligners brand if you want an in-office treatment. The American company behind the braces, Align Technology, was the first to develop a clear teeth aligner brace back in 1999.
Since then, they have introduced a range of aligner braces to suit different needs. These include Invisalign Express (for minor dental corrections) and Invisalign Teen (designed especially for teenagers).
Candid is a type of at-home clear aligner, which costs substantially less than traditional braces or Invisalign. At-home clear aligners are helpful in correcting cases of mild to moderate malocclusion. Patients who want mild to moderate teeth straightening have the option of 100% remote treatment with this type of teledentistry. The general steps to getting any sort of at-home braces include:
- Order your impression kits for your teeth aligners online and take molds of your teeth at home
- Receive your clear aligners in the mail
- Wear your aligners following your treatment plan
- Follow-up care with retainers
Although Candid also roughly follows that process, they also vary from this standard model in some very important ways. For one, Candid has physical locations called Candid Studios, where you can go for a free consultation, and talk to a real person, face-to-face, about any concerns you may have. They can also take 3D scans of your teeth so that you don't have to take your molds at home if you don't feel comfortable doing so.
Another crucial difference between Candid and other at-home (and some in-office) clear aligners is that treatment monitoring is performed exclusively with an orthodontist. Why does that matter? Because orthodontists have all of the training and qualifications of a general dentist, but they also have additional training that makes them masters in the art of straightening teeth.
Another reason we think Candid is the best invisible braces online is that they include remote monitoring with AI technology in everyone's treatment. This can help speed treatment up and ensure the best results. Don't forget, you can take our quick test to check whether you're a good match for Candid and other brands like this.
NewSmile is notable because they use a special Raintree Essix plastic to make their aligners, which is said to be the clearest plastic available. They also offer the following benefits:
- Price: NewSmile offers a great price for their high quality of treatment at just $1,595.
- Orthodontists: Treatment with NewSmile is planned and supervised by orthodontists.
- Night aligners: NewSmile offers nighttime aligners that only have to be worn at night.
If you're interested in NewSmile, you can purchase your impression kit for just $49 to get started. Once you send your impressions in, a NewSmile orthodontist will determine if you're eligible for treatment, and if it turns out that you aren't, you'll get a full refund on your impression kit.
For people who are a bit wary of taking their own impressions at home, NewSmile has got you covered with a 1-on-1 live video chat with a rep who will walk you step-by-step through the impression-taking process.
Alternatively, NewSmile also offers an upfront price that includes everything you need for treatment, including the impression kit, your aligners, two sets of retainers and whitening treatment, and of course, if it turns out that you aren't eligible for treatment with NewSmile, you'll get a full refund.
NewSmile also offers a monthly payment plan for just $58 per month with a $295 down payment.
You can read more about NewSmile in our full guide here.
Byte is on a mission to increase access to orthodontic treatment by offering a shorter treatment time while still keeping the price relatively low, at just $1,895. They also offer a nighttime version of treatment which is just $2,245 and payment plans for both options.
Byte's treatment time is the shortest available, averaging just three months and in some cases as little as two months. That's all thanks to their HyperByte technology. HyperByte is their proprietary device that uses micro-pulse therapy to reduce discomfort and speed up treatment. It's a mouthpiece that you gently bite down on, while you have your aligners in, for just five minutes per day with standard treatment and 10 minutes per day with nighttime treatment.
If you'd like to find out more about this ultrafast and affordable treatment option, you can read more in our full Byte review.
If you're looking to save the most money without sacrificing quality, then ALIGERNCO might be the brand for you. They offer the lowest cost of all of the aligner options that we recommend, at just $1,145. They also offer various treatment plans to make them even more affordable. And even though they keep their prices so low, your treatment is still planned and supervised by an orthodontist.
If you'd like to find out more about the cheapest teeth aligners brand, you can read our full ALIGNERCO review here.
You can also read more about Invisalign alternatives in our complete guide.
Clear braces brands
Damon Clear braces
There's an important difference when it comes to Damon Clear braces vs. 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 is more comfortable than adjustments in stages
- The sliding mechanism means less pressure on teeth
- Fewer dental checkups are needed
- They are easier to keep clean as they don't use elastics
- Available without any visible metal parts
All of these perks come at a cost, of course, but the higher clear braces price is one that many patients are willing to pay for, considering the convenience, discreetness, and comfort by way of less braces pain offered by Damon Clear braces.
Here you can see one patient having her clear braces fitted, including her immediate reaction to what it's like wearing them:
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 braces are made by American Orthodontics and are extremely strong since they are made of sapphire (the next strongest thing to diamond). They have a glass-like appearance, making them the clearest braces available on the market, in fact, they're actually rather alluring as far as braces go. This is definitely a lux option, though, as they are one of the most expensive brands of braces available.
Choosing a clear braces brand
If you have severe malocclusion and don't qualify for at-home braces like Candid, or you're simply more comfortable going a more traditional route, you'll have to decide which in-office brand you want to go with.
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. There are many other brands available that we haven't listed here. You can search online for clear braces pictures to find the ones you like best. Remember that more established companies like Invisalign have had more time to refine the technology used in their products, so newer companies won't necessarily have the same level of experience.
It's a good idea to ask your dentist which brand they think makes the best invisible braces, and why. They may have a preference based on costs, performance, service from the company, technology, and a number of other factors. If you're not happy with the one they use or think they are putting their own profits above your personal needs, you can always look around for an alternative.
How much do clear braces cost?
In general, clear braces cost more than their all-metal counterparts because of the materials and technology used. To save money, some patients may opt for metal brackets on the lower teeth, which are less visible, and clear brackets on the upper teeth.
Before we look at what invisible and clear braces cost, keep in mind that prices can vary wildly from one dentist to another. The price charged will also depend on your location and the length and complexity of your treatment.
If your teeth don't require treatment for severe malocclusion, we recommend you consider at-home options like Candid, NewSmile, Byte, and ALIGNERCO. Have a look at the table below for a comparison of the costs of clear braces and clear aligners. You can also check your eligibility here or book an appointment at your nearest Candid Studio.
Clear braces cost with insurance
If you have dental insurance that covers orthodontic work, this probably includes treatment with ceramic braces. However, your annual cover limit may well be less than the overall cost of clear braces treatment, in which case you will still 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 plant for you, EasyDentalQuotes.com can help. EasyDentalQuotes aims to make dental insurance easy to understand, while also providing the resources you need to find the best plan for your needs and the needs of your family. It’s easy to get started—just click on the link below and type in your zip code!
Caring for your clear teeth braces
If you opt for clear fixed braces you'll need to take some extra precautions while you're wearing them.
Your orthodontist will show you how to clean your braces and teeth properly. This will take some extra time each day as braces contain so many nooks and crannies where food can get stuck, which leads to a build-up of bacteria.
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.
Your dentist will also tell you which foods are best to avoid while wearing braces, in order to keep both 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
- Using an electric toothbrush
- Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash
- Visiting your dentist regularly
- Wearing your retainer as advised (see below)
- Cleaning your retainer daily
Most patients will want to have a thorough dental cleaning to remove any plaque or stains that have built up while they were wearing their 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 as long as you want your teeth to remain in their new position. Even after years of being held in place by braces and a retainer, teeth left to their own devices can soon revert to their previous crooked state.
There are two types of retainer: 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. These need to be cleaned 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
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 them to be lost or damaged.
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).
Both types of removable retainer will need to be replaced at some point anyway. If you look after them well they can last for five years or more.
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.
Summary: pros and cons
The table below summarizes the information given in this article so you can more easily decide between clear and invisible braces.
In general, adults and teens looking for a way to straighten their teeth without it being noticeable will probably find clear aligners like Candid to be the most efficient, and convenient option. Not only are the clear aligners very hard to spot, but they are also removable and at-home versions cost way less than fixed ceramic braces.
To check your eligibility and access some exclusive offers, use our free aligner comparison tool. If you aren't eligible, or you decide to have fixed braces for another reason, then braces with clear brackets will certainly be less noticeable than metal.
If you're still unsure which type of brace is right for you, take a look at our full article on orthodontics and clear braces for adults and teens. Here you'll be able to find out more about:
- Alternative styles of brace including “hidden” lingual braces
- How they compare in terms of cost and appearance
- What it's like to wear braces as a teenager or adult
- How to take care of your braces
If you think you're interested in clear aligners for teeth straightening, you can read our article about the best clear aligners for more information.
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!
Can you get clear rubber bands for braces?
Yes. Clear, transparent and invisible bracket braces can have tooth-colored or clear ceramic or polymer brackets, with clear braces bands on each bracket as well.
Can you get clear metal braces?
Although technically there aren't any clear metal braces, you can choose to have clear teeth braces on your front teeth, and metal brackets on the teeth that don't show as much. You can also get clear braces on your top teeth and metal braces on the bottom teeth, or clear bands on your metal brackets.
How much are clear braces for adults?
Less noticeable clear and invisible materials cost more than traditional metal braces. Clear braces for adults can cost anywhere from $3,800 to $8,000 without insurance.
How much do clear aligners cost?
In-office invisible teeth braces start at around $2,500 without insurance and can cost as much as $8,500. At-home invisible braces are generally around $2,000 or less.