Invisible & Clear Braces: Types & Comparisons

Invisible & Clear Braces: Types & Comparisons
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Table of Contents

  1. Invisible vs Clear Braces
  2. Clear Braces
  3. Invisible Braces
  4. Dentist for Guidance
  5. References
Invisible and clear braces allow people to get straight teeth more discretely than with traditional metal braces. Options include plastic aligners, lingual braces, and ceramic braces.

Invisible vs. Clear Braces: What’s the Difference?

types of invisible or clear braces

Many adults are not completely happy with the appearance of their teeth, but they do not want to wear bulky, painful metal braces like they did as children or teenagers. Although most people wore braces at some point in their childhood, teasing, discomfort, food restrictions, and shame about one’s appearance are all reasons that too many adults avoid getting the orthodontic treatment they need for a healthier mouth. As many as 75 percent of adults around the world have some type of malocclusion that should be addressed with orthodontics.

Fortunately, dental technology has come a long way in the last few decades, so there are now many options for people who need or want orthodontic treatment without the visibility of braces. These options can be categorized as invisible braces or clear braces. Within these categories, there are several types, depending on your personal needs.

Clear Braces

Oftentimes, when people refer to clear braces, they are talking about plastic aligners. These easily slip onto the teeth, much like retainers do.

One of the most known brands of clear plastic aligners, or clear braces, is Invisalign. This brand pioneered clear aligner treatment, helping more teenagers and adults avoid the stigma of brackets on their teeth while still undergoing effective orthodontic adjustment.

Now, there are several high-quality brands of clear plastic aligners, including several that can be delivered right to your door, so you don’t need to go to regular dental appointments.


Many dentists have Invisalign measuring devices in their offices and staff trained to use them. If your dentist recommends orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth and improve your oral health, chances are good that they will offer Invisalign as one option.

As your teeth adjust to fit your current aligner, you will return to your dentist for the next set in the series. This means you have consistent, in-person monitoring as your teeth adjust.

The cost of Invisalign can be similar to traditional braces, so the price depends on how long you need to wear the aligners and how serious your case is.

Over-The-Counter Brands

In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion in the popularity of clear, plastic aligners, which are more cost-effective than Invisalign. Most of these brands have become popular not only because they are less expensive, but also because they do not require visits with your dentist.

Many brands, including Candid, Smile Direct Club, and byte, allow you to create impressions of your teeth at home and mail them in. An orthodontist who works with the company will then create a treatment plan for you. Next, the company sends a series of clear plastic aligners right to your door. Some companies give you the option of an in-person visit to assess your teeth, but most of your orthodontics consultations will occur remotely.

Many of these companies promise straighter teeth in six months, but the timeline can range from four to nine months, on average, depending on the type of treatment you need.

These versions cost less than Invisalign. Prices can range from $1,300 to $3,000. Again, specific pricing depends on how intensive your treatment plan is.

Prices range from around $2,000 to around $8,000 for a full Invisalign treatment regime.

Invisible Braces

Clear, plastic aligners are the most innovative way to straighten your teeth, but brackets like those found on traditional braces are still more effective for moderate to severe misalignment issues. For people who have severe dental struggles and need intensive orthodontic treatment, traditional braces are usually the best option.

There are two types of braces that are more discrete than metal braces: lingual braces and ceramic braces.

Lingual Braces

This type of braces is very similar to traditional braces, particularly since it includes metal brackets and wires. However, the entire system is placed behind your teeth, rather than on the front, so they cannot be seen. Treatment takes about 18 to 36 months, depending on the severity of your case.

Many people choose lingual braces so they can maintain a professional appearance; the front of their teeth look like they normally would. Other people may choose lingual braces because they are less likely to interfere with playing some types of instruments, or they play sports and lingual braces are safer than traditional brackets since brackets on the back of the teeth are less likely to cause harm if one is hit in the face during play.

Lingual braces are less effective than traditional braces, so treatment takes longer. They also require special attention as you brush your teeth, they restrict what you can eat, and they may give you a temporary lisp. It often takes people some time to learn to talk correctly with lingual braces, so expect an adjustment period.

They are also more expensive than traditional braces or clear aligners. They cost between $8,000 and $10,000.

Ceramic Brackets

This type of bracket is made from white or clear ceramic rather than metal, so your braces should blend into the color of your teeth. Ceramic braces are similar in effectiveness to traditional metal braces, although ceramic is a more delicate material, which requires additional orthodontics training to attach and remove from teeth.

While they are not immediately noticeable, ceramic brackets can still be bulky in your mouth and change the appearance of your lips or alter how you speak for a short time. The brackets also require wires that need to be tightened over time. These wires might be visible, although they can sometimes be covered with white plastic to blend in better.

Ceramic braces are typically more expensive than traditional braces, although they are less expensive than lingual braces. They cost between $4,000 and $8,500.

Ask Your Dentist for Guidance

While you may have a preference for one of the above approaches to orthodontic treatment over the rest, it is a good idea to talk to your dentist about potential orthodontics first. For example, you may prefer at-home, over-the-counter clear plastic aligners because they are relatively simple and inexpensive, but not everyone is a good candidate for this type of treatment. If you have severe misalignment issues, you might need traditional braces.

You may need other types of dental treatment before you pursue orthodontics too. Once you understand what type of invisible or clear braces will work best for you, you can get a healthy, straight smile.


Invisible Orthodontics Market to Gain US$7,259.6 Million by 2026, Says TMR. (March 2019). PR Newswire. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Invisalign. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

How Much Does Invisalign Treatment Cost? Invisalign. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

Best Invisible Braces Based on In-Depth Reviews. (April 2021). Consumer Advocate. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

What Are Lingual Braces? Colgate. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

The Average Cost of Braces. (January 2021). Value Penguin. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

Are Ceramic Braces Right for You? Colgate. Date fetched: April 29, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.