Invisible & Clear Braces: Types & Comparisons

Invisible & Clear Braces: Types & Comparisons
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Invisible & Clear Braces: Types & ComparisonsClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. What are Invisible & Clear Braces?
  2. Conditions Treated
  3. How Long Does Treatment Take?
  4. Cost
  5. Convenience
  6. About Byte
  7. References

Invisible and clear braces are designed to improve your oral health without drawing attention to themselves. People who look hard at your smile may notice that you're getting professional help. But most people won't see the devices on your teeth.

Your invisible and clear braces options include these:

  • Lingual braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Clear, invisible aligners 

Here's how they compare, side by side.

Ceramic bracesLingual bracesClear aligners
Conditions treatedMild to severe;
best for significant
smile problems
Mild to moderateMild to moderate;
best for minor issues
Treatment length1 to 3 yearsAbout 2 yearsAbout 4 months
Cost$4,000 to $8,000$8,000 to $10,000$3,000 to $8,000 (Invisalign);
$1999 (Byte)
ConveniencePainful, hard to eat
and drink, requires
in-person checkups
Very painful, hard to
talk and eat, requires
in-person checkups
Easy to remove
for eating and drinking;
telemedicine checkups (Byte)

Let's dig into the differences, so you can make the right choice for you and your smile.

What are Invisible & Clear Braces?

types of invisible or clear braces

More than 80% of people treated with braces aren't embarrassed by them. But most likely complain about how obvious their treatment program is. Anyone who looks at them can see they're getting work done in their mouth.

Invisible and clear braces are different. You'll get a healthier smile without answering so many questions about your braces. Three options exist. 

1. Ceramic braces

These devices work just like traditional braces. Brackets attach to your teeth, and metal bands connect each bracket. As the wires get shorter, your smile changes. 

Ceramic braces come with tooth-colored brackets, so your orthodontic devices are harder to see. The metal wire is visible, and some might see the bands that wrap around your brackets and connect your teeth. But they aren't as shiny and bright as standard braces. 

2. Lingual braces

Traditional and ceramic braces are attached to the front of your teeth. Lingual braces are affixed to the backside. No one will see these devices. When you smile, only the clear front of your teeth will show. 

Lingual braces may be invisible, but they are noticeable. Most people talk differently while wearing them, often with a lisp, and these adjustments could make your orthodontic treatment plan clear to others.

3. Clear aligners 

Plastic trays wrap snugly around your teeth, gently pushing them into new positions with each tray. They're removable for eating, drinking, and important conversations. But people typically wear them around the clock during the treatment period. 

Clear aligners are nearly invisible, as long as you keep them clean. But you may talk a little differently, and that change could alert people that something is happening with your teeth.

Conditions Treated by Invisible or Clear Braces

In general, ceramic braces are best for serious conditions. Lingual braces and aligners can handle mild-to-moderate issues. These are just a few of the oral health issues that might prompt your doctor to suggest invisible braces.

Crossbite

Teeth should nest together when your mouth is closed. People with crossbites have teeth that pop forward and back where they shouldn't. 

Clear aligners are typically not recommended for crossbites. Ceramic and metal braces are best for this complex problem.

Crowding

Up to 84% of people who visit dental professionals for orthodontic help have teeth crowding issues. Your teeth are bunched up together, and it's hard to clean between them.

Most of the clear braces we've discussed can help with this issue.

Gapping

About 60% of all people needing orthodontic help have gaps in their teeth. You may have just one noticeable space, or you may have several that ruin the impact of your smile.

Most of the clear braces we've discussed can help with this issue. 

Open bites

While this condition is relatively rare, most people who have it will ask an orthodontist or dentist for help. An open bite keeps your teeth from meeting properly when your mouth is closed. 

Ceramic and metal braces work best for this complex problem.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

The more significant your dental issue, the longer you'll spend in invisible braces. Incremental movements are best for your mouth, and if many teeth must adjust, you'll need time to do the work safely.

These are common treatment times:

  • Ceramic braces: 1–3 years
  • Lingual braces: About 2 years
  • Aligners: About 4 months

Every mouth is different, and your times may vary significantly. But these are common times reported by dental professionals.

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.

How Much Does Clear Traces Treatment Cost?

Expect to pay more for difficult and extended treatment plans managed by professionals. The more office visits you have, the more you'll expect to pay.

Aligners can represent a deep cost savings, especially versions that use telemedicine techniques. You'll spend less time in a physical office, and that swap can save you money.

Invisible Braces TypeCost
Ceramic braces$4,000 to $8,000
Lingual braces$8,000 to $10,000
Invisalign braces
(managed by a dentist through
in-person appointments)
$3,000 to $8,000
Byte (managed by a
dentist through telemedicine)
$1,999

How Convenient Is Your Treatment?

Invisible braces are investments of time. You must manage your treatment program carefully to ensure you get the smile you always wanted. Some types of treatment represent deep commitments from patients. 

Pain Levels

People with lingual braces have high levels of tongue pain, as the brackets can scrape and cut with each movement. Ceramic braces can scrape your lips and cheeks when you talk. Invest in these devices, and you will experience pain.

Most studies suggest that aligners are less painful than fixed appliances. They can cause discomfort when you switch trays, but they don't scrape and cut the inside of your mouth. 

Eating, Drinking & Talking

Fixed appliances, including lingual braces and ceramic braces, sit on your teeth until your dentist removes them. Patients with them complain about the following issues:

  • Eating: It's hard to bite into some kinds of food (like corn on the cob), and chewing can be difficult.
  • Drinking: Certain drinks like wine and coffee can stain ceramic braces. Lingual braces can cut up your tongue and make these drinks painful too.
  • Talking: Ceramic braces require you to stretch your lips over the brackets. Lingual braces impede tongue movement.

Aligners must be removed when you eat and drink. Mouth movements are unimpeded, but some people find removing the trays annoying. They can cause some speech differences when you talk too, and that takes some time to get used to. 

Checkups & Progress

You must visit a dental professional for wire tightening. Lingual and ceramic braces require many in-person trips to see your dentist. You can't do any of the work from home. 

Aligner systems that use telemedicine give you control. Work with a dental professional on your own time, using your phone or computer. Follow instructions without ever leaving your house.

What to Know About Byte

At Byte, we use telemedicine to connect some of the most talented professionals in the business with patients who need help. Our online portal makes communicating with your treatment team easy, and you can do the work from home. You’ll get the smile you want without a bunch of legwork and additional expense.

Start by requesting an impression kit. We'll be in touch to talk about whether Byte is right for you.

References

Was Treatment With Fixed Orthodontic Appliances as Expected? (January 2020). eChronicon. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

Prevalence of Dental Malocclusions in Different Geographical Areas: Scoping Review. (October 2021). Dentistry Journal. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

The National Dental PBRN Adult Anterior Openbite Study: Treatment Recommendations and Their Association with Patient and Practitioner Characteristics. (September 2020). American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

Lingual Orthodontic Treatment Duration: Performance of Two Different Completely Customized Multi-Bracket Appliances in Groups with Different Treatment Complexities. (November 2014). Head and Face Medicine. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

The Average Cost of Braces. (July 2022). ValuePenguin. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

A Comparison of Pain Experienced by Patients Treated with Labial and Lingual Orthodontic Appliances. (August 2010). European Journal of Orthodontics. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

Pain Level Between Clear Aligners and Fixed Appliances: A Systematic Review. (January 2020). Progress in Orthodontics. Date fetched: July 28, 2022.

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.

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