Best Invisible Braces

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A recent study revealed 57 percent of Americans cover their mouths when smiling. Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth are all reasons people hide their smiles. While the thought of traditional metal braces may give us nightmares about algebra tests and middle school dances, the industry has made a few upgrades.

Nowadays, there are plenty of alternatives to metal braces, including ceramic braces, lingual braces, and, more recently, the invisible aligner “braces” that are helping people achieve a healthy, beautiful smile. Invisible braces companies use clear aligner sets to gradually straighten your teeth in stages. This non-invasive treatment is much more affordable and convenient compared to traditional braces. Individuals can enjoy a completely customized, at-home treatment by choosing a top-rated invisible braces provider.

A recent study revealed 57 percent of Americans cover their mouths when smiling. Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth are all reasons people hide their smiles. While the thought of traditional metal brac...
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Invisible Braces

A Buyer's Guide to Invisible Braces

Kaitlyn Short
Kaitlyn Short | Contributor

Invisible braces companies have flooded the market since the expiration of Invisalign’s product patent. When comparing providers, you’ll find most companies offer a similar technology with differences in the aligner material, treatment price, accessories offered, treatment process, expert certifications, and satisfaction guarantees.

When searching for an invisible braces company, we recommend reading expert and customer reviews to better understand the pros and cons of each company. You can also compare prices to see which company offers the best cash price and financing options.

However, before you start narrowing down possible options, you should first determine if you’re a good candidate for invisible braces.

Are Invisible Braces Right for Me?

Invisible braces aren’t for everyone. Some orthodontic issues require metal or ceramic braces to fix major alignment issues. For example, if you have a large gap in your teeth, invisible braces can’t always close the gap. According to The Orthodontists, invisible braces can only reliably close up to 6mm of space per arch (top and bottom teeth).

You should also visit your dentist to assess the health of your teeth and gums before starting treatment. Complete any necessary dental care work before starting the invisible braces process. Even a minor filling could change the fit of your teeth aligners and require a treatment adjustment.

Clear Aligners vs. Other Types of Braces

Since the development of traditional braces in the early 1800s, other types of braces have entered the market. All braces and aligners are designed with the same purpose in mind of straightening your teeth over time, but before you decide on a specific type of braces, you may want to understand the difference between the four options: traditional, ceramic, lingual, and invisible braces.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are composed of two basic components. A metal bracket is applied to the teeth and a bendable metal wire is then threaded through the brackets to apply pressure on the teeth. In the past, metal braces were extremely noticeable and made it difficult to navigate simple day-to-day activities like playing sports and eating certain foods.

New technology has made the metal braces smaller, less conspicuous, not as painful, and more efficient. This style is often popular among teenagers. However, there is still a slight stigma around metal braces and many adults opt for other options.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces or “clear braces” used to be a popular alternative to conventional braces as they are made from a ceramic material that is the same color and texture as your teeth. Popular among an older generation because of their discreet look, clear ceramic braces were once in high demand.

Presently, ceramic braces are still offered by some orthodontists; however, they generally are more expensive, stain more easily, and are more brittle compared to metal braces.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces (also called inside braces) are attached to the back of the teeth allowing them to be less obvious than both the metal and ceramic braces. Orthodontists use scanned images of the insides of the teeth to create a unique, computer-generated bracket that is attached to the insides of the upper and lower teeth.

Lingual braces tend to be more expensive than traditional braces and can cause a temporary lisp because of close proximity to the tongue.

Invisible Braces

Invisible braces are a more inconspicuous way of straightening your teeth. The braces themselves aren’t exactly braces; instead, they are made from medical-grade plastic using a 3D scan of your teeth.

Invisible braces are trays that gradually shift your teeth into place. The trays are made from a putty mold — either taken by you or a dental professional. Upon receiving the impressions of your teeth, a licensed dentist or orthodontist will send a series of aligner trays that will be changed every few weeks. The aligners are custom-designed to steadily adjust your teeth over a certain amount of time.

Pros and Cons of Invisible Braces

Invisible braces work great for some people, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. Here are the pros and cons to using invisible braces.

Pros

  • Affordable — Affordability is one of the top advantages to choosing an at-home invisible braces plan. You can save thousands of dollars by choosing an at-home invisible braces treatment over traditional braces. Invisible braces companies have lowered treatment costs while still maintaining high quality processes and results.

    While you’re not required to visit an orthodontist’s office, reputable invisible braces companies will still ensure your treatment plan is reviewed by certified orthodontists, giving you the same quality of treatment of traditional braces but for a more affordable price.

  • Extremely Discreet — Invisible braces are just as their name suggests: invisible (at least as close as you can get). Many invisible aligner users have even commented on how most people they interact with don’t even realize they’re wearing them.

    Many adults shy away from traditional braces because they feel they look awkward and gawky, whereas clear aligners are fitted to your teeth, allowing you to smile and laugh without feeling self-conscious.

  • Removable — Unlike metal, ceramic, and lingual braces, invisible braces are removable. Users can take them out when eating, teeth brushing, and flossing. Traditional braces are notorious for restricting one's diet as those with braces are told to avoid popcorn, gum, pretzels, apples, and more.

    There are no diet restrictions with invisible aligners.

  • Easy to Clean — Invisible aligners aren’t hard to clean like conventional braces; however, this doesn’t mean they can’t be cleaned. Over time, the trays can become clouded or slightly discolored and will need to be cleaned. Luckily for you, it shouldn’t take longer than two minutes. Using a toothbrush, simply clean them with soap and water or baking soda and water. Some companies, like byte, even include a free aligner cleaner in their aligner package.

  • Comfortable — One of the biggest complaints with metal braces is how uncomfortable they are. Wires and brackets are known to cause small nicks, and there are many horror stories of playing sports with braces. Wearing aligners is much more comfortable as the clear plastic is smooth with no sharp edges.

  • Convenient (At-Home Treatment) — An article by Forbes revealed that only 30 percent of millennials visit the dentist each year. Why? Well, the ADA discovered that millennials are not getting dental insurance through their employer, as more than 69 percent of health plans don’t include dental insurance, so millennials are opting to not go to the dentist at all.

    Perhaps one of the best perks about the invisible aligner industry is that many companies — such as byte, Smilelove, and Smile Direct Club — give you the option to get straighter teeth while never having to visit the dentist.

Cons

  • Requires Diligence — Although there are some invisible braces companies that offer longer treatment options for consumers who only want to wear their aligners at night (such as byte’s byte at Night™ option) Invisible braces require consumers to wear them for a minimum of 22 hours a day. This means after you remove them when eating and brushing your teeth, you’ll need to remember to put them back in when you’re done.

    This can get annoying, especially when you’re at a restaurant and have to take out your aligners. Additionally, you’re supposed to brush your teeth after each meal before putting the aligners back in your mouth — meaning you’ll have to brush your teeth several times a day.

  • Causes Some Discomfort — Some consumers mention sore mouths and occasional aches and pains when wearing invisible braces. That being said, straightening your teeth requires the readjustment of your teeth, and a little discomfort is normal. You will experience discomfort with any type of braces you choose. You can use a pain reliever to help minimize the pain while your teeth adjust to your aligners.

  • Only Treats Minor to Moderate Alignment Issues — Unfortunately, some orthodontic conditions require metal or ceramic braces. Some of these complex issues that may affect eligibility include severe overbite, rotated teeth, large gaps, and extreme tooth shapes.

    However, as the industry advances, new technologies are emerging to reduce the current limitations of invisible braces. If you’re curious to see if invisible aligners will work for you, we suggest taking our invisible braces quiz or ordering an impression kit and getting the opinion of a licensed dentist and orthodontist.

Cost of Invisible Braces

The cost of your invisible braces largely depends on the extent of alignment your teeth need and how many aligners you’ll need throughout the treatment. The average price for invisible braces is between $3,500 and $8,000. However, you’ll need to talk with your dentist or orthodontist to get a better estimate of the final price based on your current teeth alignment.

If you choose to purchase invisible aligners online, you could be paying a lot less — especially if you pay the entire amount upfront.

  • byte, Smilelove, and Smile Direct Club charge $1,895 for their aligners.
  • SnapCorrect charges $1,749.
  • EasySmile charges $1,880.

This price doesn’t include the cost of the impression kit, which will vary depending on which company you choose, but when compared to other invisible aligner companies, these are competitively priced.

The Invisible Braces Process: What to Expect

Impression Kit or Scan

Before starting your treatment, your invisible braces provider will need to take an impression or 3D scan of your teeth. When you order an at-home impression kit, you’ll receive all the supplies you need to create multiple molds of your teeth. These molds along with pictures of your teeth are sent back to the company to access your eligibility for invisible aligners.

Invisalign requires an in-person consultation to perform a 3D scan. Other providers may give you the option of attending a nearby location or ordering a diy impression kit. Once the company has approved you for treatment, you can expect to receive your set of aligners in the next few weeks.

Aligner Kit

Whether you choose an in-person treatment or at-home care, you’ll be given a stack of aligners identified by stages or steps. Each stage will slightly move your teeth until you achieve a straighter smile. You can expect some initial discomfort as your teeth begin to shift with the first set of aligners. However, this discomfort can usually be treated with common pain relievers.

You should plan on wearing your aligners for 22 hours a day unless otherwise directed by your provider. byte offers a byte at Night™ kit for those who want to wear aligners only at night.

Some at-home care kits also come with cleaning solutions to help keep your aligners fresh. Continue to wear your aligners as directed until you arrive at your final step. If at any time you notice that your aligners aren’t fitting properly, you should contact your orthodontist or your clear aligner provider.

Wearing Your Retainers

Once you’re finished with treatment, you’ll receive a set of retainers. You’ll want to wear your retainers for 22 hours a day for the first 3–6 months. Your newly positioned teeth need time to set as your jaw hardens again. Your retainers will ensure that your teeth do not continue to shift and alter your perfected smile.

After 6 months, you should continue to wear your aligners during the night. Your teeth will be more set in place around a year after your treatment. You may be able to reduce the amount of time you wear your retainers to 3–5 days a week. However, you should continue to wear your retainers even years after your treatment to ensure lifelong results. If you quit wearing your retainers, you run the risk of needing invisible braces treatment all over again.

Three Factors to Consider When Choosing Invisible Braces

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Treatment Duration

The average treatment time will vary depending on which invisible aligner company you choose and the severity of your case. However, most companies tell consumers that their smile will be improved anywhere between 3 and 18 months.

Companies like byte offer a treatment plan that just requires you to wear the invisible aligners at night. This lengthens the treatment duration but limits how often you need to wear the aligners.

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Company Reputation

You shouldn’t trust just anyone with your smile. An effective invisible braces treatment plan requires oversight by a certified orthodontist. Look for a company that has proven results, top certifications, positive customer feedback, an established history, and guaranteed satisfaction.

Start your search by reading through customer reviews. With over 8,000 certified invisible braces reviews on our site, BestCompany.com is a great place to start. Look for companies that have mostly positive reviews.

You can find additional information in the expert review of each company — outlining the pros and cons of each provider.

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Financing Options

Many invisible aligner companies offer flexible monthly payment plans, which is helpful to consumers who don’t want to pay all at once. While you might pay a bit more by choosing the monthly payment plans, it isn’t a huge price difference.

You may also be able to use dental insurance, an HSA, or an FS debit card to pay for treatment. Many dental plans will cover your treatments the same way they would cover braces. It’s important to talk to your insurance provider before signing up for an invisible braces treatment plan to see if they can help reduce the overall cost.

The comparison chart below gives a brief overview of the financing options and costs for the top invisible braces companies.

Compare Top Invisible Braces Companies

SmileDirectClub Logo
star star star star star_border
2,427 User Reviews View Profile
Down Payment
$349
$299
$250
$295
No Contract Option
Monthly Payment
$83
$79
$89
$84
$95 or $110
Contract Length
29 Months
36 Months
24 Months
12 Months
11 or 12 Months
Impression Kit Price
$95
$30
$59
$49
$39.99
Average Duration of Treatment
3 Months
6 Months
6 Months
4–6 Months
6–11 Months
Number of Payment Plans
5
5
2
2
3

Frequently Asked Questions

Are invisible braces better than metal braces?

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It depends. If you have a mild to moderate alignment problem, then invisible aligners are a great option. Adults usually tend to lean toward this option as they are inconspicuous and draw less attention. Invisible braces work great if you’re willing to put in the effort and are diligent about taking them out to eat, cleaning them properly, and wearing them for 22+ hours a day.

However, if you have a more complex orthodontic issue, are prone to forgetting things, and don’t want to have to worry about taking your aligners on and off multiple times a day, than traditional braces are going to be a better fit.

Do I need to visit my dentist/orthodontist to get invisible braces?

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You can, but you don’t need to. Many people will simply order an impression kit online and take a mold of their teeth. The mold will then be mailed to the companies consulting orthodontic team and they’ll determine whether or not invisible braces are right for you. They’ll then create a treatment plan and send you the aligners to your home — so you never have to set foot in the dentist's office.

How do invisible braces work?

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Invisible braces are not that different from traditional braces (except in the way they look). Both invisible braces and metal braces put pressure on your teeth to force them into the proper location.

Do invisible braces hurt?

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Most people wouldn’t say invisible braces hurt, so much as they ache. The aligners are using force to move your teeth into a specific position and that is going to be somewhat uncomfortable. However, unlike metal braces, invisible aligners aren’t going to cut up the inside of your mouth and aren’t likely to irritate your gums.

Do invisible braces really work?

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If you use them correctly, yes! There are plenty of success stories of people using invisible braces and seeing results. However, you’ll need to follow your treatment plan and consistently wear your aligners. If one of your aligners is damaged or lost, contact the company immediately to order a replacement so you can get back on schedule as soon as possible. You’ll also need to wear the retainer after your treatment program is over to stop your teeth from shifting or moving.

How long do they take?

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The average treatment time will vary depending on which invisible aligner company you choose and the severity of your case. However, most companies tell consumers that their smile will be improved anywhere between 3 and 18 months.

Am I a candidate for invisible braces?

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Invisible braces are for those with mild to moderate alignment issues. Invisible braces aren’t for people with complex orthodontic or TMJ problems. However, invisible braces can usually help people who have: crooked teeth, an overbite/underbite, crossbite, crowded teeth, gaps in the teeth, and an open bite.

How much do invisible braces cost?

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Depending on your provider, the cost will vary. For some companies and clinics, the cost will range anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000. However, ordering online will result in the cost significantly going down. There are several companies with competitive prices and you’ll end up paying less than $2,000. Before settling on one invisible aligner company, be sure to compare prices. Look at additional costs such as replacing lost or damaged trays, retainer costs, money-back guarantees, or available financing options. Look for promotional deals and ask your insurance provider if they will help pay for the cost.

What payment options are available?

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Most invisible braces companies have some sort of financing option or consumers can pay the full price upfront. Customers may pay a little more with a financing option, but they’ll be able to spread their payments over an extended period of time.

Both FSAs and HSAs can be used for covering orthodontic treatments.

Where can I get invisible braces?

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You can get invisible braces through your dentist or orthodontist or you can easily order them online. Ordering online helps cut out the time and costs of the middleman as you don’t have to visit the dentist to get a mold. Online aligner companies will simply send you an impression kit that you take your own molds and send them back to the company. If you’re a good fit for invisible braces, the company will send your aligners right to your door with instructions on how to use them.

The important thing to remember with invisible braces is there are plenty of companies out there to choose from. Be sure to do your research and find a company that is right for you. Here at BestCompany, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular invisible braces companies and ranked them with our unique algorithm to help you find the best company.

View Our Top-Rated Invisible Braces Companies

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