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Invisible Braces: Types, What They Are, How They Work

Asha Ramesh

Written by Asha Ramesh

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Invisible braces are clear, and as their name suggests, they are nearly invisible! Would you prefer a train track of traditional metal braces or clear and discreet braces for straightening your teeth? The answer would be the latter as they are transparent braces that sit on your teeth, fit in your lifestyle, and they score a perfect ten for minimal discomfort.

What Are Invisible Braces?

Invisible braces work the same as traditional braces (gradually moving your teeth to a straighter position due to the pressure they made) but they look different as they are, as their name suggests, invisible. 

Types of Invisible braces for teeth

There are types of braces for the users to choose from, and they include ceramic braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners.

Ceramic braces
Ceramic braces

The ceramic braces are typically like traditional braces used for teeth straightening but the brackets are tooth-colored rather than metal and, sometimes, the wires can also blend with the color of the teeth. They are less noticeable and do not get stained easily. These transparent braces are stuck onto the teeth and cannot be removed until the completion of the treatment plan.

Clear aligners
Clear aligners

Clear teeth aligners refer to a series of clear, removable trays made of either plastic that can fit over the teeth. The series of trays imparts a low force and pressure system on the teeth, and they eventually straighten over some time. They are practically pain-free, minimally invasive, and resistant to staining or clouding, and thereby uplifting your oral health. They have been touted as the best teeth aligners as they can edge out other invisible options because they can be easily removed during eating, drinking, or for special occasions.

Lingual braces
Lingual braces

In this type of braces, the brackets are placed on the back of the teeth (lingual surface) and cannot be viewed from the front, thereby making them invisible. Due to their versatility, this type of treatment can be used as braces for adults and are no longer relegated to children and teenagers. Some downsides to this type of braces include their cost, increased treatment time, difficulty in adjustments due to their position, and are quite hard to clean. In the initial period of wearing these braces, they tend to cause more discomfort when compared to traditional braces.

Are invisible aligners at home different?

Many systems in the market offer clear aligners at home, and they are direct-to-customer based companies. They send an impression kit which is analyzed by either orthodontists or dentists, and custom-fit clear aligners are fabricated based on the teeth analysis. The flip side to this system is that the dentists or orthodontists cannot regularly check your teeth and see if the aligners are working. If there are gaps in your teeth or gum erosion due to the treatment, the dentists would be able to get you back on track for straighter teeth.

However, there are a lot of brands that provide high-quality treatments with total monitoring by dentists or/and orthodontists like Invisalign (available worldwide) or PlusDent (available in 8 European countries). You can check Invisalign and PlusDent reviews to see that these brands work amazingly, and their clients are satisfied with the results.

How do Invisible Aligners work?

The first dental visit will involve the assessment of your oral health, and treatment options will be discussed based on your teeth and overall analysis by the dentist/orthodontist. An intraoral scanner will be used by your dentist to perform the digital scanning of your teeth. It can also predict how your teeth can look after treatment with clear aligners. The dentist can monitor the progress throughout the treatment plan. These scans are sent to the manufacturer’s lab where the clear aligners are custom fabricated using computerized technology.

Following consultation, you will receive a box with sets of custom-made, clear aligners for you to use with each tray to be worn for a period between 1-3 weeks. The old aligner will be replaced by a new one after this period. This is because the old tray will feel loose, and the dentist would advise you to replace it with the new one that would feel snug at the start. You will go through a series of trays, sometimes up to 30 till there is a gradual shift in the teeth moving to their right and straight position.

how do teeth aligners work
invisible braces how they work

You will also have to visit your dentist once every 6-8 weeks to check if your clear aligners are working and if you are on track for straighter teeth. If you follow the treatment, you will be able to see your smile turn more beautiful as you through the series of aligners. For optimal results, it is important that you wear your aligners for about 20-22 hours a day. But, remember, you have to remove your aligners for eating, drinking (not water), or brushing your teeth. Revision aligners may be needed at the end of the aligner series to correct any detailing that has not been finished.

How much are invisible braces?

On average, the invisible aligners cost between $5000-$7500. The invisible braces cost varies according to the type, with lingual braces charged around $8000-$10,000 and ceramic braces between $4000-$8000 on an average. And, how much do braces cost? The traditional metal braces can cost between $5500-$8000, and it can vary from patient to patient. Your private insurance plan may cover some of your clear aligner treatment and it would depend on the dental extras' coverage. If you are keen on clear aligner treatment, a consultation with your private health insurer about your cover would be helpful for financial planning for the payment plans.

Pros and Cons of Invisible Teeth Aligners

The clear aligners are an aesthetic and near-invisible option for getting straighter teeth and a beautiful smile. These customized plastic trays are fabricated to fit and are barely noticeable when placed in the mouth. This can enable you to smile confidently and enhance your self-esteem while straightening your teeth into perfect alignment. The fabrication procedure is relatively non-invasive and straightforward, and the users do not feel the strain of wearing as in metal braces. Unlike traditional braces, these aligners can be removed while eating, tooth brushing, flossing, or drinking, and they do not disrupt your daily routine. They are relatively hassle-free and do not stain easily. Certain tooth-colored buttons or fixtures can be placed on some teeth to help in the alignment process.

With metal braces, there can be severe discomfort and the brackets or wires can irritate the gums and can also cause cuts in the inner aspect of the cheeks, whereas clear aligners do not cause any of this discomfort. The patients may feel initial discomfort or pain only until the mouth gets used to these appliances. It is vital to maintain healthy gums and teeth for the success of the teeth straightening process. Unlike metal and other invisible braces, these aligners can be removed to allow you to brush and floss your teeth. Your oral hygiene routine will not be affected by the use of these clear aligners, and on top of it, these aligners can be cleaned as well!

  • Clear and nearly invisible
  • Non-invasive
  • Simple fabrication and easy-to-use
  • Relatively pain-free
  • Improved hygiene
  • Removable
  • Can be used in adults and older teenagers
  • Expensive
  • Only for simple tooth problems
  • Costly to replace, if lost or not properly cared for
  • Sometimes longer treatment duration

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Are invisible aligners actually invisible?

They are made using a clear material, and clear or transparent plastic cannot be compared to an invisible substance on the teeth. They are barely noticeable when placed in the mouth and if they were actually invisible, how would you be able to find and use them?

Are they as good at straightening teeth as traditional braces?

If you choose one of the best invisible aligners brand or start your treatment with a good orthodontist, clear aligners can be effective in teeth straightening. Besides, they are extremely useful for aesthetic areas and simple tooth problems. In contrast, traditional braces can exert more force and can correct complex issues in tooth positioning. These aligners use a series of trays that can exert mild to moderate force on the teeth to achieve their right positions and a beautiful smile.

Are invisible braces removable?

There are three types of invisible braces: ceramic and lingual braces, which are bonded to the teeth until the completion of the treatment, and clear aligners, which are a series of plastic trays that can be easily removed during the treatment.

Are they more expensive?

Among the invisible braces, lingual braces are the most expensive alignment system to date as they require computer customization for making the brackets according to the individual’s teeth. Clear aligners come a close second as a three-dimensional impression is taken by the dentist and sent to the manufacturer’s lab for the production of custom-fit trays. Ceramic braces are less expensive compared to the other invisible options but they do cost more than metal braces.

Will my invisible brace turn yellow?

The clear aligners can be removed while eating and drinking and that can certainly prevent them from turning yellow. The ceramic brackets do not stain but there is a possibility that the elastics holding the wire can stain and it is safer to avoid fatty and colorful foods.

Will my teeth stay straight after invisible braces?

The treatment plan for invisible braces can vary from 6 to 18 months, but it is prudent to keep using retainers after that period to hold the teeth in their position and to maintain your beautiful smile.


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