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Mail-Order Braces: Straighten Teeth Without the Hassle of a Dentist’s Office

Natalie Asmussen

Written by Natalie Asmussen

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Mail-order braces are a rising trend in the orthodontic world. They claim to let you straighten your teeth much faster than standard braces, and for a much lower price. Not to mention they’re transparent so that you can say bye to nicknames like ‘brace face’ and ‘metal mouth.’ But how do these mail order teeth aligners work? And are they effective and safe?

In this article, we do a deep dive into invisible brace by mail, talking about cost, safety, and efficacy so you can decide if they are the best option for you.

What Are Mail-Order Teeth Aligners?

Mail-order teeth aligners, invisible braces by mail, or at-home aligners have gotten extremely popular in recent years. In fact, the market is expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2026. Let’s take a look at exactly what these mail-order aligners are, how they work, and if this is the best treatment option for you.

How Do Braces by Mail Work?

Mail order teeth aligners work quite a bit differently than traditional metal braces. With traditional braces, you have to go for a consultation with your orthodontist; then, you have to go back to get scans or impressions made of your teeth. After that, your orthodontist creates your treatment plan, and once it’s finished, you go back to their office to get your braces applied.

what are mail order braces
definition mail order braces

You then wear your braces for an average of 24 months, with regular appointments every 2 to 6 weeks to get your wires tightened, or various other adjustments such as elastics, springs, and chains. When you finish with the treatment you need to go to your orthodontist again to get your braces taken off, at which point they will give you a retainer that you must wear for the rest of your life, but only at night.

Mail-order braces, on the other hand, involve treatment that can be completed 100% remotely. The general way that most braces by mail work can be summarized with the following steps:

Online assessment:

Most at-home aligner brands have an online test or evaluation that you can take to find out right away if you could be a candidate. Eligible candidates for this kind of treatment are people who have mild to moderate malocclusion. If you need orthodontic treatment for complex cases or severely misaligned teeth, then there is currently no at-home aligner brand that could work for you. There are clear aligner brands, like Invisalign and ClearCorrect, but they require in-office visits.

Impression kit/3D scans:

If the online assessment deems you are a candidate for this type of remote orthodontic treatment, you can then order your impression kit online. You’ll receive your impression kit in the mail, and make molds of your teeth at home. The aligner company and associated dentist or orthodontist will then use your molds to come up with your treatment plan. Some aligner brands also give patients the option to go to a physical location where a representative can make 3D scans of your teeth. That way, you don’t have to go through the trouble of making impressions on your own. Either way is valid; it depends on what you are more comfortable with.

Begin treatment:

Once your aligners have been made in the lab, you will receive all of your trays at once in the mail, and you can begin treatment.

Remote monitoring:

Throughout your treatment, you’ll check in with your dentist or orthodontist periodically to make sure everything is going as planned. Like Candid, some companies have advanced AI technology that speeds treatment up and makes it more accurate.


After you’ve completed your treatment, you’ll need to wear a retainer every night for the rest of your life to make sure your teeth don’t move back into a misaligned position. Some brands include your retainer as part of your treatment; others require you to purchase it separately. Retainers should be replaced as often as instructed to ensure they function at maximum capacity.

Are Mail Order Braces Safe?

The answer to this question often depends on who you ask. Many orthodontists are vehemently against this kind of treatment because you don’t get the one-on-one, in-person monitoring as you do with in-office treatment. Others recognize the importance of making orthodontic care accessible to everyone who needs it, and concede that if you only need minor adjustments, mail-order braces can indeed be safe and effective.

Key Differences Between Traditional Braces and Mail-Order Teeth Aligners

There are many differences between traditional braces and mail-order teeth aligners, especially when it comes to treatment time, price, and eligibility requirements. Let’s take a closer look at some of these essential differences.

You can’t order traditional braces by mail

You can’t order traditional braces by mail, mainly because an orthodontist has to be there to adhere them to your teeth. Additionally, frequently when someone gets traditional braces, it’s for a complex case of malocclusion that needs to be diagnosed in-person and closely monitored during treatment.

Don’t require dental visits

Traditional braces require regular in-office visits with your orthodontist. These visits include everything from consultations and 3D scans, to getting your braces on, adjusted, and having them taken off.

Mail order teeth straightening can’t fix severe/complex cases

Because of the lack of in-person oversight, mail-order teeth aligners are only meant for patients with mild to moderate cases. Anything more complex or severe must be treated with traditional braces or in-office aligners like Invisalign.

Can sometimes cost you more money

Traditional braces can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000, whereas at-home clear aligners cost between $1,000 and $3,000.

Nighttime options

Another thing that some mail-order teeth aligners offer that traditional braces do not is a nighttime treatment option. That means that you only have to wear your aligners during the night while you sleep, with perhaps a little overlap with your early morning or late-night awake hours. Both Byte and Smile Direct Club are two of the brands that offer nighttime treatment options. Treatment takes a bit longer than it doesn’t with the standard plan, and these options can be more expensive as well.

Invisalign vs Braces by Mail: Are they the same?

Let’s do a quick Invisalign review to see how similar they are to mail-order braces comparing Invisalign cost, monitoring and other factors. Invisalign looks and feels a lot like mail order braces, but they aren’t the same. While they are both types of invisible braces or removable plastic aligners that are difficult to see, there are some significant differences:

Can You Order Invisalign Online?

order teeth straightening online

Many people wonder if you can mail order Invisalign. The answer is no, you can’t mail order Invisalign, because this type of treatment requires regular in-office visits. You can go to the Invisalign website and search for an Invisalign provider in your area to make an in-person appointment. If you really want to mail order Invisalign or other invisible braces, then you should consider an at-home option.

Pros and Cons of Mail Order Teeth Straightening

Benefits and Drawbacks of Mail Order Braces

As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of mail order braces. Some of the benefits and disadvantages of mail order teeth straightening include:

  • They are more affordable than traditional braces
  • They are less noticeable
  • They are removable
  • They are more comfortable
  • They can’t treat severe or complex cases.
  • You don’t have the security of in-person supervision by a dentist or orthodontist.

What Dentists Have to Say About Order Invisible Braces by Mail?

What Dentists Have to Say About Order Invisible Braces by Mail

Many dentists are opposed to this kind of remote treatment, because treatment isn’t directly assessed and supervised by a dentist or orthodontist. That being said, there are plenty of dentists and orthodontists who do believe that this type of treatment can be effective, especially those that partner with these brands to monitor treatment.

When Can Mail Order Teeth Straightening Be a Good Choice?

Mail Order braces are an excellent choice for many patients, while for others, traditional braces would be better. Orthodontic treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, so you need to find out which is the best for your smile. Have a look at the following reasons why you might want to choose one over the other:

Mail-order teeth straightening is the right choice for you if…

Traditional braces are the right choice for you if…

braces vs mail-order teeth aligners
mail-order teeth aligners vs braces

Mail order teeth aligners are an increasingly popular way to straighten teeth. They provide remote treatment options, with no in-person dentist or orthodontist visits necessary. However, many allow you to go to a physical location, so you don’t have to take your teeth impressions by yourself.

This type of teledentistry orthodontics is only intended for those with mild to moderate cases of malocclusion. Anything more complex or severe will require in-person supervision from a dentist or orthodontist.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Natalie

    Great article, good and clear information!

    Mail-order aligners are also good to use if you move around often, like if you are in the military or are a family in the State Department, so you don’t have to start and end treatment with different orthodontists.

    Thank you 🙏🏻

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