Understanding The Differences Between Clear Braces And Aligners

Posted on: 5 February 2020

If you'd like to have your teeth straightened but don't want it to be too obvious to the outside world, your two main options are clear braces and aligners. Both of these options can be used to treat crooked teeth, overcrowding, gaps between teeth and under bites, but aligners are sometimes not suitable for severe or complex adjustments that require a combination of oral surgery and braces. For most people, the choice between clear braces and aligners comes down to personal preference, so it's important to understand the main differences between these two options before making your final decision.

Clear Braces

Clear braces are designed to be more discreet than traditional metal braces. Instead of metal brackets being fixed to each tooth, ceramic brackets are used. These brackets are tooth-coloured, but they are still connected to a wire. Clear braces can only be removed by your dentist, and it typically takes a couple of years to complete treatment. However, there'll be noticeable improvement in your teeth within the first couple of months of wearing your braces, which can be encouraging when you're still getting used to wearing them.

There are some foods you need to avoid while you have braces, such as popcorn, nuts and caramels, as they can damage the brackets or get stuck in the braces. You will require regular dental appointments during treatment to have the wires on your braces tightened or changed, which ensures the braces remain tight enough to continue gradually moving your teeth into the desired position.


Aligners, like Invisalign braces, are made of a soft, clear plastic that's stain-resistant and discreet. They are removable, so there are no restrictions on what you can eat during your treatment period, but in order for them to be effective within the desired treatment time frame you need to keep them in for most of the day and night. Dentists typically recommend aligners are only removed during meal times.

Treatment with aligners can be quicker than braces, but you will still need regular dental appointments for the duration of treatment. At each appointment you will be given a new aligner as your teeth continue to move toward the desired alignment, and you'll be able to see a physical change in the positioning of your teeth. Without changing aligners, your teeth will stall in the position they are in, so missing appointments will prolong the length of your treatment.

The cost of clear braces and aligners is dependent on your personalised oral health assessment and treatment plan, so one option isn't always cheaper than the other. Discuss your preference in detail with your dentist before committing to either option.