A close up of woman's mouth wearing clear braces

Alternatives for Metal Braces: The Best Way to Straighten Your Teeth

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications


Braces can make a huge difference in a person’s smile and self-confidence. However, wearing traditional metal braces for two or three years might not fit some lifestyles.

In determining the orthodontic treatment to fit your situation best, your orthodontist and dentist will work closely with you. After all, the three of you have the same goal: to straighten your teeth and improve your bite,

Know, though, that in today’s orthodontic world, options worth discussing exist beyond metallic braces. These options might be more comfortable and more cosmetically pleasing than having a mouth full of metal.

What Are Alternatives to Metal Braces?

To avoid metal mouth, you might find these options work for you.

Clear Aligner Trays: Custom-made to fit securely over your teeth, aligner trays don't have brackets that give braces their name. Effective for correcting misaligned and crooked teeth, aligner trays can also fix bite-related issues.

With clear aligner trays, you'll see improvement – without any of the braces' discomfort – in about a year, depending on your situation. You'll get a supply of trays to last you until they've done their magic.

Best of all, they're removable, so you'll have no specific food restrictions and can stick with your usual oral health routine.

Clear Braces: These braces feature innovations in the way braces work and look:

  • Self-ligating tieless braces feature brackets that slide with the arch-wires to eliminate tightening. These clear braces move your teeth quickly and effectively with less force than metal braces.

There are also no elastics or active clips, which can cause irritation that slows down treatment. Beyond comfort and aesthetics, the braces are resistant to staining and discoloration.

You'll need fewer office visits than with traditional braces or clear aligner trays – a benefit to families with busy work and school schedules.

  • Clear-bracket braces include a type with a patented sapphire material making braces crystal clear instead of white or tooth-colored. Since these braces won't stain or discolor during treatment, they'll remain invisible except for the supportive arch-wires.

Lingual Braces: With these, no one can tell you're wearing braces. Placed on the backside of your teeth (called the lingual surface), they're effectively hidden from view.

All of the brackets and wires are custom made to fit your teeth. These "hidden" braces are effective in treating many typical orthodontic problems.

Costs and Home Care Post-Orthodontia

Whatever option you choose, you'll probably pay more than you would for traditional metal braces. Costs vary depending on the clear aligner trays or clear and hidden braces you use as well as your treatment plan.

You can decide if less fuss and less metal are worth it to accommodate your lifestyle.

One thing is sure, though: You can't ignore your oral health routine following any procedure. Keep your beautifully aligned teeth healthy and cavity-free by brushing, flossing (aka interdental cleaning), and checking in regularly with your dentist.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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