The 7 Best Invisible Braces of 2022

Here’s a breakdown of our in-depth research into the best clear teeth aligners. These top invisible braces brands could be your key to a straighter smile that lasts.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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Invisible braces are a popular orthodontic treatment option for adults and teenagers who want to straighten their teeth without having a noticeable metal mouthpiece in the way.

Invisible braces (also known as clear aligners) are discreet, easier to clean than metal braces, and removable for eating and socializing. For those who have a sensitive gag reflex, clear aligners are slightly less bulky than traditional braces. They are also a great option for people who want to experience teeth straightening at home.

Our product reviews team breaks down the best clear aligner brands on the market today so you can choose the best invisible teeth straightening option for you.

A quick look at the best invisible braces of 2022:

Provider

Cost

Treatment Time

Payment Plan

Remote Monitoring

Lifetime Guarantee

$1,894

2-4 months

$1,950

4-6 months

$1,145

4-6 months

x

$1,894

6 months

x

$1,295

4-6 months

x

$1,848

4-8 months

x

$3,000 to $7,000

12-18 months

x

x

Why trust our expert review?

Hours of research

Experts consulted

Brands considered

Brands selected

3,200

5

17

7

Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We've spent collectively more than 3,200 hours conducting in-depth research on invisible braces. Throughout this process, we did the following:

  • Conducted ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with dentists and orthodontists
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed invisible braces users
  • Became customers of invisible braces companies
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Consumer Reports

The 7 best invisible braces brands

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Fastest treatment time: Byte

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Byte has the fastest average treatment time of any provider on this list at two to four months for mild cases. The company is able to expedite treatment times with its HyperByte device, a mouthpiece that uses high frequency vibration to help shorten treatment times and reduce discomfort. HyperByte is included with every Byte treatment plan. If speed is an important factor for you, Byte may be one of your best at-home teeth straightening options.

Pros

  • Fastest treatment time
  • Board-certified dentists and orthodontists oversee treatment
  • Complimentary teeth whitening
  • Retainer included
  • Financing options

Cons

  • No physical locations
  • Limited to mild or moderate alignment problems
  • Higher monthly payments than some competitors

Cost: $1,895

Average treatment time: 2–4 months

Treatment: At-home teeth straightening with remote monitoring

The quicker treatment time doesn't result in lower quality, as Byte dentists and orthodontists design a treatment plan for you by taking your entire facial structure into account, not just your teeth. Byte also offers two treatment options, an all-day aligner system and at-night aligner system, so you can choose when you want to wear your aligners. The all-day system requires you to wear your aligners for 22 hours a day, only removing them to eat and drink. With the at-night system, you wear your aligners for 10+ hours at night while you sleep.

However, there's one significant downside: Byte is only intended for those with mild or moderate teeth alignment issues and may not be the best Invisalign alternative for severe corrections. If your teeth are severely misaligned, you might need to consult with your local dentist or orthodontist to find a more suitable option. Also, Byte has no physical locations, so if you'd prefer to see a dental professional in person, then Byte may not be for you.

Byte has a lifetime guarantee, something you won't find with every teeth aligner on the market. The company will provide additional treatment at no charge if your teeth ever move out of alignment after using Byte. 

Byte cost

You can choose between a one-time fee or monthly payment plan for Byte's all-day or all-night aligner systems. Pay a lump sum of $1,895 for the all-day aligner system, which includes your treatment plan, aligners, HyperByte device, a bottle of BrightByte teeth whitener, and your first retainer. The at-night aligner system will cost you a one-time payment of $2,295. 

BytePay

Byte's monthly financing plan requires a $249 deposit and $82 per month for 32 months for the all-day system. The at-night system requires a $299 deposit and $99 per month for 32 months. In total, if you choose to use BytePay, you will pay $2,873 for the all-day system and $3,467 for the at-night system. 

Monthly financing may be more convenient, but it will cost significantly more over the long run: $978 more for the all-day system and $1,172 more for the at-night system. BytePay does come with the Byte Protection Plan, which includes five years of retainers and coverage for lost or stolen aligners. You'll pay for those things out of pocket if you opt for the one-time payment plan.

Byte customer reviews

On consumer review site Best Company, 90% of the invisible teeth aligner reviews gave Byte four stars or higher. Reviewers mentioned responsive customer service representatives who answered their questions and checked in regularly on their progress. Similarly, customers rated Byte 4.67 out of 5 stars on the BBB

RELATED: Byte Reviews 2022: Are These the Best Invisible Aligners?

Best for busy people: SmileDirectClub

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SmileDirectClub (SDC) offers patients the choice of at-home or in-office treatment. This flexibility is a good fit for active people who may also appreciate the choice between daytime or nighttime clear aligner options. This recognizable company—you've probably seen one of its television commercials—also offers busy users the ability to get started three different ways: from home, by visiting a SmileShop (one of the company's in-person locations), or by seeing one of over 1,500 SDC-affiliated dentists and orthodontists. Since the company's inception in 2014, it has served more than 1.5 million people. If your teeth alignment priorities are impressive perks (such as a Lifetime Smile Guarantee and a 30-Day Money-Back Promise) and convenient options, then SmileDirectClub could be a good option for you.

Pros

  • Complimentary teeth whitening
  • Multiple options for seeking treatment (from home, in-person, and SDC-affiliated dentists and orthodontists)
  • Lifetime guarantee if you maintain your retainer subscription

Cons

  • Retainers are an additional cost and last six months
  • Does not guarantee treatment being overseen by an orthodontist

Cost: $1,950

Average treatment time: 4–6 months

Treatment: At home, at a SDC SmileShop, or at a SDC-affiliated dentist or orthodontist office 

To determine if you're a good candidate, the company will send you a kit to collect a 3-D impression of your teeth. If you live near a SmileShop location, you can schedule an appointment for a scan there instead. SmileDirectClub has more than 300 retail stores throughout the nation, so there's likely to be one near you if you prefer this method of teeth straightening at home.

RELATED: SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign: Which Is the Best Choice for Straighter Teeth?

SmileDirectClub uses Comfort Sense technology, which trims teeth aligners to comfortably contour your gums. This also helps make teeth aligners less visible. While it's not the most affordable aligner on the market, customers may appreciate the financing options that don't require a credit check, meaning everyone automatically qualifies. 

SmileDirectClub cost

SmileDirectClub has two payment options, and prices are the same whether you choose the daytime or nighttime teeth alignment option:

  • Single Pay: This is the company's most affordable option—it's a one-time payment of $1,950 and includes free teeth whitening.
  • SmilePay: This is the company's monthly payment option—it costs $89 per month for 24 months with a $250 deposit. It also includes free teeth whitening.

SmileDirectClub customer reviews

SmileDirectClub holds high customer ratings on verified review sites. Customers gave SmileDirectClub four out of five stars on the BBB. Of more than 2,500 reviews, nearly 80% of reviewers gave SmileDirectClub four stars or higher on Best Company. Trustpilot reviewers gave it an average rating of nearly five out of five stars. 

However, there have been criticisms in the past that SmileDirectClub discouraged customers from leaving negative reviews by asking them to sign non-disclosure agreements when requesting refunds, according to The New York Times. Some complaints warn of inconsistent communication and delayed refunds.

RELATED: SmileDirectClub: Reviews and Results

Best value: AlignerCo

VISIT SITE

AlignerCo offers a high-quality experience at the lowest price on this list. The company has six different treatment plans (three plans for daytime and three for nighttime), and certain plans even include a free teeth whitening kit. 

However, with the lower price comes less expertise—AlignerCo treatment is only overseen by dentists, not more experienced orthodontists. But if price is the most important factor when choosing the best invisible braces for your needs, then AlignerCo may be right for you.

Pros

  • Financing options
  • Six treatment plans
  • Shorter average treatment time (4–6 months) than most brands on this list 

Cons

  • No physical locations
  • Treatment overseen only by dentists, not more experienced orthodontists

Cost: $1,145

Average treatment time: 4–6 months

Treatment: At home with remote monitoring

AlignerCo cost

It's possible to get a better smile for less with an AlignerCo treatment plan. Plans vary depending on whether you prefer a day-wear aligner or night-wear aligner. Here's a closer look at the daytime packages:

  • SmileAdvantage: The most affordable daytime plan, SmileAdvantage has a one-time cost of $1,145 and comes with free teeth whitening.
  • SmileFlex: This plan requires a credit check. If approved, it can cost as low as $81 per month for 12 months and also includes free teeth whitening.
  • SmileFlex Easy: This plan requires no credit check and costs $95 per month for 11 months with a $275 down payment. It does not include free teeth whitening and is the most expensive daytime plan that AlignerCo offers.

Nighttime subscriptions are more expensive: 

  • NightAdvantage: The most affordable nighttime plan, SmileAdvantage has a one-time cost of $1,345 and comes with free teeth whitening.
  • NightFlex: This plan requires a credit check. If approved, it costs $99 per month for 12 months and also includes free teeth whitening.
  • NightFlex Easy: This plan requires no credit check and costs $105 per month for 11 months with a $345 down payment. It does not include free teeth whitening and is the most expensive plan that AlignerCo offers.

AlignerCo customer reviews

Nearly 90% of reviewers on Best Company gave AlignerCo four or more stars—high marks that are comparable to other brands with steeper price points. There were fewer reviews on BBB and Trustpilot, but there, too, reviews were mostly positive. While AlignerCo has an F rating from the BBB due to the number of complaints filed, they received a 4.26 out of 5 star rating from 39 customer reviews. Negative reviews mentioned difficulties obtaining refunds and dissatisfaction with results. 

It should be noted that AlignerCo has no physical locations, and its treatment plans are overseen only by dentists, not orthodontists who have more training. With that said, compared to clear teeth aligner brands like Invisalign that charge thousands of dollars more, AlignerCo is a price-friendly teeth-straightening kit provider to consider.

Most affordable expert care: Candid

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Candid is the most affordable invisible braces provider on this list that only works with orthodontists to oversee treatment plans—not dentists or other dental professionals who are less specialized. The company uses a combination of impressions, imaging, and photos to not only develop a custom treatment plan but also give a comprehensive assessment of your oral health.

Pros

  • Most affordable care overseen only by orthodontists
  • Treats the entire mouth and doesn't focus only on straightening the front six teeth, unlike some companies
  • Offers Philips Zoom teeth whitening
  • Custom financing options available
  • App to track progress and share scans of your teeth every 10–14 days

Cons

  • No nighttime-only option
  • Candid locations in major metropolitan areas only

Cost: $1,895

Average treatment time: 6 months

Treatment: At-home teeth straightening with remote monitoring

Candid has remote monitoring capabilities powered by the CandidApp, which allows you to upload intraoral (inside of your mouth) photos of your teeth, submit updates to the company's orthodontists, live chat with your treatment team, track your progress, and access 3-D previews of your new smile. Candid only works with orthodontists to oversee your treatment, while some other at-home teeth straightening companies use dentists or other less-experienced dental professionals. Orthodontists undertake six to seven years of training, while dentists complete four. Additionally, orthodontists are specifically trained in how to straighten teeth; dentists have less specialization in teeth alignment.

Another reason that Candid earns the distinction of Most Affordable Expert Care is that the company treats your entire mouth, unlike some other invisible braces companies that focus only on straightening your front six teeth. Candid treats the health and alignment of your entire mouth. This high level of care by orthodontists means Candid may be able to tackle complex teeth straightening cases for a lower cost than other providers like Invisalign. On average, Candid costs less than $2,000, while Invisalign prices start around $3,000. Candid is also the only clear aligner company to offer Philips Zoom whitening, which is a professional-grade teeth whitening system that shows results in as little as three days.

Candid requires you to send pictures of your teeth about every 14 days to monitor your treatment progress. The company also offers a treatment guarantee (with some restrictions) that allows you to continue treatment at no additional charge, if you are unsatisfied with your outcome.

Candid cost

Candid costs $1,895 and offers custom financing plans rather than the set payment plan tiers that other companies on this list offer. Custom financing plans start at $65 per month for 36 months with a $199 down payment and 0% interest.

Candid customer reviews

Candid customers are generally satisfied with their experience. On Best Company, 95% of reviewers gave Candid four or more stars. Candid has an average 4.74 out of 5 stars on BBB and 4.3 stars on Trustpilot. In the invisible aligner reviews we reviewed, several customers mentioned customer service representatives by name and expressed their relief for the helpful and responsive service. 

While our product reviews team noted some complaints about Candid customer service in the past, more recent clear teeth aligner reviews show customers now seem to be much more satisfied with the service.

RELATED: Candid Teeth Aligners 2022 Review

Best perks: NewSmile

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While some companies charge additional fees for the initial impression kit, NewSmile includes this in the cost of your treatment plan. You will even receive a three-month supply of whitening solution—if you want more, it costs $39 for a one-month supply.

Pros

  • Video calls with orthodontists
  • Free retainers upon finishing treatment

Cons

  • Only treats very mild teeth alignment cases
  • No physical locations

Cost: $1,295

Average treatment time: 4–6 months

Treatment: Remote monitoring

NewSmile clear aligners are made of latex-free plastic and contain no bisphenol A, the chemical better known as BPA. BPA is found in certain plastics and has been linked to health effects on children and certain diseases in adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. Once you sign up to receive your impression kit, you can schedule a video call with an impression specialist to ensure correct application. The NewSmile team will then create your aligner plan and send it along with a treatment progression plan. 

It is easy to chart the progress of your smile at home through the company's NewSmile app. Treatment is overseen by a mixture of dentists and orthodontists, and you can choose an all-day alignment plan or the nighttime-only treatment. 

NewSmile cost

NewSmile offers three different payment plans for daytime wear: 

  • Fast Track: This is the most affordable daytime plan and requires a lump-sum payment of $1,295. It includes a free one-month supply of whitening foam.
  • Monthly Plan: This payment plan costs $77 per month for at least 18 months with no down payment and 0% interest. It also includes a free one-month supply of whitening foam.
  • Impression Kit + Preview: This plan is for those who are unsure whether NewSmile is right for them. For $49, it includes your impression kit and treatment preview. If you're satisfied with your treatment plan, you then pay separately for your invisible aligners.

NewSmile also offers three different payment plans for nighttime wear:

  • Night Aligners: This is the most affordable nighttime plan and requires a lump-sum payment of $1,395. It includes a free one-month supply of whitening foam.
  • Night Aligners Monthly: This payment plan costs $83 per month for at least 18 months with no down payment and 0% interest. It also includes a free one-month supply of whitening foam.
  • Night Aligners Preview Plan: This plan costs $139 for the impression kit and treatment preview. Like the daytime plan, if you're satisfied you then pay separately for your invisible aligners. 

NewSmile customer reviews

Customer service is another reason NewSmile stands out when compared to other brands—every time our product review team called the customer service line, our call was answered within one minute. If the representative could not answer our treatment questions, we were immediately directed to another department. The promptness of their responses, friendliness of the customer service representatives, and knowledge of the product that they relayed makes NewSmile a good option for those who value remote care with responsive customer service. Because NewSmile is such a new company (only two years old), there are very few reviews on verified customer review sites such as the BBB and Trustpilot.

Most flexible: Strayt

VISIT SITE

Strayt is the most convenient brand on our list with its multiple treatment options, flexible payment plans, and Mobile Scan offering, which sends a technician in an electric vehicle to your house to take a free, in-person digital scan of your teeth to start the process. While Mobile Scan is not available nationwide, it is still a flexible option for those who value having different treatment options to choose from.

Pros

  • At-home kits or in-office scans
  • Mobile Scan consultation that comes to you to take a digital scan of your teeth
  • Flexible payment and treatment plans
  • 3-D treatment preview designed by professional orthodontists
  • Money-back guarantee within 30 days of delivery

Cons

  • Potentially longer treatment times (up to 8 months)
  • Aligners do not cover molars

Cost: $1,848

Average treatment time: 4–8 months

Treatment: At home or in office

Strayt offers a lot of flexibility, so it's great for users who want to be in control of their entire treatment, whether you prefer an at-home teeth straightening procedure or an office visit. You'll choose how to get your teeth scanned, when to wear your clear aligners, and how much and what kind of payment plan you prefer. The ordering process begins with you deciding on how you want your teeth scanned. You can choose from three options:

  • Mobile Scan at home: A professional comes to your home and takes a digital scan of your teeth and mouth.
  • In-office scan: Visit one of Strayt's partner offices and have a professional do the scan for you.
  • At-home kits: Complete a DIY impression kit at home.

The most flexible teeth scanning option, and one of the brand's biggest differentiating features, is the Mobile Scan, which allows you to schedule a technician to come to your house and take a free digital scan of your teeth. The Strayt Mobile Scan uses a fleet of fully electric vehicles and shows the digital scan of your teeth in real time. However, this service is only available in select locations. You can enter your zip code into the company's Mobile Scan finder to see if the service is available in your area.

If the scan deems you a good candidate for Strayt teeth aligners, Strayt will send out your 3-D, interactive treatment plan preview through its Smile Design app. The app lets you visualize the progression of your treatment plan, and its interactive functionality allows you to look at your teeth at every angle during every stage of the process. The 3-D treatment plan preview is also a great option for those who want to see how their smile will look throughout the process before they have gone through it.

After you approve your treatment plan, then it's time to choose your preferred treatment process. You can decide if you want to wear your clear aligners throughout the day or just at night. Keep in mind that limiting your use to nighttime will make the treatment take longer because you're wearing them for less time. 

Strayt cost

Like other companies on this list, Strayt offers several different payment plan options. One difference is that Strayt offers the same price whether you choose the daytime or nighttime option, while other brands typically charge more for the nighttime plan. Here's a closer look at the Strayt payment options:

  • Strayt Pay: This is the company's most affordable plan. It requires a one-time payment of $1,848 and, like all of Strayt's plans, includes teeth whitening and your first set of retainers. 
  • 12-Month Plan: This is the plan with the lowest amount of money down—it costs $154 per month for 12 months after a $199 down payment.
  • 24-Month Plan: This plan has the lowest monthly payment—it costs $87 per month for 24 months after a $248 down payment.

Strayt customer reviews

Strayt is a newer company (founded in 2019), so it doesn't have many reviews on verified customer review sites. While it has only 24 reviews on Best Company, all 24 customers rated the service five out of five stars.

Best for complex cases: Invisalign

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One of the oldest aligner companies, Invisalign uses three proprietary technologies capable of helping patients with more complex cases, according to research from June 2021 in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Invisalign also offers in-person consultations, which is good for those who prefer meeting face-to-face with a dental professional.

Pros

  • In-person treatment plan and appointments
  • Addresses complex dental needs, such as overbite and underbite
  • Offers treatment plans for kids as young as 6 years old
  • Invisible teeth aligners are made with SmartTrack material, a patented, longer-lasting material than what's in conventional aligners 

Cons

  • More expensive than other leading clear aligner brands
  • Treatment time is longer compared to rivals
  • More in-person appointments, which is less convenient than some other aligner brands

Cost: $3,000–$7,000 (variable)

Average treatment time: 12–18 months

Treatment: In-office with 3-D scan and X-rays

When most people think of invisible braces, they think of Invisalign. This is because Invisalign has been around for two decades and has years of positive customer feedback. Unlike other brands, Invisalign uses customized attachments to treat challenging tooth problems, which is what makes them one of the best teeth aligner options. SmartForce attachments, SmartTrack aligner material, and SmartStage planning to better predict how teeth will move during treatment make Invisalign the best invisible aligners for those who have more tooth crowding or an overbite they need corrected. It also means a higher price tag. 

Invisalign treatment begins with receiving a consultation from a dentist or orthodontist who will determine if it's right for you. After getting your digital scan and molds crafted, your dentist will design your at-home teeth straightening kit and ask to see you every four to six weeks throughout treatment. The company's hands-on treatment care is another reason why users have trusted its credibility for years. The oversight of a trained dental professional prevents the user errors that could occur during at-home treatment. For some busy people, however, the inconvenience of regularly meeting with a dentist or orthodontist may be too much. 

Invisalign cost

Prices vary depending on the severity of your alignment problems. The more complex the case, the longer the treatment required—and the higher the cost that it entails. Other factors that influence Invisalign cost include your dentist's or orthodontist's fee, where you live, and the type of insurance coverage you have. 

Many clients are willing to pay the higher cost for Invisalign's customization—your smile is unique, so it might be worth a personalized treatment plan. Invisalign is also the only brand that offers a treatment plan, called Invisalign First, for kids ages 6 through 10. 

Invisalign customer reviews

Invisalign has an average 4.4- out of 5-star rating on Best Company but no reviews on other trusted sites such as BBB or Trustpilot. Overall, Invisalign teeth aligner reviewers report being satisfied with the service, although some pointed out the high cost compared to other invisible braces companies.

How do invisible teeth aligners work? 

To begin treatment, either you or a dental professional take an impression of your teeth by digitally scanning them or having you bite into a mold. These molds are then used to design your aligners in a "progression" plan, meaning each set is designed to move your teeth in the desired position. Each time you change into your new aligners, your trays will use gentle pressure to slowly shift your teeth into their new, corrected position. For example, Invisalign trays move teeth approximately​​ 0.25 to 0.3 millimeters every two weeks, according to Erica Anand, DDS, a pediatric dentist in New York.

Treatment throughout the process is either done remotely as part of an at-home teeth straightening kit or in-office with a licensed professional. Some companies, such as Candid, require photos of your teeth every two weeks. Others, such as Invisalign, require it every four. The most important part of the process is following the step-by-step instructions, such as wearing your aligners for the recommended 20 to 22 hours per day so as to not delay treatment. 

When your treatment is complete, you'll generally have to wear a retainer for a period of time to ensure your results last and your teeth don't shift. 

Terminology: Braces versus aligners

People use many different terms when talking about the best teeth straightening options. The primary confusion comes from the difference between the terms "braces" and "aligners."

  • Traditional braces: Traditional braces are the metal mouthpieces that are attached to the teeth by an orthodontist. They've been around for years and have helped millions of people straighten their teeth. But metal braces are visible, somewhat bulky, and occasionally uncomfortable for the wearer.
  • Invisible braces: As the name suggests, invisible braces are less visible than traditional metal braces. Originally, the term invisible braces was used by orthodontists to refer to braces made from polycrystalline alumina (a kind of ceramic) instead of the traditional metal. These braces are made to have the same color as your surrounding teeth to make them less visible and are therefore more aesthetic than metal braces. They are just as effective as traditional metal braces but also tend to be more expensive. Invisible braces are also known as ceramic braces or transparent braces, but these terms are used less frequently. In recent years, clear teeth aligner companies (like Invisalign and Byte) have adopted the term invisible braces to include their products. Health also uses the term "invisible braces" interchangeably with clear teeth aligners.
  • Clear teeth aligners: Also known as "invisible aligners" or just "clear aligners," clear teeth aligners have become popular because they are almost invisible to the casual observer and are effective at correcting mild to moderate teeth alignment issues. Clear teeth aligners are a good fit for people who prefer an at-home teeth straightening experience without going to the orthodontist. Finally, clear teeth aligners are more affordable than traditional metal or ceramic braces because you don't have to visit an orthodontist office to start the process. 

Differences between metal braces and clear aligners 

Invisible braces are a great option for adults who want to get their teeth straightened but don't want the metal hardware—and want a little more flexibility in their treatment. 

The first noticeable difference between braces and clear aligners is the appearance. When it comes to traditional braces, wearers have two general options, according to the American Association of Orthodontists

  • The standard metal wires
  • Clear braces that still involve a metal wire but provide a ceramic tooth-colored coating to reduce noticeability and provide a more transparent appearance

Greg Asatrian, DDS, a board-certified orthodontist in Southern California, treats patients with both traditional braces and clear dental aligners. "Clear aligners offer an advantage over traditional braces because they are aesthetically pleasing and removable," Asatrian told Health. "If you have to take a photo or take them off for whatever reason, you can, and it will be very hard to tell that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment."

Also, traditional braces usually require a much longer treatment plan, upward of two to three years. Invisible braces are worn usually about a year, which makes them not well-suited for those who have serious teeth-correcting needs. 

If you are curious about whether invisible braces will work for you, visit your dentist or orthodontist for an evaluation. Getting a dental evaluation before making a final decision about getting invisible braces is the first step in starting your treatment process. Your dentist or orthodontist can suggest the best at-home teeth straightening option for you.

Here's a closer look at how metal braces compare to invisible braces when it comes to comfort, cost, and convenience:

-

Metal braces

Invisible braces

Cosmetic

Clearly visible

Barely noticeable

Cost

Wires are in at all times; have to avoid certain foods; pressure of the wires can feel demanding or painful in the mouth

Can be taken out while eating or cleaned throughout the day; aligners are generally more comfortable to wear

Comfort

$6,000 on average

$1,000 to $7,000

Convenience

Worn anywhere between six to 36 months

Worn anywhere between four to 12 months

Who is eligible for clear aligners or invisible braces?

It can be tricky to determine the best course of dental treatment for your case. It's important to know that even the best clear aligners are not right for everyone, and determining if they are requires weighing several factors. 

One of the biggest factors is the severity of your alignment needs. With invisible braces, you can fix mild-to-moderate malocclusions, also known as having crooked teeth or a "poor bite," according to University of Michigan Health. Clear aligners, or invisible braces, are also good options to correct small spacing, mild relapse after prior orthodontic treatment, crowding, and crowded or gapped teeth, according to Anand.

Caroline Girard, DDS, a Beverly Hills dentist specializing in cosmetics, tells Health, "At-home aligners are a fantastic option for consumers hoping to improve the alignment of their front six top and bottom teeth. I've seen excellent results for these mild cases. For anything more challenging, it's best to work with a dentist or orthodontist." 

Adults and teens who are dedicated to treatment and have the main goal of a straighter smile are seen as the best candidates for invisible braces. The next step is to choose a licensed provider and complete a dental assessment. 

Who shouldn't use invisible braces? 

As Girard previously stated, invisible braces are limited in what they can accomplish. Severe teeth alignment issues may not be reparable through even the best invisible braces. If this is the case, traditional braces may be a better option.

Invisible braces are not considered a good treatment for people with spacing more than 5 mm, severe jaw discrepancies, open bites, and several missing teeth, according to Anand. It is always recommended to discuss your treatment needs with your dental provider. 

Compliance can be an obstacle to consider if you cannot dedicate the time to wearing your invisible braces as prescribed. You need to wear aligners for 20–22 hours per day for treatment to progress. Otherwise, treatment can last longer than initially planned or change because teeth are not moving as expected, according to Anand.

Age is another important factor to consider. While brands such as Invisalign offer a treatment plan for kids ages 6 to 10, most of the other brands require candidates to be at least 13 years old. Compliance can be an issue for younger patients. Teenagers that do receive invisible braces should be monitored by parents to ensure they are properly following protocols so they don't delay the success of the treatment. 

How we chose the best invisible braces

We determined our top picks based on the following criteria:

  • Price
  • Dentist- or orthodontist-led treatment
  • Screening process for determining eligibility
  • Treatment process
  • Ease and consistency of follow-up during treatment
  • Willingness to assess and provide revisions during or after treatment if needed
  • Customer service
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Product guarantees
  • Financing and warranties

Bottom line

Despite its vast user base, Invisalign is at least twice as expensive as the other brands we evaluated. This brand may be a good fit for you, however, if you have complex misalignment, such as crowding or bite issues.

If you're looking to save money yet still receive high-quality care, Byte or Candid might be better options. Byte also promises the fastest results out of all the brands we reviewed, and the nighttime-only option is a great alternative for those who are too busy during the day but still prefer to try teeth straightening at home. Byte is our overall top choice due to its multiple options for connecting with customer service and lifetime guarantee. Candid is our choice for Best Expert Care since the company works only with orthodontists, not other less experienced dental professionals. AlignerCo is best if your first priority is saving money—it's the lowest-priced provider on our list. 

If you're looking for brands that offer more flexibility, then you should consider New Smile, Strayt, and even SmileDirectClub. All three brands offer various treatment plans and remote monitoring, so they're great for those on the go. SmileDirectClub is the priciest of this bunch, while Strayt offers several payment plans. 

Frequently asked questions

Do clear aligners really work? 

Yes, clear aligners have been proven to work, according to a January 2019 systematic review published in BMC Oral Health that examined eight clinical studies. To evaluate the effectiveness of invisible braces compared with braces, this review analyzed eight papers, two of which were randomized controlled trials and six were cohort studies that followed people over time to collect data at different points in participants' lives. 

The review found that clear aligners were effective at treating malocclusion, or crooked teeth, and did produce better segmented movement of teeth with a shorter treatment duration than traditional braces. However, clear aligners were not as effective as traditional braces at treating more complex misalignments, including significant teeth gaps, extreme crookedness, and major jaw displacement. 

How long do invisible braces take to work? 

On average, users can expect to wear invisible braces for six months. The length of treatment is dependent on the severity of your teeth straightening needs and how well you are able to follow your treatment plan. Brands such as Byte guarantee treatment to last no longer than four months, while those who choose Invisalign can expect to wear their aligners up to 18 months.

Those who choose the nighttime-use option for some of the brands could possibly require longer treatments simply because the braces are worn for less time each day. Also, people who prefer to have an at-home teeth straightening option and reduce visits to the orthodontist may experience a longer treatment period since the process is less closely monitored than a plan with in-office visits. Those who choose at-home teeth straightening need to follow all treatment procedures correctly so they don't delay the length of the treatment process.

What are clear braces?

The term "clear braces" can be confusing since it's used to refer to two different types of devices that move your teeth. One type of clear braces is the traditional orthodontic tool made of ceramic, tooth-colored brackets connected by metal wires. However, many times when people say "clear braces," they are actually referring to a clear dental aligner, which is a transparent, fitted tray that fits in your mouth to move your teeth. These aligners are also called clear aligners, invisible aligners, or invisible braces. 

Is Invisalign the same as clear aligners? 

Invisalign is often referred to by several synonymous names, such as "clear aligners," "invisible braces," "teeth straightening kit," or even "teeth aligners." Clear aligners are an encompassing term for all of the teeth-straightening alternatives to traditional metal braces. In other words, Invisalign is a brand of clear aligner. 

Are clear aligners covered by insurance? 

You have several options to pay for your clear aligner costs. Some insurance plans with orthodontic coverage may cover part of your treatment costs, so it's important to ask your network provider about your coverage options. Orthodontic service is also covered by most HSA or FSA accounts.

How much does teeth alignment cost? 

Teeth straightening costs can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors. According to research in the Account and Financial Management Journal from 2019, traditional metal braces cost $6,000 on average, but if you have dental insurance, your costs could be cut by half or more. Typically, they are more expensive than the alternative clear aligner option.

Aligners can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000, and you may have additional fees for your visits to an orthodontist's clinic. As an example, most people pay between $3,000 to $7,000 for Invisalign. If you're looking for the most affordable way to straighten teeth, at-home invisible braces companies like NewSmile and AlignerCo offer invisible aligners around $1,200.

References

The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (2021). Product Review and Demonstration of the Invisalign Clear Aligner System

American Association of Orthodontists (2019). Braces vs. Clear Aligners

University of Michigan Health (2020). Malocclusion and Orthodontics

Dr. Courtney Schmidt is a clinical consultant pharmacist and health and wellness writer who covers topics including senior health, hearing aids, oral health, and invisible braces. Since completing her Pharm.D. at the University of Florida, Dr. Schmidt has worked in multiple clinical settings and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Erica Anand is a licensed dental specialist with experience in personalized dental content writing and blogging for corporate publications. She is skilled at developing and editing dental health related content, creating product reviews, and producing high-quality oral health materials for several marketing firms. She has over five years of experience with dental marketing firms and her passion for writing has led her to do part-time consulting in the dental health and technology fields.