From kids to adults, many people flinch at the thought of wearing braces for months (sometimes years!) to correct the bite of their teeth.
Fortunately, in 2023, there is a bunch of alternatives to braces that you can choose from, depending on the severity of your orthodontic issue, the right treatment for your needs, and your budget.
In this guide, we’ll look at the six most popular alternatives to braces and the benefits, drawbacks, and costs of each one.
Table of Contents
- The problem with metal braces
- 6 key alternatives to braces
- Invisalign clear aligners
- Ceramic braces
- Lingual braces
- 6 key alternatives to braces
- Cheapest alternative to braces
- Best alternative to braces for adults and children
What’s the Problem with Metal Braces?
Metal braces have long been the traditional choice for orthodontic treatment, but let’s be real – the inconvenience of braces can be offputting.
One of the most common complaints around metal braces is the way that they look. For many – teenagers and adults alike – this can have a negative effect on a person’s self-esteem due to their appearance while wearing braces. Additionally, metal braces require the user to make dietary and lifestyle changes. They also require additional adjustment appointments that can rack up costs and take up valuable time.
The bulky, unsightly, costly, and inconvenient nature of braces mean that a lot of people who need to straighten their teeth are now looking to alternatives:
6 Key Alternatives to Braces
If you’re daunted or worried by the prospect of having to wear braces, don’t stress yet — you may be suited to one of these alternatives.
1. Invisalign Clear Aligners
Perhaps the most well-known alternative to braces, Invisalign clear aligners are widely considered the most discreet orthodontic treatment. You’ll receive sets of custom-made, clear trays that will shift your teeth throughout the treatment period. Patients who choose Invisalign applaud its near-invisible nature and the ability to remove the trays for brushing, eating, and drinking.
- Near invisible appearance
- Easy to remove, clean, and replace
- Includes several months’ worth of aligner trays
- Custom-made to fit your mouth comfortably
- Invisalign cannot treat more severe orthodontic issues
Average Cost Range: $6,000–$9,000
Retainers are custom made devices of wire or plastic, typically worn after braces to maintain teeth alignment and prevent relapsing. However, they can also be useful as a sole treatment for very minor overcrowding or alignment issues. Retainers are worn over the upper or lower teeth, much like Invisalign clear aligners.
- Easy to wear and remove
- Mostly unnoticeable
- Only suitable for minor bite issues
- Complicates oral hygiene
Average Cost Range: $100–$500
3. Ceramic Braces
If your main reservation of traditional braces is their appearance, ceramic braces may be the best alternative for you.
The colour of ceramic braces is a close match for your natural tooth colour, so they’re less noticeable while providing effective teeth straightening treatment.
- Less noticeable than metal braces
- Matches natural tooth enamel
- Provides equal correction strength to metal braces
- More expensive than metal braces
- Prone to staining if not maintained properly
Average Cost Range: $6,500–$9,500
4. Lingual Braces
Using the same components as traditional braces, lingual braces are the closest relation to the original orthodontic solution on this list. Instead of fixing to the front of your teeth, however, lingual braces are fixed to the back, so they are hidden and nearly invisible.
Lingual braces are as effective as traditional metal braces, but may cause lisping and discomfort and may not be suitable for patients with deep overbite.
- Hidden and nearly invisible
- Corrects the same alignment issues as traditional braces
- The most expensive type of braces
- May cause a lisp
- May cause discomfort for your tongue and mouth
Average Cost Range: $9,500–$15,000
Bonded or porcelain veneers are a cosmetic procedure that can correct gaps and smooth out chipped, worn, or stained teeth. You won’t go to the orthodontist for this one, but keep in mind that veneers are best suited to correcting single or several teeth rather than all, due to the high cost per tooth and the cosmetic focus of the procedure. Veneers also won’t fix any major alignment issues.
- Precise correction of gaps, chips, and worn enamel
- Improves the appearance and shade of your teeth
- Expensive (priced per tooth) and may not be covered by insurance
- Not applicable for severe misalignment across many teeth
Average Cost Range: $1,400–$1,800 per tooth
Headgear devices are often worn alongside braces to correct teeth alignment but are effective treatments for jaw realignment alone in children, as they can apply pressure to their jaw and correct misalignment as they grow. However, headgear is even less discreet than braces and may be less effective for correcting misaligned teeth.
- Only needs to be worn a few hours a day
- Speeds up treatment time when paired with other treatment methods
- Lengthy treatment time
- Indiscreet and initially uncomfortable
- Very rarely effective for adults
- Ineffective for teeth alignment
Average Cost Range: $1,000–$9,000
Which is the Cheapest Alternative to Braces?
Considering price alone, retainers are the cheapest alternative to braces, with an average price range of $100–$500. However, retainers have limited treatment capabilities and typically only rectify minor crowding or shifting issues.
Invisalign treatments are the most popular alternative for moderate orthodontic issues, ranging from $6,000 to $9,000, depending on the length of your treatment.
For severe issues, the only feasible alternatives to traditional braces are either lingual or ceramic braces, which, predictably, are more expensive than the previous two alternatives.
So, the cheapest alternatives to braces are:
- Retainers — for minor issues
- Invisalign — for moderate issues
- Ceramic braces — for severe issues
What is the Best Alternative to Braces for Adults and Children?
It’s important to understand that adult mouths are fully developed while children’s are still growing. That’s why orthodontic issues in adults are often more challenging to treat. Retainers or headgear alone are usually not enough to correct bite issues in adults, though they may be effective for children.
An alternative to braces that suits children and adults equally is Invisalign, which can typically treat moderate bite issues in a shorter timeframe, without the same level of inconvenience.
While adolescents and teens are still recommended to wear conventional braces, Invisalign clear aligners are just as effective and safe for children as they are for adults. Invisalign’s advanced technology and cosmetic advantage makes it an excellent choice for those affected by the unfortunate stigma of metal braces, or those who want to be able to eat and brush their teeth without obstruction.
Ultimately, the decision to go with an alternative to metal braces—whether it’s Invisalign, ceramic braces, veneers, or headgear—should be informed by the expertise of a professional dentist, who can recommend the most effective treatment depending on the severity of your tooth or jaw misalignment.
The final verdict? You can still achieve your dream smile without having to wear traditional metal braces for months on end. From Invisalign clear aligners to porcelain veneers, these alternatives can correct a wide range of bite and misalignment issues without the need for metal braces.
If you require orthodontic treatment but aren’t enthused by the idea of bulky metal braces, consider these six alternatives and consult Elevate Dental to determine the most suitable option for your teeth.