a woman using an alternative to braces

Alternatives to Braces

If you've grown tired of hiding crooked teeth in family photos or everyday interaction, it may be time to consider braces or alternatives. There are a number of braces alternatives that can lead to a confident smile.

Plastic Aligners

People have used traditional metal braces to straighten teeth for decades. However, braces are expensive, and children might not want them because of how they look. Clear plastic aligners are the most popular alternatives today. One of their biggest advantages is that they're invisible, so you won't feel self-conscious when you wear them. Plastic aligners can also be removed when you need to brush your teeth, and they are easy to clean in their own right.

Treatment time with aligners ranges between 6-18 months, which is about the same as you can expect with metal braces. They can also be customized to fit your needs using X-rays, teeth impressions, and pictures of your teeth. On the other hand, they can be hard to find if you lose them within your home, and they can be slightly higher priced than some kinds of traditional braces.


Another alternative for people who don't need their whole mouth realigned is a veneer, which can also be used to improve chipped teeth. This is a thin layer of porcelain that's tooth-colored. Veneers are glued onto a small section of your tooth after the natural enamel has been removed. Veneers are just as easy to clean as natural teeth, and they're also almost as strong as your teeth.

Keep in mind that veneers are not permanent and will have to be replaced at least every 10 years, depending on how much you take care of your teeth. If you just need a small overlap removed, orthodontists can contour your tooth by removing a very thin enamel layer. Both of these alternatives can be expensive, with top quality veneers costing as much as $2,000.

Nontraditional Braces

There is another group of alternatives that work like standard metal braces but don't feel the same way. Clarity braces function like traditional ones but are colored to look like teeth. However, these special braces are larger than regular ones and are consequently less comfortable. They can also take longer to straighten your teeth than either metal braces or aligners.

Smart clip braces are also available. These use small metal clips to hold the metal wires inside the brackets rather than an elastic band, so they'll feel more comfortable inside your mouth. They can also straighten your teeth at a faster rate than traditional braces, but they are both more expensive and give you the traditional "metal-mouth" look that some people want to avoid.

Last Updated: February 10, 2016