Traditional metal braces are often what keeps people, particularly adults, from obtaining orthodontic treatment to help straighten their teeth or correct bite issues. The good news is that metal braces are no longer the only option to move your teeth into the desired position. Our board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Chris Murphy, offers a number of clear braces treatments that can help you straighten your teeth, fix overbites or underbites, and look great while doing it!

What Are Clear Braces?

Clear braces utilize a translucent or ceramic material that is much more visually pleasing on the teeth, which can help you feel better about your smile during orthodontic treatment. The term “clear braces” is often mentioned to generally describe orthodontic options that are less noticeable on the teeth. While there are clear braces treatments that literally involve transparent brackets, there are others that utilize ceramic materials designed to blend in with the teeth for much less visibility, and even some involving completely translucent appliances – such as Invisalign® – that require no brackets or wires whatsoever! Murphy Orthodontics offers a vast selection of orthodontic treatment options that are specifically designed to correct common concerns without the noticeability of metal braces.

How Do Clear Braces Work?

Clear braces work much like traditional metal braces in terms of how they are used to correct misalignment and bite irregularities. For many types of clear braces, the process involves small brackets placed on each tooth. The brackets are connected together with wires, and small elastic bands help to keep the wires in their proper place. This intricate system is designed to gradually move the teeth into a more desirable position over time, and has been successfully used in orthodontic procedures for many, many years.

Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces

smiling clear braces
Although clear braces essentially function in the same way as traditional braces, there is one major difference: they are much less noticeable while you wear them. Made of a plastic alloy or ceramic material color-matched to your teeth, clear braces can also be fitted with clear ties to keep surrounding wires in place. Or, with innovative techniques like Pitts 21™ self-ligating braces (described below), they can often be placed without the use of ties at all, making for a more comfortable and more hygienic treatment process. Overall, clear braces make it possible for you to straighten your teeth with less worry about how you look – and that can make a huge difference for patients wary of getting necessary orthodontic treatment.

Types of Clear Braces

Dr. Murphy offers clear braces in many different varieties, utilizing an array of orthodontic techniques. The following descriptions include links to pages on our website with more detailed information on the options we offer here at Murphy Orthodontics. Our clear braces techniques include:

Pitts 21™ Braces

Pitts 21™ braces are a revolutionary advance in orthodontic treatment. This option utilizes a special technique called “self-ligation,” which does not require ties to move the teeth into a more desirable position. Ultimately, Pitts 21™ braces are designed to correct teeth misalignment issues in a more comfortable and discreet way.

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Traditional Braces

Even traditional braces treatment that utilizes more conventional orthodontic techniques can be effective options for patients who are concerned about the prominent appearance of metal brackets on their teeth. Our practice offers both clear and ceramic braces that can address common orthodontic concerns with greater discretion.

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One of the major benefits offered by Invisalign® is that it does not require the use of braces at all. This advanced orthodontic treatment involves a series of custom-designed, clear plastic aligners to correct misalignment and bite issues with successful results. The aligners are removable and look virtually invisible along the teeth. Our practice offers the signature Invisalign® treatment for adults as well as the Invisalign® Teen version for adolescent patients.

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How Noticeable Are Clear Braces?

The simple answer to this question is: more noticeable than a treatment such as Invisalign® but less noticeable than metal braces. Clear braces involve either translucent or ceramic brackets, making the brackets themselves less visible on the teeth. In some cases, the wires that connect the brackets can also be designed in such a way that they offer less noticeability than conventional metal wires. Ultimately, while clear braces will not be completely invisible as they are on the teeth, they are also much less prominently noticeable than metal braces.

How to Clean Clear Braces

Clear and ceramic braces require a bit of extra care to reduce the potential for staining and plaque buildup. Brackets and wires affixed to the teeth present an additional obstacle in terms of keeping food and plaque from creating periodontal (gum) problems and cavities, but with some slight modifications to your regular daily oral hygiene routine, you can go a long way toward keeping your teeth and gums healthy during your braces treatment. It’s important to rinse your mouth with water before brushing your teeth and to brush at least three times each day, preferably after every meal. Daily flossing is also imperative, and there are certain kinds of orthodontic floss that can be useful for cleaning the wires that are threaded through the brackets. An oral irrigation device such as a Waterpik® can also be very helpful with getting rid of bits of food and reducing plaque. An anti-cavity rinsing agent that includes fluoride should be used, as well.

Our team will provide you with a detailed list of instructions on how to properly clean and care for your braces. Building just a couple of easy extra steps into your daily routine can help you maintain your oral health and reduce the potential for additional dental problems later!

How Much Do Clear Braces Cost?

While the price of any type of braces can vary significantly depending on many factors associated with each individual patient’s customized treatment plan, estimates cited by Oral-B®place the average cost ranges for ceramic braces at $4,000 to $8,000; lingual braces at $8,000 to $10,000; and Invisalign® between $4,000 and $7,400. With that in mind, these general averages are not necessarily reflective of the final cost of your treatment here at our practice, since the total price will be based on a number of factors, including:

Some patients may need less time than others to complete their treatment, which will have an effect on the total price. In addition, some individuals may choose to undergo a type of braces treatment that is generally priced at a lower rate than other techniques. While there are many variables that go into the overall price of braces treatment, you can be assured that our practice will provide you with an estimate of the total cost before the treatment commences. A member of our team will be happy to go over the price breakdown with you and answer any questions you may have about payment options. It is important to note that many dental insurance plans offer at least partial coverage for orthodontic treatment, so it can be useful to check with your provider to find out what benefits you may have, and what your out-of-pocket obligation may be. Our practice also accepts a wide range of payment methods, including all major credit cards, and we work with CareCredit® and Springstone™, two highly reputable companies that offer convenient orthodontic financing plans for qualified applicants who wish to pay for their treatment over time. Our team can work with you to find the most affordable financial solution for your braces treatment.

Which Clear Braces Are the Best for Me?

Determining which type of clear braces treatment for your needs will be based on a number of factors, including the severity of your orthodontic concerns and what’s best for your unique needs and lifestyle. Invisalign® is one of the least noticeable orthodontic options available, does not involve brackets and wires at all, and can be ideal for patients who have orthodontic issues that are mild to moderate in nature. Lingual braces are not clear, but they are completely hidden from others since they are placed on the back side of the teeth, and can be helpful for more pronounced orthodontic concerns. Pitts 21™ braces are both designed to be less noticeable on the teeth and have distinctive benefits that often make them the right options for patients with certain needs and goals. When you arrive for your initial consultation with our orthodontist, he will perform an oral evaluation, go over your options with you in detail, and help you decide which braces treatment may be best for your needs and expectations.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Clear Braces

What are clear braces made of?

Clear braces are composed of brackets typically made out of a special material that is either translucent to reduce its visibility, or ceramic to provide a blend with the natural tooth color. Both of these materials are essentially designed to make the brackets less noticeable while they are in use. Wires connecting each bracket are also part of the composition of clear braces. The wires ultimately work in tandem with the clear brackets to help move the teeth into a more desirable position.

What can I eat with clear braces?

As with most types of braces, clear braces will require some food restrictions. The reason for this is that certain types of food can get stuck along the brackets or the wires, which can not only increase risks to dental health but also may damage the braces or compromise their ability to work properly. For the most part, patients are advised to eat foods that are relatively soft in texture. It’s also a good idea to chew smaller pieces of food at one time. Hard foods and those that are sticky and chewy should be avoided (especially chewing gum!), and any type of food that can stain the clear brackets should also be limited. Our orthodontic team will provide you with a detailed list of recommendations on the many foods that are okay to eat while wearing braces and those that you may need to stay away from. It may surprise you to learn just how many scrumptious foods that can be eaten while wearing braces as long as they are prepared properly!

How long do I have to wear clear braces?

The length of time each patient needs to wear their clear braces is dependent on the severity of the orthodontic concerns being addressed and other factors related to their customized treatment plan. In general, the average range of treatment time is between 12 and 28 months. Patients who have more severe orthodontic problems often need to have the braces longer than others to achieve the best possible results. During your initial consultation, Dr. Murphy can give you a better idea of how long it may be necessary to wear the braces once he has evaluated your needs and goals.

How often will I need to come back for clear braces follow-up appointments?

Braces require regular follow-up appointments to evaluate how well the treatment process is going and make any adjustments that may be necessary to ensure the best results. While the number of follow-up appointments varies among patients, most individuals can expect to come back to our office once every four to eight weeks. These appointments are often quite brief. Once your treatment plan is in place, Dr. Murphy can give you a more specific idea as to the level of follow-up care you may need.

Why would I need clear braces instead of Invisalign®?

While Invisalign® can be an ideal solution for patients with teeth misalignment and other orthodontic issues, the fact is that not all patients are the best candidates for that option. Since Invisalign® is typically more appropriate for mild to moderate orthodontic concerns, clear braces may be recommended in cases where the concerns are of particular severity or complexity. That said, clear braces still provide patients with a more discreet orthodontic treatment option when compared to traditional metal braces.

What do clear braces look like?

Clear braces are made of a clear plastic or ceramic material that can blend in more with your natural teeth when compared to traditional metal braces. Clear braces are much less visible and more discreet than traditional braces, which is often what makes them a more desirable choice for many patients.

Does insurance cover clear braces?

While dental insurance plans can vary significantly, many policies offer at least partial coverage for clear braces if coverage is offered for orthodontic procedures. Our team can help you navigate your insurance plan and find out whether benefits are available for this treatment. We also offer a number of orthodontic financing options that can help offset costs.

Do clear braces stain?

Most types of clear or ceramic braces are designed to be stain-resistant, which can be a major benefit in terms of avoiding future discolorations while the treatment progresses. Ceramic braces are especially durable and resistant to staining. Our team will provide thorough instructions on how to clean your teeth and your braces during your treatment.

Can I remove clear braces myself?

No, clear braces, like traditional braces, can only be taken off by a dentist. Braces are essentially locked into place until your teeth have been realigned and the dentist determines it is time to remove the appliance, or if special circumstances have made it necessary for professional removal.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Murphy Orthodontics today!