Share on Pinterest
Carol Yepes/Getty Images

There are many types of orthodontic appliances available today to straighten and realign teeth. Removable braces are one option. They involve custom-made clear plastic trays that fit over your teeth.

Removable braces differ from traditional fixed braces that use brackets and wire. They’re appealing to many people because you can take them out for a few hours a day.

Keep reading to learn more about removable braces, how they compare to fixed orthodontic gear, and what teeth corrections they’re ideal for.

Removable braces are clear plastic trays that you snap in and out of your mouth to correct orthodontic conditions. A course of treatment involves multiple trays that you swap out every few weeks for approximately 12 to 18 months.

Your trays from the first few weeks will look different than the ones you use at the end of treatment because they’ll account for the movement of your teeth over time. These trays put light pressure on your teeth to slowly move them into their ideal place.

Advantages of removable braces

The advantages of removable braces include the following:

  • They’re invisible.
  • You can take them out to eat, drink, and clean your teeth.
  • You can use either a local orthodontist or a direct-to-consumer company with a virtual orthodontist.
  • They may be less expensive than traditional braces.

How removable braces are made

An orthodontist or a direct-to-consumer company creates custom removable braces for your mouth based on X-rays, dental impressions, and other scans of your teeth.

Local orthodontists can do this from their office, while direct-to-consumer companies rely on home impressions that you return to them and virtual consultations with orthodontists.

It’s worth noting these companies can miss issues with your teeth or your bite because the impressions are taken by you, rather than a dental technician who’s trained to do this.

How often you need to wear them

You need to wear removable braces most hours of the day. Your orthodontist will check your mouth’s progress regularly to make sure the removable braces are working according to your treatment plan.

Where to get them

There are a few options for how to get removable braces. Orthodontists use brands like Invisalign, ClearCorrect, or SureSmile. Direct-to-consumer companies also offer removable braces. Some of these companies include:

  • SmileDirectClub
  • Candid
  • Byte
  • SnapCorrect

You may be a candidate for removable braces if you need minor adjustments to your teeth and mouth alignment.

Removable braces can straighten teeth, close gaps between teeth, and help align your bite. However, they may not be the best option if you need significant orthodontic treatment.

Teens and adults can use removable braces. Adults may prefer them because they’re clear and inconspicuous. Parents may prefer their children and teens use them because they allow for proper cleaning and flossing of teeth.

It’s important to be responsible and mindful if you wear removable braces. Make sure to wear them for most hours of the day and don’t lose the trays. This is often the biggest challenge for teens.

Keep in mind that if you want to use removable or even traditional braces as an adult, the treatment time might take longer. That’s because skeletal changes are more difficult in adults. Moving teeth is slow, but it works.

Removable braces require vigilance. You need to wear them for 20 or more hours a day. You may be able to complete treatment in 12 to 18 months. After you finish your treatment, you’ll need to wear a retainer to make sure the corrections stay in place.

One 2018 study found that Invisalign was effective in correcting mild-to-moderate conditions related to crowded teeth and bite in those who were no longer growing.

The study also showed that Invisalign could move front and canine teeth, but it didn’t confirm Invisalign’s effectiveness in correcting more significant orthodontic needs.

Another study questioned the ethics and moral concerns behind direct-to-consumer removable braces options because of the lack of research on the effectiveness of their products. The study mentioned that these treatment options may be limited and cause bad reactions.

You may wonder whether removable braces or fixed braces are better for you. Looking at the pros and cons of each may help you make the decision.

Pros and cons of removable braces

Pros of removable braces

  • Treatment is invisible because the trays are clear.
  • You can take out the trays for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.
  • They may cost less than traditional fixed braces.
  • You may need fewer visits or consultations with the orthodontist.

Cons of removable braces

  1. They may not correct extensive orthodontic needs.
  2. You could lose or accidentally break the aligner trays when you take them out.
  3. You need to avoid sugary and acidic drinks that could get trapped in the trays.
  4. Direct-to-consumer removable braces may not provide individual care and services like you would get with a local orthodontist.
Healthline

Pros and cons of fixed of braces

Pros of fixed braces

  • The effectiveness of fixed braces has been proven over decades.
  • Fixed braces can treat significant orthodontic conditions that removable braces can’t.
  • You’re monitored by a local orthodontist who can provide specialized and emergency treatment.
  • You can’t take them out and lose them or forget to wear them.
  • There are customizable options, including stainless steel, gold, and clear choices.
  • There’s an invisible version of fixed braces called lingual braces, which attach to the inner sides of your teeth.

Cons of fixed braces

  • Fixed braces may be more expensive than removable braces.
  • The brackets and wires are visible and may be less aesthetically pleasing (except in the case of lingual fixed braces).
  • You need to see the orthodontist regularly to adjust fixed braces.
  • You may feel discomfort when braces are tightened.
  • You need to be diligent about cleaning your braces to avoid getting food stuck in them.
  • You must avoid eating foods that are sticky, crunchy, or chewy.
Healthline

Direct-to-consumer options may be the least expensive because you’re using a large company with less personal service than a local orthodontist.

A local orthodontist may be able to provide you with more personalized and emergency service, however.

The cost of removable braces will vary from person to person. They can cost around $2,000 for basic treatment but may cost more depending on your needs and treatment plan.

The cost of orthodontic treatment with removable braces really depends on your treatment needs. Consider consulting with a local orthodontist to get their treatment recommendations and cost estimate. Most orthodontists offer free consultations.

Removable braces are an option for mild-to-moderate orthodontic conditions. They may not work for all orthodontic needs.

You can try removable braces through your local orthodontist or through a direct-to-consumer company.

Consult with a local orthodontist even if you’re looking to use direct-to-consumer services. Most orthodontists provide free initial consultations, and you often get detailed information about your treatment.

Removable braces may be a less expensive option than traditional braces, and they may correct your condition in less time.