Dental Health Blog


Alternatives to Traditional Metal Braces

There are many people who want the benefits of braces, but just can't stand the thought of having traditional metal braces placed on their teeth. The most common reason is due to how the braces look on their teeth. Metal braces just look ugly to some people. Other people just simply do not want to advertise that they are going through orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth. The good news is that alternatives to traditional metal braces do exist. They are as follows:

Clear Braces
Clear braces function just like traditional metal braces, (please refer to Dental braces | Components and How They Work to learn more), and can be placed by a dentist or orthodontist. With clear braces, the brackets are clear or tooth-colored. They are made from ceramic or a composite material. The archwire is made from stainless steel, nickel, titanium, or can be coated to blend more with the teeth. The elastics used are either clear or white.

clear braces


  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Ceramic brackets are very strong and can be made to match tooth color
  • Brackets will not stain
  • Less lip and gum irritation than traditional metal braces


  • Elastics are prone to stain
  • Brackets are slightly larger than metal brackets
  • Cost more than metal braces

Self-ligating Braces
Self-ligating braces are a type of clear braces that do not require the use of elastics to hold the archwire in place. The brackets are available in metal, clear, or ceramic.

self-ligating braces


  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Fewer appointments are needed
  • Less pain and faster movement than traditional braces


  • Cost more than metal braces

Lingual Braces
The word "lingual" refers to the tongue-side of the teeth. The back of the teeth. Lingual braces are most often placed by orthodontists, not general dentists, due to the special training that is needed for this type of dental brace. The braces are placed on the back side, (tongue side), of the teeth instead of on the front of the teeth.

lingual braces


  • Discreet Virtually hidden from view, "invisible"


  • Difficult to place and adjust
  • Requires more skill of the orthodontist and assistant
  • Oral hygiene is difficult
  • Tongue irritation
  • Cost more than metal or ceramic braces

Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are a clear, removable custom tray that is worn over the teeth. The trays are designed to gradually move the teeth into the desired position. The process of straightening the teeth works by a series of trays. Every 2-3 weeks, the tray is removed and replaced with the next tray in the series until the teeth have moved into the desired position.

clear aligner


  • Transparency The trays are virtually "invisible" when worn
  • Oral hygiene Because the trays are removable ,(remove to eat and to brush, floss), you simply brush, floss and rinse your teeth as usual.
  • Comfortable to wear The trays are custom. They fit your teeth like a glove. The trays are thin and stay in place when worn.
  • No allergic reactions The trays contain no metal


  • Limitations on the movement of teeth
  • Patient Compliance Because patients can remove the trays as they please, not all patients wear the appliance as regularly as they should.
  • Generally more expensive than braces
It is important to remember that even though there are options available to traditional metal braces, you may not be a candidate for one or more of these treatment options. Only your dentist or orthodontist will be able to tell you which options you are a candidate for according to your treatment needs.
Do you have any experience with any of these alternatives to traditional metal braces? Share your experience with us on our Facebook page or on Twitter! We would love to hear from you!