Call Now Book Online Now
map icon McKennell Dental Practice
21 Churton Street,
London, SW1V2LY
Inner Page Banner  - McKennell Dental Practice

Clear braces

Clear braces are a good option for teens and adults who want to straighten their teeth with an orthodontic appliance less noticeable than metal. But removable aligners or invisible braces are also available.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

Clear braces vs invisible braces

Clear braces are similar to conventional metal braces but have clear brackets and, sometimes, tooth-coloured wires. However, many people also call invisible or clear aligner braces in this category because their material is also clear.

Clear braces and invisible aligners are effective options for inconspicuously straightening the teeth. But they are different in their appearance, how they work, what it's like wearing them and their cost.

What is the difference between invisible aligners and clear braces?

Besides being made with clear or light-coloured materials, clear braces and clear removable aligners, such as Invisalign, do not have many similarities. These are different products with different ways of correcting misaligned teeth.

Clear braces are traditional braces that use wires and brackets but are less noticeable. Clear aligners are plastic trays you can wear, then remove to eat, brush your teeth or attend an important event.

Clear aligner products like Invisalign are less obvious than clear braces because they do not have wires or brackets.

When deciding between Invisalign and clear braces, consider if you want to use traditional braces or removable aligners. Aligner trays require patients to wear them for at least 20 hours daily for optimum movement, while braces aren't removable.

Ensure you consider if you want to be in control of wearing the aligners or if you want the braces fixed on your teeth. You also have to consider that aligners may not be ideal for several teeth alignments.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

Who can wear clear braces?

Straightening the teeth with braces is most effective in the teenage years when the jaw and teeth are still developing. This doesn't mean you cannot wear braces later, as many adults still undergo orthodontic treatment and get good results.

The severity of your case may limit your choices of braces. For instance, Invisalign can correct 90% of orthodontic cases, but in the remaining 10% where the misalignment is severe, braces that use the bracket and wire system may be the only option.

People who want a subtle way to straighten their teeth can use a tooth-coloured ceramic brace. Choosing between clear and tooth-coloured braces may depend on your natural tooth colour.

If you have naturally bright, light teeth, transparent braces may be the least noticeable option, but if your teeth are darker, tooth-coloured ceramic braces may be a better fit. Both types of braces function the same.

How do clear aligners work?

Clear aligners use a different system for teeth straightening. This system uses a series of clear plastic aligner trays that fit snugly over the teeth. The aligner trays are custom-made for each patient from dental impressions and scans. Patients need to change their trays every two weeks as the teeth gradually shift to the desired position.

Treatment often takes 9 – 18 months, but mild cases may require 4 – 6 months. A significant benefit of clear aligners is they are removable. You can take them out of your mouth for 2 – 4 hours daily. This gives you time to eat anything and clean your teeth normally.

Clear aligners are less noticeable than fixed braces, including clear braces, so they are a good solution for those who want to straighten their teeth inconspicuously.

Aligners also cause some inconveniences. You will remove the aligners to clean your teeth after each meal or drink anything besides water to prevent bacteria from getting stuck inside your trays and increase your risk of gum disease or dental caries. Wearing aligners requires some willpower, so fixed braces may be a better option if you don't have this.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

How do clear fixed braces work?

Like conventional metal braces, clear brackets are fixed to each tooth and connected with a wire. This is an effective treatment for all kinds of tooth misalignment. Your orthodontist can carefully place the brackets to move your teeth in all directions, pulling them into proper alignment.

The treatment can take 18 – 24 months, but some brands use faster technology for a shorter treatment time.

Conventional fixed braces need an orthodontist to tighten and adjust the wire regularly, so some patients experience sore teeth for 1 – 2 days after every tightening.

However, newer self-ligating systems that use advanced technology wire, which automatically adjusts gradually during the treatments, are available. This offers a more comfortable experience and reduces the number of check-ups.

Clear braces materials

Clear braces are made from plastic polycarbonate or ceramic material. Most systems have a metal wire that connects the clear brackets, but you can use a white archwire. Although white archwires are generally more expensive, they make the braces less obvious, especially from afar.

During your clear ceramic braces treatment, you need to take extra care for your teeth to remain clean, especially the areas that are difficult to reach with normal brushing.

While the braces may be slightly discomforting, most people get used to them and do not experience ongoing discomfort. You may experience mouth sores as your gums and cheeks adapt to the new fittings, but you can use braces wax to reduce abrasion.

Most UK orthodontists offer conventional metal braces, but about 75% also offer clear braces, and a similar number provide clear aligners.

Clear aligner brands in the UK

You have two options if you choose clear aligners for your teeth straightening. The traditional route requires a dentist or direct-to-customer aligners which do not need dental visits, making them cheaper.

The in-office options include:

  • Invisalign

Invisalign is the most common aligner brand in the world. Align Technology, an American company, first developed a clear aligner in 1999 and has continued to produce different products for varying needs.

The Invisalign system uses advanced technology, including iTero® digital scanning, to create a 3D image of your mouth to predict the treatment. This app can help monitor your treatment's progress besides in-person visits.

The technology involved in Invisalign treatment means it can correct up to 90% of orthodontic cases, and they are more expensive.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

Brands of fixed clear braces

Some common fixed, clear braces brands in the UK include:

  • 3M Clarity ADVANCED

The Clarity ADVANCED clear braces made by 3M are stain-resistance, so you don't have to worry about food and drink restrictions to prevent discolouration.

Their brackets have rounded corners and a low profile to reduce the risk of irritation inside the mouth. Comfort is often a top consideration when choosing braces.

Although most people choose clear braces for a less noticeable treatment, this brand has coloured band options if you want to look different.

  • Damon Clear

This is a self-ligating brace, which has some benefits over the traditional braces system. These benefits include:

  • Available without obvious metal parts
  • Adjustment is continuous over time, making the process more comfortable
  • Fewer dental check-ups needed
  • Sliding mechanism that applies less pressure on the teeth
  • Easy to clean because they don't have elastics

While these benefits come at a cost, many patients are willing to pay for the comfort, discreteness and convenience Damon braces offer.

Cost of clear braces in the UK

Clear braces cost between £2000 - £5500 for most people, with the average cost being £2500 - £3500. However, several factors depend on the duration of treatment and type of braces.  

Clear fixed braces usually cost more than all-metal braces because of the technology and material used. Due to the higher cost of clear braces, some people use metal brackets on the lower teeth since they are less visible, and clear brackets on the upper teeth.

The cost of clear braces varies from one dentist to another, depending on your location, the complexity and the length of treatment. At-home aligner brands have a known upfront cost.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

Are invisible braces and clear braces available in the public healthcare service?

No, they aren't. Only traditional metal braces are available in the public healthcare service. Metal braces are generally available to people under 18, but adults may also be eligible for orthodontic treatment.

If you want clear braces, you will pay for them privately.

Cost of clear and invisible braces

Below is the average cost of clear braces and aligners. Besides the at-home aligners, you have to visit your dentist to know the exact cost of your treatment.

Our dentists offer a 0% interest payment plan to help you spread the cost of your treatment.

How to care for clear braces

If you choose clear fixed braces, you have to take some extra precautions during your treatment. Your dentist will show you how to clean your teeth and clear braces properly. Cleaning your teeth may take extra time because the braces have several areas where food can get stuck, causing bacteria build-up.

Ensure you clean your braces and teeth eating. If this is not possible, try rinsing your mouth with water. You can use a floss threader, interdental cleaner or water flosser to floss below the archwire.

What to avoid eating with clear braces

Your orthodontist or dentist will inform you which foods to avoid during your braces treatment to ensure your braces and teeth remain in good condition. These foods may include:

  • Crunchy foods like raw carrots, crusty bread, crisps and apples
  • Acidic foods, such as pickles, fruit juices and vinaigrette dressings
  • Chewy foods like bagels, chewing gum, cereal bars and sweets
  • Hard foods like biscuits, ice and nuts

While clear brackets shouldn't stain easily, the white or clear elastic usually gets discoloured from drinks and foods. Ensure you reduce your intake of stain-causing foods and drinks, such as tomato sauces, curries and red wine. If you take these foods and drinks, rinse your mouth to reduce the risk of staining.

Habits like pencil chewing or nail biting can also damage the fittings or wires. The clear brackets, made from ceramic, are more brittle than metal, so following your dentist's instructions is important.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802


After committing time and money to wear braces and you have your dream smile, caring for your teeth is important to preserve your new smile. The following are care tips to look after your teeth.

  • Use an electric toothbrush.
  • Brush your teeth twice every day and floss at least once daily
  • Clean your retainer daily
  • Visit the dentist regularly
  • Rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash
  • Wear your retainer as advised

Most patients need a thorough dental cleaning after their braces treatment to remove stains or plaque that build up around the brackets.

Wearing a retainer

Like any tooth straightening treatment, you need to wear a retainer every night and even during the day, at first, to ensure your teeth remain in their new position. After several years, your teeth can gradually move to their previous position if you stop wearing a retainer.

Two types of retainers are available- removable and fixed retainers. Fixed or bonded retainers have a thin wire behind the front 4 – 8 teeth to prevent them from moving out of place. You need to clean the fixed retainer like your fixed braces.

Removable retainers are available in two styles

  • Wire retainers wrapped around the teeth and secured using an acrylic plate
  • Clear retainers that look like aligner braces, but you don't have to change them every two weeks

Removable retainers are easier to clear and allow you to brush your teeth and eat normally. However, they can easily get damaged or lost.

The removable retainers can get expensive over the years because dentists charge between £70 and £150 for clear retainers like Essix and between £100 and £300 for the wire retainer like Hawley.

The two types of removable retainers need replacement at some point. If you care for them properly, they can last for five years or more. The dentist can advise you to get the clear, wire, or fixed retainer to preserve your new smile.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

Pros and cons of clear braces

Choosing between clear and metal braces often comes down to price and aesthetics. However, choosing between clear and invisible braces may be more complicated.

Below is the summary of the clear braces to help you decide between clear and invisible braces, including at-home aligners.

Types of braces Fixed clear Invisible (removable aligner)
Appearance Less noticeable from a distance than metal braces Hard to spot
Cost £2500 - £5500 £1300 - £5500
Length of treatment 18 – 24 months, 12 months for self-ligating braces, and 4 – 12 months for ClearSmile for only front teeth 4 – 24 months
Check-up frequency Every 4 – 6 weeks and every 6 – 10 weeks for self-ligating braces Every 2 – 6 weeks or at-home check-in for remote options
Eating Avoid some foods that may damage the braces Removed to eat, so there are no restrictions
Cleaning Extra care to floss teeth and clean braces Must clean the teeth after drinking or eating anything except water
Comfort Uncomfortable after first and eater tightening Usually comfortable
Other Can't be lost and doesn't need willpower Removable for important occasions and events

Some teens and adults who want to straighten their teeth inconspicuously may choose clear aligners. Besides being hard to spot, clear aligners are removable and are cheaper than or the same as fixed clear braces.

Fixed clear braces can correct more complex orthodontic problems and work like traditional metal braces.

Visit McKennell Dental Practice today at 21 Churton Street London SW1V 2LY to consult our orthodontist on the most suitable orthodontic treatment for you. You can also call us on 020 7834 8802 to schedule an appointment to get clear braces.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802

Frequently asked questions

Clear braces in the UK cost most patients about £2000 - £5500. The exact cost depends on the extent of teeth movement needed and the system used. You may need to visit the orthodontist or dentist for more information.

Invisible braces are less expensive than clear fixed braces, and the cost of at-home aligners is lower. You can pay about £1300 - £5500 for invisible braces.

Clear braces usually cost more than metal braces because of their material. The cost difference may be a few hundred pounds to a thousand pounds. Each dentist can set their price.

Clear aligners are competitively priced compared to metal braces for mild corrections, lasting a shorter period.

This choice is a matter of cost and aesthetics. Clear braces will not feel different in your mouth, nor are they more effective, but they are less obvious. Clear braces may be a better choice if you are self-conscious about your appearance.

The choice will depend on the teeth movement needed, including your preference regarding cleaning regime, appearance, eating restrictions and convenience.

Clear aligners are hard-to-notice and removable, so if these are important to you, Invisalign or any type of aligner may be best. For some people, fixed clear braces are more convenient because they don't have to remove them for cleaning or eating. However, manoeuvring around them during cleaning is difficult.

The elastics of clear braces are more likely to stain than the brackets. Rinse your mouth after eating foods and drinks likely to stain your teeth. These include tea, coffee, tomato sauces, curries and red wine. Ensure you follow your dentist's instructions to clean your teeth and braces.

Stay connected with us Book Online Now 020 7834 8802