Millions of Americans rely on tooth alignment treatments to improve their bite every year. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in four of these patients are adults (up from one in five only a few years ago).
Braces can be expensive and frustrating (particularly in terms of appearance, discomfort, and the inconvenience of avoiding foods we love). Plus, many Americans are too busy to accommodate frequent trips to the orthodontist’s office to have maintenance care. With the number of adults with tooth alignment treatments on the rise, finding alternatives to traditional braces is becoming easier.
Clear aligner treatments can bypass many of the nuisances of traditional braces. You might not even need to visit a dentist’s office anymore. Our testers have looked into all major providers and compared their services. This guide is here to tell you about the best invisible braces of 2022, along with their pros and cons, to help you choose the right option.
For those in a hurry, here is a quick summary of our findings.
Summary of our recommendations for best invisible braces:
Byte manages to be one of the more affordable options without sacrificing quality. It also has the shortest average treatment length.
Byte delivers high-caliber customer care before, during, and after treatment (with a lifetime guarantee). For high quality, faster treatment times (thanks to HyperByte), and competitive pricing, Byte is an unbeatable value right now.
Current Deals: $100 off your aligners and 85% off your impression kit
- Why you should trust us
- Top considerations for invisible braces
- How our top recommendations compare
- What are invisible braces?
- What’s the difference between invisible braces and traditional braces?
- How do invisible braces work?
- At-home vs. office-based care
- Uniform Teeth
- Alternative invisible braces
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We extensively test each health service or product we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this guide was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
When it comes to invisible braces, one of their biggest perks over traditional braces is their cost. Because there are no overhead costs, at-home invisible braces companies can afford to provide invisible braces for less money. Braces still cost thousands of dollars, but the companies’ fees are much more accessible. Many of the best (including all of our favorites) offer payment plans. Likewise, many allow you to pay with insurance (often up to 50% of the total price depending on your insurance plan) and use HSA or FSA funds to cover the rest.
In our testing, we found ALIGNERCO to have the best pricing options. They regularly have sales that drop their already-low base price of $1,145 below $1,000. Their nighttime-only option is only $200 more than their base price (except for SmileDirectClub, other competitors increase theirs by $300 or more). They accept HSA and FSA funds and offer two different payment plans: SmileFlex ($81/month, $0 down) and SmileFlex Easy ($95/month, $275 down payment).
|Starting price||Takes insurance or HSA/FSA?||Payment plans?|
When it comes to braces, the amount of time treatment takes is important. The average length of treatment for traditional braces is over a year, but invisible braces cut that number in half. Some services move faster than others, but increased speed can also mean increased pain since your teeth are physically shifting faster under higher pressure.
Byte uses HyperByte technology – an additional tray that vibrates, used by many orthodontists for years – to safely speed up your treatment and lower the amount of pain you might experience. They use this FDA-cleared technology to help your teeth move quicker, vibrating through the roots of your teeth to your jawbones. When used five minutes a week, these braces help speed up your progress without any drawbacks. Plus, when used with their nighttime-only option, treatment time is less than most competitors’ full-time averages.
|Average length of treatment||Nighttime only option?||Average length of treatment (nighttime only)|
|Uniform Teeth||6 months||
Winner: Uniform Teeth
All of the invisible braces we recommend are high-quality. They are all BPA-free, protecting you from chemicals in their plastic aligner trays. However, the quality of both the material itself and the quality of care can vary, including frequency of check-ins, contacting your orthodontist, and orthodontist skill and care. Whether the company hires just dentists or orthodontists makes a difference too – orthodontists have two more years of training in the specialty, meaning you’ll get even more qualified professionals helping you along the way.
We found that Uniform Teeth had the highest quality materials and care. They carefully manipulate your teeth along six axes – ensuring the best placement of every root on each tooth – while planning your orthodontic care. With their app, you can check in with an orthodontist (never a dentist) at any time. Likewise, Uniform Teeth is the only invisible braces company that’s able to work with more extreme changes to your bite. You’ll need to stop in a Uniform Teeth partnered office 3-5 times over the course of your care, but it’s an easy trade-off for extremely high-quality changes.
It’s not uncommon for invisible braces companies to give you one retainer and send you on your way. But you’ll need to wear your retainer every night for as long as possible to ensure your teeth don’t shift out of place, and retainers should be replaced every 6-12 months. Many companies sell replacement retainers for an additional fee – often around $100 per retainer – but that cost feels like it can or should be wrapped into the total cost of care. And what if you aren’t happy with your realignment after your invisible braces treatment is over?
Byte offers a “smile for life” guarantee, meaning that if your teeth shift out of alignment at any time, just ring them up, and they can get you going again with new aligners at no additional cost. While their traditional pack only contains one retainer, and it costs $129 for a new set, investing in the Byte Protection Plan gives you up to five years of retainers (or ten sets) along with insurance coverage for lost or stolen aligners. Considering you can change retainers every six months, this $649 insurance plan saves you half the cost of new retainers.
|Price||Average duration of treatment||At-home or in-office||Types of doctors||Night-only option?||BPA-free?||Minimum age|
|ALIGNERCO||$1,145||4-6 months full time||At home||Dentists and orthodontists||
|Byte||$1,895||4 months full time||At home||Dentists and orthodontists||
|Candid||Varies, average $3,500||6-10 months||In office||Orthodontists||
|SmileDirectClub||$1,950||4-6 months full time||At home||Dentists and orthodontists||
|Invisalign||Varies, average $4,000||6-12 months||In office||Orthodontists||
|Uniform Teeth||$2,995 to $5,450||6-10 months||At home and in office||Orthodontists||
There are several types of inconspicuous or “invisible” braces:
- Lingual (on the inside of teeth by your tongue)
- Clear aligners
The most popular choice is overwhelmingly clear aligners to the point that “invisible aligners” and “invisible braces” are synonymous. These invisible aligners are the focus of this guide.
Invisible aligners are a set of clear plastic trays (also called aligner trays or retainers) molded to fit around your teeth. They are created based on your current dental impressions – how your teeth rest right now – and gradually shift your teeth according to how you want them to align when treatment is over.
While some people may be allergic to the plastic in trays, none of our favorite high-quality companies use BPA or other nasty chemicals to avoid health concerns.
First and foremost, invisible braces are just that – invisible. While traditional braces are sometimes hypervisible with their characteristic metal brackets, invisible braces can either hide on the inside of teeth or be replaced with clear aligners.
However, there are more things to consider when choosing between invisible and traditional braces than just the aesthetic and cosmetic differences. Here are a few other things to consider when making the decision.
The list of foods you can eat with traditional braces is restrictive. Anything that could crunch, snap, get stuck, or shred in the brackets is off-limits to avoid breaking a bracket off. Favorite snacks like pretzels, nuts, and popcorn are problematic; certain candies are obviously out of the picture. Even raw vegetables and salads can be difficult to navigate. With invisible braces, you’ll take them off to eat. You shouldn’t eat anything, even soft foods, with your invisible braces on. Removing them before a snack or meal means that you can enjoy all the foods you love and eat them however you please.
Since you can take invisible braces off, it’s easy to not only keep your aligners clean but to make sure you’re still perfecting your oral hygiene routine. Where you have to floss in and around traditional braces, sometimes leaving unsightly discoloration, taking invisible braces off minimizes your chances of missing a spot.
Since invisible aligners don’t change how your lips and teeth sit against each other, it’s easier to play musical instruments that require exacting embouchures like oboe, trumpet, or tuba. Playing a brass or woodwind instrument with traditional braces is possible but uncomfortable.
Level of discomfort
Since invisible braces shift your teeth little by little – averaging between 0.25mm and 0.5mm of change with every new set of aligners – they reportedly cause less pain than traditional braces. While some discomfort is still to be expected, particularly in your first week, your mouth builds calluses and defense against the friction of invisible aligners against the sensitive parts of your gums to reduce aches and pains overall.
Severity of your bite issues
Invisible braces aren’t usually an option for people with severe malocclusion or extreme bite issues. These concerns often manifest as underbites or overbites that block off entire teeth, teeth growing where they shouldn’t (or not growing where they should), anything that causes problems with eating or speaking, and so on. Instead, invisible braces are best for people whose concerns are mild to moderate. If you aren’t a good fit for invisible braces because your bite needs a lot of adjustment – meaning it’ll take longer to move with a higher likelihood of complication – these services will tell you.
Since the cost and length of time it takes to treat your bite depends more on the severity of your malocclusion than the method of treatment, your findings may vary wildly. For the most part, at-home invisible braces cost between $1,500 and $2,000 and take anywhere from four months to a year.
The treatment process requires you to wear a series of trays for a specific amount of time (often 2-4 weeks) in a predetermined order. Each tray subtly adjusts your bite, applying pressure to your teeth and creating an orchestrated realignment of your teeth in small increments. The slower the pace, the less potential soreness you might experience. Your final tray, which fixes your smile in place, becomes your first nighttime retainer.
Whether you opt for an at-home or office-based experience with your invisible braces, here’s what you can generally expect from the process.
Provide impressions of your teeth
For all at-home (and many in-office) treatments, you’ll start off taking an impression of your teeth. This serves two purposes:
- Helps determine whether your teeth can be straightened using invisible braces – some alignment problems are too significant for aligners to fix
- Gives doctors the information they need to map out your series of trays, from the starting tray (your impression) to the final tray
If you’re using an at-home invisible braces service, you buy your impressions kit upfront. These kits vary in price anywhere from $40-$100. In most cases – including all of our favorites – if you aren’t eligible for treatment after your impressions have been analyzed, you receive a full refund.
After you’ve had your impressions taken and are verified as a suitable candidate for invisible braces, a dentist or orthodontist shows you an estimation of what your teeth will look like when they’re finished, likely through a 3D model. Approve this, and you’re ready for the next step.
Receive your trays
A few weeks after you’ve approved your treatment plan, you or your orthodontist will receive a package with your full set of invisible aligners. Most companies send you the entire treatment in one box so that you don’t have to worry about shipping delays influencing your total treatment time.
Each tray must be worn for a specific length of time, averaging from 10 days to three weeks. Your orthodontic team coaches you through how long to wear each tray and tells you when to move to the next step with regularly scheduled check-ins. Wear the trays in the correct order and only change when instructed to, as changing them too early can be painful (or just not fit your teeth) and impede progress.
Most aligners are designed to be worn all day (for at least 22 hours daily), taking them out only to eat, brush your teeth, and clean your tray. A few companies offer nighttime invisible braces, where you only wear them while you’re asleep like a retainer, ideally for about 10 hours a day. However, these invisible braces move your teeth much more slowly, extending treatment time by months.
Wear a nighttime retainer
After going through all of your trays, your final step is to continue wearing a retainer at night. Going through your trays can take anywhere from four months to more than a year, depending on the company’s approach, the nature of your misalignments, and whether you’re wearing them all day or just at night. You don’t have to wear invisible braces while you’re awake after completing treatment, but, like with traditional braces, you will wear a nighttime retainer. This preserves your new bite so that your smile stays in perfect shape.
If you stop wearing your nighttime retainer, your teeth may slip back out of proper alignment. This also voids your warranty or prevents you from having touch-up treatment in some cases, as a few companies consider this “not following treatment.” Be sure to stay on top of it if you’re hoping to have some realignment done.
Some of our favorite invisible braces can be managed from your home without in-person check-ins or measurements. Others start with a visit to a local partnered orthodontist but check in from home, and some require a trip to the orthodontist’s office every time you need to check in.
Most invisible braces companies we’ve covered in this guide work primarily or exclusively with at-home care. You can enjoy the convenience of doing it all from home but won’t get to work with professionals to guarantee accurate results. These companies are often great about making the impressions process easy to maneuver, but customers are occasionally asked to redo their impressions.
While the general process of using invisible braces may be consistent no matter what kind of care you get, there are still many differences between at-home and in-office care. At-home care offers many conveniences, like having your aligners delivered to your home and checking in with your orthodontist through an app instead of driving to their office. Because there are lower costs from the company’s side, at-home treatments tend to cost less than their in-office counterparts.
It might feel like a no-brainer to use an at-home treatment service, but there are a few things that might get in your way. If you’re dealing with severe bite issues, skip the at-home service and head straight to an orthodontist’s office. But if your bite requires moderate work and you’re unsure, we recommend you try a service like Candid, which starts you in an orthodontist’s office but allows you to check in from their app. The level of attention that in-person care provides is difficult to fully replace in a remote plan.
Likewise, some at-home invisible braces are not covered by insurance, unlike in-person orthodontists. The number of companies that work with insurance plans is growing every day, and most of our favorites let you cover up to 50% of your total costs with insurance. Many also offer HSA and FSA payments to let you cover the rest.
Best overall and Best for speed
- HyperByte technology allows faster results with less pain
- Teeth whitening included for free
- Lifetime guarantee completely covers you for any additional treatment or adjustments
- Everyone is pre-approved for a payment plan
- Take $100 off your aligners and 85% off your impression kit
- It can take up to six weeks to get started
- Not available outside the United States
- Like other invisible braces, this isn’t a good option for severe alignment issues
Byte is our overall top choice for invisible braces in 2022. While no invisible braces will be perfect for everyone, we believe these are the best you can find for most people. They are moderately priced with excellent payment options, including insurance, HSA/FSA, and two different payment plans, one of which pre-accepts every patient without a credit check.
On top of having good payment options and a reasonable cost, Byte also brings the fastest average treatment times to the table. No competitor comes close to Byte’s average five months for nighttime-only treatments. Your speed to treatment completion does depend on a few outside factors, including:
- The severity of your bad bite
- Your adherence to wearing aligners for 22+ hours a day
- Your discipline in using the HyperByte device
Like several other invisible braces companies, Byte relies solely on orthodontists to create and map your treatment plan. However, they use a healthy mix of dentists and orthodontists for monitoring throughout the process.
Once you’ve started your realignment, Byte offers fast, friendly customer service. Their communication channels are wide open, allowing you to check in using:
- The patient portal’s messaging system
- Video chat
- Phone call
And this high-quality service doesn’t end with treatment, either. Purchasing aligner insurance also means that you can get up to ten sets of retainers for free, otherwise $129 a set. Byte also has a lifetime guarantee that you’ll remain happy with your smile. If your teeth shift out of alignment at any point in the future, they’ll give you some corrective aligners for free.
Byte’s HyperByte device is a marvel of orthodontic technology we wish other invisible braces companies could implement. This FDA-cleared device emits high-frequency vibrations into your mouth through a bite-piece shaped like an aligner tray to safely speed up the treatment process and reduce discomfort.
High-frequency vibration (HFV) isn’t a brand-new application in orthodontia, and a clinical study confirms that it results in faster treatment times while also improving bone density post-treatment. An HFV device like HyperByte would commonly cost orthodontic patients nearly $1,000 by itself, but Byte includes it as a standard component in treatment. If you want to purchase it separately from Byte treatment, it still comes at a discounted $699.
Depending on your treatment plan (regular or night-only), you’ll put the HyperByte in your mouth for 5-10 minutes per day to see faster progress. If you use it as specified in your plan, HyperByte can cut your treatment time to half of what competitors offer.
Best budget choice
- The most affordable invisible braces
- At-home treatment path is very convenient
- NightOnly treatment plan effective for those who don’t want to wear aligners all day
- Fast customer service
- Most savings compared to other brands
- Does not take insurance (though you can pay with HSA/FSA)
- Relies on dentists in addition to orthodontists
- A little slower in starting your treatment (requiring about 5-7 weeks from sign-up)
For those with a mild to moderate bite issue and a tight budget, ALIGNERCO is a great solution. Their invisible braces save a considerable amount of money compared to both traditional braces and other invisible aligners. At $1,145 for all-day treatment and regular sales (often dropping the total cost below $1,000), there’s no other company that comes close to the same savings. Even switching to their NightOnly plan only adds $200, less than the price bump for the same idea with comparative services.
With the lower price, however, comes a few tradeoffs. ALIGNERCO does not accept insurance payment, covering up to 50% of the total cost for most other invisible aligners. You can pay using an HSA or FSA card, though, which helps somewhat. ALIGNERCO’s average treatment duration isn’t anything special, slower than Byte but comparable to other at-home aligners. There is no lifetime guarantee, though you can seek refinement of your bite for an additional $200 following treatment if it’s ever necessary.
Nevertheless, we’re impressed by the company and its very affordable service.
Best orthodontist-only plan
- Fully guided care by orthodontists
- Treatment includes complimentary whitening
- Digital scanner facilitates advanced treatment monitoring
- Flexible payment plans
- No longer offers the option to get started on your own
- Not the fastest average treatment duration
- Not for teens younger than age 17
At the end of January 2022, Candid went through a dramatic shift. They no longer offer at-home starter kits or individual Candid Studio offices. Instead, they’ve partnered with orthodontists with over 20 years of experience across the country to start bringing Candid to an office near you. You’ll need to go to a local office to get started, taking 3D scans of your mouth in-person rather than an impression at home. Candid didn’t offer at-home impression kits for long, having both added and removed them from their services in the last few years.
Of course, this shift to in-person treatment means that the cost has changed. While Candid’s average treatment cost was $1,895 before, the price is now set by individual orthodontists. We’ve seen these costs range from $3,500-$7,000, similar to the cost of traditional braces and no longer competitive with other at-home invisible braces.
If you’re looking for an in-office, orthodontist-only treatment plan, we still think Candid is your best option. Even with all of these changes and convenience downgrades, you can check in at any point from their app. They also provide a digital scanner that you place your phone into, giving yourself orthodontist-quality check-ins every two weeks. For instance, compare that to SmileDirectClub, where the dentist reaches out only every 90 days and may not be an orthodontist. The value of this highly qualified attention makes Candid tough to beat.
Primarily intended for adults, Candid’s invisible braces aren’t an option for teenagers except when the teen:
- Is 17-18 years of age
- Has lost all baby teeth
- Has parental consent for the treatment
For more information, visit our full Candid review.
Best for more severe correction
- Can treat even severe malocclusions
- Extremely precise 3D mapping, with consideration for all teeth roots
- Attentive check-ins through both at-home and in-office care
- Accepts insurance and HSA/FSA payment
- Cost changes depending on severity of bite
- Costs overall more expensive than purely at-home invisible braces
- Requires 3-5 in-office visits over the course of treatment and in-office consultation
Often, invisible braces companies won’t treat your bite if it’s more severe than a few teeth out of place. This is for your safety – the worse it is, the more in-depth treatment and precise care are necessary to adequately treat it. At-home care doesn’t always cut it. However, if you want to work mostly at home and need help adjusting an extreme overbite or underbite, Uniform Teeth has you covered.
Uniform Teeth only works with orthodontists who graduated from top programs or had high-ranking residencies, guaranteeing you’re working with the best of the best in your invisible braces journey. You’ll have to go into a Uniform Teeth partnered orthodontist’s office 4-6 times total during your treatment, once to get a consultation and 3D mapping of your teeth, and 3-5 times for check-ins.
When you commit to office-based care, you open the door to using “buttons” in conjunction with your aligners. These “buttons” – tiny, very discreet nubs affixed to your teeth – allow an orthodontist to promote more significant movement using the aligners. Buttons aren’t an option with at-home care. They can help solve problems that the tray alone couldn’t solve.
For serious tooth misalignment issues, invisible braces might not even be an option for you. But if they are, your best bet will still be Uniform Teeth’s office-based care.
Office-based care is always more expensive than at-home care, and Uniform Teeth is no exception. However, they are more affordable than other in-office options like Candid or Invisalign.
As the gold standard for invisible braces, Invisalign is often the first thing that comes to mind when considering alternatives to traditional braces. But with so many new options available, why fall back on something just because it’s been around for longer? Invisalign isn’t a bad choice by any means but doesn’t make it on our list of top choices for a few reasons.
Their treatment program is extremely similar to Candid’s, with dozens of individual dentists and orthodontists offering Invisalign treatment through their home office. You’ll be able to find Invisalign just about anywhere. They are slightly more comfortable than some alternatives, with thinner plastic predictably and discreetly straightening your teeth. But that comfort doesn’t outweigh the fact that you’ll need to go into an office every time you need to check in or adjust your aligners.
Combine that with the fact that costs are set by individual dentists and can range from $3,000-$8,000 depending on the severity of your malocclusions, and the inconvenience adds up. Uniform Teeth offers equal or higher-quality treatment, working with only highly qualified orthodontists (unlike Invisalign, which uses both dentists and orthodontists), at a lower price.
SmileDirectClub is one of the bigger names in invisible braces, but they don’t quite make it onto our favorites list. There’s nothing inherently wrong with their services – they provide high-quality invisible braces at less than $2,000 per treatment – but they don’t offer anything that you can’t get with better perks elsewhere. They have a strong treatment guarantee but don’t offer insurance with up to ten sets of retainers like Byte. They use a mixture of dentists and orthodontists for your treatment planning and check-ins. These check-ins only occur every 90 days, leaving large gaps where you might not be able to get in touch with a provider if something goes wrong.
One perk of SmileDirectClub? Their daytime and nighttime-only options are the same price. Most competitors charge more for nighttime-only invisible braces since the overall treatment time is longer (and SmileDirectClub is no exception).
If your teeth need a little more serious TLC, or if you have other oral health concerns like gum disease or fillings that need to be done, traditional braces may be your best method of action. While they are substantially more expensive than any of the invisible braces on our list, an orthodontist will be able to keep a close eye on your progress and adjust as needed. Traditional braces take the longest to move teeth – an average of 12-18 months, as opposed to the typical 4-6 months of invisible braces – and can be painful whenever they are tightened but are the gold standard of orthodontics for a reason.