Quick Facts About Braces

Average Treatment Cost: Starting at $5,000
In/Outpatient: Outpatient
Anesthesia: None
Recovery Time: None
Duration of Results: Long-lasting
Procedure Time: : 8 months to 2 years
Financing Available. Apply Now
What you should know

What are braces

If you have crooked teeth that you’ve always wanted to straighten out for a more attractive, youthful smile, you have multiple choices. Whether traditional metal or enamel-colored ceramic braces that are affixed to the teeth or removable clear braces (such as Invisalign), this is the most conservative (albeit time-consuming) way to get your smile in line.

According to Huntersville, NC, cosmetic dentist Ross Nash, DDS, “There’s a lot we can do to make the teeth look straighter, but orthodontics is the most conservative treatment.” Over a period of roughly eight months to two years, these treatments slowly move your teeth into the desired position—the main difference being that traditional braces are affixed to the teeth while clear braces involve a series of 18 to 30 removable plastic “aligners” that are each worn for two weeks before moving on to the next. 


Severe misalignment due to extreme crowding; large spaces; rotated teeth; or a jaw that sits too far back or forward can be treated with traditional braces. These metal or enamel-colored ceramic brackets are cemented to the fronts and sides of each tooth, and connected with flexible wire that is “strung through” the brackets and secured with either dental putty or a rubber band.

Traditional braces exert a steady force on the teeth, helping them move through the jawbone. Your dentist will adjust the braces every so often to keep this force in play.

“Braces are the gold standard of orthodontic treatment,” says New York, NY cosmetic dentist Steven Roth, DMD who stresses their exceptional ability to correct complex bite problems since they exert force on each individual tooth. For those who have overlapping, crowding or spaces larger than five millimeters, braces realign the teeth and shift the smile back into place.

“Braces are really the way to go when exact, comprehensive treatment is needed. They can correct minor spacing concerns as well as those that are more severe, like rotated or tipped teeth, as well as a protruding jaw or pushed-back lower arch,” Dr. Steven Roth says. 

Lingual braces, those that are adhered to the backs of your teeth instead of the front, are another option. Lingual braces are good for those who are sensitive to plastic or metal since the lips and cheeks don’t come into contact with the brackets. Just as effective and durable as traditional braces, lingual braces make use of metal brackets and wires and require fewer adjustments than regular braces. Because they sit on the inside part of the teeth, they can be harder to clean. Some patients report difficulty in speaking because of the tongue space being taken up by the brackets.

Clear Braces

For a more discreet option, you can choose to wear clear, removable, plastic aligners that slip over your teeth and straighten them in 10 to 14 months. Custom-made to fit your smile, the aligners gradually move your teeth back into place.

“Every two weeks or so, as your teeth become straighter, you dentist will give you new aligners to wear,” says Joliet, IL cosmetic dentist Gabriella Paolucci, DDS, who recommends wearing them for at least 20 hours a day and removing them only to eat, brush and floss. Moreover, the longer you wear them, the faster you’ll see results.

“Traditional metal braces can use tipping forces to straighten the teeth, whereas Invisalign trays push the teeth into place,” says New York City cosmetic dentist Jason Kasarsky, DDS. For the best and fastest results, you should wear your clear braces at all times except for when eating and brushing your teeth. Dr. Jason Kasarsky also notes that while the overall treatment time may vary, most patients wear their aligners for about one year.

Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS, likes Invisalign because it allows patients to bleach their teeth while wearing the see-through plastic trays. He advises his patients to place bleaching gel inside the tray for one to three hours a day or at night.

If you’ve already had orthodontic treatment and your teeth have shifted slightly, you may benefit from Invisalign Express, a less time-consuming version of Invisalign that can get you the results you want in a matter of a few months.

Who they are for

Anyone whose smile issues are limited to the position of the teeth.

Who they are not for

Those who have missing teeth, a lot of fillings or crowns or need the shape of their teeth addressed as well. Veneers or bonding may be more suitable options, especially if time is of the essence.

What to expect

The process of adhering the brackets to teeth can take one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours, since it’s a tooth-by-tooth process based on individual shifting.

“After braces are put on, there may be some soreness. Basically, your teeth aren’t used to the change, but, over the next few days, the braces will begin to loosen up and become more comfortable,” says New York, NY cosmetic dentist, Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, DMD who advises patients to have their braces tightened every six weeks.

Immediately after braces are removed, there can be a difference in color between where the tooth was bonded to the braces and the part that was exposed to staining from foods and drinks. And, if not removed properly, braces can leave behind white spots on the teeth.

“Sometimes they don’t get every bit of bonding cement, and that can cause discoloration,” says New York cosmetic dentist Steven Roth, DMD. “Also, sometimes, the enamel, because the patient didn't keep their teeth clean like they were supposed to, will have decay, and that will look like discoloration.” 

Post-treatment care

Once you’ve completed your orthodontic treatment and have successfully achieved a straight smile, your dentist may suggest that you wear a retainer to prevent your teeth from shifting again.

But gone are the days of bulky plastic appliances. Instead, you’re likely to be fitted for a fixed retainer, which is a thin wire that’s bonded to the back side of the teeth that no one can see. “A second alternative is to continually wear a plastic night guard to sleep,” says New York cosmetic dentist Jason Kasarsky, DDS.

According to Atlanta, GA, cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS, failure to continuously wear a retainer is one of the major reasons that many adults who had their teeth straightened in childhood eventually have their teeth return to a crowded condition.

You may not need to use it all the time, but if it fits very tightly when you put it in after skipping a night, that’s a sign you may need to wear it every night. 

Inside Tips

  • If you’re a tooth grinder, you may have to have this condition addressed before getting braces. Your dentist can create a custom-made appliance that prevents your teeth from touching and your bite from locking. It slips over the teeth, either on the top or bottom, redistributing pressure to properly align the bite and stop clenching. Once the habit is broken, braces can be used to move teeth that have shifted.
  • A new advancement in braces can dramatically accelerate the process. Small, almost microscopic, grooves are made in the jaw between the teeth that are being treated to slightly soften the bone, in turn speeding up the time it takes for braces to realign the smile.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has also recently approved an appliance called AcceleDent that has been shown to reduce the time needed to wear braces by 50 percent. This device has been used outside the U.S. since 2009, and supports the pressure that traditional or clear braces put on the bone to gently move teeth into a straighter position. AcceleDent looks like a mouthpiece that is placed inside the mouth for 20 minutes a day. It gives gentle pulses to the teeth and bone to accelerate the work the braces are doing.