How Do Mail Order Invisible Braces Work?

Mayra ParisFeb 7, 2018

I still remember the day I got my metal braces in high school. I've never been afraid of going to the dentist, and I wasn't particularly scared about getting braces. In fact, I was kind of looking forward to it. I imagined what my perfect smile would look like when the treatment was over, and I felt butterflies in my stomach.

Once I was sitting in the orthodontist's chair having metal wires threaded through brackets glued to my teeth, the excitement was gone. The pressure the wires put on my teeth caused a near-constant ache all over my mouth. The steel brackets weren't perfectly smooth, so the sharp points made my lips sore. I couldn't drink soda or chew gum, and I had to get special toothpicks with little brushes at the end to clean between the wires. And if the wires weren't trimmed juuust right, they would poke the inside of my cheek for a whole month. That was the other thing: I had to visit the orthodontist's office every month for the next two years.

Two years later, the braces came off and my smile was everything I'd hoped for, but I always wished there had been an alternative for me. Some way to get the smile I always wanted, while drinking whatever I wanted, without seeing the orthodontist more often that I visited my grandmother, and without living in a state of constant discomfort. Luckily, now there are options. 

Invisible braces, also known as clear aligners, are dental appliances intended to fix teeth crowding, misaligned bites, and other orthodontic issues. They are made of clear plastic, so they're less noticeable when you talk or smile. And unlike traditional metal braces, they encapsulate the entire row of teeth and are completely smooth, so there are no uncomfortable metal protrusions that can irritate your mouth.

Invisible braces used to be extremely expensive but advances in technology and their increased popularity has made their cost competitive with the price of metal braces. Clear aligners used to require periodic visits to the dentist, which also sometimes meant a separate cost per visit. Now, not only are invisible braces more affordable than ever, but now they are even available by mail.

Here's how it works:

  1. Get a dental impression taken: Most mail order invisible braces companies will provide an impression kit for a minimal cost—less than $100. The kit comes with two trays, one for each row of teeth, and a special putty that you will prepare and put in the trays. When you bite down into the tray, the putty retains the shape of your teeth. You may also be asked to take photos of your teeth and send the full kit back to the company. There, orthodontic professionals will review your case and decide on a course of treatment.
  2. Receive your aligners: Your impressions are used to create invisible aligners that will shift your teeth little by little until they're right where you want them. The company will mail back several aligners with instructions on when to move on to the next one. Usually, you will be asked to wear each aligner for two weeks, but this time frame can vary.
  3. Enjoy your beautiful smile: The exact duration of the treatment will depend on how much adjustment your teeth need and how well you responded to the treatment, which can range from six to eighteen months. But if all goes well and you follow the instructions, you should have a perfect grin by the end of it. All without having to visit an orthodontist, and with the comfort of invisible braces.

The cost of mail order invisible braces can be as low as $2,000, a far cry from the $5,000 or $8,000 you could spend on either metal braces or traditional invisible braces that require visits to the orthodontist. Some mail order companies even offer financing, and the invisible braces you order may even be covered by your dental insurance.

Mail order invisible braces aren't for everyone. Severe cases of teeth crowding and misaligned bites may require in-person attention from an orthodontist. And extreme cases may not be eligible for invisible braces at all. After you mail in your impressions, the company's orthodontic professional will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for their services or not. Some companies even offer a refund of the cost of the impression kit if you're not eligible.

While you are undergoing the alignment process, you should treat your mail order aligners as you would any aligners. You must:

  • Wear them all day, even to bed
  • Take them off when eating or drinking anything other than flat water
  • Wash them often with soap and water
  • Avoid hot drinks that may warp the plastic

If your aligners cause chronic discomfort, you should definitely seek assistance from a local dentist or orthodontist to make sure everything is okay.

Once your treatment is over, you will probably be asked to wear a retainer for a certain period of time, up to a year. This retainer is usually available through the company and is made of the same material as the aligners are.

Mail order invisible braces are a great choice for people who want to avoid the discomfort of traditional braces and who don't want to make regular visits to the orthodontist. And you'll save money too.

We've ranked the top invisible braces companies, including mail order invisible braces companies, like Smile Direct Club and Candid. Check them out here!