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Braces for Teens Braces for Teens

Braces for Teens and Adults: Types, Cost and More

The decision to correct malaligned teeth is not only natural but necessary. Straight teeth boost your appearance and oral hygiene as well. Although the teenage years are the best time to straighten teeth since the dentition and jaws are still evolving, adult braces are gaining popularity because people make the decision later on in life.

There are different types of braces in the market. Most of them are effective and discreet but determining the best type for you may not be easy. It is important that you have a knowledge of the different types of adult braces so that you can look for a treatment that fits into your budget and aesthetics.

Are you an adult considering having your teeth straightened? Or do you have a teenager in need of orthodontic work? Then this guide is just what you need. You will get answers to questions including:

  • Which brands of braces are the best?
  • What is the duration of the treatment?
  • What types of teeth braces are available in the UK?
  • How does the process work?
  • Are braces available on the NHS?
  • What’s the cost of braces in the UK?
  • What does wearing braces feel like?

Braces and how they work

The function of braces is to correct malaligned dentition. There are various types of braces in orthodontic treatment, but details of them will be given later. All braces work differently.

These are three major reasons your orthodontist or dentist may recommend braces for you:

  • There are gaps in your teeth that need to be closed
  • You have a malocclusion; your upper and lower teeth don’t meet properly, and this is affecting your bite
  • You have crooked, crowded, or protruding teeth that needs straightening

Leaving these dental problems untreated can cause:

  • Headaches from jaws and muscle strain
  • Speech impediment
  • Eating difficulty
  • Difficulty cleaning teeth properly which can cause more dental problems
  • Self-consciousness due to teeth appearance

Who’s eligible for orthodontic braces?

The best time to straighten teeth is in the teenage years when the dentition and jaws are still evolving. However treatment doesn’t usually start until most adult teeth have come through. Thus, the ideal age to start wearing orthodontic braces is around 10 – 14 years.

This does not negate the fact that braces can still be worn at any age. Report from the British Orthodontic Society in 2018 shows that 80% of its members had been providing braces for more adults; an increase from 75% in 2016. The usual patients are females aged 26 – 40 years, but the survey showed that the number of males seeking orthodontic treatment is increasing.

Some adults may wear braces for health reasons, but in many cases, the reason is usually more of aesthetics.

Using fixed braces are still the most common practice, but more adults are opting for clear aligners like Invisalign, which straightens their teeth discreetly.

One condition for having dental braces is if your dentition is in good condition and you maintain good oral hygiene. If you have gum disease, tooth decay, or have undergone extensive restorative work like crowns, you may not qualify to have all the types of orthodontic treatment. This means you should consider using veneers or dental implants to enhance your teeth appearance.

Different kinds of braces

As a teen, wearing dental braces can come with bullying and self-consciousness. This may not fade away as you grow into adulthood; it becomes more serious. So, the last thing you would want is for people to notice that you are straightening your teeth.

It is true that most adults dislike the use of teeth braces because of people’s perception of them and the worry that they might look childish. This holds sway, especially if they have a professional appearance to maintain at work or have a special day coming up.

But the good news is that metal braces are no longer the only option for those who want to straighten their teeth. While modern ceramic materials can be manufactured to blend with your natural teeth colour, invisible braces like Invisalign are nearly invisible. This makes it less obvious that you are straightening your teeth.

We have provided a summary of the pros and cons of different teeth braces. With this information, you can find out which is good for you.



Lingual (incognito)


Hidden behind teeth

The treatment takes more time, and it’s more expensive than traditional braces


It’s difficult to clean and adjust


Can be uncomfortable and have a greater effect on speed

Ceramic (tooth-coloured or white)


Clear or tooth coloured materials

Easily gets stained

As effective as metal braces

Uncomfortable as metal


More expensive

Self-ligating (including Damon braces)


Made from clear materials

Ceramic materials can stain

It’s a faster treatment option

Not good for every patient

Less painful than traditional methods

Can be easily detected if metal braces are used

Traditional metal


Available in customised coloured brand

Can be painful or uncomfortable

Mostly the cheapest option

Most noticeable style

Can be gotten on NHS for qualified patients

Some kinds of foods like sticky or hard food cannot be eaten

Invisalign (clear and removable aligners)


Easy cleaning

Ensure you brush and floss after intake of food or drinks except for water

No uncomfortable metal



Treatment can take longer than expected

Nearly invisible

May cost more money

Invisible braces / Invisalign

Invisible braces like Invisalign use a series of clear plastic aligners that fit over your teeth, straightening them slowly and gradually. They are a unique alternative to conventional methods.

The appropriate term for this orthodontic treatment is ‘clear aligners’ but, you will hear people most often refer to them as  ‘invisible’ or ‘removable’ braces.

A lot of clear aligner braces are available in the UK market but Invisalign is more effective and the best-known type of clear brace.

Invisalign Teen is a special aligner that helps teenagers straighten their teeth. It has special features including an indicator that tells your parents or dentist if you’ve been wearing them for the recommended hours. This product is also a good alternative to uncomfortable twin block braces if your jaws have to move forward. It helps teenagers effectively correct dental misalignment. Clear aligners like Invisalign can treat a lot of orthodontic cases.

Consult your dentist to know your eligibility for this treatment.

Invisalign Treatment

If you are qualified for Invisalign braces, a model of your teeth will be taken by your dentist using a scanner. It is this 3D image of your teeth that will be used to plan your treatment. A customised aligner will be manufactured within a month for your use.

Another set of aligners will also be made which you can change every one to two weeks to slowly straighten your teeth. To monitor the progress of your treatment, you’ll go for checkup every four to six months, but there will be no emergency appointments, unlike in other treatments.

An Invisalign treatment can take a longer or shorter time to be completed, but the average duration is 12 – 18 months. After this, you will have to wear a retainer every night to prevent relapse (a condition where your teeth move back to their previous position).

The chances of having gum disease and tooth decay are reduced with the use of Invisalign braces because they are easy to clean and removable aligners. You can floss your teeth normally too.

Nevertheless, you need to wear them for 20 – 22 hours a day and take them out for 2 – 4 hours for eating, drinking, and cleaning. Some reviews report an improved eating habit with Invisalign.

In summary, Invisalign treatment is a more effective and comfortable way to correct misaligned dentition. Added to this is the fact that Invisalign costs approximately the same amount as other braces. This qualifies them as the best kind of braces for teens and adults.

Follow our guide to invisible braces for more details on this treatment option.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces consist of brackets and wires. The brackets are manufactured from materials that are clear or have the same texture or colour as teeth. This makes them less visible than metal braces. The wires sometimes can be tooth-coloured.

Since they work in a manner similar to traditional braces, they have the same effect and discomfort.

A disadvantage to ceramic braces is that they can be easily stained, especially the elastic band used. They can be costlier than metal.

Many people see the cost of ceramic braces to be equal to its speed of treatment and appearance.

Lingual Braces

These braces offer a discreet treatment for misaligned dentition since the fittings are hidden behind the teeth.

They are less noticeable from the outside and are also known as ‘incognito’ braces. Brackets are fixed to the inner surface of the teeth as standard fittings, but they can be customised to fit the shape of your teeth. However, this is expensive.

With the mouth wide open, these braces are still visible, but it’s not obvious immediately.

Some of the downsides of lingual braces which makes them a less popular option include:

  • They are difficult to clean
  • Since they are hidden behind the teeth, adjustments at checkups take longer
  • They can cause speech impairment
  • They are more uncomfortable since the brackets and wires are closest to the tongue
  • This treatment is more expensive than traditional styles

Traditional metal braces

Fixed metal braces have evolved from the ‘train track’ it used to be to become lighter, smaller, and less obvious with improvement in technology.

High-quality stainless steel brackets are attached to each tooth, and a flexible metal wire is passed through each one. The wires are secured using rubber bands or metal ties. Using wire tightening in different places, orthodontists can shift the teeth into the desired position. Sometimes larger rubber bands or chains are used to connect different teeth and pull them in certain directions.

To aid treatment, some kind of headgear may be occasionally worn at night.

The fitting takes 1 – 2 hours. The procedure isn’t painful, but it is normal for teeth to feel sore after the initial fitting, and after each adjustment.

Treatment with conventional fixed brace usually takes 18 – 24 months. It is important that during this time, you maintain good oral hygiene and clean your braces carefully as you will be at higher risk of tooth decay.

An advantage of this option is that teens and some adults can choose an elastic band colour to be used on each of the brackets. They are also cheaper than other braces and may be available on the NHS.

Self-ligating braces

These braces also use the wire and bracket system like conventional styles. However modern self-ligating braces require no elastic bands or metal ties to hold the straightening archwire in position.

Some brands like Damon use transparent brackets for patients that worry about their appearance. Damon braces employ relatively gentle teeth aligning procedure.

Unlike the pain experienced after each adjustment with traditional braces, Self-ligating braces constantly adjust at a more steady pace.

The absence of rubber bands in this treatment option means that they are more hygienic. The brackets are designed to hold onto less food than the traditional braces.

Self-ligating braces are more efficient and faster in treating misaligned teeth than traditional metal braces. They require fewer checkups, and this makes them one of the less expensive teeth braces.

Some orthodontic cases cannot be treated with these braces, and they may not be suitable for certain patients.

What’s the cost of braces in the UK?

In the UK, braces are available in a wide range of prices. NHS provides free braces for children up to 18 years. The price of custom lingual braces can reach into five figures. Not to worry, private braces cost £1,500 – £5,000 on average, and there are ways to get them at a less expensive price.

NHS braces for teens and adults in the UK

People who are up to age 18 and have a clinical need can get orthodontic treatment for free on the NHS. So, if you or your children are approaching this age and are contemplating teeth straightening, it’s good to check on NHS braces now to avoid private payment for orthodontic work in future. Find out more in our article on children braces.

Adults well past the age of 18 are not usually eligible for NHS braces. There is an exception when there is a severe case that requires orthodontic treatment to avoid serious health problem in future. You may have to consult your dentist to know if you are qualified for braces on the NHS as an adult.

For adults, NHS braces cost £269.30 (the band 3 treatment fee for 2019/20). This price is by far cheaper than the cost of private braces treatment in the UK, but few adults are qualified for NHS braces.

Take note that only metal braces are offered on the NHS. Many adults may choose to pay for private treatment where they can be offered a variety of choice for themselves or their children.

It is unusual for basic dental insurance plans to cover the cost of braces and other dental treatment but, if you have private health insurance, check to know whether orthodontic work is included.

What’s the cost of private braces in the UK?

The price of braces for adults is one factor that keeps people away from seeking treatment. Bear in mind that there’s no such thing as ‘cheap braces’. Be careful of anyone or company offering them.

When planning the cost of braces, know that you are not only paying for the materials used to manufacture it; you should factor in the time it takes for your dentist to fit it and adjustments during checkups. The price also depends on the style you choose and the treatment duration. Adult braces usually cost thousands of pounds.

Below is a rough cost estimate of the different types of braces for adults and teens with private treatment in the UK. The assumption is that the prices cover the treatment of the upper and lower teeth. Complex works may require higher costs.

Types of brace

Estimated cost


£1,900 – £4,650

Lingual (incognito)

£2,000 – £10,000


£2,000 – £5,500

Self-ligating (Damon)

£1,500 – £4,500

Traditional metal

£1,500 – £3,000

From the table, the cost of ceramic braces is higher than metal fittings. A common solution is to use white ceramic braces for the top front teeth, then have metal braces on the remaining teeth which are not in sight.

But if you don’t like your treatment to be exposed, Invisalign is a good choice. You might even find it cheaper than other solutions.

Various dental finance options can help you cover the cost of braces.

Orthodontist and the best braces prices near you

You have to find out whether the orthodontists or dentists in your area are well qualified, experienced, and have the opening hours that fit into your schedule. This is very important. You need to ask the right question too, plus getting recommendations from your friends and family isn’t a bad idea.

The price of braces in the UK differs from region to region, and from dentist to dentist. Take a survey to know the cost.

A dentist will not be able to give you a final quote until after examining your teeth; this in itself may incur a small charge.

Many orthodontists offer finance plans to make treatment more inexpensive.

Ensure to look out for what you are paying for in your quotation and what you will have to pay for separately. Take into consideration things like retainers, mouthguards, tooth extractions, and ongoing checkups after your braces are removed.

Don’t forget that you will be visiting your orthodontist for regular checkups. Thus it will be easy to locate one near your office or home.

Can your teeth be straightened without braces?

This is possible in most cases. Many people consider braces to be able to straighten teeth without having metal glued to them; this is exactly what invisible braces do.

Another possibility is the use of a dental retainer to correct mild teeth problems like overcrowded teeth. Retainers can be fixed or removable. Removable retainers are formed from an acrylic plate and metal wire shaped to fit your mouth.

Removable retainers are a good alternative for people who want to preserve their newly straightened smile without a fixed metal glued to the back of their teeth. Removable retainers can easily be taken out for special occasions and to eat then worn for the rest of the day. One drawback of this option is that they can easily get lost and is quite expensive to replace so,  traditional retainers may be easier to manage.

Braces: before and after

There is an amazing change in your teeth after orthodontic work. Your teeth will be correctly aligned to enable you to eat and take good care of them easily.

Getting braces can be instrumental in reducing your chances of cavities later in life, especially when you had crooked teeth.

Teeth straightening also does a lot in improving the aesthetic appearance of your smile.

However, if your teeth start to look better after a few weeks of treatment, you will likely continue your treatment until your teeth are moved into their projected position.

What does it feel like as an adult to wear braces?

The high cost of braces in the US has transformed them into a status symbol of sorts. But in the UK, there is still some stigma attached to the use of braces.

Adults these days seek treatment later in life either because they missed out on it as a child or because of the expensive cost of private treatment.

We understand that adults may still worry about wearing braces because of the perception of other people. This is why removable aligners and clear braces are a better option.

The beauty of invisible braces is that they make eating easier and can be taken out for short periods for important occasions, especially when the wearer is self-conscious.

Some other persons decide to put up with the teasing and bullying for the period they are wearing braces in order to achieve a smile that will stay with them for life.

People that wear braces may experience speaking and eating difficulties at first, but soon get used to having the braces on.

For most people, it takes within a month to get used to wearing braces and after six months or so they lose self-consciousness.

Are adult braces painful?

Practically, if you get dental braces as an adult, it is normal to feel uncomfortable. This is due to the fact that your body breaks down parts of the bone in your jaw that holds your teeth in their current position. Bone is then regrown around the teeth in their new position.

You may also experience some irritation to check tissue, which can cause mouth sores. But you can deal with the pain in the following ways:

  • Eat soft foods like eggs, pasta, and mashed potatoes especially if you feel uncomfortable when biting
  • Use over-the-counter painkillers to relieve any aches and soreness
  • Ease oral pain by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water
  • Use anaesthetic mouth gels to numb painful areas especially at night
  • Use orthodontic wax to cover any wires or brackets that are irritating your mouth
  • Avoid touching mouth sores (if you develop any) with your tongue or fingers as it worsens them

Contact your dentist or orthodontist immediately if you experience severe pain from wearing a brace or a wire comes loose and is a potential danger to your mouth.

Restrictions on eating

There are some foods you may have to avoid for comfort and others you shouldn’t dare eat if you are wearing braces.

With Invisalign braces, your eating can be flexible since they can be completely removed provided you clean your teeth before wearing.

Your dentist will advise you on which foods to avoid eating with fixed braces. They include:

  • Chewy foods like tough meat, bagels, and gummy sweets
  • Hard foods like boiled sweets and nuts
  • Sticky foods like chewing gum and caramel
  • Crunchy foods like ice, crisps and popcorn
  • Foods you bite into like crusty bread, apples and raw carrot

Avoid biting on hard things like your fingernails or the end of a pencil to avoid damage.

Following the instructions of your orthodontist carefully is very important because if your braces get damaged while you are eating, you may not notice it and this can prolong your treatment. You may have to pay for the replacement of certain parts.

How do you know when you need orthodontic work?

When you are eligible for braces on the NHS, you will have to see your dentist who will refer you to an orthodontist.

With private treatment, all these referrals are not necessary; you just go straight to your chosen dentist or orthodontist.

Search for an orthodontist near you that provides the type of braces that you may be in need of for yourself or your teenager.


We believe that you now understand how much different types of dental braces cost in the UK. All you need is to decide which type will suit you best with help from your orthodontist or dentist. This is essentially a balance between comfort, result, appearance and price.

In summary:

  • Most adults and teens would choose to avoid the ‘train track’ look of metal braces
  • Lingual braces are nearly invisible but very expensive
  • Invisalign braces are innovative, efficient, invisible, and affordable orthodontic solution
  • Ceramic braces are less obvious than metal only from a distance and can be uncomfortable

Do book an appointment with your nearest dentist and get your treatment started. It’s never too late to change your smile into a more confident one.

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