Smile Design vs. clear aligners vs. traditional braces: What are the differences?

Doctor's Answers 1

The Differences between Smiledesign, Clear Aligners and Traditional Braces.


Smiledesign: Does not move teeth; it is a renovation of the teeth. It uses a variety of dental procedures from Porcelain Veneers to Crown Lengthening to achieve aesthetic results. Smiles are custom designed for each patient. Position, size, shape and colour of the teeth can be altered.

Clear Aligners: Moves teeth using clear plastic aligners every 6 weeks, must be worn 22 hours per day. Uses different sets of aligners to move teeth into the desired position. Only the position of the teeth can be corrected.

Traditional Braces: Moves teeth using metal braces. Extractions are usually recommended especially for overcrowding cases. The dentist will tighten the braces every 3-4 weeks to move the teeth into the desired position.


Smiledesign: The fastest method. On average it takes patients 2-3 weeks to complete.

Clear Aligners: Simple cases can take 3-6 months, more complex cases take 12-24 months to complete.

Traditional Braces: For younger patients, it can take less than 12 months. For adults, it can take 2-3 years to complete.


Smiledesign: As teeth are not being moved, there is no pressure on the teeth. It is very comfortable and usually, anaesthetic is not required. Unlikely to get ulcers or speech issues as there are no braces/aligners used.

Clear Aligners: Teeth can experience mild soreness as the pressure on the teeth is necessary to move them. Unlikely to get ulcers from the aligners. Speech is only slightly impacted due to the aligners.

Traditional Braces: When the braces are tightened every 3-4 weeks, many patients will be recommended to consume soft food such as porridge during the first few days of tightening. Patients may experience ulcers due to the wires and speech will be affected. Difficult to clean as the wires tend to trap food.


Smiledesign: As the teeth are not being moved, there is no chance of relapse.

Clear Aligners & Traditional Braces: Retainers must be worn after treatment for 12 months or longer. Some dentists will recommend patients to wear retainers for life due to the risk of relapse. (Once teeth relapse, you can't go back!)


Smiledesign: $5,000 to $7,000 on average. Can cost up to $15,000.

Clear Aligners: $4,500 to $9,000 on average. Up to $11,000 for more complex cases.

Traditional Braces: $3,000 onwards for students. $6,000 to $7,000 for adults or up to $11,000 at a specialist.

Consult your dentist to find which procedure would best suit your lifestyle and goals.

Similar Questions

How do clear aligner brands that achieve cosmesis by only straightening visible crooked front teeth compare against standard orthodontics braces treatment? (photo)

Thank you for your question and for including pictures of your smile. It appears to me that you may have had prior braces treatment with conventional braces and some of the teeth may have shifted such as the lower front teeth and the upper lateral incisors. The uploaded photo quality is not clear but there appears to be some white spot lesions or discolouration on your front teeth that could happen when oral hygiene and diet were not optimal during braces treatment. However the quality of the uploaded photo is a bit pixelated and I cannot be completely certain of this.

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Answered By

Dr Priscilla Lu


What are the main differences and considerations for someone undergoing braces in her 40s versus 20s?

Thank you for your question. There is a saying that goes 40s are the new 20s, people are embracing their age and living life without apologies. However, these are some of the differences I see in my practice that may differ between the 2 age groups. Gum support. Generally speaking, the older one gets, the higher the risk of gum disease and reduced periodontal support. The cause of gum disease is multifactorial with plaque bacteria being one of the main culprits, hence an older individual may be more at risk as the bacteria has had a longer time to fester.

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