Fixing crooked teeth or gaps gives many people a real confidence boost. With straighter teeth, you can worry less about what your smile looks like and more about succeeding at your career or being a good parent. In addition to giving you more confidence, a better smile usually means a healthier mouth because it’s easier to brush and floss.
Luckily, plenty of corrective treatments are available without expensive in-person office visits. These days, you can get started online and then continue with virtual follow-up appointments.
How to straighten teeth at home
You can use several methods to straighten your teeth at home — some are safer than others. For example, homemade braces to straighten teeth are not a good idea. In fact, the American Dental Association passed a resolution explicitly discouraging DIY orthodontics, stating, “Please be wary of any suggestions to move teeth with rubber bands, dental floss or other objects ordered on the Internet.”
We suggest clear aligners for at-home orthodontic treatment. Clear aligners, such as those from Invisalign, provide an at-home teeth straightening solution that's overseen by a licensed professional. Depending on the complexity of corrections you need and the product, the treatment may include in-person or virtual visits with a dentist or orthodontist. For more, read our resource to understand and compare the differences between Invisalign vs. braces.
Alternatives to traditional braces
Metal braces are among the most popular options for straightening teeth, but they aren’t necessarily the best option. While braces are often the most effective treatment for complex cases, they're also the most noticeable, and they can’t be removed. Clear plastic aligners are an alternative for people who have mild or moderate issues with their teeth, including gaps, crowding and minor bite problems.
Depending on what you’re looking for, there might be a better choice for you. Let’s break down some of the most common alternatives to traditional braces, many of which are available through at-home treatment plans:
- Clear aligners: Clear aligners, sometimes referred to as invisible braces, are probably one of the most discreet alternatives. Depending on the aligners, you might wear them all day or only at night over a period of four to 18 months. For more, read our guide to find the best invisible braces.
- Headgear: Usually reserved for serious overbites, headgear holds your teeth and jaw in place in order to realign your bite. Headgear must be worn for several hours each day and sometimes overnight.
- Dental veneers: Veneers are porcelain or resin coverings bonded to the front of a tooth to correct stains, chips, misshapen teeth or gaps. These need to be replaced every five to 10 years. You can get porcelain dental veneers from your dentist or find snap-on options that don’t require leaving your home.
- Lingual braces: Sometimes called incognito or hidden braces, lingual braces are attached to the backside of your teeth to straighten your smile without anyone noticing. These are more expensive than some other options, but they're very effective. Like traditional braces, lingual braces require in-office visits.
- Dental implants: A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that attaches to the jawbone. Once the implant bonds with the bone, it can support one or more artificial teeth, which are known as crowns. Dental implants are options for adults who were born without teeth or have lost teeth from injury, decay or infection. The process takes from three to nine months and requires multiple visits to the dentist.
Compare at-home braces
Clear aligners are a relatively affordable way to correct minor to moderate crowding, gaps and rotation. With top-rated brands, some customers start to see results within just a few weeks. We recommend working with an experienced company that offers personalized treatment plans from dental professionals and has positive reviews from customers.
Our pick for value
SmileDirectClub offers treatment with invisible braces that don’t require a single trip to the doctor. Customers can start by ordering an at-home impression kit or visiting a physical location for a 3D scan. A licensed orthodontist or dentist then approves a treatment plan, and SmileDirectClub ships all aligners, along with teeth whitening gel.
Customers can choose between regular aligners, which you wear 22 hours a day, or nighttime aligners, which you wear 10 hours per day. SmileDirectClub charges $1,950 for both treatment plans, which include all custom aligners, virtual checkups and teeth whitening. A payment plan is also available with no credit check. Customers can finish treatment in as little as four months. Compare SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign for more information.
Our pick for fast treatment plans
Byte is an at-home, doctor-directed invisible aligner treatment. It offers both day and night aligner options, with results in as little as three months with all-day wear. Treatment is supervised by board-certified orthodontists and dentists. The company’s plans include the HyperByte device, which uses vibration-based therapy for faster results.
Byte daytime aligners cost $1,895 with a one-time payment or $83 per month for 29 months and a $349 down payment. The nighttime aligners are $2,295 upfront or $99 per month for 29 months with $449 down. Military and student discounts are available. For more information, compare Byte vs. SmileDirectClub.
Our pick for great customer service
Candid combines the convenience of at-home straightening treatment with remote monitoring from an orthodontist. Unlike other invisible braces companies, Candid only works with orthodontists, not dentists; its orthodontists have an average of 20 years of experience. Treatment includes check-ins every 10 to 14 days.
Candid aligners are $2,400, or $99 per month for 24 months with $399 down. You can start with a free visit to a Candid Studio or by ordering an at-home starter kit for $20 at the time of publishing. Candid provides a full refund of the cost of the impression kit if you aren’t a candidate for treatment. For more information, compare Candid vs. SmileDirectClub.
At-home orthodontics FAQ
- What is the fastest way to straighten your teeth at home?
- Wearing clear plastic aligners from an invisible braces company is one of the fastest ways to straighten your teeth at home. Some people finish their treatment plan in as little as three months, but it normally takes anywhere from four to 18 months, depending on the company and your teeth.
- What is the cheapest way to straighten teeth at home?
- Wearing invisible braces is one of the cheapest ways to straighten teeth safely at home, with costs typically ranging from $1,800 to $2,400. Companies offer financing plans with payments under $100 per month. Your health or dental insurance may have coverage that cuts the cost of treatment by about half.
- Are DIY braces safe?
- No. DIY braces can be dangerous for your teeth, gums, jaw and health. You should only start orthodontic treatment under the direction of a licensed dental or orthodontic professional.
- Should I try to file my teeth straight at home?
- No. Doing so can permanently damage your tooth's enamel, which never grows back. Instead you should ask an oral health professional about tooth contouring, a treatment that involves removing a small amount of enamel to reshape a tooth. This is also called an odontoplasty.
- Can you naturally straighten teeth without braces?
- It’s difficult to fix crooked or gapped teeth without metal braces or invisible braces. To safely straighten your smile, you should consult a dentist or orthodontist and ask about all options at your disposal.
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