Adult Orthodontics: Should I Choose Invisalign, Clear Braces, Lingual Braces or Hybrid?

Are You Considering Orthodontics as an Adult?

The most common adult patients we see in our practice are those who had braces as a teenager, wore their retainers for a few years and then lost track of them at some point in college.

Unfortunately our teeth are never static – they’re constantly changing and the previously corrected crowding or spacing generally returns and becomes more visible at some point in our late 20’s and 30’s. Our patients will often refer to a recent
photo of themselves and say, “I never realized it had gotten so bad until I saw this picture!”

Or sometimes our patients will walk in with an old retainer that they’ll try to force on their teeth periodically – which will often do more harm than good! Excess intermittent pressure from an ill-fitting retainer can damage your teeth and gums. A good retainer should fit passively to hold your teeth straight, they aren’t designed to force your teeth back to your teenage straight smile.

The dilemma of adult orthodontics

However many of our patients are generally busy, active professionals, moms and dads – who don’t want to go through years of braces again. And they want their teeth perfectly straight as soon as possible with minimal visibility.

So what are my best options?

Your best options are primarily dependent on your specific malocclusion (bite), the severity of the dental relapse and your dental & periodontal (gum) health – all of which are assessed at your initial consultation.

We’ll discuss the pros and cons of your treatment alternatives such as clear braces, lingual braces or Invisalign, and make our recommendations for your best treatment option.

Remember that the treatment options presented to you are customized for your teeth and your specific bite.

Metal or Clear Braces

Quite often we still recommend clear (ceramic) or standard metal braces (stainless steel) – to most efficiently treat with optimal results. We use American Orthodontics Low-profile metaland Clear Braces (Radiance Plus Brackets) which are made in the USA and are monochrystalline.  We love the translucence, precision & durability that they afford our patients.  From the American Orthodontics website:

“Radiance Plus™ is the clearest ceramic twin bracket available, proven to be much clearer than other monocrystalline or polycrystalline ceramic systems. Each Radiance Plus™ bracket is created from a single crystal of pure grown sapphire – one of the hardest materials in nature, second only to diamond. The crystal is honed and heat polished into a remarkably strong and beautiful bracket that’s nearly invisible on the teeth. A recent study appearing in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics rates Radiance Plus™ as the most translucent of all monocrystalline brackets tested.”

Braces allow us to control each tooth in all three dimensions with the most precision and efficiency (meaning reduced treatment time).

Treatment time is generally the shortest and costs are the lowest for our patients.

Read the Patient Information Brochure for Radiance Plus Braces from American Orthodontics here: AO_Radiance_Brochure


Lingual Braces

Lingual brackets (or Invisible braces) are bonded to the back (lingual) surfaces of your teeth. This is an increasingly popular method of correcting mild-moderate relapse of crowding among our adult patients at Tri-Valley Orthodontics. Lingual Braces allows us to align your teeth with optimal mechanics of a bracket & wire system, but without any visibly bonded appliances or aligners. We place lingual braces behind your teeth to correct the crowding or close the spacing.

While these “hidden” braces may take some getting used to since the lower lingual braces are adjacent to the tongue and create some initial irritation, they are nearly completely invisible to everyone else.  Another perk of lingual braces is that they serve as a full-time retainer during the 6 month period after your braces, so you can go directly to night-time wear of your retainers. We always provide our patients with either Hawley (standard) retainers or clear retainers, depending on our patient’s preference.

Read more about lingual braces here.



Invisalign is another popular option among our patients since the trays are removable enabling easy hygiene and maintenance throughout treatment. Each custom-made tray is worn 22 hours a day for 2 weeks, and then switched to the next tray etc, to gradually align your teeth.

Our office is optimized to provide the most seamless orthodontic experience for our adult patients. Instead of the messy impressions we use a 3D Digital Scanner (iTero) which is radiation-free and allows us to send your 3D image to Invisalign the same day they are taken, allowing for rapid fabrication and delivery of your trays.


We do still have to bond clear attachments (composite buttons) onto select teeth to which the trays engage. Biomechanical control of each tooth generally isn’t as precise or as efficient as with braces – however for mild-moderate cases Invisalign is an excellent option – especially if you tend to clench or grind, as the trays protect the enamel of your teeth.

Read more about Invisalign here!


Hybrid Treatment

Lynn-medDepending on your case we may discuss an option to start your treatment with a fixed appliance like braces or an expander, and then finish with Invisalign – giving you the efficiency of fixed appliances and the esthetics of Invisalign for the remainder of your treatment.

Another popular option is to do partial lingual braces and partial Invisalign treatment depending on the needs of a particular case. The options are limitless! And Dr. Ko & Dr. Yoon can tailor the various treatment methods to fit your specific treatment needs and desires.

This is a popular option among our patients since they get the best of both worlds – limiting their time in treatment and finishing with optimal results.

We hope this post helped to clarify the best options available to you if you’re considering orthodontics as an adult. We’re always happy to answer any further questions specific to your case during your initial consultation.


Dr. Ko & Dr. Yoon


Tri-Valley Orthodontics is a family orthodontics practice in San Ramon providing metal, clear and lingual braces, Invisalign, retainers and appliances. San Ramon Orthodontists Dr. Ko and Dr. Yoon provide comprehensive orthodontic care for children, teens & adults. To schedule your complimentary consultation call us at (925)272-7868 or email us at

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