Invisalign Braces

What they are:
A series of clear plastic retainers, called aligners, that fit over your teeth, gradually straightening them. Each aligner is worn for two weeks at a time. (The number of aligners worn depends on how crooked the teeth are.)

Best for: Straightening teeth without a mouthful of metal. Invisaligns aren't recommended for people with extremely crooked teeth or a severe bite problem; in those cases, traditional braces are more effective.

Do they work? Yes. It can take anywhere from three months to two years to get final results (and longer if you aren't consistent about wearing your aligners). But because the aligners are removable, it's easier to eat, floss, and brush than with metal braces.

Cost: $7,000.

Dental Implant

What it is: A titanium rod placed in the jawbone. The rod fuses to the bone in three to six months; then the dentist attaches an abutment to the rod and, finally, a permanent ceramic or porcelain crown.

Best for: Those with healthy gums and enough bone to support the implant. If a tooth has been missing for a long time or if you have gum disease, a bone graft may be required.

Does it work? Extremely well. "Implants are natural-looking and can last a lifetime," says Kim Harms, DDS, a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. They won't shift or move, and you don't have to drill adjacent, healthy teeth in order to add crowns to make a bridge. Getting an implant is a surgical procedure and requires a few days of recovery time.

Cost: $1,000 to $4,000 per implant.

— Research by Kate Sandoval


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