Braces can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and unappealing. However, thanks to the progression of modern dentistry, many alternative treatments can help to make your teeth straight without braces.
Teeth Straightening Options
Braces may be the only option if your misalignment is particularly severe, but this is very rare. In most cases, individuals will be able to decide on a customized treatment plan depending on cost, length, and comfort.
Aligners have become one of the most popular choices recently, but we will also discuss other options for making your teeth straight without braces.
Clear aligners are the most popular alternative to traditional braces. They’re made of a hard plastic material and are custom-fabricated to fit an individual’s mouth.
In most cases, a patient will go through a series of differently shaped aligners, which slowly push the teeth into the correct position. The progression of aligners is similar to the routine tightening of traditional metal braces.
Aligners are worn for approximately twenty hours per day and changed every few weeks, depending on an individual’s needs. You might choose to get aligners instead of braces for many reasons:
- Appearance: Many patients, especially adults, are not fans of how metal braces look and would prefer a discrete appearance while straightening their teeth.
- Convenience: Aligners can be easily removed, which makes brushing and flossing a breeze. They are also easier to keep clean, as you’re not worrying about maintaining braces that are affixed to your teeth and difficult to clean if something is stuck in them.
- Comfort: One of the most common complaints associated with braces is pain. Aligners, on the other hand, are less likely to irritate your gums and cheeks and cause less scratching.
Aligners are also a popular choice for individuals who had braces or corrective treatment in the past and are now experiencing shifting or minor misalignment. They’re great for minimal issues where braces may not be necessary for treatment.
There are two different methods by which individuals can obtain aligners: by an orthodontist, or through at-home services by online providers.
Aligners Provided by an Orthodontist
Although at-home straightening services are becoming increasingly popular, there are many reasons that you might visit an orthodontist instead. While sending in a simple mould and a few pictures of your teeth, followed by receiving a series of aligners, sounds convenient and easy, many things can go wrong during the process.
You could have underlying issues that can’t be identified through a photograph or mould. When you aren’t having x-rays taken as you would at an in-person office, you aren’t being treated for the issues below your gums—only the problems found above the gums, which can result in incomplete treatment or even damage.
Even if you haven’t looked into straightening options, you’ve probably heard of Invisalign. Invisalign has been around since 1997 and is recommended by many orthodontists.
Invisalign has provided aligners for over eight million individuals with excellent results and are still coming up with innovative and effective methods to help straighten teeth. Invisalign can only be provided by an in-person orthodontist.
Your orthodontist will be concerned with correcting your smile’s aesthetic appearance while also improving your dental health. The treatment provided by an orthodontist will be geared towards improving your bite and jaw alignment, which will be beneficial in the long-run.
Aligners Provided by At-Home Straightening Services
As there are many reasons to visit an orthodontist for straightening services, there are also many reasons you may opt for an at-home method instead:
- Cost: Depending on your dental provider and insurance plan, it may be more cost-effective to use an at-home straightening service instead of going in-person.
- Convenience: Maybe you don’t have much free time in your schedule, and a long series of dentist appointments are the last thing you need.
- Severity: At-home straightening services are beneficial for individuals with minimal issues with their teeth that may not require in-depth care.
Companies like Smile Direct Club and Byte have surged in popularity over the past few years. Instead of scheduling an appointment with an orthodontist, you can register for an account online to begin the process.
You receive an impression kit with instructions on capturing a model of your teeth, which you then send back to the company. After they receive your moulds and perform an analysis, you’ll be informed if you qualify for treatment and, if so, the length and cost required. After deciding on a payment plan, you receive your aligners in the mail and proceed from there.
One of the most significant concerns following at-home straightening treatments is the follow-up. Regardless of whether your teeth were straightened using braces or aligners, you will have to wear a retainer for an allotted amount of time to ensure your teeth stay in place.
An in-person orthodontist will also open up the option to install a permanent retainer that can last up to approximately fifteen years, instead of maintaining a removable retainer.
While the online companies will provide you with retainers after you complete your treatment, you won’t have access to the same online care you had when your treatment started. So if you have any issues or concerns, you will most likely end up visiting your dentist in person.
Although not typical, another method of teeth straightening is corrective surgery. If your misalignment is caused by problems with your bones and gums that keep your teeth in place, your dentist may recommend surgery.
Teeth straightening surgery is not a fix-all solution, though. It may just be the initial step in another treatment process. After undergoing surgery, you will most likely need to wear braces for a significantly shorter amount of time than usual.
Palatal expanders are only used for children. If it’s apparent that your child’s mouth will not have enough room for incoming adult teeth, your dentist may recommend and install a palatal expander.
A palatal expander is cemented to the upper molars and gradually expanded to allow for more bone growth, creating space for teeth to move into their correct positions. Pursuing this option at a young age can help avoid any serious orthodontist treatment in their future.