Very few people are born with perfectly straight teeth. However, most people choose to straighten their crooked smiles with a little help from their dentist or orthodontist. We’re lucky to live in a world where straightening teeth is not only possible, but it’s also available at a variety of price points using a range of different technologies. Don’t want anyone to know you have braces? No problem! Looking for a quick and inexpensive solution? Sure thing! To get started, explore your teeth straightening options below and discuss your questions and concerns with your dentist.
First, it’s important to note that straightening your teeth may not be purely an aesthetic concern. For example, gaps between teeth can lead to an increased risk of periodontal disease, improper alignment can cause jaw pain, and crowding can lead to plaque accumulation and tooth decay.
Second, remember that every mouth is slightly different. Your dentist will need to diagnose the condition caused by your crooked teeth:
- Gapped Teeth: Gaps between teeth caused by abnormal jaw growth or missing teeth
- Overbite: The upper teeth bite over the lower teeth
- Underbite: The lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth in front
- Open bite: Some teeth are unable to make physical contact with opposing teeth, creating an opening in the bite
- Crowded teeth: The teeth don’t have enough room to comfortably fit within the jaw, causing crookedness
- Crossbite: The upper and lower jaws are misaligned, disrupting the bite
Some conditions are more severe than others and may require a certain type of orthodontic treatment. Your dentist can tell you which teeth straightening options are viable possibilities for your specific dental alignment issue.
Teeth Straightening Options
Traditional Metal Braces
When most people think about teeth straightening, they think about “train tracks,” or traditional metal braces. Stainless-steel brackets are attached to the teeth (clear plastic and tooth-colored ceramic brackets are also available), and metal wires connect the brackets together. Metal braces can effectively fix severe alignment issues, and they are typically the most inexpensive option available. However, they are very visible and can irritate the mouth. Many adults with misaligned teeth avoid metal braces due to their conspicuousness, preferring more discreet straightening methods.
Lingual braces are completely hidden because they are placed behind the teeth. Custom-made brackets and wires are attached to the back of each tooth, so patients don’t have to worry about anyone spotting their secret. However, lingual braces are also quite uncomfortable and require a long transition period. Patients can’t eat crunchy foods like carrots, and they may speak with a lisp. In addition, as the patient speaks, their tongue will rub against the brackets and wires and may become irritated. Wax can be applied to the brackets to prevent irritation, but even then, adjusting to lingual braces can be a challenge.
(Nearly) Invisible Aligners
Invisible aligners have been around for over fifteen years now. They are clear, removable, and made of plastic, so they’re nearly invisible. Every two weeks, the patient receives a new aligner, which will move the teeth ever so slightly closer to the ideal position. Because the trays can be removed, cleaning is a breeze. Dental appointments are short due to the lack of maintenance, and discomfort is minimal. Despite the fact that aligners can be removed, however, patients are still expected to wear them for at least 22 hours a day. And invisible aligners are not effective at treating severe alignment problems like large gaps and twisted teeth. Due to their inconspicuousness, invisible aligners like Invisalign and ClearCorrect (an inexpensive version of Invisalign) are very popular with adults.
Veneers and Lumineers
Veneers and Lumineers are thin, porcelain shells that are applied to the surface of teeth. Although they won’t move your teeth into proper alignment, they will hide their flaws. To apply veneers, the dentist will shave down and reshape your natural teeth so that the veneers fit properly and achieve a natural appearance. Lumineers, on the other hand, are thin enough that your natural teeth do not have to be shaved down to achieve a beautiful smile. Both veneers and Lumineers cannot fix bite issues or severe misalignment. However, they can fix small gaps and minor misalignment problems.
A Snap-On Smile is a removable appliance that is snapped on top of existing teeth, instantly creating a flawless smile. It can be a temporary or a permanent solution, and it isn’t as expensive or invasive as most other straightening treatments. The device will be custom fit for comfort, but you will need to avoid sticky foods and you may find that your speech is affected during the first few weeks (this will go away as your mouth adjusts to the device). Although a Snap-On Smile doesn’t fix the underlying problem, it does provide an effective cover-up.
As you decide between these teeth straightening options, you’ll need to take a variety of factors into consideration:
- First, is it important to you that other people are not aware that you’re using a teeth-straightening device? If this is a great concern, you should probably avoid metal braces.
- Second, how much money are you willing to spend? Invisalign, though effective and discreet, is also quite pricey, so those on a budget might need to consider ClearCorrect, metal braces, or a Snap-On Smile.
- Third, would you like to permanently correct the misalignment of your teeth or would you be satisfied with concealing the problem? If you’re eager for a straight smile and you don’t mind leaving your natural teeth misaligned, you could use veneers or a Snap-On Smile to create the illusion of a perfect smile.
- Fourth, how severe is your misalignment problem? Extreme issues can’t be fixed using invisible aligners or veneers, so if you have bite problems or large gaps, you may need to use metal braces.
If you’re interested in straightening your teeth, contact Wilkinson Dental if you live in or near Springfield, MO. We offer a variety of teeth straightening options including ClearCorrect, Invisalign, Lumineers, Veneers, and Snap-On Smile, and we would be happy to help you choose the right device for your needs. To schedule a consultation, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!