Straight Talk About Braces for Adults
It's never too late to perfect your smile -- just ask the increasing number of adults who are rushing to the orthodontist.
Invisalign vs. Braces
Another option for the vain at heart is Invisalign. Patients wear a series of clear, removable orthodontic aligners that are adjusted as the teeth shift into place without metal or wires. A series of custom-made aligners are worn each for a period of two weeks. Each aligner moves the teeth progressively into place. Average total treatment time: a few months to 1 1/2 years. While orthodontists say Invisalign can be a good alternative to traditional braces, there are limitations.
"Invisalign does not do a great job on vertical problems, where the teeth are at different heights, teeth are lower or higher than others. It doesn't not do a good job on teeth that are severely rotated, and it does not do a good job at correcting bite issues," says Sebastian, who also says Invisalign would also not be the best option for fixing severely overcrowded teeth.
Sebastian says Invisalign can cost an average of $500 more than a one-year treatment with traditional braces.
A critical component of braces are the end game -- wearing the retainer. "It used to be, your teeth are straight, you wear retainers for a year, it will never change. Well, we know that's just not fact. Now we have to tell patients to plan on retention for years; lifetime retention is the word that they use now," says Sebastian, who has a number of patients who are repeat orthodontic clients.
Veneers: The Quick Fix
If you don't have time to wait for orthodontic treatment and want instant results, porcelain veneers might be for you. Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin shells that are bonded to the front side of teeth to improve their cosmetic appearance.
"A lot of times if a patient comes in and their teeth just are not pretty, I just go straight to veneers because with veneers I can typically fix the position, the shape, the color, and the appearance of the tooth all in one fell swoop. If a patient comes to me and they have beautiful, virgin, healthy teeth and they're just crooked, then I would talk about braces, then I would talk about Invisalign," says aesthetic dentist William Dorfman, DDS, who has received two lifetime achievement awards in cosmetic dentistry and has been featured on the hit TV show Extreme Makeover.