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
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
"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.