As we age, bone density naturally decreases and can cause the jaw bone to shrink, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. And a shrinking jaw, along with a number of other factors, can contribute to crowded teeth during adulthood. Luckily, there are several ways to fix crowded teeth and maintain your smile during your adult years.
Traditional metal braces are a common orthodontic method for fixing crowded teeth. Metal brackets with wires threaded through them are attached to the teeth in order to gradually create realignment over time.
While braces are doubtlessly an effective option, many adults steer away from them due to the temporary changes to your lifestyle and appearance that they require. Although lingual braces, installed on the back sides of teeth, are a less-conspicuous option for some, braces will always require professional periodic adjustments and special care.
Invisible dental aligners are an alternative orthodontic treatment to braces that can help straighten and align crowded teeth. Unlike braces, invisible aligners are removable plastic trays that can be taken out for eating and cleaning. They’re also less noticeable than metal braces.
"Most adults prefer to do clear aligner therapy, as it’s more comfortable and less noticeable," Payam Ataii, DMD, a dentist at Laser Dental Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Invisible aligners typically must be worn at all times of the day when you are not eating or brushing your teeth in order for them to be effective for realigning crowded teeth.
Cosmetic Recontouring and Veneers
When teeth crowding is minor, cosmetic dental work may be an option to reshape the teeth to allow them to fit together better. Unlike orthodontic treatment, cosmetic dental work does not move the teeth. Instead, it changes the aesthetics of the teeth to create the appearance of a straighter smile.
Cosmetic recontouring involves shaving down portions of teeth to help them fit together with less crowding. “Cosmetic recontouring is non-invasive and uses a reduction in natural enamel to change the contours of teeth,” John Pham, DDS, MS, founder and CEO of InBrace, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “However, this method is limited in its ability and irreversible.”
Porcelain veneers can also be placed over the front surface of teeth to replace the enamel and change the appearance of crowded teeth and make them look straighter. “Porcelain veneers are a bit more invasive than cosmetic recontouring because more enamel is removed in preparation for veneers,” Pham says. “This method can be very costly and is also irreversible.”
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