With a growing number of adults seeking orthodontic care, you might be wondering about the current methods for correcting misaligned teeth. Innovations in orthodontic technology now ensure that obtrusive braces aren't your only option. Invisible aligners and lingual braces, for one, offer a more discreet choice. Read on to explore today's teeth straightening options.
Traditional Metal Braces
Braces are an effective treatment option for most dental problems, including overcrowding, crooked teeth, and teeth that are out of alignment. Traditional braces are made of metal and include brackets that are attached to the front of your teeth. Flexible wires connect the brackets and are periodically adjusted by your orthodontist in order to gradually shift your teeth into alignment.
Invisible Dental Aligners
Invisible dental aligners are a popular teeth straightening option that offer an alternative to traditional braces. With aligners, a series of clear plastic dental trays are custom-made to fit your teeth. A direct-to-consumer aligner company can deliver your devices straight to your door.
Typically, each set of aligners must be worn about 22 hours per day for 1 to 3 weeks before you move on to the next set. The aligners will gradually shift your teeth based on a plan designed by licensed dentists or orthodontists.
“[Invisible aligners] offer numerous benefits over traditional braces,” Yvonne King, BDSc, MSc, an aesthetic dentist and founder of Cosmetic & Laser Dentistry Centre in Melbourne, Australia, tells WebMD Connect to Care. According to King, these benefits include:
- Fewer visits to the dental clinic
- Removable devices that are easier to clean
- Possible savings in comparison to braces
Lingual braces are a type of dental braces. With these devices, the metal brackets are placed on the back sides of the teeth. As occurs with traditional metal braces, the brackets are connected by a wire that gradually shifts your teeth into place.
Lingual braces are nearly invisible, which often makes them an appealing option. However, they can cause some tongue pain and a temporary lisp until you get used to having them on the back of your teeth.
Teeth Straightening Surgery
For people with severely crooked teeth due to a misaligned jaw, teeth straightening surgery may be an option. In addition, teeth straightening surgery can improve more than just the alignment of your teeth. It can also do the following:
- Make biting, chewing, swallowing, and talking easier
- Fix overbites and underbites
- Improve overall face shape
- Treat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and sleep apnea
- Correct facial injuries or birth defects
You should always discuss the pros and cons of teeth straightening surgery with your orthodontist or maxillofacial surgeon, as there are always certain risks involved. While the risk of negative side effects is low, complications such as infection, pain, swelling, nerve damage, and a long recovery are possible.
For people who only need mild correction, a removable retainer might be an option.
Retainers are most commonly prescribed to keep your teeth aligned once your treatment with braces or aligners is finished, but they can also be used to straighten mildly crooked teeth. They're also sometimes used to correct crooked teeth that were previously straightened with braces but have since moved out of alignment.
An orthodontist or professional aligner provider will be able to tell you if a removable retainer is right for your teeth straightening needs.
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