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How to Straighten Teeth Without Braces: 3 Options You Should Know

By Kaelyn Johnson, MPH, RD
Curious about teeth straightening options that aren't braces? Learn more about surgical teeth straightening, clear dental aligners, and touch-ups after removing braces.

Traditionally, braces are the first treatment option that comes to mind when you think about getting your teeth straightened. But if you’re interested in how to straighten teeth without braces, there are a number of options to explore.

Surgical Teeth Straightening

According to Mayo Clinic, surgical teeth straightening, or orthognathic surgery, is an option for people who have the following:

Mayo Clinic further explains that surgical teeth straightening is a procedure that involves repositioning the bones that hold the teeth. It should be noted those who undergo surgical teeth straightening may still need braces after, and possibly even before, surgerybut for a shorter time period than what's required when using solely braces. To be considered for dental surgery, a person usually has to have jaw problems that can’t be fixed with braces alone. 

Clear Dental Aligners

Clear dental aligners are an option for individuals who have slightly crowded teeth or very minimal gaps between the teeth. Aligners are custom-made clear trays that sit directly over your teeth. They're an attractive option for some because they aren’t as visible or apparent as traditional braces. “They are also great because you are not limited to things you can eat like with traditional bracket braces because you take the aligners out to eat. Oral hygiene is easier as well,” Tiffanie Garrison-Jeter, DMD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

But if you choose aligners, you'll need to commit to consistently wearing them for 20-22 hours every day. According to Garrison-Jeter, clear aligners can take six months to two years to completely straighten teeth. 

Touch-ups After Braces

If you find that you're not satisfied with your smile years after removing braces, you may be experiencing an orthodontic relapse. Orthodontic relapse is when your teeth drift back towards their original position over time, according to a 2020 article published in European Journal of Orthodontics

According to Stanford Children’s Health, a common touch-up option for orthodontic relapse are retainers. You'll typically use them to stabilize any minor movements of your teeth.

Orthodontists often recommend retainers after a braces treatment. Retainers can help correct any slight movement that may naturally occur after the braces come off. But for larger teeth movements, you might need braces again.

According to Mayo Clinic, following the instructions that your orthodontist gives you after the successful removal of your braces is important in order to prevent complications. 

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