There are numerous options available to straighten and improve the appearance of your teeth. From traditional wire braces to clear aligners and even veneers there’s certainly options. But with all the different types of braces available, you may wonder the best way how to straighten teeth for you.
Before reviewing different types of approaches, it’s a good idea to think about what braces are designed to do: they slowly force your teeth to move in specific directions. They change not only the alignment of your teeth, but also your jaw position and your bite. As part of that process, the underlying bone of your jaw is also changed.
So, you can see why it’s important to choose the right type of braces for your particular dental needs.
There are many brands and many claims. This article will give an overview of the most commonly used options in braces. There are even ways to straighten your teeth without braces.
So, let’s review the ways an orthodontist or cosmetic dentist can help you get straighter teeth.
Types of Braces
Traditional Wire Braces
With the advent of clear aligners, you’d think that wire braces were a thing of the past. But there’s a reason wire braces are still in use, and it’s because they give your orthodontist the most leverage and strength for achieving types of movement that other types of aligners can’t.
Fortunately, today’s wire braces are lighter. The stainless steel metal brackets are attached to your teeth using a dental cement or via metal bands that encircle each tooth. They are then linked together with a thin wire that puts pressure on the teeth to move them slowly into the desired position.
Some braces are held to the brackets with tiny rubber bands that are replaced each time the orthodontist tightens your braces. Some braces (called self-ligating) have brackets that don’t need these rubber bands (also known as o-rings or ligatures).
The cost of metal braces typically ranges from about $3,000 to $7,000, and take anywhere from just under a year to three years to complete adjustment.
The best thing about ceramic braces is that they are less noticeable than traditional braces. They are one of the types of braces that are more similar to traditional braces. The difference is the color of the brackets and the type of archwire used to connect them. They’re affixed to your teeth using a clear or tooth-colored ceramic material.
As you might expect, ceramic braces aren’t quite as durable as metal, so it can take longer to complete the desired movement and require more visits to the orthodontist to fix broken brackets.
Ceramic braces tend to cost a bit more than metal braces: from $4,000 to $8,000.
Invisalign and other clear aligners are custom-made tray-like appliances that snap into place over your teeth using tooth-colored buttons (attachments) that help them gain leverage to move your teeth.
At one time clear aligners were thought to be less effective than braces. However, nowadays clear aligners can move the teeth as effectively as traditional braces in the majority of situations. For example, even if you have moderate dental problems like misaligned teeth or an overbite, clear aligners may be a good solution for you.
The key for success with clear aligners comes down to compliance. Because traditional braces are fixed in place, there is little variation in the treatment that the dentist is intending. However, with clear aligners, they are removable. The patient must be committed to wearing them as instructed to keep the treatment on course.
Clear aligners are also not generally recommended for children and young teenagers, because clear aligners are difficult to apply forces during times of growth. Furthermore, children often have a difficult time with compliance of consistently wearing the aligners.
Clear aligners offer the obvious cosmetic benefit of being nearly invisible. You can also take them off for eating and cleaning.
Clear aligners typically range in cost from $3,000 to $7,000.
DIY Clear Aligners
Though there are a plethora of DIY clear aligners online, and they generally cost less than aligners used by an orthodontist ($1,900 to $5,500), proceed with caution.
The software and aligners used by at-home clear aligner telehealth providers is quite similar to that used by orthodontists in the office.
But, and this is a big “but,” that’s where the similarities end. DIY aligners do not come with the type of standard treatment that you can only get in a dental office.
Remember when we’re talking about straightening teeth, it’s not just about the teeth. Your jaws have to match, too. If you re-align your teeth improperly, you can end up with headaches, muscle tension, and problems like teeth grinding and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Another thing to consider about DIY aligners: for best results, you must wear them at least 22 hours per day. That means 22 hours when any existing oral health problems are trapped under plastic, allowing bacterial growth to explode. So, at the very least, it’s absolutely critical that you see your dentist for a full checkup and teeth cleaning before embarking on any kind of DIY teeth straightening.
With brackets attached to the backs of your teeth, lingual braces offer another “invisible” alternative to traditional wire braces. Lingual braces can correct the same kinds of alignment issues as conventional braces that are mounted to the fronts of your teeth.
Again, much depends on your particular dental alignment. If you have a deep overbite, for example, your teeth could chafe against the brackets, causing breakage.
While all braces can temporarily change your speech, lingual braces in particular can give you a lisp that’s more difficult to overcome—usually lasting about a month after placement.
Because they’re more difficult to place and often require more customization, lingual braces can be more costly: ranging from $5,000 to $13,000.
How to Straighten Teeth Without Braces
Veneers are a way of straightening the teeth without committing to braces or even clear aligners. They are ceramic or porcelain shells, customized to fit and bonded to the front surfaces of your teeth. Once they’re bonded to your teeth, the ultra-thin material is virtually undetectable from the real thing. Veneers can also do the heavy lifting of “fixing” problems like improving the appearance of crooked, chipped, or gapped teeth.
Veneers are the right choice for patients who would like a dramatic result and may benefit from other changes in addition to alignment, such as whitening or fixing worn/broken teeth.
They are also a good choice for people who don’t want to commit to months or years of straightening their teeth with orthodontics. Veneers can improve the alignment of the teeth in as little as a few weeks.
The disadvantage of veneers is that tooth structure needs to be removed. Therefore, if you have healthy teeth that are satisfactory in shape and color, it’s usually recommended to try clear aligners first.
Types of Braces & How to Straighten Teeth: Wrap Up
The best way to figure out which type of braces are right for you is to start with your dentist. They will help you to orient the benefits and risks of each option depending on your situation.
It comes down to priorities. An adult who wants to straighten their teeth inconspicuously may opt for clear aligners, a child who is still growing may be best suited for traditional braces, and someone with teeth staining or chipped teeth may opt for veneers to correct multiple issues at once.
But here’s the bottom line: Often there is more than one option how to straighten teeth for each person. Your cosmetic dentist can help you to decide whats best for you.