Safest Teeth Whiteners
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Traditional braces are dental appliances that consist of small brackets and wires.
The brackets attach to your teeth and the wires connect to the brackets. The wires gently apply pressure to your teeth, pulling them into the correct position. Brackets are typically metal and sometimes feature colored or clear elastic rubber bands.
Braces can be used to correct crooked or gapped teeth, irregular jaw alignment, and more severe cases of malocclusion.
Malocclusion (teeth misalignment) refers to how your upper and lower teeth align/interact when your mouth is closed.
An improper bite can lead to jaw pain, speech difficulties, oral health issues, and chronic headaches. Malocclusion can also injure teeth if they collide with one another while chewing or speaking.
Orthodontists are the primary providers of braces (some general dentists also offer orthodontic services). However, orthodontists are the best choice because they have three or more years of specialty training in teeth straightening.
Braces are worn for 12 to 24 months, on average. You also have to wear a retainer to keep your teeth straight after treatment (at night only).
Braces can be expensive and uncomfortable, especially for adults. If you have any of the following issues, a braces alternative listed in this article may be a better option:
Clear aligners can save you thousands of dollars compared to braces. Learn about clear aligners.
Here are the five best alternatives to traditional metal braces:
If you want straighter teeth, but don’t want metal brackets and wires on your teeth, clear aligners are an excellent option. They are a virtually invisible and removable alternative to braces designed around comfort and convenience.
There are two types of clear aligners available, in-office and at-home. Here are the differences:
In-office aligners (like Invisalign) are the most well-known option because they have been around the longest. You have to visit a licensed specialist to receive these aligners, and the treatment process is more comprehensive and expensive.
Invisalign is the most established in-office aligner supplier in the United States. It has been running for over two decades, helping customers achieve a straighter and more attractive smile.
Invisalign is monitored in person by a licensed doctor, so treatment is more comprehensive than at-home aligners.
Your Invisalign doctor can make adjustments as necessary (even mid-treatment) because you don’t receive all of the aligners at once.
Most Invisalign treatment plans also require attachments (known as buttons). These devices allow for more precise teeth/jaw alignment. At-home aligners do not provide attachments, potentially affecting treatment results.
At-home aligners, also called direct-to-consumer aligners, are significantly cheaper than in-office aligners like Invisalign. Treatment is completed 100% remotely and you will not visit a dentist or orthodontist for in-person checkups.
Aligners are made of clear, medical-grade, BPA-free plastic. They are perfectly molded to the shape of your teeth and gradually move them into the correct position over time.
Each custom-made aligner is worn for 1 to 3 weeks at a time (22+ hours a day). Treatment length depends on your unique plan.
Tou will send in progress photos to ensure your teeth are moving correctly (usually through an app). This means treatment is also not monitored as closely, so there is a slightly higher risk for error.
At-home aligners can only treat minor to moderate cases of teeth misalignment, including slightly crooked/overlapping teeth, and gapped teeth.
Braces can treat moderate to severe cases of teeth misalignment, including underbites, overbites, open bites, crossbites, and similar issues.
Lingual braces consist of the same components as traditional metal braces. However, they are fixed to the back of your teeth instead of your front teeth.
Traditional braces use a wire that is bent into a horseshoe form. However, the wire on lingual braces can be custom fixed to the contours of your mouth. This process can potentially shorten treatment time.
Lingual braces attach to the back of your teeth (where your tongue hits when you speak). Because of this, you may have a temporary lisp or interference with your speech when you first begin treatment.
Ceramic braces also use the same components as metal braces.
However, the brackets consist of tooth-colored ceramic or porcelain instead of stainless steel. This makes ceramic braces nearly invisible.
Ceramic braces are more convenient than traditional metal braces because they blend in with your teeth. But they are also more expensive and tend to break more frequently since they are made of plastic, which is less stable than metal.
If you choose ceramic braces, excellent oral hygiene is crucial because foods and beverages can stain the brackets.
Veneers are thin, tooth-colored shells that cover the front of your teeth. They are a permanent cosmetic dental treatment designed to improve the appearance of teeth.
Veneers are typically made of ceramic (porcelain) and are a great option for minor imperfections like uneven-sized teeth, small gaps, and irregularly shaped teeth.
Some patients require orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign before veneers are placed. This is because the teeth should all be properly positioned for optimal results.
Veneers are used to improve the appearance of teeth, not to repair any damage. They are an excellent option if your teeth are discolored, stained, crooked, oddly shaped, chipped, or have spacing problems.
Your teeth and gums must be healthy before veneer placement. In addition, you may not be suitable for veneers if you grind or clench your teeth, which can crack and damage the shells.
Retainers hold your teeth in place after braces have shifted them into the correct position. A retainer is either made of a metal/acrylic bite plate (fixed) or plastic (removable).
A fixed retainer consists of a thin strip of metal that is fixed to the back of your teeth. A removable retainer is similar to a clear aligner and is only worn at night.
Most people have to wear a retainer every night (for a lifetime) to prevent shifting teeth.
At-home clear aligners can only treat minor cases of teeth misalignment. Invisalign can often treat more extreme cases. However, braces are usually necessary for severe forms of misalignment and bite/jaw issues.
An aligner applies pressure to all of your teeth at once (instead of each individual tooth). If you are strict about wearing your plastic aligners, they are likely to work quicker than braces.
The cost of Invisalign treatment is comparable to braces. Braces typically cost around $2,000 to $7,000. Invisalign averages between $3,000 and $8,000. Most at-home clear aligners are less expensive than Invisalign (usually less than $2,300).
Other factors that can affect the cost of braces and aligners include: