You probably know that braces are the most common way to straighten teeth, but you could be wondering if there are other teeth straightening options available to you. The good news is that traditional metal braces are not the only solution to crowded, misaligned, and gapped teeth. We at Runnels Orthodontics in Destin, FL have a variety of options to meet your teeth straightening goals.
What Are My Teeth Straightening Options?
At one point, if you wanted your teeth to be straight, you had one option: traditional metal braces, which quickly became synonymous with the gawky teenage years. Today, orthodontists understand that metal braces aren’t always the right treatment for everyone because every situation is different. While metal braces remain the most popular option for teeth straightening for both adults and teens, there are more choices available to patients today than ever before, some of which are barely noticeable during treatment.
The reason traditional metal braces have remained so popular is that they’re extremely effective. They consist of metal brackets that are cemented directly to the fronts of teeth and metal archwires that strung through the brackets. These archwires are tightened at regular intervals to slowly move the teeth into the right position. The pressure on the teeth causes the periodontal membrane below the gumline to stretch, allowing the teeth space to move imperceptibly at the time of movement.
Due to the amount of pressure exerted on the teeth by metal braces, this is the quickest method of teeth straightening, although the actual length of treatment will depend on various factors including age, condition complexity, and your body’s response to treatment. You can expect to be in metal braces for anywhere between six months and 36 months, with the average time in braces hovering around 24 months. Additionally, metal braces are usually the most cost-effective treatment as well.
Ceramic braces work in the exact same way as metal braces, but instead of being made out of metal, the brackets are made out of ceramic material. Since they’re not metal, they can be manufactured in a variety of colors, including tooth-colored or clear. This means if you aren’t fond of the idea of having a mouthful of metal, you can get virtually the same results from ceramic braces, which are much more discreet, especially from a distance.
The only drawback to using ceramic braces instead of metal braces is that ceramic braces are a little less durable. They’re more easily broken than metal brackets, but unless you’re hit in the mouth with something hard, the chances of your ceramic brackets breaking are only slightly higher than the metal variety. For this reason, though, people who play sports or who are at higher risk of injury may elect for another teeth-straightening solution to avoid this problem.
Additionally, there may be some orthodontic conditions that can’t be treated by ceramic braces due to the extra pressure required to perform complex tooth moves. For example, severely rotated teeth require more pressure than teeth that are simply crowded, and ceramic brackets may not withstand that pressure as well as metal brackets would. Ceramic braces are usually priced a little higher than metal braces; however, the cost is usually worth it for people who want the discretion of clear braces.
This type of braces is less common than either metal or ceramic options, but it’s more popular with adults who are looking for a solution that doesn’t tell everyone they meet that they’re wearing braces. Lingual braces are bonded to the inside of teeth rather than to the outside, so they’re much less noticeable than traditional braces. In fact, you can’t see them at all when you smile, and they are only visible when your mouth is wide open.
Lingual brackets must be custom-made to fit the backs of your teeth, so they cost more than traditional braces. Moreover, many orthodontists aren’t qualified to fit patients with lingual brackets or to adjust them properly. Our office has the right training and experience to ensure your lingual braces not only fit well but are also effective in moving your teeth into the right position in the shortest amount of time possible, even though this method does take longer.
While patients who choose lingual braces gain the benefit of more discretion while wearing braces, they lose a little bit in the length of treatment. Lingual brackets can handle all the pressure of traditional metal braces, but unfortunately, the archwire that goes behind the teeth just can’t be tightened as much as the archwire that goes in front of the teeth. The leverage isn’t the same, which means your teeth will move more slowly with lingual braces.
Invisalign is one of your teeth straightening options and is completely different from any other type. This is because nothing is affixed to your teeth, and there’s no tightening of archwires involved. Instead, you gradually straighten your teeth over time by fitting a series of plastic trays over your teeth. Each tray is slightly different from the last tray to encourage your teeth to move to conform to the new tray. Patients typically go through between 20 and 30 trays.
The most appealing feature of Invisalign, particularly for adults, is that the trays are clear, which means no one can tell you’re straightening your teeth unless they’re specifically looking at your teeth while you’re wearing a tray. They are the most discrete teeth-straightening solution we offer, and it’s appropriate for both teens and adults, although teens may have trouble remembering to wear their trays for the 22 hours each day that are required for the treatment to be effective.
Invisalign is usually more expensive than traditional braces, but the actual cost will depend on how many trays you actually need. Moreover, Invisalign may not be able to treat severe orthodontic conditions such as fully rotated teeth and large gaps because the trays don’t exert enough pressure to move the teeth enough. However, Invisalign may be an option for a part of your orthodontic treatment following a stint in braces to correct the most severe problems with your teeth.
If you’ve been delaying braces because of the length of time treatment takes, you’re in luck. With Propel you may be able to trim your orthodontic treatment by half. Propel stimulates the movement of your teeth to work with other treatments to accelerate the rate at which you achieve results. To trigger this stimulation, a micro-invasive procedure causes a small amount of inflammation to increase blood flow to the jawbone. In turn, this increases the rate of bone growth.
The most obvious benefit of using Propel is that you won’t be in braces for as long as you would be without this acceleration technology. However, it offers other benefits as well, including the ability to use less effective treatments for severe orthodontic conditions like Invisalign rather than rely on more durable solutions like metal and ceramic braces. Propel can help move teeth faster when combined with any orthodontic treatment, so you’re not stuck with just one choice.
Just about anyone who is a candidate for braces or Invisalign is probably also a candidate for Propel. However, there may be reasons why your teeth should not move quickly, which will be assessed during your initial visit with us. Propel is an extremely safe and non-invasive treatment, which means there are very few reasons why a person wouldn’t be able to tolerate it. That being said, patients are assessed on a case-by-case basis for all orthodontic treatments.
Who Needs Braces?
Very few people have perfect teeth, which means that nearly everyone can benefit from some form of orthodontic treatment. When it comes to determining your teeth straightening options, though, the following conditions usually mean you’re a candidate for at least one type of teeth-straightening solution.
- Open bite
- Tooth gap
- Misplaced teeth
- Rotated teeth
Most patients are able to tell that they have a bite issue, but sometimes bite problems are not obvious, yet still require treatment. This is because even minor bite conditions can cause other health issues like headaches and jaw pain. You may not realize that your orthodontic condition is causing you pain, but with teeth straightening treatment, you can say goodbye to these aches and pains for good. So, don’t wait to get a consultation if you think you need braces.
Best Age for Teeth Straightening
People of any age can be a candidate for braces, as long as their permanent teeth have all come in. Although young patients may see their treatment time shortened because their jaw is still growing so their teeth move more easily, adults typically have no problems getting their teeth straightened as well. We recommend kids get their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven so we can catch any major issues early to reduce treatment time later on.
When kids start to get their adult teeth, it starts to become clear as to how their teeth are going to naturally be placed. In many cases, we can intervene with various orthodontic treatments like spacers and maintainers to position teeth better before they erupt. This intervention can mean that your child doesn’t have to wear braces for as long as they would have without the intervention. Otherwise, they could require extensive orthodontic treatment when they’re older.
Teenagers will typically be fitted for braces or other teeth-straightening options starting at age 11. However, the window for teeth straightening is open for any age after that, including adults and even senior citizens. Don’t think you’re too old for braces because that’s almost never the case. With all the discreet options like clear braces, lingual braces, and Invisalign available these days, you can get the beautiful smile you deserve even well into adulthood.
Get a Consultation
Whether you’ve already been told you need to have your teeth straightened or you just think you do and want to find out for sure, the next step toward getting your teeth straightened is to schedule a consultation and assessment with our office. We’ll examine your teeth, get a medical history, and discuss your treatment goals to help us develop a treatment plan that will allow you to achieve the smile you want in as little time as possible.
We even have a virtual consultation option, our Smile Assessment, that allows you to snap and upload a few pictures of your teeth to be evaluated by our practitioners. You never even have to leave home! So, call Runnels Orthodontics in Destin, FL, or stop by our website to determine whether orthodontic teeth straightening is necessary for you.