If you have a crooked smile, it’s normal to wish for straight, white teeth; crooked teeth can be harmful to your self-esteem and confidence, no matter your age. A crooked grin can also contribute to a number of issues regarding your oral health. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease, and they can cause problems with chewing or result in chronic headaches. If you find yourself suffering from any of these issues due to your misaligned bite, it’s probably a good idea to talk to Dr. Sadeghi about permanently straightening your teeth.
Thankfully, there are enough treatment options available that you should be able to find a method that does the job well, while also suiting your lifestyle and budget. Finding out which of these options is best for you can be difficult, so here are some of the best options to consider if you’re thinking about straightening your teeth.
This is a very traditional, tried-and-true method that works by applying continuous pressure on your teeth. Your dentist will slowly tighten your braces over an extended period of time, causing your teeth to shift and straighten out. The duration of the treatment differs greatly from patient to patient and depends upon how far the teeth have to move, how well you follow directions, and how severe of a problem there is at the outset. On average, patients will wear their braces for one to three years, during which time they’ll see the dentist about once a month.
While braces are great at straightening teeth, there are some drawbacks you should be aware of before you commit. You’ll need to make a few adjustments, including wearing a special mouth guard during sports and avoiding foods that are hard, sticky, or crunchy. To keep the braces free of food particles and bacteria that could harm your teeth, you’ll need to commit to brushing your teeth after every meal, carefully cleaning all of the metal wiring, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash. Additionally, braces are very noticeable, which may be a problem for self-conscious kids or adults. That said, adults with braces aren’t as rare as they sometimes seem, and braces come in many colors that some kids enjoy being able to pick out.
Despite the adjustments to your diet and the time you’ll need to spend maintaining them, braces remain the best option in some cases; it’s one reason they are still so prevalent despite the appeal of other options. Compared to other treatments, braces will fix more extreme or complicated issues, are faster at closing gaps in teeth, and typically cost less. The end result is certainly worth it, especially if you have more complicated issues that other treatments can’t fix.
Invisalign is a much newer option that consists of a number of plastic trays that are designed specifically for your mouth. Every few weeks, you’ll replace your old aligner with a new one, similar to the way traditional braces are adjusted by dentists. You’ll visit Dr. Sadeghi about every month and a half to ensure that your teeth are moving as expected, but the aligners do much of the work at home.
Invisalign has risen in popularity largely because the aligners are almost invisible, allowing patients to wear them without others noticing. This can be very helpful for adults, older teenagers, and self-conscious kids. They’re also more comfortable, as the plastic material won’t irritate the inside of your mouth like the metal wires in traditional braces can. Additionally, you don’t have to avoid certain foods because the aligners are removable, and you must take them out before eating. This also makes it much easier to clean both your teeth and the aligner properly. Invisalign is much easier to clean than braces, requiring brushing in lukewarm water at least once a day. Invisalign needs to be worn for at least 22 hours every day to do its job, so only take the aligners out for meals and cleanings. Invisalign is generally considered faster acting than traditional braces, as patients wear them for nine months to two years on average.
Despite all it has in its favor, there are two pretty big negatives to consider before you get your heart set on Invisalign: cost and the aligners’ success rate. Although the gap in cost between traditional braces and Invisalign has narrowed in recent years, Invisalign is more expensive than traditional braces. What your insurance will cover depends upon the company and your individual plan, but often insurance companies will cover the same percentage or amount of money for traditional braces and Invisalign. Since Invisalign costs more, you’ll likely end up with a larger bill if you choose it. Additionally, Invisalign can’t treat severe dental misalignments, so it’s important to talk to Dr. Sadeghi about whether or not this treatment is right for you.
Lingual braces are much like traditional braces, except they aren’t visible from the outside; the brackets are attached to the back of your teeth as opposed to the front. This unique setup has a few benefits and drawbacks. The most obvious benefit is that the braces are nearly invisible, allowing you to smile confidently. This has made them particularly popular among adult patients. Their location does offer a unique set of problems, however, as the location of the wires and brackets on the back of your teeth makes the braces more difficult to clean thoroughly. Additionally, the braces’ proximity to the tongue means they can affect speech by making it hard to pronounce certain sounds, and the metal can make your tongue sensitive.
While braces that leave smiles wire-free usually catch patients’ attention, there are limitations to what lingual braces can treat and who is a candidate for the treatment in the first place. They can only be placed on the lower teeth, so if you need adjustment on your upper teeth as well, you’ll likely be better off with another treatment. Lingual braces work at a slower pace, so if you choose them, you’ll likely end up wearing them longer than you would wear traditional braces or Invisalign, and they cannot treat more severe issues. Your teeth must also be a certain length for the braces to fit, so children or adults with smaller teeth aren’t candidates for the treatment, and the specialized nature of the braces means they cost more than traditional braces. This works together to mean that lingual braces don’t work for everyone, but if you are a good candidate for them, they’re a good way to receive treatment without anyone around you noticing.
Each of these treatments has specialties and drawbacks, so deciding which is best for you is often a simple matter of sitting down with Dr. Sadeghi to examine your practical treatment needs, your wishes regarding treatment goals and aesthetics, and your budget. If you follow the directions for your treatment closely, you’ll have a straight smile before you know it!