Straightening your smile is one of the most transformative things you can do for your appearance and self-confidence. Crooked, gapped, or misaligned teeth can make people feel self-conscious. While metal braces were once the only solution, modern orthodontics now offers many alternatives to traditional braces that can discretely and comfortably improve your smile.
Traditional metal braces have been the go-to option for straightening teeth for decades. No one is saying they’re not effective, but braces can be uncomfortable, restrict food choices, and require diligent oral hygiene. Luckily, there are now several alternatives to traditional braces that can discreetly and comfortably straighten your smile.
Clear aligners like Invisalign are one of the most popular alternatives to braces. They use a series of clear, custom-fitted plastic trays that incrementally move your teeth into place over time. Aligners are virtually invisible, can be removed for eating and brushing, and utilize smooth plastic rather than brackets and wires to shift teeth. Treatment time averages 1-2 years with aligners changed every 1-2 weeks. Aligners work best for minor to moderate alignment issues and are not suitable for major orthodontic work.
Lingual braces attach metal brackets and wires to the back of your teeth rather than the front. This makes them unseen by others, though you will feel them with your tongue. Lingual braces straighten teeth in the same manner as traditional braces using a wire threaded between brackets to guide teeth into proper alignment. Patients need to take care to keep them clean and avoid damage from eating as food can dislodge the delicate interior wires. Though not as convenient as clear aligners, lingual braces offer “invisible” straightening.
For quick cosmetic teeth straightening, a snap-on smile is a novel option. This custom-made plastic tray slips over your existing teeth to create the appearance of a perfect smile. It can mask crooked, gapped, stained, or chipped teeth to give you temporary confidence while considering more long-term solutions. Snap-on smiles are affordable and can be a temporary fix for events like weddings and photo shoots. However, they are only a cosmetic cover-up rather than an actual orthodontic treatment.
After you complete orthodontic treatment, clear retainers are key to keeping your straightened smile. Essix or Hawley retainers are removable plastic appliances worn after braces or aligners to hold teeth in their new position. Retainers are usually worn full-time for 6 months to a year, then nightly afterward to prevent your teeth from shifting. Your orthodontist will create custom clear retainers that are unnoticeable and must be worn as directed to prevent regression.
Great Alternative to Braces: Aligners
Of all the modern options to fix a crooked smile, clear aligners offer the best combination of convenience, comfort, and invisibility. A great alternative to braces, they’re built from smooth BPA-free plastic, aligners are the most seamless way to straighten your teeth with no food restrictions, minimal lifestyle impact, and results in an average of just 12-18 months. Clear aligners are removable, fully transparent, and utilize gradual force to shift teeth in small increments. This makes treatment comfortable and enables you to monitor progress and maintain excellent oral hygiene.
Aligners can treat most mild to moderate orthodontic issues making them an excellent alternative to old-fashioned braces for patients of any age. With aligners, you can get the straight smile you want without the hassle of braces. Consult your orthodontist to see if clear aligners are right for you!