When most of us think of straightening teeth, we think of braces— the multicolored brackets, wires and rubber bands found in the mouths of many teenagers. For some of us, we found our way into adulthood with crooked, crowded teeth or teeth with gaps between them. Fortunately, Modern orthodontics has several options for adults to fix their crooked teeth and find a new, confident smile without the embarrassment of metal wires in their mouths.

If you’ve decided it’s time to correct your teeth and get the healthy, beautiful smile you’ve always wanted, there are actually several options available to you. Below, you’ll find an overview of adult orthodontic methods.

Types of Braces

Conventional Metal Braces

In the past, braces consisted of a metal band around nearly every tooth. Today, however, the structure has changed. Instead, contemporary braces may contain a single bracket cemented to each tooth to hold wires in place. Even more recently, orthodontists have been exploring the use of different materials. New options switch out the traditional metal brackets for clear plastic or ceramic brackets and utilize white wires to blend in with your natural teeth. It’s not invisible, but is certainly less conspicuous than the classic metal look.

Pros

  • Shorter treatment time in some cases
  • More predictable in achieving difficult movements
  • Can’t be removed by the patient (if compliance with a removable option would be an issue) 

Cons

  • More noticeable than other available options
  • Brackets can be painful and irritating to lips, cheeks, tongue
  • Metal braces are the hardest to keep clean
  • There is potential for enamel demineralization around the bracket, leaving a white/chalky outline when the braces are removed

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are similar to conventional braces, except that they are cemented exclusively to the tongue side of your teeth.  You get all of the same benefits as regular braces, but without the potentially unsightly line of metal across the front of your teeth.

Pros

  • Lingual braces have a similar treatment time as conventional braces
  • Virtually invisible because of behind-the-teeth placement

Cons

  • Typically these are more expensive than other options because they are custom made
  • Lingual braces won’t be an option for everyone, depending on their tooth position and treatment needs

Six Month Smiles

Six Month Smiles® is a short-term, cosmetic orthodontic treatment which has been called “a modern twist on tried-and-true orthodontics.” With an average treatment time of just six months, it offers patients a quicker way to achieve the smile they have always wanted. Six Month Smiles is also a more cosmetic option than traditional braces, offering clear brackets and white wires. 

Pros

  • Shorter timeline than conventional braces
  • Harder to spot thanks to clear brackets and white wires
  • Can be more affordable than alternative treatments

Cons

  • Six Month Smiles won’t be an option for everyone, depending on tooth position and treatment needs

Aligners

Aligners are clear trays that gently reposition your teeth into place. You switch them out for new ones at consistent intervals, usually 7-14 days, to accommodate the gradual movement of teeth. Aligners generally get the best results when they are worn constantly, and only removed when you eat, brush or floss. 

Aligners are quickly becoming one of the more popular options on the market today. Because of this, there are many different types available to consumers – and not all of them are created equally.

Invisalign

Invisalign® aligners are a dentist-directed treatment that features a series of custom-fitted, plastic aligners that fit over your teeth and gently move them into the correct position. Invisalign utilizes bonded attachments on the teeth that help the trays grip the teeth better and more efficiently perform difficult movements. Because this is a dentist-guided treatment, this also gives the freedom to perform interproximal reduction, or IPR, which opens a small amount of space between crowded teeth to allow them to move more easily and achieve the position you want.

Direct-to-Consumer Options

Today, there are several companies that will offer a similar product as Invisalign, except the aligners are mailed directly to the consumer. While this is certainly convenient, the lack of dentist guidance means there are certain risks that people are taking. Direct-to-Consumer options don’t have the bonded attachments or IPR options we mentioned earlier and since your treatment progress isn’t being monitored by a dentist, there is no way to know if your teeth aren’t moving as predicted or bite problems are developing.

Pros

  • Less conspicuous than traditional braces
  • Aligners are removable for meals, important conversations, etc.
  • It is much easier to keep teeth clean than with bracket orthodontics

Cons

  • Aligners require discipline to keep them in every day and to switch out the trays on schedule. 
  • If they aren’t worn enough, tooth movements can be unpredictable
  • These can take a bit longer than conventional braces depending on treatment needs

Want To Fix Your Smile?

If you have gaps or crowded and crooked teeth that are preventing you from smiling confidently, we highly recommend you explore the modern orthodontic options available to you. We here at Nashville Restorative Dentistry are here to help guide you through the process so you can start smiling again!

Think some form of bracers may be right for you? We’d love to discuss your options for getting back the healthy smile you want. You can Ask the Doctors anytime!