Can I Get Straighter Teeth without Braces?
Crooked or misaligned teeth don't only affect your appearance. Orthodontic problems can also sometimes make it harder to brush and floss, affect speech or cause other problems such as teeth grinding or jaw pain.
Braces can sometimes be the only option for correcting misaligned teeth (malocclusion), but if you only have a minor orthodontic issue, your dentist or orthodontist might discuss alternatives.
These treatments are designed to be as discreet and convenient as possible to help older teenagers and adults get the orthodontic care they need, without it affecting their lifestyle significantly.
Do you need straighter teeth?
Crooked or misaligned teeth don't always cause problems. If you're not sure whether you could benefit from straightening your teeth, your dentist or orthodontist can give you an orthodontic assessment to determine if there's any risk and recommend suitable treatments. Orthodontics may also be chosen for aesthetic reasons if you'd prefer to have a straighter smile.
Although orthodontic treatment is associated with young teenagers, older teens and adults with orthodontic issues can also benefit. If you don't like the way braces look or feel, your dentist or orthodontist can tell you if you're a candidate for alternative treatments. They'll explain what these treatments involve and answer any questions you have so you can make an informed decision.
A popular alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners from brands such as Invisalign can be effective for correcting minor orthodontic problems such as teeth that are slightly crooked or have small gaps. Made from clear plastic, 'invisible' aligners are custom made for each individual and worn over the teeth in a similar way to a mouthguard.
Aligners are removable and can be taken out when eating or brushing and flossing your teeth. Your dentist or orthodontist will provide a new set of aligners every few weeks to gradually move your teeth into their new positions. It's important to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day, or you may not get the results you want.
If you want to change your smile, but you don't need to correct a bite problem, dental veneers could be an option. These are thin coverings placed over teeth to change their outward appearance, made from either porcelain or a composite resin of glass and plastic.
Veneers can be a convenient alternative to orthodontic treatment, as they change your smile instantly, but as a cosmetic treatment they won't correct any issues with alignment or oral health. To prepare your teeth for veneers, a small layer of the enamel may need to be removed. This could make your teeth more sensitive to temperature.
Even if you don't like the thought of traditional metal braces, your dentist might offer other options that are less visible on your teeth. These could include ceramic braces, colour-matched to your natural tooth shade, and lingual braces, worn behind the teeth rather than in front to obscure them from view.
These braces aren't as strong as metal braces, so they're not suitable for all orthodontic conditions. Your dentist or orthodontist will let you know if you're a candidate for discreet braces or other treatments after your orthodontic assessment.