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12 April 2024

Teeth Straightening for Adults: What Are Your Options?

Dentists are seeing an increased demand for adult teeth straightening. Advances in dental technology have increased the options available for adults who want to straighten their smile. Gone are the days when metal braces were the only feasible choice. 

The American Association of Orthodontists reports that one in five of their patients are now adults. This reflects the increased options available for adult teeth straightening. 

The most suitable option can depend on the orthodontic issue you are looking to correct and therefore if you are considering teeth straightening you should consult with your dentist.

Before considering the options that provide the best way to straighten teeth for adults, we shall first look at the benefits.

The Benefits of a Straighter Smile

A primary reason adults may want to straighten their teeth is to improve their appearance. Crooked or misaligned teeth can affect your smile, or more significantly how you feel about your smile. A smile is often the entry point when first meeting people, whether for personal or professional reasons.

A lack of confidence in your smile can equate to a lack of confidence in yourself. Teeth straightening can boost self-esteem by removing perceived imperfections in your smile. However, correcting misaligned teeth offers not only cosmetic benefits but health benefits too. 

Misaligned teeth can increase your risk of oral health problems. For instance, crooked teeth make it harder to clean your teeth thoroughly. This can see a build-up of plaque and tartar which increases the risk of tooth decay. 

If your teeth have shifted to a degree that they are quite wide apart, this can cause your gums to become inflamed. Problems with your jaw can also cause you to develop an overbite or an underbite, where your teeth don’t meet as they should when your mouth is closed.

Therefore, straightening your teeth can help reduce the health risks linked to misaligned teeth as well as provide cosmetic benefits to your smile. 

What Is the Best Way to Straighten Teeth for Adults?

Traditional braces remain a popular method for straightening teeth. However, clear aligners provide a viable option too, although they do not address all the alignment issues braces can. Therefore, it is important to consult with an orthodontist on the most suitable teeth straightening option for your teeth alignment issue.

Let’s start by looking at braces.

1. Braces

Braces have long carried a stigma for being uncomfortable and visually unappealing. It is a stigma that will have put people off straightening their teeth. However, braces have improved significantly over the years and are more comfortable and discreet than previously.

Traditional braces use metal brackets combined with wire and elastic bands to help manoeuvrer the teeth back into the correct position. One of their prime attractions still is that they can be used to correct a range of orthodontic issues.

However, just as traditional braces have evolved, so have other variations. Two further types of braces that can be used by an orthodontist to straighten teeth include:

  • Self-litigating braces – this variation ditches the elastic bands of traditional braces and employs a sliding device instead to hold the wires in place.
  • Lingual braces – the brackets are fixed to the back of the teeth rather than the front for a more discreet solution.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2.

2. Clear Aligners

Clear aligners offer a less visible and therefore more discreet way to straighten teeth. However, aligners can not address all orthodontic issues and you would need to discuss their suitability with your orthodontist.

Invisalign offers clear aligners that help correct teeth alignment issues. The aligners are custom-made to fit over your teeth and create a treatment course specific to you. The aligners are not fixed like braces and can be removed, although they must remain on the teeth for a set number of hours each day.

The aligners are made from plastic and their smooth feel makes them comfortable to wear. They gradually move your teeth back into the correct position, but the aligners will need regular replacement as the teeth move.

An even more advanced form of aligner is offered by SureSmile. This process uses a 3D model of your mouth to offer further precision in the aligners as an orthodontist can have the aligners moulded to fit the correct tooth precision for an accurate bite adjustment process.

Aligners Versus Braces

While the advent of clear aligners may at first sight seem to trump traditional braces, as with most things in life there are pros and cons for each option when it comes to considering the best way to straighten teeth for adults.

As mentioned, traditional braces have come a long way compared to the old stereotype image and are still regularly used by orthodontists to address misaligned teeth. By looking at the pros and cons of aligners we can better judge their worth compared to braces.

Pros of Clear Aligners

  • Not visible to people you meet, unlike most traditional braces.
  • Treatment time for aligners can be between 6 to 18 months, compared to 18 to 36 months for braces
  • Aligners are removable, making eating, drinking and cleaning your teeth easier
  • The smooth plastic nature of aligners can make them more comfortable to wear than traditional metal braces. Even though modern braces are more comfortable than they once were, they can still cause discomfort when tightened.

Cons of Clear Aligners

  • Aligners need replacing every few weeks, meaning trips to your orthodontist
  • They may not be suitable for more complex orthodontic issues that braces can address.
  • Aligners must be in place for a set amount of hours each day
  • Teeth will need brushing each time aligners are removed
  • You can still experience discomfort as the teeth are moved into position

The health benefits and the boost to self-esteem from teeth straightening are seeing more adults looking to straighten their smile. While there are pros and cons to all options, your dentist can provide an initial consultation on which teeth straightening option is most suited to align your teeth.

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