Can I straighten my teeth without braces?
Orthodontic treatment has come a long way since the days of unsightly metal bands and external headgears. Today, contemporary teeth straightening treatment methods are designed to be as unobtrusive and practical as possible so patients can get on with their lives with confidence.
Reasons to straighten your teeth
The main reason most people want to straighten their teeth is so that they can have confidence in their smile. However, having orthodontic treatment can also improve your bite, reduce tooth wear, help with dental hygiene, and in some cases may also be part of the solution to sleep apnoea. Ignoring problems related to your teeth and bite may seem convenient, but the treatment needed to fix your concerns may be more simple than you think.
So what are your orthodontic treatment options?
While metal braces are still an extremely effective method of straightening teeth and achieving a perfect smile, alternative orthodontic treatment options now include Clear or Tooth Coloured Ceramic Braces, Lingual (inside) braces and Clear Aligners (for example, Invisalign®).
Whether you’re considering traditional braces or an alternative to braces, only an orthodontist has the training, experience and expert knowledge to be able to offer you the suite of treatment options and give you the confidence of knowing you’re in the best hands.
Ceramic braces are popular among adults and older teens who are looking for an effective teeth straightening option with a less obvious appearance. They are less noticeable than standard metal braces because they have clear or tooth-coloured brackets and optional tooth-coloured wires.
While ceramic braces are much less visible, they work in precisely the same way as metal braces, producing the same results in the same treatment time.
Benefits of ceramic braces:
Ceramic braces are one of the most highly effective straightening methods available. They are also far less visible than standard metal braces due to the non-metallic ceramic material they are made from.
Drawbacks of ceramic braces:
Ceramic braces sometimes cost a little more than their metal counterparts, although this is best established on a case by case basis. They can be slightly larger than metal braces but, due to their colour, are usually less obvious.
Some types of ceramic brackets may be prone to staining, but overall most ceramic brackets should not absorb stains. The modules or elastic ring which hold the wire in the bracket are more likely to stain but these are changed at every orthodontic adjustment appointment.
Lingual (inside) braces
Lingual braces are truly invisible – these custom-made braces are attached to the inside surfaces of your teeth, instead of the front. Lingual braces are 100% personalised to follow the individual contours of your teeth, ensuring they are as comfortable and effective as possible.
However, because lingual braces are located near the tongue, they can take some time to get used to and may impact on speech and eating more than regular braces, which is one of the reasons many people opt for alternative treatments.
Benefits of lingual braces:
Once you get used to your lingual braces it is virtually impossible for people to see them which is good for people who would like to have their teeth fixed without it being obvious that they’re receiving treatment.
Lingual braces work in much the same way as standard braces – they’re just placed behind the teeth.
Drawbacks of lingual braces:
Due to the difficult application process, the added difficulty to adjust and the need for total customisation they are significantly more expensive than other options.
They may impact your speech and eating habits for a time while you get used to the feel of them in your mouth. Some people may find the feeling of the lingual braces uncomfortable to their tongue.
Clear Aligners (eg. Invisalign®)
Clear plastic aligners can provide an almost invisible alternative to fixed braces but are generally better suited to correcting for less severe orthodontic problems. Clear aligners are removable and virtually invisible, but if they’re not worn consistently or are removed from the mouth too often the treatment will not work.
Benefits of clear aligners:
Clear aligners are a more comfortable corrective method than braces because there is less material on the teeth and no wires. When properly cared for they are virtually invisible. They are also more hygienic than braces and can be removed to eat and brush your teeth.
Drawbacks of clear aligners:
They require discipline to ensure the treatment is effective and may not provide predictable treatment results for some complicated orthodontic problems.
Traditional metal braces are still the most common type of braces used for kids and teens, but they’re also an option for adults, particularly those who are on a tighter budget.
With this type of treatment, small metal brackets are attached to the teeth and are then connected with a thin wire, which is adjusted or changed at regular intervals to gradually straighten your teeth and correct your bite – making them a very effective and reliable treatment option. Modern metal braces are much smaller and more comfortable than ever before. In younger patients, you’ll often see them jazzed up with colourful elastic modules to make the fun and fashionable!
Benefits of metal braces:
They’re one of the most effective method of teeth straightening, especially if you require extensive treatment, and are more cost effective than other options.
Drawbacks of metal braces:
Many people put off getting their teeth fixed because they want to avoid the look of metal braces.
How much do braces cost?
There are many factors that contribute to the overall cost of having braces, including the type of treatment you’re receiving, the duration of your treatment and also your orthodontist’s practice overheads. Generally, any of the above treatment methods, including Invisalign®, can cost you between $4500 to $14,000 for a full 18-24 month treatment plan, however each case is different and the only way to know the costs would be to have a consultation with an orthodontist.
Why cheap teeth straightening can be expensive in the long run
While cheap straightening methods, such as mail-order plastic aligner treatment, might seem like a good option in the short term, they can have damaging consequences in the long term. Without the supervision of a trained professional, disappointing treatment results are inevitable. These do-it-yourself budget alternatives can result in gum damage and can even lead to accelerated tooth loss. These issues can be expensive to treat in the long term, leading to higher costs than undergoing proper orthodontic treatment with a specialist orthodontist in the first place.
To make teeth straightening more affordable, many orthodontists will offer payment plans so you can spread the payments out and make them more budget-friendly.
How to straighten teeth without braces
Another different method of straightening teeth that orthodontists commonly use is called removable appliances, otherwise commonly known as “plates”. Removable plates are not a true alternative to braces or aligners as they can only provide limited corrections. Plates are mostly used in young children who still have baby teeth present and whilst they can certainly be very helpful for correcting some simple problems in this age group, a second stage of treatment with braces will usually be needed after all the adult teeth have come through a few years later.
While there are alternative treatment options available if you’re looking for ways to correct your smile without braces, they may not be suited to everybody. It is always best to discuss the best treatment options for your smile when you make an appointment with your local specialist orthodontist.