Whether you want to look better in photos, propel your career, or just feel more comfortable in your own skin, it’s never too late to get the smile you want. Today, your perfect smile is more attainable than ever. While metal braces are still a good bet for some, most adults are good candidates for newer straightening technologies that are less noticeable, more convenient, and often more affordable.
Top 6 Teeth Straightening Options
Clear aligners are currently the most popular choice for adults. They are made of a soft, see-through plastic material that fits comfortably over your teeth. Many adults love clear aligners because they are much less visible than conventional braces.
Aligners are easily removed during the day to eat, drink and brush your teeth, but should be worn for at least 22 hours each day for best results. Treatment typically lasts between 9 and 18 months, which is similar to conventional braces.
Each aligner shifts and rotates teeth in a carefully designed sequence. Each aligner is only slightly different from the one before it, which means each aligner subtly moves the teeth. Each aligner is to be worn for two weeks before moving on to the next one. Over time, these subtle shifts and rotations result in an improved smile.
Advantages of Clear Aligners
- Inconspicuous: Clear aligners are hard for others to see, though not invisible.
- Low maintenance: You can remove your aligners when you eat, which makes keeping them clean easy.
- Widely available: Many dentists/orthodontists offer Invisalign (the most popular brand of clear aligner). You can most likely find a provider in your area.
Disadvantages of Clear Aligners
- Not always suitable: Invisalign is not the best choice for all smiles. For instance, is not efficient in treating large gaps between teeth or correcting severely rotated teeth. In these cases, conventional metal or ceramic braces may be a better option.
- High Cost: Dentists and orthodontists pay a premium to be able to offer Invisalign at their offices. These costs are typically handed down to patients, resulting in a high price.
Who is Invisalign Right for?
Invisalign may be a great option for someone who does not like the appearance of conventional metal braces and who does not have a severe case. Because clear aligners like Invisalign are removable, they may be especially suited for people who may often need to eat in front of others (such as someone who is taking business clients out on lunches frequently) — the removable aligners might result in less stress over having food stuck between teeth.
There is nothing wrong with getting conventional braces! In fact, for the utility they provide in efficiently and accurately moving the teeth, conventional metal braces can be a great deal.
Advantages of Conventional Braces
- Good deal: Metal braces are often a great deal considering the teeth-correcting power they provide at a given cost
- Widely available: You can definitely find a provider in your area to help you get the smile you want with conventional braces.
- Customize-able: If you want, you can have fun choosing the colors for the bands on your braces. 🙂 You can even get translucent bands to reduce the visual impact of your metal braces.
Disadvantages of Conventional Braces
- Plainly visible: You cannot hide metal braces.
- High maintenance: It can feel like a chore to keep wires and brackets clean.
Who are conventional metal braces right for?
Regular braces could be right for someone who does not mind the appearance of braces and needs treatment that is more powerful than what clear aligners can provide. These braces could also be right for anyone who only needs a little bit of straightening and does not want to spend extra money on clear aligners — conventional braces can be cheaper than clear aligners for mild cases.
Ceramic braces are essentially the same as more conventional metal braces, but they are harder to see thanks to off-white ceramic, porcelain, or clear plastic brackets. The wires are usually still made of metal, however, so they are still moderately visible to others. Some orthodontists offer tooth-colored wires in place of regular metal ones!
Since they are one in the same as traditional braces, they come with all of the same benefits and disadvantages, except they are a bit harder to see!
Advantages of Ceramic Braces
- Highly effective: Ceramic braces are just as capable as conventional metal braces in their ability to straighten teeth.
- Inconspicuous: It’s a bit harder to see ceramic braces than conventional metal braces.
- Widely available: Most orthodontists can help get you into ceramic braces.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Braces
- Higher cost: Ceramic braces typically cost more than conventional metal braces.
Who are ceramic braces right for?
Ceramic braces might be right for someone who needs the utility of conventional metal braces, but wants to reduce the appearance of braces on the teeth, and is willing to pay a bit extra for this feature.
Lingual braces are made of metal, like more conventional braces, but they are placed behind the teeth instead of the front. These braces can only be placed by an orthodontist.
Advantages of Lingual Braces
- 100% invisible: While clear aligners and ceramic braces are hard to see, lingual braces are truly hidden from view. No one will know you have braces unless you tell them!
Disadvantages of Lingual Braces
- Expensive: Lingual braces are typically the most expensive way to straighten teeth.
- Not widely offered: Very few orthodontists offer lingual braces. It may be hard to find a provider in your area who can treat your case with this unique style of braces.
- High maintenance: Wires behind the teeth are hard to keep clean.
- Can create a lisp: Because lingual braces brush up against the tongue, they can be tricky to get used to, and may cause some people to lisp during treatment.
Who are lingual braces right for?
Six Month Smiles
Six Month Smiles are braces that look a lot like ceramic braces, but they are only worn for about six months. These clear brackets and wires can be placed by either an orthodontist or a family practice dentist who is trained to implement the Six Month Smiles treatment protocol. Six Month Smiles is a treatment option that strightens the front teeth only.
Advantages of Six Month Smiles
- Fast process: Six Month Smiles promises a better smile in only 6 months.
- Discreet: Thanks to the clear wires and brackets, these braces are a little less obvious than conventional braces.
- Widely available: Much like Invisalign, Six Month Smiles is offered by many dentists and orthodontists, so you can probably find a provider in your area.
Disadvantages of Six Month Smiles
- Front teeth only: Six Month Smiles only straightens the front teeth and is not capable of correcting all problems.
- Retainer required long-term after treatment: Short-term orthodontic treatments like Six Month Smiles can leave the teeth unstable in their new positions in the mouth. To prevent the teeth from shifting back to their old locations, a heavy duty retainer will need to be worn religiously following treatment.
Who is Six Month Smiles right for?
Six Month Smiles may be a good fit for someone who is hoping to improve their smile for an upcoming major event, such as a wedding, and who does not need more extensive treatment.
Home Straightening Kits
This is the newest way to straighten your teeth. Instead of going to the dentist or orthodontist for clear aligners, you can get them direct to your door through companies like Smile Direct Club and Candid Co. The technology these companies use to make their clear aligners is in the same vein as the technology used by Invisalign.
When you order an at-home kit, the company you order from will send you the materials to make an impression of your teeth. You mix up the impression material and bite down on a guard. After creating an impression of your teeth and sending the kit back to the company, they will create a model of your smile and determine if you are a good candidate for their services. If they approve you, they will create a care plan, which you will need to review and accept. After this, they’ll send you your clear aligners, all without having to step into your local dentist’s office.
Advantages of At-home Teeth Straightening
- Convenient: Take molds of your teeth at home and receive your aligners in the mail.
- More affordable: Because this model is direct to the customer and cuts out the dentist/orthodontist, at-home aligners are usually cheaper than other clear aligners like Invisalign.
- Inconspicuous: Like Invisalign, these aligners are difficult for others to detect.
Disadvantages of At-home Teeth Straightening
- No in-person supervision: While at-home clear aligner services like Smile Direct Club and Candid Co do have dentists or orthodontists on staff, you will not meet in person with a healthcare provider throughout your treatment.
- Not suited for all cases: Because you do not meet in person with a dentist or orthodontist when using these at-home services, you cannot be treated with special attachments that are available with in-office clear aligner options like Invisalign. This could mean that your best potential smile is not achievable through an at-home service if your ideal treatment plan would require special attachments.
Who are at-home clear aligners right for?
At-home clear aligners may be a viable option for someone with a very simple case. If the idea of not seeing a dentist or orthodontist in person during treatment feels uncomfortable, it may be a good idea to be cleared by a dental professional in your area prior to signing up for one of these services. That said, at-home treatment is a unique option for improving your smile.