Once there was only one real option to straighten teeth: metal braces. If you wanted that perfect smile, your teeth had to hide under a layer corrective metal. While metal braces have been almost a rite of pre-teen passage, adults seeking a straighter smile tend to want something a little less noticeable.
Thanks to modern dental materials and technology, you can subtly straighten your smile and avoid the metallic grin. Here is a look at three of the most popular – and inconspicuous – alternatives to traditional braces.
1. Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are a relatively new orthodontic treatments, usually involving a series of 18-30 custom-made, clear plastic aligners to guide teeth into proper position. The aligners are removable and are replaced every two weeks.
Clear aligners aren’t the solution for everyone, however. They work best for patients with relatively mild cases of crooked or protruding teeth, gaps, or over/underbites. More complex orthodontic issues, like rotating or moving teeth vertically, are more effectively treated with traditional braces.
2. Esthetic Clear Braces
Commonly known as ceramic dental braces or tooth-colored dental braces, esthetic clear braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, but they have tooth-colored or clear brackets that blend in with your teeth. (Tooth-colored wires are an option also to make them even less noticeable.)
Esthetic clear braces work with simple or complex tooth alignment issues – even back-tooth bite problems, rotation of canines or premolars, or vertical tooth movement. They’re similar in most aspects to wearing traditional braces, but expect to pay more for them versus the traditional kind.
3. Cosmetic Dental Veneers
Another approach to perfecting a smile without traditional braces uses cosmetic dental veneers. Veneers are thin laminates that bond directly to the surface of a tooth. They’re often used to alter the color of your teeth, close a space, “even out” mildly misaligned teeth, or repair a cracked tooth. Veneers won’t change the actual position of your teeth. And unlike braces, the effect you’ll get with veneers probably won’t last a lifetime.
Want to learn more about these three alternatives? Read Not Mad About Metal? Here are 3 Alternatives to Traditional Braces.