June 18, 2020
Many of us grow up with crooked, misaligned, and unsightly teeth, and up until now the only way to have them straightened was to have braces fitted. Going through the process of having them fitted in your teenage years can be highly traumatic as, unfortunately, it comes at a time when other children can be less than supportive and you may have to put up with a fair bit of mickey-taking. The end results can obviously be great, but is it worth it given the years of painful eating and constant ribbing? Well, here we are going to look at alternative methods of straightening your teeth to braces.
Fixed retainers are used to prevent your teeth shifting which can help to correct your bite and the straightness of your teeth over time. They are attached by dental cement to the inner surface of the tooth which unfortunately means they majority cannot be removed for cleaning without professional help, however, they can be a great long term solution to misaligned teeth. There are other types available that can be removed and these are specifically for either the top or bottom arches of the mouth. As they are removable they can be more aesthetically pleasing allowing them to be removed for important photos or events where you may not want to look unsightly. Whichever type of retainer treatment you chose, it needs to be done under the supervision of your orthodontist.
Palatal expanders are used to widen the arch of the upper teeth. The reason they are needed is that sometimes a child’s mouth is too small for the adult teeth that will one-day grow, so to prevent them from growing in a crooked fashion the palatal expander is fitted to increase the room in the mouth allowing the teeth to grow in their correct positions. Once the expander is fitted, using a screw, the pressure is exerted on both sides which will eventually allow extra bone to grow on both halves, thus increasing the size of the mouth. The great advantage of palatal expanders is that they are virtually invisible so your child will not suffer a loss of confidence, however, the drawback is that when they are periodically tightened it can sometimes cause pain and discomfort in the short term.
Invisalign braces are a new concept to teeth straightening and although the name suggests they are braces, they are not in the traditional sense because they are made of plastic and are transparent so it is virtually impossible to tell if someone is wearing them or not. How do they work? Well, experts from Phoenix Invisalign explain that Invisalign is a clear bracket that fits over the top of your teeth. Gradually pressure is exerted which forces your teeth to move into a new position. The beauty of Invisalign is that you will be given anywhere between 10 and 50 different brackets to use one after each other in a slow process, all designed with the final goal in mind: straight teeth. Computer-aided design technology ensures that each individual bracket is custom made and slightly different from the previous one. The advantages of this system aren’t purely cosmetic, they are also very comfortable and there is no restriction on what you can eat.
The Herbst appliance was invented by Emil Herbst in 1905 and is used to correct a misaligned jaw that would normally lead to disjointed and crooked teeth. It is a metal device that is glued to rings on the top and bottom teeth which help to correct the bite enabling the lower and upper jaws to meet, which in turn promotes the growth of perfectly straight teeth. It is normally worn for up to a year but the major drawback is that it is not very discreet.
Headgear is a type of orthodontic appliance that is normally used to correct extreme overbites by putting pressure on the teeth in the upper jaw thus forcing them into the correct alignment. You do not need to wear the headgear all day, so you are able to go about your normal life, however, you do need to wear it at least several hours, so it can be worn whilst sleeping. Its main drawback is that it can take a lot of time to correct the jaw and it is fairly obtrusive, so young children may not have the patience to see the process through.
Veneers can be used to correct teeth alignment and they act very quickly, the drawback is that they are irreversible and will need replacing every ten years or so. Basically, a veneer is a thin, hard, porcelain shell that is bonded permanently to the front of the teeth giving the impression that all the teeth are beautifully straight. The reason that they are permanent is that the dentist has to shave the enamel off the front of your teeth, and this process cannot be undone, so think wisely before you undergo this type of treatment.
In extreme cases dentures can be used to correct teeth straightening, but only because they actually involve the need for all of your teeth to be removed first. If the majority of your teeth are damaged or have fallen out, then you may want to look at this option. Think carefully though as they are not cheap and will be with you for the rest of your life, although you can have separate ones for the top and bottom half of your mouth if some of your teeth are in good shape.
As we have discovered technology has advanced so there are alternatives to unsightly braces should you have crooked teeth and wish to straighten them. Some options are very intrusive and will be with you forever, such as veneers or dentures, whereas other options like palatal expanders or retainers need only be worn for 1-2 years to see results. There are new kids on the block such as Invisalign which offer teeth alignment in a discrete and comfortable fashion, so before you take the plunge do your research and see what is best for your mouth.