Do you or your teen want straighter teeth? Braces are a great treatment option for many, but given the cost and length of treatment, make sure this treatment is right for you before taking the plunge.
First off, when do you need to straighten your teeth?
A lot goes into the ultimate health of your mouth. Gum health, tartar build-up, and tooth decay are all factors that need to be monitored and treated to maintain optimal health.
Just as important is making sure you have straight teeth and a properly-functioning bite.
While many patients consider straight teeth more of a cosmetic issue, it goes far beyond just wanting a beautiful smile (thought that’s nice too). In addition and in conjunction with causing a problematic bite, crooked teeth can cause issues like…
Properly aligned teeth truly are the backbone to a healthy, stable smile.
Benefits of straighter teeth
More complete oral health: Your mouth is intended to operate like a well-oiled machine. If one thing is off, the rest of your mouth can degrade in unexpected ways. Straightening your teeth will help improve the function of your mouth from the ground up.
Beautiful smile: While the primary benefit of tooth straightening treatment may be improving the inner workings of your oral health, a beautiful smile is a benefit that should never be discounted. A smile you feel confident in improves mental health and helps you feel like your best self.
Who can benefit from straightening their teeth?
As mentioned above, straightening your teeth is more than just a purely cosmetic issue. There are a number of preexisting afflictions that can be cured or helped from tooth straightening treatments. These include:
Tooth position causing cheek biting or difficulty chewing
Additionally, there are a number of factors that could cause teens and pre-teens to need or be helped by teeth straightening treatments like braces, including:
Children who sucked their thumb after the age of 5
Late developing permanent teeth
Baby teeth that were lost early or late
Missing or extra teeth
Early or late jaw bone development
All of these afflictions are completely normal and healthy for children, but often can impede the natural growth of teeth, causing crooked or misaligned teeth.
When are metal braces the answer?
Metal braces are a good option for pre-teens and teenagers with the above issues.
This is particularly true for teens and pre-teens with good self discipline. Since children and teens are under the watchful eye of parents, good oral hygiene practices are easier to manage.
Metal braces are hands down the best way to achieve an aligned bite in many situations where lots of tooth movement is needed, or if we’re using braces to try to guide the growth of the jaws in conjunction with aligning teeth.
These reasons, in combination with traditional braces doing a darn good job of straightening teeth quickly and effectively, often have us suggesting metal braces for this age range.
Adults who want to move teeth quickly
Traditional braces do the best job of moving teeth quickly and precisely. For most adults who consider improving their smile or biting function with braces, time is a factor, and traditional braces have other methods of tooth movement beat in terms of providing effective treatment in the shortest amount of time and for the lowest cost.
When are braces not the answer?
If oral hygiene is a concern
One of the biggest downsides to metal braces is that they make it hard for you to adequately clean your teeth. Since they can’t be removed, it means you must take special care to remove tartar and debris from your teeth. This includes:
Investing in an electric toothbrush: Brushing twice a day with prescription grade toothpaste is a must. Even further, you really need to do a good job with brushing your teeth. The easiest way to do this effectively is with an electric toothbrush.
Daily flossing: Food VERY easily gets caught in braces. This causes decay, bad breath, and gum irritation. To make matters worse, braces also make it hard to floss your teeth, so tools like floss threaders or Super Floss is recommended.
Mouth rinse: Mouth rinses like Listerine or Crest Pro Health help support gum health and ease irritation caused by braces. It’s also good to regularly rinse your mouth with water to dislodge stuck debris.
Being on top of regular check ups: Metal braces are not a set it and forget it solution. With metal braces, you must come to your biannual cleaning & exam to ensure the health of your mouth is okay and your teeth are adequately protected. Since there will always be some food and tartar that can’t be removed by at-home care alone, cleanings every 3-4 months may be in order.
If you do not believe that you can be diligent about keeping up maintenance on your teeth, we recommend going with an alternative treatment.
Other options for straightening your teeth
A commonly recommended way for adults to straighten their teeth is Invisalign, or another clear aligner system.
Invisalign uses clear custom aligners to gently reposition your teeth. The clear aligners work great for adult patients as they’re virtually invisible. They also require less trips to the dentist and do not trap food like metal braces do. The trade off is the cost is typically higher, and the time it takes to complete treatment is a bit longer than with traditional braces.
For those with minor tooth alignment issues, veneers can be a great option.
Veneers are thin porcelain shells placed on top of your existing teeth. This cosmetic treatment is extremely durable and natural-looking. It is a particularly good option if you want to change the shade or shape of your teeth as well as improve the appearance of the alignment.
They also have the benefit of being a fast treatment. While both metal braces and Invisalign treatment take months or years to fully complete and see the benefit, veneers can be completed in just a couple of appointments.
For those with minor teeth alignment issues who want the least disruption to their lifestyle, porcelain veneers are an excellent choice.