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Ask a General Dentist: What Are My Teeth Straightening Options?
Teeth straightening has never been easier thanks to the many options patients have to choose from. Poor teeth alignment ruins the appearance of your smile and it makes you more vulnerable to tooth decay since poorly-aligned teeth are more challenging to clean.
Teeth alignment problems are best tackled around the age of seven when most of a child's permanent teeth have erupted, but their jawbone tissues are yet to harden. These treatments are effective regardless of a person's age though. It is only a matter of how long it takes to push the patient's teeth to the desired position.
A general dentist explains teeth straightening options
Here are some of the ways a dentist can go about straightening a patient's teeth:
- Metal braces: These have been the go-to way to perform teeth straightening for at least a hundred years. The appliance is made up of metal brackets that are cemented to the patient's teeth and wires that connect the brackets. The tighter the wires are, the more force the brackets apply to the patient's teeth. Braces remain the most effective way to improve the alignment of a person's teeth, but they are also the most conspicuous way to straighten teeth.
- Ceramic braces: These are a more aesthetically pleasing version of conventional braces. The metal wires and brackets that come with metal braces are replaced with transparent wires and tooth-colored brackets respectively.
- Lingual braces: Lingual braces are a lot like metal braces, but instead of attaching brackets and wires to the front surface of the patient's teeth, these components are attached to the back of their teeth. As a result, the device is not visible when the person smiles or exposes their teeth. Lingual braces provide great aesthetics, but they also cause the most discomfort during treatment.
- Clear aligners: These are a new way to straighten teeth that were developed about 20 years ago. The method straightens teeth with transparent, rigid aligner trays that slowly move the patient's teeth to a better alignment. Treatment involves using a series of trays. Each set is worn for around two weeks and the next set takes over from there. The further down the line in the series the patient is, the straighter their teeth will be. Clear aligners are removable appliances unlike the other teeth straightening options discussed above. These appliances are rarely noticed when worn and they are considered to be the most comfortable way to straighten teeth.
Dentists can also use dental cosmetics to create the appearance of well-aligned teeth. For example, veneers can be used to make teeth appear straighter, improving the appearance of the patient's teeth in a short amount of time. It is an option that is usually explored when the patient has other issues that justify covering their teeth with veneers.
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