While it is great that there are now numerous options you can choose from if you want straighter teeth, having so many options can also be overwhelming and make deciding which is right for you tough. Thankfully, you have your dentist and orthodontist to help you through every step of your decision, but if you are like many people, then you want to know what you can expect when consulting with them about your choices. Here is a guide to what each dental treatment can and cannot do when it comes to straightening teeth, so you have an idea of what your orthodontist may or may not recommended for you.
Option #1: Porcelain Veneers
There is a growing misconception today about what porcelain veneers can and cannot fix in a smile. While veneers are great for altering the shape of teeth, making teeth look permanently whiter, and filling in a few small gaps in a smile here and there, they have a limited ability to truly straighten teeth and fix under- or over-bites.
For crooked teeth to be good candidates to be "straightened" with porcelain veneers, they must have roots that are relatively in-line. While some cosmetic dentists will apply veneers to straighten very crooked teeth, they must shave off a lot of tooth structure, and then adhere the veneer to tooth dentin. This can lead to a weaker veneer that can need replacement often.
Most dental professionals agree that veneers are great for correcting many problems with teeth, but crooked teeth should be straightened with braces or clear aligners before the final cosmetic "finishing touch" is performed by applying veneers.
Option #2: Clear Dental Aligners
Clear dental aligners are very popular for good reason. They can straighten teeth and can do so without other people even noticing you are wearing them. While they can straighten teeth much more effectively than veneers can, there are a few dental problems they cannot fix as well as traditional braces can. As a general rule, the more mild your dental problems are, the more likely that clear dental aligners can fix them.
Clear aligners can fix teeth that are shifted just slightly forward or slightly backward in your mouth. They can fix crowded teeth, although crowded teeth often need to be shaved slightly when being corrected with this appliance. They can close mild gaps between teeth.
Since the aligners were introduced to the market, there have now been special attachments also introduced that can be used with them to correct more problems than just the aligners can fix themselves. This can include special ceramic anchors that are adhered to your teeth to help the aligners place more pressure where it needs to be.
Special attachments can also be used to allow your orthodontist to use elastic bands to correct over- or under-bites. These small bands look like tiny rubber bands and are stretched from the top attachment to the bottom one at an angle to pull the jaw forward or backward gradually.
Option #3: Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are used to fix many dental problems, and they have been in use for many years. They can fix severely crooked teeth, bad over- or under-bites, crowding, gaps, and almost any other dental problem that does not require repair with jaw surgery. If you are weary of the look of full-metal braces, "clear" ceramic brackets can be used in place of the metal brackets in most circumstances.
Lingual metal braces, which are like traditional braces but applied to the back of the teeth instead of the front, can also fix most dental problems. However, lingual braces are not an option when a person has a very small mouth. With a small mouth, the lingual braces can take up too much space in the mouth and make eating and talking uncomfortable.
If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, then your orthodontist can help you decide which teeth-straightening option is best for you. Remember that a healthy, straight smile will last a lifetime after your orthodontic appliances are removed, so choose the option that your orthodontist feels will give you the best results.