When many adults think of braces, they envision a little girl or boy with a silver smile. While traditional orthodontics are sometimes necessary, adults prefer, whenever possible, to keep their braces under wraps, avoiding a mouth full of metal. Crooked Teeth
Luckily, dentistry has come a long way, creating alternatives to traditional metal braces that allow many adults to straighten their teeth discreetly and fast. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in five of today’s orthodontic patients is an adult.
So, what are the options for saying goodbye to crooked teeth?
Traditional Braces. Traditional metal braces are more expensive and take a long time to work, but the results cannot be denied. They frequently need to be worn for a period of two years and can cause some pain. They also may require that one or more teeth be removed. Metal braces are especially good for teeth that are exceptionally crooked or when the bite needs to be realigned.
Correcting the bite can make a big difference in dental health and can even sometimes alleviate headaches and TMJ.
Invisalign Braces. Called “aligners,” Invisalign is a popular modern day alternative to traditional braces. They straighten the teeth without the need for metal wires by using clear trays and are barely visible.
The trays or aligners are removable, which means that they can be lost, and different sets of aligners are created to gradually move the teeth into the proper placement. People with significantly crooked teeth are not generally candidates for Invisalign, however.
Six Month Smiles. A 21st century alternative to both traditional orthodontics and Invisalign, Six Month Smiles is the name for a type of braces that utilize clear brackets and special nickel titanium wires in the same color as teeth.
They straighten the teeth using the same principles as traditional braces, but they concentrate on the teeth that can be seen while smiling. They are also usually less expensive than Invisalign and the other options for correcting crooked teeth. Sometimes called “short term orthodontics,” this technology is catching on with adults who have felt for years as though they missed their window for straightening their teeth.
With Six Month Smiles, many people feel they have found a viable and affordable way to finally correct their teeth in only six months’ time.Crowns. Crowns are also sometimes called “caps” because they are, in essence, a “cap” that is placed over the tooth to change its shape or make it appear straighter. Crowns can be particularly helpful in strengthening a tooth that has been weakened by decay or some other issue.
The downside to a crown is that sometimes healthy tooth must be removed in order to place it. Cement must then be used to apply the crown. Temporary crowns are usually placed until permanent crowns can be applied, which means that the process can take some time to finish. If several teeth need to be straightened, several crowns would be necessary.
One of the advantages of crowns, however, is that they can also cover teeth that are severely stained or have a significant loss of enamel, allowing the teeth to be restored to a translucent white color.
Crowns can be made of a variety of materials, including metal, resin, ceramic, 100% porcelain, or porcelain that has been fused to metal. Metal crowns are generally believed to be the strongest type, but resin is less expensive. Ceramic and 100% porcelain look the most like natural teeth and can be very esthetic.
Porcelain Veneers. Often called “instant orthodontics,” porcelain veneers are bonded to the surface of the teeth to alter the position, shape and size of each tooth. They can be used on all teeth or only on those that are crooked. While the color of the veneers can be matched very well to the natural teeth, the best way to get a uniform color is to have them placed on all teeth. They can be made in very light shades if desired to permanently whiten a smile. This is a pricier choice, of course.
Veneers are pieces of porcelain that are approximately the same thickness as a fingernail. Light is used to bond the veneer to the tooth, which means that the existing tooth is mostly left intact. Less drilling is required with veneers than with crowns.
Like crowns, veneers are often used as a way of straightening and resizing crooked, misshapen, and worn-down teeth, as well as giving stained and yellowed teeth a translucent white color.The main advantage of the veneers method is that it is even faster than the fastest set of braces you can get today, usually taking only a couple of dental visits without the waiting required with braces. The main disadvantage is that veneers are usually substantially more expensive.
All of these choices can be confusing, so if you have crooked teeth, consult a cosmetic dentist for advice. No two people are the same, and the pros and cons for each person may differ. A qualified dentist can help you decide the most advantageous option for you.
Dr. Jacquelyn Averett, D.D.S.
Dr. Jacquelyn Averett is a highly qualified dentist with a caring, gentle touch. She attended UC Berkeley where she earned a degree in Biological Sciences. She went on to obtain her dental degree from UC San Francisco. Dr. Averett then completed postgraduate training as a Hospital Dentistry resident at the University of Washington in Seattle.
She returned to her home in Fairfield and opened her private practice in 1991 to provide excellence in Family and Cosmetic dentistry. Continually taking continuing education courses to improve and expand her skills, she is Six Month Smiles Certified and a Cerec provider. She has a passion to partner with her patients to provide the best treatment available.