Having a perfect smile is something that many people strive for. In fact, more than one-third of adults are unhappy with their smile. While most people straighten their teeth to enhance their appearance, crooked teeth can also cause oral health issues including:
- Periodontal disease;
- Chewing and digestion issues;
- Excess wear;
- Speech difficulties.
Additionally, crooked teeth can make dental cleaning more difficult. When teeth are too close together or are not properly aligned, plaque can build up, leading to tooth decay. Poor oral health can also lead to poor overall health.
Braces are a common solution for alignment problems and teeth straightening. When you visit an orthodontist, you will work with them to understand what kind of treatment suits your needs. Nowadays, orthodontic patients have plenty of options if they wish to straighten their teeth.
1. Metal Braces
Metal braces are the most traditional method for straightening teeth. The brackets are attached separately to each tooth and are more commonly used on children. However, as the technology surrounding braces advances, more adults are also opting for metal braces. These types of braces are made from high-grade stainless steel with rubber bands that attach the wires together.
There are many pros associated with traditional braces:
- Metal braces are offered by almost all orthodontists;
- They are less expensive than aligners;
- These braces cannot be taken off prematurely by the patient, so treatment is typically faster;
- Metal braces are less likely to become discolored;
- Metal braces are highly durable;
- Patients can’t lose metal braces;
- Orthodontists can closely monitor the progress of the treatment;
- Metal braces are typically more comfortable;
- Metal braces are recommended for complicated cases.
There are also drawbacks to metal braces:
- They are much more noticeable;
- Metal braces are harder to clean because of their size;
- Patients must avoid eating certain foods;
- Patients must visit an orthodontist at least once a month to tighten the braces.
Often the price for braces depends on where you live. However, metal braces are the most cost-effective, ranging from $3,000-$7,000. Fortunately, most orthodontists offer a payment plan to help patients with their bill. Additionally, the cost of braces typically correlates with the length of treatment, so the cost could vary depending on how long you must wear the braces.
2. Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces, however, the brackets are tooth-colored or clear instead of metal. The bands used to connect the brackets are also similar in color to provide more discretion. More adults consider this option because the braces are less noticeable. Ceramic braces can be made from either ceramic, porcelain, or plastic, and are also known as clear braces.
There are many benefits of ceramic braces:
- They are just as effective as metal braces;
- Ceramic braces are less visible;
- They move teeth faster than clear aligners;
- Patients can customize the color of the brackets;
- They are more comfortable than metal braces.
There are also drawbacks to ceramic braces:
- Ceramic braces are more brittle than metal braces;
- They are harder to clean;
- They are more expensive than metal braces;
- They may cause gum sensitivity;
- Ceramic brackets may stain because of their color;
- The brackets may be bigger than metal braces.
Ceramic braces typically cost more than metal braces. They can range from $4,000-$8,000, however, as with traditional braces, there is no fixed cost. The type of material you choose can largely affect the cost of braces. For instance, braces that use a clear material are typically less expensive than braces that use translucent or tooth-colored material.
3. Lingual Braces
Lingual braces are also known as “hidden braces.” These types of braces look and feel like traditional metal braces with one important distinction: they are created to fit on the back, or lingual, part of teeth to remain unseen. People who are uncomfortable with the look of traditional braces typically choose this option, along with people who play an instrument or engage in a sport. While lingual braces are not for everyone, they can correct the same misalignments traditional braces fix.
There is some value to lingual braces:
- Lingual braces are considered invisible;
- They can correct most bite problems;
- They can be easily customized;
- Decalcification is less obvious;
- Lingual braces allow the patient to play wind instruments;
- These braces stay on teeth at all times so there is less of a chance they can be lost.
The drawbacks to lingual braces are as follows:
- Lingual braces can cause a lisp;
- They can cause significant discomfort;
- It’s harder to determine if lingual braces are cleaned properly;
- Orthodontists rarely offer lingual braces;
- Lingual braces are more expensive than traditional braces.
Lingual braces are considered to be the most expensive straightening treatment. Prices can range from $5,000-$13,000. Like other braces, the cost might vary depending on the length of your treatment and where you live. Lingual braces can cost more due to the delicate application procedure. Typically, these types of braces may take longer to apply. Lingual braces are also customized to the patient, which could affect the price of the treatment.
Invisalign, or invisible braces, are clear, removable plastic molds that are used to straighten teeth. They are a popular option for adults as others don’t typically notice them. An orthodontist takes a mold of your teeth and gives you a set of trays to wear for the treatment. The plastic molds apply pressure to teeth to straighten them, and the patient must change the invisible mold every two weeks. Invisalign is commonly used for mild corrections and can be a faster way to straighten teeth.
The benefits of Invisalign are as follows:
- They are much more comfortable than traditional braces;
- They are virtually invisible;
- They are removable, making it easier to brush and floss normally and reduce the risk of demineralization;
- Patents have more freedom with what they eat;
- Patients have fewer appointments with the orthodontist;
- There is minimal maintenance.
The cons of Invisalign are as follows:
- Invisalign can be comparatively expensive;
- They require enamel ridges attached to the teeth to help the Invisalign tray fit better to the teeth; the attachments may be more noticeable than the trays;
- Patients must wear the trays for 22 hours a day;
- Invisalign cannot correct complicated bite issues;
- Patients may experience tooth discomfort;
- The trays may be easily lost.
Invisalign can cost anywhere from $3,000-$7,000, though the cost will vary depending on how much treatment you need. Teeth that are very crooked or mouths with an overbite require more time to straighten. With Invisalign, the more crooked your teeth are, the more trays you will need to straighten your teeth. Additionally, since Invisalign trays are easily removable by the patient, the length and cost of treatment will depend on how dedicated you are to straightening your teeth. Patients that can take off their braces might do so more often, especially if it makes them more comfortable.
5. Lumineers and Veneers
If you are less focused on making your teeth functionally straight, and are more concerned with your teeth looking straight, dental professionals can fasten porcelain veneers to your teeth in order to straighten them. Veneers are porcelain shells that are applied to the surface of teeth to conceal gaps, holes and other flaws. Lumineers are similar to veneers; however, they are thinner and less expensive.
The pros of veneers are as follows:
- They are resistant to staining;
- They can easily cover broken or chipped teeth;
- Veneers are customizable;
- They are permanent;
- They can make your teeth stronger and whiter;
Pros of lumineers are as follows:
- They are more translucent than veneers;
- Teeth do not need to be ground;
- The prep time is shorter;
- They are semi-permanent;
- They can last up to 20 years.
The cons of veneers are as follows:
- Maintaining oral health can be difficult;
- The application process is lengthy;
- Veneers are extremely expensive;
- They are irreversible;
- They can break or chip, though it’s rare.
The cons of lumineers are as follows:
- Lumineers are expensive;
- They don’t last as long as veneers;
- They don’t hide tooth damage as well as veneers;
- They are considered cosmetic;
- Lumineers are thinner than veneers;
- They can affect the gum line.
The cost of lumineers and veneers are calculated by the individual tooth. Veneers can cost anywhere from $950-$2500 per tooth while lumineers can cost $850-$2,000 per tooth. The cost of the veneer or lumineer is largely dependent on the damage of the original tooth. It’s also important to note that lumineers and veneers are considered elective cosmetic treatment by most insurance companies, and are therefore not covered in most cases.
Braces can help people with medical and physical issues, and there are many options to choose from. By understanding the extent of your alignment or bite issues and by talking with your orthodontist, you can choose the right straightening treatment that suits you.