Straight teeth make for a better smile. They also help you to chew your food more easily, speak more clearly, and generally have more confidence. No wonder many adults look into teeth straightening for themselves, or for their children.
When most people hear “teeth straightening,” they think braces. But there are other options available as well. Which one is best for you depends on the work and your budget.
If you want straighter teeth, traditional metal braces are often an option. Here are options that you might also want to consider:
Retainers and appliances. Orthodontic appliances—what people commonly call “headgear”— help to move parts of your mouth and jaw. This is often done to make more space for your teeth, or to fix a bad bite (malocclusion). Though it’s incredibly noticeable, it is also very good at getting your mouth in the correct shape. Appliances are often used with braces and/or retainers.
Lingual braces. Lingual braces are like traditional metal braces, but they fit behind your teeth so that the brackets don’t show. While they take some getting used to, especially when eating or speaking, many people like the fact that they are not noticeable.
Invisalign. Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic trays or aligners to move your teeth into place, much like braces. While they cannot tackle the most severe tooth alignment issues, they can work quickly to align your teeth. They are clear and so nearly invisible, and are easily removed for eating or for important events (like a job interview).
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Teeth straightening surgery. Yes, you can get surgery to help align your jaw and straighten your teeth. Though you still might need braces or a retainer along with the surgery, getting teeth straightening surgery can dramatically decrease the time you will need them. Furthermore, this kind of surgery works best for people with an overbite or under-bite or jaw misalignment. Because it is pricey and may involve anesthesia, most orthodontists do not recommend it unless there is a pressing medical reason.
WARNING. We’ve seen some videos and articles on the internet touting things like natural braces, DIY braces, and braces kits you can get and apply at home. We urge you not to try these, as they can do damage to your teeth that will be costly to repair as a result.
While there is no quick and easy way to straighten your teeth, there are some things you can do to make the process go quicker and more smoothly:
1. Work with an orthodontist you like and take his or her advise. A trained orthodontist will find the quickest and best way to get your teeth straightened. Work with him or her and follow instructions. If you are on a timeline, such as an upcoming wedding, let your orthodontists know. (Need to find an orthodontist? If your in the North Carolina or Southern Virginia area, contact us for an appointment).
2. Maintain, maintain, maintain. A lot of problems with braces start because of a lack of proper brushing and flossing. Same goes for Invisalign. While having your teeth straightened, make sure you are cleaning well and avoiding the foods that can cause problems. Also be sure to make all of those check ups with your orthodontist!
3. Keep popsicles and ibuprofen handy. We’re not going to lie: Any method of straightening your teeth is likely to hurt at some point. But there are several things you can do to make the pain and discomfort less–like eating cold treats and taking the occasional over-the-counter pain killer.
4. Get a mouthguard if you play sports. A rough bump or accident can undo a lot of your hard work! If you have Invisalign or a retainer, remove them before play and put in the mouthguard. In addition, if you have braces know that most orthodontists are happy to make or order a one that can fit over your braces.
5. See your orthodontist if there is a break or other emergency. If something goes wrong with your braces, retainer, aligner tray, or whatever, contact your orthodontist immediately. Many will even make space in their schedule for “drop ins” who need immediate attention. Broken or missing appliances, severe pain, and bleeding are all “big deals” and should be addressed as soon as you can.
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The cost to straighten your teeth depends a lot on what option you choose, how much movement is needed, and how well you take care of your teeth and appliances. As a result almost every individual case is different, and specific price tags are difficult.
That said, there are a few rough guidelines for prices:
Traditional metal braces: $3,000 – $7,000
Lingual braces: $5,000 – $13,000
Invisalign: $4,000 – $8,000
Orthodontic appliances/headgear: $3000 – $5000 (though often includes cost of a retainer, too.)
Surgery: $20,000 – $40,000
Again, please keep in mind that these are rough estimates. Your own particular case might cost more or less, depending on a number of factors. Feel free to work with your orthodontist and find a solution that fits your budget and your insurance.
If you’re ready to discuss your particular situation with an orthodontist and explore your options, great! We’re here and happy to help. If you live in North Carolina or Southern Virginia, you can use our office locator to find an office near you. We also recommend reading some of our other articles, including What to Expect at Your First Dental Appointment and Invisalign FAQ: What You Really Need To Know Before Committing.