For many adolescents, braces are just one more of the various rites of passage on the way to adulthood. However, braces, or more specifically orthodontic treatment, aren’t just for kids. Nor are traditional metal braces the only option. Many adults would like straighter teeth but don’t really want to go for the metal mouth look. Here are some alternatives to metal braces.
Retainers are most often used to help keep the teeth in the correct position after treatment with conventional braces. However, retainers can also correct minor alignment problems. Essix is one version of a retainer that is transparent plastic, so it can be worn during the day. Conventional retainers are usually made from hard plastic and metal and can be worn at night only if daily appearance is an issue.
Headgear, which is used to correct an overbite, can be used in combination with braces or alone. Most people choose to wear it at night, as you are required to wear headgear for a specific number of hours each day. In addition to the headset, you’ll need to have metal brackets attached to your back molars to which the headgear is attached. Headgear is removed to eat, play sports or brush your teeth.
Invisalign is a clear plastic aligner and can take the place of braces. This system consists of a series of plastic aligners, each slightly differently shaped, which are changed every few weeks to gradually move the teeth into position. Invisalign is one of the best alternative systems for fairly serious orthodontic problems like overbites, underbites and large gaps between the teeth. One of the nice things about Invisalign is the aligners are removable for eating or oral hygiene.
Lingual braces are metal and/or ceramic but they are mounted on the inside of the teeth. They are not as visible as conventional braces, but they may be visible if you open your mouth widely when laughing. You may also be able to wear a clear bracket with a wire that can’t be seen to correct mild problems. Veneers can cover defects in the teeth. They don’t actually straighten the teeth, but do give the appearance of straighter teeth.
For the adult who wants straighter teeth, traditional braces are only one answer. For those in occupations where appearance is important, the ability to have orthodontic treatment that doesn’t change your appearance can be a great benefit. Albeit not cheap, correcting your teeth can be really important to your overall health so either start saving now or start playing the lottery sooner rather than later so you can afford some of these treatments! The treatments above cannot correct all problems, as each situation is unique. If you have mild to moderate alignment or crowding issues, talk to an orthodontist about options other than metal braces.