Braces have long been used as a common method for straightening teeth. The term 'dental braces' (or braces) is defined as devices that are used to straighten teeth. However, the term is widely used to denote metallic braces, which most of the users find inconvenient, awkward and painful. Apart from the cosmetic concerns, these braces can also irritate the mouth.
Nowadays, there are many options, as far as braces are concerned. You may choose tooth-colored ceramic braces or friction-free braces. If you want to straighten teeth without any metallic components, it is also possible with the latest innovations in cosmetic dentistry.
How to Straighten Teeth Without Metal Braces
This is one of the popular methods of teeth straightening, as metal braces are not involved. Being transparent in nature, these plastic aligners resemble transparent gum shields, but are not easily visible. Clear aligners are made with the help of 3-D computer imaging technology. A series of aligners are used for a period of around one to two years. New aligners are made as per the improvement in the teeth structure. They are changed at an interval of two weeks. The aligner has to be worn throughout the day and has to be removed only while eating, drinking, flossing and brushing. The user must brush and floss after every meal and clean the aligner, before wearing it again. The Invisalign system is best for those with minor teeth misalignment. This method may not be useful for certain people, like those with severe overcrowding, crossbite or overbite. When compared to traditional metal braces, Invisalign is highly expensive.
Porcelain or Composite Veneers
Veneers are not exactly used for straightening teeth, but can cover imperfections with ease. Veneers can be compared to artificial nails. They are like thin strips that are applied on the teeth to cover minor orthodontic problems and to make them look straight and bright. Veneers are made of either porcelain or composite material. It can offer you a fast and easy solution to straighten teeth without braces. Apart from straightening teeth, veneers are also effective in covering up imperfections like chipped teeth, discoloration, cracks and breaks, misalignment, etc. While it can improve the looks of the teeth, damage may be caused to the tooth structure while affixing. These veneers have to be replaced with time. They are strong and hardy, but porcelain veneers are preferred to those made of composite resin. Porcelain veneers last longer and are costlier, as compared to composite ones. In this case too, minor misalignment can be rectified effectively and not the major ones.
While both the above said methods do not involve any metallic components, Inman aligner can be considered as a mix of the Invisalign system and metallic braces. It is not transparent as Invisalign, as it has metal components. But it is removable and user-friendly and much more convenient than regular braces. Inman aligner has semi-transparent inner and outer bows on the front teeth. While the outer bow pushes the teeth inwards, the inner one pushes forward gently, so as to align the teeth to the targeted position. Even though the visible part of the Inman aligner is transparent, in most cases a metal wire can be seen across the front teeth. This system has a coiled spring (on the rear), which along with the metal bar on the front teeth works to move the teeth to the desired position. This system is said to act faster than the Invisalign system. Inman aligner is also cheaper as compared to Invisalign.
If you are not comfortable with the visibility of metallic braces, you can go for lingual braces, which are attached to the inner part of the front teeth. Though it can be uncomfortable, you can do away with the ugly looks, as nobody can easily notice these braces. If you want to avoid the irritation caused by conventional braces, you may opt for Damon braces, which do not have elastic or metal ties and are more comfortable for the user. Damon braces come in both metallic and clear versions. Six-month smile is another method to straighten teeth without braces. In this method, tooth-colored brackets and nickel wires are used. As compared to metallic braces, visibility will be lesser. You may also go for ceramic braces, which are far less noticeable than metallic braces. Cosmetic contouring is another method that can be used to reshape the teeth so as to have a straightening effect.
It must be noted that all or most of the teeth straightening options make use of different tools to get the desired effect. There is no completely natural method to straighten teeth. An orthodontist or even your dentist can suggest the best option for you, depending on various factors such as comfort levels, visibility of materials used and the degree of straightening to be done. Another factor to be studied is the cost of the orthodontic procedure you choose. Some of them, like Invisalign are highly expensive. So, it is always better to decide the method of teeth straightening, as per your dentist's advice.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.