Uneven and crooked teeth can really drag you down and affect your confidence. If you regularly try to talk and smile while barely opening your mouth, or if you cringe at the idea of posting a selfie on social media, maybe it’s time to explore teeth straightening options.
Recent advances in dental care mean that years of unattractive metal braces are not the only way to get straighter teeth, and with all the teeth straightening options available, the cost of teeth straightening has also come down, making it overall a much more attractive, achievable and affordable option.
There are two main forms of orthodontics (or ortho for short). The first is ‘Traditional Orthodontics’ provided by an orthodontist, a dentist who has had specialist ortho training. The second is short-term orthodontics or (STO) using brands including Invisalign, Six Month Smiles and Quick Straight Teeth which can be provided by your general dentist as the clinical planning and appliance design is carried out away from the dental practice and your dentist is simply required to fit and maintain these in house.
Six Month Smiles is an industry award-winning cosmetic brace system for teeth straightening. Developed in the USA (the land of straight & white teeth if we believe the movies), it has been specifically designed for adults who want straighter teeth in less time and without obvious braces. This system has lead the increase of short-term ortho across the world and has resulted in new systems like Quick Straight Teeth being developed in the UK.
Invisalign clear braces may be the solution for you if you would like to straighten your teeth, but want to avoid having a fixed orthodontic brace. Invisalign aligners move teeth through a series of carefully controlled movements by using removable aligners that are personally designed for your teeth. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign treatment not only controls the amount of movement that each aligner delivers, but also the timing of the movement, so at each stage, only certain teeth can move during that particular stage of your treatment. This results in an efficient force delivery system that provides straighter teeth in less time than traditional orthodontics.
The key difference with STO compared to traditional orthodontic treatment is that the back teeth are not moved and only the teeth seen when you smile are straightened. So if you’re happy with your back teeth, and it’s just your front teeth that need straightening, this could be a good option for you.
This approach results in the treatment time being much shorter (hence Short Term Orthodontics), usually around 4-9 months, whereas traditional orthodontics using fixed braces typically takes around 18-30 months.
An additional benefit of STO is that the components used in these cosmetic braces are all coloured white so that they blend in with your teeth and are much less noticeable. They are often referred to as clear braces. Invisalign uses clear retainers for the ortho treatment.
If it’s more than just your front teeth that need straightening, or the way your upper and lower jaws meet is causing an over- or under-bite, muscle strain in your jaw or headaches, traditional orthodontic treatment is probably the best treatment option. Your dentist will be able to discuss this with you and refer you to a local orthodontist specialist who will help you develop a personal treatment plan.
It is important to point out that with short term orthodontics is quicker, there is also a higher chance that post treatment your teeth may move back toward their original position. This is why retainers are used to help ensure that your teeth remain in their new, straighter and more attractive position. Ongoing compliance with wearing these retainers is key and your dentist will help by monitoring your teeth as part of your routine six month dental check up.