An Honest Guide to Teeth Straightening
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If you’re on this page, then chances are you’re looking at teeth straightening options for yourself or a loved-one and just need to know more about your options.
Traditionally, fixing crooked or uneven teeth was undertaken during adolescence, a short time after all adult teeth have come through. However, there have been some major improvements in the orthodontic process over the past few years, notably with regard to the options available. As a result, many older teens and adults who have missed the traditional adolescent window are increasingly looking into teeth straightening options.
However, with this rise in technology and teeth-straightening treatments, there is often more confusion surrounding the different types of teeth straightening options.
Which is why we’ve put together this guide to teeth straightening and orthodontics - a simple guide that breaks down confusion and gives you the key information needed to help you on the journey to achieving a perfect smile.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry that focuses on the prevention and correction of crooked, protruding or misaligned teeth. Put simply - it’s the area of practice that covers teeth straightening. Orthodontics (i.e. teeth straightening) can often be a crucial treatment for patients who have misaligned teeth, as not only does it affect your appearance, but ensuring teeth meet correctly when they bite helps ensure better tooth hygiene and reduces the chance of damage to prominent teeth.
What’s the Difference Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist?
An orthodontist is a trained dentist who has gone on to complete a further specialty degree in Orthodontics. An orthodontist therefore focuses specifically on issues related to the alignment of your teeth and jaw. Both dentists and orthodontists are doctors that deal with teeth and gums, though dentists focus more on the more general dental procedures such as root fillings, crowns and bridges.
For more information, read our recent article on our (very talented!) Orthodontist, Adriana Vidal.
Is Orthodontic work available on the NHS?
Orthodontic treatment is available free of charge on the NHS, but only for young people under 18, or students up to the age of 19. Additionally, free treatment is only valid if the treatment is for a ‘serious’ condition - smaller problems can be classified as cosmetic and therefore don’t qualify for free treatment.
Adults and older teens therefore have to seek private options. Private treatments are widely available though and at Life Dental we have an experienced and friendly team of orthodontists who can talk you through the process and individual needs.
Going private for orthodontic work can often be daunting for many, but the costs for orthodontic work are often more affordable than many initially think.
How much does tooth straightening cost?
Costs for orthodontic treatment can vary, depending on factors such as the patient’s preferred choice of braces/aligners and the scale of the treatment. A truly accurate cost can only be given after an initial consultation with an orthodontist who can clinically examine your teeth and discuss the options available.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Overall treatment times can vary quite differently depending on the severity of the initial misalignment and the type of brace chosen.Typically, treatment takes around 12-18 months. For more minor cases, treatment can be completed in under a year. A more accurate timeline will be given upon consultation with an orthodontist.
What are the most popular methods of tooth straightening?
Traditional Braces - AKA Metal Fixed Braces - are the ones that most people are familiar with. They consist of small metal brackets, glued to the teeth and attached to each other via a thin wire. These wires can then be manipulated individually to move the teeth into position.
- Control: The metal brackets and wires in traditional braces offer strong control of your teeth. Only a dentist can remove them, and because they require regular check-ups (4-6 weeks) your dentist can make sure they’re moving your teeth properly.
- Faster: Given the strong control over your teeth, metal braces will often take a shorter time to straighten teeth compared to removable braces.
- Strength: fixed metal braces mean that they rarely break or become unaligned.
- Cost: Meta braces are often one of the cheaper treatment options
- Hygiene: As the braces are fixed tightly in place, food can get caught between the metal, so it is very important to regularly clean your teeth and ensure all food is cleared.
- Restrictive: As with the above hygiene issues, you also have to be careful about what you eat to avoid any food causing the brackets to move. So that means temporarily waving goodbye to harder food like nuts, hard sweets, corn on the cob and even apples.
- Visibility: Traditional braces are one of the most visible of braces, which can be an important factor for those who want more subtle orthodontic treatment.
Ceramic Braces are very similar to metal fixed braces, though being made of ceramic, they are often clear or tooth-coloured rather than metallic, they are a more subtly and discrete option for many who are self-conscious of their braces.
- Visibility: Whilst still fairly visible, they are often clear or tooth-coloured making them a lot more subtle in appearance than metal braces.
- Strength: Ceramic braces offer the same control as metal braces
- Time: Similar to metal braces, ceramic braces offer a quicker orthodontic process compared to removable braces.
- Size: Ceramic braces are often larger than metal braces, which can make it harder to clean around the braces, leading to sensitivity issues.
- Durability: Ceramic braces are not as strong as metal and therefore more susceptible to fracturing.
- Staining: Being of a clear - light colour, ceramic braces can be more susceptible to staining, so you may wish to stay away from food and drink that can potentially stain your braces (e.g. coffee, curry and red wine).
Lingual braces are similar to traditional fixed braces, with the crucial difference being that they fit behind your teeth. Otherwise, they work the same as fixed braces - i.e metal brackets and wires that are designed to manipulate the teeth into the correct position.
- Discreet: The biggest advantage of lingual braces is that they are situated behind the teeth. This means that lingual braces are near-invisible to the casual observer.
- Strong: Again, lingual braces are functionally the same as fixed metal braces, which means they will rarely break or become misaligned.
- Cost: Lingual braces can often be a more expensive option than traditional braces or clear aligners like Invisalign. The cost increase is down to the brace itself costing more, plus more training is often required for Orthodontists to learn the specific technique.
- Restrictive: Like Traditional braces, you’ll have to avoid hard foods, or ones that can get caught in the brackets. So no more popcorn at the cinema for a while!
Invisalign Braces consist of a set of clear, removable hard plastic aligners fitted to your mouth. As a result of being near-invisible, they are increasingly adopted by teenagers and adults alike. As they do not attach to your teeth directly like the above options, they must regularly be checked and replaced over the course of the first few months of treatment to ensure they are aligning your teeth properly.
- Appearance: the most obvious benefit of Invisalign is that their clear appearance means an almost invisible appearance, especially when compared to metal and ceramic braces.
- Comfort: Invisalign braces are similar in appearance to a standard mouthguard and therefore a lot more comfortable than metal or ceramic.
- Removable: Invisalign braces are fully removable, meaning you don’t need to worry about not eating foods that can get caught in/damage your braces.
- Removable: Yes, removable is also an advantage, but it can also be seen as a downside. Taking out Invisalign braces is really only for eating and daily oral hygiene. However, their ability to be easily removed can make it tempting to remove for other occasions. Self-discipline is therefore key when it comes to using Invisalign braces otherwise they simply won’t be as effective.
- Inconvenience: Another example where Invisalign’s benefit of removability can be a drawback. For those who constantly graze throughout the day, or are partial to regular teas or coffees - removing braces and cleaning teeth before reinsertion Invisalign braces can swiftly become wearisome.
View our dedicated Invisalign treatment page for more information on Invisalign braces and the Invisalign process.
Once I have my teeth straightened, is it permanent?
It is perfectly normal for some minor tooth movement to happen over a long time after orthodontic treatment. However, in the vast majority of cases, teeth do not move enough after the teeth straightening process to warrant any further treatment.
Who can I talk to about getting Orthodontic treatment in Exeter?
If you're looking for an Exeter dentist that offers comprehensive teeth-straightening treatments, Life Dental has a specialized Orthodontic team ready to guide you through your teeth-straightening process in detail and see which method is best for your teeth, your lifestyle and your overall well being.
Contact the Exeter dental team now for a consultation and let’s work together to achieve that perfect smile!