How to straighten teeth without braces
Are you thinking about straightening your teeth but repressed memories of braces-clad teens keep coming back to haunt you? The good news is, with modern orthodontics, there are a number of more subtle alternatives to braces that won’t leave you feeling – or looking – like you’ve got a mouth full of metal.
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It turns out, our teeth tend to move gradually forward as we age. “You can find that the smile you have in your 40s or 50s is not the one you had in your 20s,” says Dr Ross Anning, specialist orthodontist at Auckland City Orthodontics.
If you’ve previously had braces, a fixed retainer fitted behind your teeth upon completion of orthodontic treatment, or a removable retainer you wear at night, can prevent your teeth from moving. For those who didn’t have orthodontics when they were younger, there’s no time like the present to straighten that smile.
Although orthodontic treatments used to be associated with teenagers and metal train-track braces, today’s options are much more appealing to adults who want to improve their smile.
One of the most popular is Invisalign, a system that uses custom-made, clear plastic aligners which look like a very thin gum shield that gradually moves teeth into the desired position. The barely visible aligners are worn day and night, removed only when you eat.
“Invisalign is particularly appealing to adults because the clear aligners are virtually invisible,” says Anning.
It also fits well into a busy lifestyle. The aligners can be removed for special occasions, and because there are no metal brackets to attach or wires to tighten, you may not need to visit your orthodontist as frequently as someone wearing traditional braces.
The length of treatment depends on the complexity of each case and how much the teeth need to move, says Anning.
In simple cases, treatment can be completed in six months, but most people can expect to wear their aligners for 12 to 18 months.
Another option for discreet straightening is Incognito Hidden Braces, customised braces that are placed on the back of the teeth. Incognito Lite braces are designed to straighten only your ‘social six’ – the teeth visible when you smile.
Have you had any of these treatments before? We’d love to know about your experience – please tell us in the comments below!