A beautiful smile and straight teeth are something for which many people aspire. If your teeth aren’t as straight as you would like them to be, orthodontics are a great option to improve your smile. 

Traditionally, metal braces were the only option to straighten teeth. We now have multiple options available, though each has pros and cons. Metal braces are still the best option for some orthodontic cases, particularly ones that involve large teeth movement or bite issues. Most orthodontic cases can be done with metal braces, except for advanced cases that require surgery. The main downside is that a lot of people, mainly adults, don’t want to have metal braces in their mouth. One way to get around this is to use porcelain brackets which can eliminate the use of metal, and in some cases applying the wire on the insides of teeth so they don’t show at all. 

A great, more esthetic, option now is Invisalign. The process uses clear aligners to move the teeth over the course of months to sometimes over a year. Every two weeks, a new aligner, that looks similar to a bleaching tray, is placed to move the teeth further towards their desired position. Invisalign has the most advanced technology of any clear aligners and the longest track record of success. The main advantage of this treatment is that straight teeth can be achieved without having to wear metal braces, so most people can’t tell you’re wearing them. The disadvantages are that the cost tends to be higher than traditional braces and not all cases can be done by Invisalign. Complex issues with bite or extreme movements may require traditional braces to complete. Orthodontists and many dentists can provide this treatment.

Within the last few years, at-home clear aligner companies have become more popular. These companies allow patients to do clear aligner treatment on their own without going to a dentist. The patient takes their own impression and sends it to the company, who then sends them back aligners. The advantage with this is that it brings the cost down for the patient; however, there are multiple disadvantages. The companies state that a licensed dentist looks at the case before it is approved, but no x-rays or exams are done in person. There can be issues with the teeth that need to be diagnosed in person and cannot be seen on a computer model. Some of these issues can lead to catastrophic results if not treated before orthodontics. Without an examination, it is also difficult to determine if the desired tooth movement is possible. In my opinion, the risks are too high without the direct supervision of a dentist, and I would not recommend it. This is a growing area of orthodontics though and many people are opting for this treatment.  

We are lucky that there are multiple options today for achieving straight teeth. Even though traditional braces are still a good option, other choices with their own benefits have arisen allowing a wider range of people to consider orthodontics. If you feel like you would like to have your teeth straighter, I encourage you to speak to your dentist or orthodontist about choices available and specific to you.

Dr. Nick is with Palm Desert Smiles and can be reached at (760) 568.3602. 

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