Straight teeth are essential to a great smile, and a great smile is essential to your self-esteem. Once upon a time, people with crooked teeth had to face the fact that they’d need braces for a year or more if they wanted their teeth to be straight. Today, there is an alternative to traditional, silver-colored metal braces. Cosmetic braces are clear and virtually invisible, and in many cases they take less than a year to straighten your teeth. Not all cosmetic braces are alike. There are two major types: actual braces and aligners. Aligners are often called “braces” but are quite different. Both cosmetic braces and aligners move teeth into position in similar ways.
Aligners are removable trays that fit over the teeth. Unlike braces, they can be removed by the patient and should be taken out for eating and brushing your teeth. The trays are usually worn for about two weeks then replaced. The entire time for trays to be worn can be from six months to a little over a year.
Braces that are clear or matched to your tooth color are used for cosmetic reasons. Traditional metal braces are sometimes needed for more severe issues, such as bite problems. Cosmetic braces can move teeth into proper position to eliminate gaps and crooked teeth, resulting in a fabulous smile.
Cosmetic braces are suitable for people who want to straighten their teeth for cosmetic purposes. They generally work for moving teeth horizontally, and they are usually limited to only affecting front teeth or the teeth that show when you smile. An exam by a dentist can determine if a patient is a good candidate for cosmetic braces.
The cost of cosmetic braces can be higher than the cost of traditional braces, but the advantages are numerous: clear or nearly invisible braces, more comfort while wearing them and a shorter overall treatment time.
There are several different brands of aligners and clear braces available. Brands of aligners include Invisalign, Inman, ClearStep and Originator. Not all of these aligners are identical. If your dentist determines that you are a candidate for aligners, he or she can recommend a brand and treatment plan.
Brands of cosmetic braces include Click-It, Invu and Tip-Edge Plus. The different brands may offer different features, such as color matched to your teeth.
The cost of cosmetic braces is generally more than the cost of traditional metal braces and cosmetic braces are usually not covered by insurance. Many dentists offer financing for cosmetic procedures.
Cosmetic braces are ideal for adults because of their relative invisibility and short treatment time. Adults who have crooked teeth are often torn between the embarrassment that their smile causes them and the potential greater embarrassment at wearing metal braces for two years or more. Cosmetic braces eliminate the second worry.