Do you hesitate to smile for photos? Do you feel self-conscious laughing or talking because of your teeth? A crooked smile can be downright embarrassing as an adult. Unfortunately, many adults are reluctant to straighten their teeth because they are worried about the cost, discomfort and perceived embarrassment associated with braces. Delaying orthodontic work, however, can ultimately lead to bigger problems down the road. Crooked teeth that do not fit together may look unattractive right now, but things could get even worse should tooth decay or gum disease occur. Straightening your teeth can significantly improve your overall oral health, reducing the risk for tooth decay and gum disease that go hand-in-hand with overcrowding or misaligned teeth. Invisalign or Braces can help, but which is right for your smile?
Why Straight Teeth Matter for Adults
Choosing to straighten your teeth as an adult is a big decision. You may want to improve your smile for professional or personal reasons, or in anticipation of a big life event, like your wedding. The benefits of straight teeth extend beyond a confident smile. When you decide to straighten your teeth, you’re also reducing your risk for future oral health problems, including periodontal disease.
Ready to take the first steps towards a confident, healthy smile? The next step is to decide whether Invisalign or braces are right for your straightening needs. This information will help you better understand each treatment option and the questions to ask your orthodontist.
Invisalign or Braces: What’s the Difference?
Invisalign is cutting-edge approach to teeth straightening that uses clear aligners to gently reshape your smile. Invisalign aligners are custom made for each patient. You’ll wear your aligners for a few weeks before switching to a new pair. Over the course of treatment (anywhere from six to 18 months), each pair of aligners will slowly reshape your smile. Invisalign is typically used for mild to moderate straightening needs, including correcting gaps and over-crowding. Additionally, if you had braces as a teenager but your teeth have shifted as an adult, Invisalign can help to re-align your teeth without the need for braces. Invisalign can also correct mild overbites, underbites, and gaps.
If you have moderate to severe alignment needs, however, you may be a better candidate for traditional braces. While most people associate braces with teenagers, an estimated 20 percent of all people who wear braces are actually adults. Even better news: just because you get braces as an adult doesn’t mean you’ll have the dreaded “mouthful of metal”. In fact, clear braces made from ceramic material are still bonded to your teeth like metal braces, but will not be as noticeable from a distance. Clear braces also require fewer adjustments. With Invisalign, you’ll need to swap out trays every two weeks. Ceramic braces only require monthly adjustments. Clear braces are also better for treating more complex cases of crooked teeth, underbite/open bite, crossbites, and malocclusions.
Next Steps: Talk to Your Orthodontist About Invisalign and Clear Braces
No matter how old (or young) you may be, the idea of getting braces is hardly appealing, especially as an adult. In addition to perceived embarrassment, metal braces can also be uncomfortable if they poke and irritate your mouth. Additionally, some patients find brushing or flossing with braces to be difficult. Invisalign’s aligners can be removed for eating and cleaning, so your oral health won’t suffer– and you won’t need to worry about which foods you can (or cannot eat) for fear that food might get stuck in your braces.
When deciding between braces or Invisalign, the first step is to talk to your orthodontist about your straightening needs. If you had braces when you were younger or only have mild to moderate alignment needs, Invisalign may be your best option. However, if your alignment needs are more serious, you are not doomed to a “mouthful of metal”. Clear braces are still a great option for achieving your dream smile with minimal discomfort. Either way, what matters most is the final outcome: a confident, healthy smile!