Do you feel yourself hiding your teeth during photos? Maybe your dentist is concerned about your bite and has recommended braces. After all, having straighter teeth goes beyond appearances. Teeth straightening can help:
- keep your teeth and gums cleaner
- reduce stress on your jaw joint from a misaligned bite
- reduce damage to your teeth from grinding and clenching.
To find out more about which option may suit you, we’ve put together a guide on teeth straightening, including:
- types of straightening options (e.g. braces, aligners)
- the pros and cons of each type
- how much teeth straightening might cost – and more.
Let’s dive in!
Types of teeth-straightening treatment
Traditional metal braces
These are the types of braces that may pop to mind when you think of teeth straightening. Metal braces have small brackets that attach to each of your teeth, with a thin wire connecting every bracket.
Your dentist will straighten your teeth by making gentle adjustments to the wire to pull your teeth into the correct position. You might decide to opt for clear elastics around the brackets. Or, you may like to jazz up your smile with some colourful options.
How long will I need metal braces?
The average time really depends on your teeth and your dentist’s recommendation. Typically, many wear braces for 12 to 24 months, followed by a retainer. Retainers help keep your teeth in place once your braces come off. During the treatment you’ll need to visit the orthodontist every four to six weeks for adjustments.
Metal braces pros:
- They’re handy if you’re on a tighter budget, as these are the cheaper option
- They’re an effective choice if you have moderate to severely crooked teeth
Metal braces cons:
- They may not be as discreet as you’d prefer
- You can’t eat certain foods or drink certain drinks
- You need to carefully clean around your braces often (usually after eating, as well as morning and night)
Ceramic braces function the same as metal braces. However, instead of having metal brackets, you can opt for ceramic brackets so that they better blend in with your teeth. You can also choose tooth-coloured wires as well.
How long will I need ceramic braces?
Just like metal braces, you may need to wear them for around 12 to 24 months, followed by a retainer. Keep in mind that your treatment length will vary, depending on your circumstances.
Ceramic braces pros:
- They’re less obvious than metal braces
- They’re an effective option for moderate to severely crooked teeth
Ceramic braces cons:
- They’re more expensive than metal braces
- You can’t eat certain foods or drink certain drinks
- You need to carefully clean around your brackets after eating and drinking
Lingual (inside) braces are essentially braces that your orthodontist attaches to the inside surface of your teeth, rather than attached to the front of your teeth. Your orthodontist will carefully customise your lingual braces to suit your tooth shape; this helps ensure greater comfort.
How long will I need lingual braces?
Like metal and ceramic braces, you might wear lingual braces for 12 to 24 months, followed by a retainer – depending on your orthodontist’s advice.
Lingual braces pros:
- They’re an invisible option for teeth straightening
- They work as effectively as metal braces
Lingual braces cons:
- They can take some getting used to, as they sit right next to your tongue
- They can impact your speech and eating habits more than standard braces
- You may find it harder to clean between brackets, given their location
- They’re more costly than standard braces, as they’re customised to your teeth
Clear plastic aligners (common brands include Invisalign) are a near-invisible tooth straightening option that you slip over your teeth. Before treatment, the dentist will do a scan and take impressions of your teeth so they can start creating your trays.
Then, you’ll receive a new set of aligner trays every few weeks as per your orthodontist’s recommendation. These new sets are slightly different and help move your teeth into the correct position over the course of your treatment.
You can remove these aligners to eat, drink and brush your teeth. Keep in mind that you’ll need to wear them for 20-22 hours per day for the treatment to be effective.
How long will I need aligners?
Treatment may be as quick as six months or take up to 12 to 18 months however, this timeframe will depend on your situation and how diligent you are with wearing your aligners each day.
- A near-invisible straightening option
- Removable so you can eat certain foods and drinks
- You’ll find it easier to clean your teeth (e.g. you’re not competing with brackets and wires)
- They’re pricier than traditional metal braces
- You need to be diligent and wear your aligners for the correct amount of time each day (otherwise, you can prolong your treatment)
Quick straighten option
With quick straighten options, dentist will usually only straighten your front teeth. As such, you could have results show much sooner than traditional methods, which usually tackle your entire smile.
Quick straighten options can include both fixed braces or aligners and are generally suited if you have milder issues.
How long do I need braces or aligners if I choose the quick straighten method?
Sometimes treatment can be as quick as four months, or may take up to 24 months – depending on your situation.
Quick straighten pros:
- Your dentist can fix the crooked teeth that are on show the most
- This method offers quicker treatment than traditional methods
- It’s more affordable
Quick straighten cons:
- This method may not suit more complex issues
- It doesn’t fully align your whole smile, so you may still have bite issues
Frequently asked questions
How much do braces or clear aligners cost?
Costs are entirely dependent on your situation and corrections you need. Your dentist will provide you with a treatment plan outlining costs based on the treatment that is most suitable for you.
Do braces or aligners hurt?
After your dentist places or adjusts your braces, you may feel discomfort for a few days because your teeth are shifting. Similarly with clear aligners, you may feel some discomfort for a few days when you change trays.
What can’t I eat with braces?
You can accidentally damage your braces if you eat particular types of food, including:
- hard or chewy lollies
- popcorn and nuts
- hard crackers
- crunchy fruits and vegetables.
It’s important that you also avoid having too much sugar; it can cause plaque that’s harder to clean away under your brackets.
Clear aligners vs braces: Which is better?
Whether or not clear aligners are better than braces depends on your individual needs and budget. You may prefer the subtlety of clear aligners compared to traditional braces.
On the flip side, you may not want to risk lengthening your treatment if you forget to wear your aligners.
Your dentist will recommend which option is better suited to your circumstances.
Can I straighten my teeth without braces or clear aligners?
There are other options available to help straighten the appearance of your teeth. However, based on your individual circumstances these may not be a suitable option for you. As always, it is best to consult your dentist to discuss the most appropriate treatments.
Can I straighten my teeth at any age?
Typically, dentists will offer treatment to children when all of their adult teeth have come through (around 12 or 13 years of age). However, adults can most certainly get braces or clear aligners if it is a suitable treatment for their needs.
How do I get my braces off faster?
It’s important to take care of your teeth with good oral health practices – particularly brushing and flossing well between the wires if you have metal braces.
Also, don’t try any DIY methods on your braces at home. For instance, don’t add any extra elastics on your brackets to move teeth into certain positions. Your dentist has a plan and specialist training; if you step outside of that plan, you may harm your teeth and prolong your treatment.
For aligner treatment, you must abide by the guidelines provided by your dentist – only taking your aligner out when you’re eating, drinking or brushing your teeth.
If you have any issues with your braces or aligners, see your dentist right away – don’t wait until your next appointment.
Will I need to wear retainers after braces?
Yes, you will need to wear removable retainers after your teeth straightening treatment. These retainers look like clear aligners and are designed to be worn often (at your orthodontist’s recommendation).
Conversely, your dentist might place a permanent wire retainer behind your top and bottom teeth to keep them from moving.
Discover how braces could transform your smile
If you’re ready to find out which teeth-straightening option could suit you, book a consultation today. We’re ready to provide you with a thorough assessment of your teeth, the cost of treatment, and how long treatment may take.