Achieve straight and beautiful teeth without (conventional) braces
Are you looking to improve your smile but unwilling to commit to a few years of metal brackets bonded on your teeth? Is there an alternative to achieving that Hollywood smile? The short answer is, YES!
Dentistry has made leaps and bounds in recent years, leading to countless alternatives of braces and new teeth straightening methods for consumers. Gone are the days when metal braces and clunky headgear were the only option to achieve straight teeth. Similar results can now be achieved in many different ways.
There are two main types of orthodontic appliances that are used to gradually align teeth. They can be classified generally into fixed and removable orthodontic appliances.
Fixed orthodontic appliances
Fixed orthodontic appliances consist of brackets which are bonded to your teeth and use a system of wires and elastic rings to exert a constant, gentle pressure on your teeth. Under this constant pressure, your teeth are gradually moved to their new position.
The two main types of bonded brackets are metal brackets and ceramic brackets. Ceramic brackets are less visible than their metal counterparts, but can still be seen at certain angles. They are also more expensive than metal brackets.
Orthodontic brackets can be placed on the outer surface of your teeth where they are visible, or on the inner surface of your teeth (also known as “lingual braces”) where they are not visible. Not many dentists opt to perform lingual braces as they require a different set of equipment and techniques, and are more costly both to the dentist and also to the patients.
Removable orthodontic appliances
Aligners and clear retainers are one of the latest and most widely accepted types of orthodontic treatment by the adult population. They have to be prescribed by a dentist. A 3D scan will be made of your teeth and the aligners are custom-made for your teeth according to the scan. A new set will be prescribed every few weeks after a certain degree of teeth movement is achieved. They are to be worn all day long and only to be removed when eating and when cleaning your teeth.
In some cases, metal braces are the only option to fix severely crooked or misaligned teeth, but talking to your dentist or orthodontist can give you alternatives and the best treatment plan for your teeth.
Can I fix crooked teeth or protruding teeth without metal braces?
Crooked or protruding teeth, or gaps between teeth are the most common reasons people seek orthodontic treatment. However, sometimes the patients are more conscious about the appearance of metal brackets on their teeth and would prefer an alternative.
Invisible braces are a series of transparent and removable plastic aligners that are used to correct teeth alignment or issues. They are designed to be as convenient as possible with minimal interruptions to your daily life. They can be removed during eating, and to brush and floss your teeth so your oral hygiene is not compromised during the treatment time. But, you will need to be very disciplined as it is important to wear them for as long as you can each day for the fastest results.
Also known as clear aligners, invisible braces are custom made for your mouth and fit snugly over your teeth with or without attachments to achieve slight movements of your teeth with each set. When the desired amount of movement has been achieved, a new aligner set will be issued for further adjustment of your teeth until the desired outcome is achieved.
Invisible braces can be used to gradually straighten out crowded or protruding teeth. When teeth overlap each other, it causes food and plaque retention which is harder to clean, and can lead to gum disease in the long run. Invisible braces can also close up gaps between teeth. Some people are concerned with the appearance of spacing between their teeth, or of food getting stuck between their teeth when they eat.
The length of invisible braces treatment generally takes 18 to 24 months. The total treatment time depends on the amount of tooth movement to be achieved, and also your discipline in wearing the aligner as much as you can in a day.
Wearing fake braces: the complications and effects
The market has been flooded with an influx of fake braces as a cheaper alternative to straightening teeth. Not only unethical, they have been seen to cause irreparable harm towards the dentition. Fake braces and DIY ready-made braces should be avoided at all costs. They have been proven to bring more harm than good.
So, what really happens if you use fake braces?
Shifting of Teeth
The forces used to move teeth are not correct and might make teeth even more crooked. The pressure used to move teeth are not calibrated to shift their positions correctly and might even cut off blood supply to the teeth. Over a prolonged period of time, they can cause irreparable harm to the teeth and gums, eventually causing the teeth to fall out.
Poisoning of Toxic Materials
The metals used are not safe for use for prolonged periods in the mouth. Some metals used have been shown to leak cadmium.
The bonding agent used to attach the brackets to the teeth do not adhere properly to the surface of the tooth. Hence, the brackets can only attach for a few weeks or months and will fall off, which can lead to choking. There have been two reported cases of death due to choking on fake braces in Thailand.
Tooth Decay and Infection
The fake braces and equipment have not undergone proper sterilization and disinfection before placement in the mouth. This can cause a host of infections. On the other hand, the wrong bonding agent used to attach the brackets to the teeth can cause erosion to the outer surface of the teeth which will cause extreme teeth sensitivity.
There is also no proper follow up and proper oral hygiene instructions. In the long run, this leads to dental caries and a host of gum diseases. If left long enough, the teeth might become loose and fall out or need to be extracted.
Lack of Retention Period
There is no proper retention period after the treatment. This means that the teeth will then simply move back to their original positions after the brackets are removed.
If you feel like you may be a victim of fake braces or are currently using them, consult your nearest dentist immediately to have them removed.
Is surgery the alternative to braces?
Corrective jaw surgery is commonly used when conventional braces alone cannot completely correct all the patient’s dental and skeletal issues. In recent years, the cosmetic surgery field has been expanding rapidly to the point where in some cases, surgery can be done before, or even without braces. There are also some surgeons who make use of invisible braces before and after surgery. However, this method is severely subject to the patient’s teeth and mouth condition, the amount of correction done, and other factors which will have to be assessed by the surgeon who is going to perform the surgery.
The most important factor before committing to a surgical procedure is to find a surgeon and treatment plan that you are comfortable with as it is a fairly invasive procedure. Do not hesitate to get a second opinion or to discuss the pros and cons of each option with your dentist and surgeon. You should always do your research before committing.
Other ways to improve your smile
There has been a marked shift towards cosmetic dental treatment such as dental crowns and dental veneers. Dental crowns and/or veneers can be used as “quick fixes” to correct colour and slight misalignment of teeth. Strategic placement of crowns or veneers will make teeth appear straight. Depending on the degree of misalignment, some tooth structure may have to be sacrificed to make space for the fit of the dental crown or veneer.
Because porcelain veneers are not cheap, a dentist may recommend a composite buildup as a long term temporary restoration before a transition to a permanent fixed veneer.
Some may also benefit from a course of teeth whitening as it will make teeth appear brighter, which may help reduce the appearance of the discrepancy in the dentition. There are two kinds of whitening treatments on the market:
1. In office whitening (done at the dental clinic)
2. At home whitening kits (done at home)
It is always best to discuss the treatment options with your dentist. The best whitening treatment plan will be selected based on the shade of your teeth, your expectations, and also your budget.
However, all these treatments are subject to a case-by-case basis. There is no “one size fits all” treatment as everyone’s teeth arrangement or condition is unique. It is always best to speak to your dentist to get the best treatment plan curated specifically for you and your teeth.
It is very, very important to get your dental treatment done by a registered dentist only. Fake dentists and beauty salons might be offering the same treatments for a much cheaper price but they have not been trained to maintain the gum health or the bite of the teeth which causes difficulty in eating and brushing teeth. The use of subpar materials have also led to all sorts of tooth decay and gum problems which will take a lot of time and money to treat.
1. There are multiple ways to achieve straight teeth without metal braces. Invisible braces can be used to fix crooked or protruding teeth, and also to close gaps between teeth.
2. Dental crowns or dental veneers can be used in some cases to correct some mild misalignments of teeth. Teeth whitening may help reduce the appearance of minor misalignments of teeth.
3. Talk to your dentist for the option that best suits you and your concerns. Be a smart consumer. Say NO to fake dentistry!