It is never too late to achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. Though they were thought of for some time as a corrective procedure for children only, many adults are taking charge of and investing in their teeth by getting braces, for the first or second time. If your New Years’ resolution is to glamorize your grin, you may be looking into your options for doing just that. And in 2015, you have two excellent options: traditional metal braces, or Invisalign.
Braces are a traditional orthodontic mechanism for straightening a person’s teeth and improving the bite and health of those teeth. They have been around for hundreds of years and have evolved into the four-part system we are all familiar with today. These parts include metal brackets, metal wires, a bonding agent (or glue) and rubber bands. There are, of course, options for additional tools such as springs, if needed, or variations on the metal of the brackets, but these are the main pieces needed to create a set of braces. Having braces requires frequent orthodontic visits to check up on, tighten, or otherwise adjust the braces, and they can be a part of your life for a few months to a number of years, depending on the original state of your teeth. But, like many adjustments we make in life, you will get used to having braces and enjoy watching your smile change. There are, however, some downsides to this procedure.
One of the most frequent complaints when it comes to metal braces is the wear and tear they do on your mouth. Many people end up with mouth sores or other irritations from the metal rubbing up against the inside of their cheeks. Some people are also allergic to nickel and must select plastic or another alternative metal, like titanium or gold. Another downside to traditional braces is the way they look. Many people would rather forego treatment in order to not walk around with a mouthful of metal. And finally, metal braces require a lot of upkeep. A special kind of floss is needed to get into the crevices created by your metal brackets and wires. Rubber bands must be changed out after each meal. And speaking of meals, some foods can be difficult or nearly impossible to eat while wearing metal braces.
None of these things are a problem with Invisalign. Around since the late 1990’s, Invisalign is a system of clear, plastic aligners that are changed out every few months to accommodate the shifting of your teeth. They are virtually invisible, can pop in and out of your mouth, and therefore allow you to eat anything you want while you are receiving orthodontic treatment. The major downside of Invisalign, though, is the cost. Patients who opt for Invisalign over traditional metal braces will pay over $500 more a year for treatment. Invisalign is also not as effective on patients who need vertical dental work, or who have teeth at varying heights in their mouth. Finally, the “clear” plastic aligners are easily stained by food, coffee, or smoking, which makes them a little less than invisible.
Whichever way you decide to go with your orthodontic treatment, you should know that the process can take up to a couple of years, but will require a lifelong commitment to wearing a retainer or headgear post-braces, and to your general oral health, in order to keep your pearly whites looking and feeling fresh.