It is never too late to achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. If your New Years’ resolution is to finally fix your teeth, you may be looking into your options right now. And in 2019 and heading into 2020, you have a few excellent options: porcelain veneers, or traditional metal braces or Invisalign.

The main difference between veneers and braces or Invisalign is that porcelain veneers are more or less an overlay attached to your teeth to create a new smile, while braces and Invisalign work to straighten or otherwise adjust the teeth in your mouth.

Porcelain veneers are made of a life-like ceramic that, when attached, look like real dental enamel. They can cosmetically correct a wide range of issues, from discoloration to chips and cracks, or any other orthodontic adjustments that you may need to have. A downside to veneers is that they are very much a cosmetic procedure. It is permanent, but does require upkeep and sometimes replacements depending on how long you have your set.

Attaching porcelain veneers does require your dentist to remove a layer of your enamel, so you should have good general oral health to begin with before undergoing this procedure. In fact, you may need to receive orthodontic treatment before you can have veneers, depending on the severity of your oral issues, which could prove very costly. And that orthodontic treatment would come in the form of 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. 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 this type of treatment in order to not walk around with a mouthful of metal.

And finally, metal braces require a lot of upkeep. 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. 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, for example, will pay over $500 more a year for treatment. Also, the “clear” plastic aligners are easily stained by food, coffee, or smoking, which makes them a little less than invisible.

The best way to know which option will work for you is to consult with an experienced orthodontist and/or cosmetic dentist. Whichever way you decide to go with your treatment, you should know that any of these options will require a lifelong commitment to your general oral health, in order to keep your pearly whites looking and feeling fresh.

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