- Oral Health
Alternatives to Braces
I was one of the few kids who actually wanted to get braces. I thought they were very cool, and I honestly never felt silly wearing mine. (In fact, I can remember bending paperclip into a semi-circle and pretending I had them long before I really did!) Of course, this was back when braces were silver and that’s it – there weren’t clear braces, green braces or rainbow braces at the time. At best, you could get colored rubber bands if you needed them, but the rubber bands weren’t all that sexy, no matter what color they were. And, to be perfectly blunt, having braces totally sucked for a number of reasons. I know, I know… I just said I thought they were cool. They were; to look at. Having to go through the daily hell of cleaning them, tearing my lips up with them, and the awful routine orthodontic checkups, I can tell you that I would not put a child through this today. Braces are, in a word, archaic; and there are far better alternatives to choose from.
Before I rave about Invisalign, let’s be clear about something – if it straightens your teeth, you’re going to feel something. Do not think that because these things are removable this makes them totally pain-free. I don’t know how badly they hurt in comparison to braces (and I don’t think anyone really can know, being that people ought to only have experience with one or the other) but straightening is shifting; is moving; is something other than what they are at this very moment and that will mean some measure of discomfort.
Invisalign uses a series of aligners which change every few weeks as your teeth make progress. You remove them to eat and clean your teeth, or for special occasions like the Prom, etc. Being able to remove the aligners is a huge plus when compared to traditional braces as the latter are very difficult to clean around. Another plus of Invisalign is duration of use: most people are done in about a year; I wore braces for several. The clear downside, however, is price – this can be an expensive procedure, depending on where you live and how much work you need.
Traditional veneers and modern Lumineers aren't exactly the same thing but I’m not going to compare them in this article. Note only that veneers require more dental work, whereas Lumineers are more easily applied and generally an easier procedure. The only point I want to make about these is this: If you’ve got mildly crooked teeth, or a large gap somewhere, these can often be used as a quick, affordable and beautiful fix. Personally, my lower teeth were far too crooked for such a fix, but if your teeth are just moderately crooked, ask your dentist about this option, as you might prefer it.