One of the most attractive options for many adults is clear aligners like Invisalign, which are nearly undetectable. They look almost exactly like whitening trays and are custom-fitted to be worn all day except during meals and snacks.
"Clear aligners are one of the best options for adult patients who want straighter teeth," according to Dr. Lou Shuman, DDS, an orthodontist based in Bethesda, Maryland, who has trained thousands of dentists and orthodontists across the country in the technique. "With aligners, you can achieve a dramatic transformation, and it's almost impossible to tell that you're wearing them."
Clear aligners also provide easy access to brushing and flossing, as they're easily removable. And they're a great choice for those who want to shape up their smile on the sly – and avoid the look of traditional braces.
Another popular option is short-term orthodontics. Using this system, a dentist can straighten a mild-to-moderate case of crowded or crooked teeth in as little as six months (hence the nickname "six-month braces"). This short timeframe is a vast improvement over the 24 months it usually takes with traditional braces.
Other alternatives can hide brackets and wires by placing them behind the teeth instead of on the outside surfaces. This alternative, known as lingual braces, may not always be appropriate, but other options like "tooth-colored" wires and brackets can also help braces blend in – rather than stand out.
At the end of the day, the idea of a straighter smile might sound great, but the bottom line is affordability. Your dentist or orthodontist may offer in-office financing, which allows patients to make monthly payments as treatment progresses. Bank financing for orthodontics is another increasingly popular option, and many dental practices can even process an application in the office.
Quality Dental Plan, a dental insurance alternative, is also gaining recognition nationwide for helping people without dental insurance save on the costs of dentistry. Quality Dental Plan covers routine preventive care such as cleanings and X-rays, and can even provide savings on cosmetic dentistry like orthodontics. Quality Dental Plan is offered directly through local dental offices across the country; more information can be found at QualityDentalPlan.com.
On your next office visit, ask your dentist about teeth-straightening options -- or for a referral to a local orthodontist who can go over all of the options that are best to get your smile in shape!