June 30, 2021 Tri Le Are you looking to achieve that dazzling smile of your dreams? If so, Bunker Hill Dentistry can help you decide on the right treatment to suit your needs. The good news is that there are far more options than just traditional metal braces these days. In fact, you can easily achieve a more perfect grin with simple and mostly undetectable aligners or similar methods. Ready to get started? Keep reading to discover six excellent alternatives to metal braces when straightening your teeth. What’s Wrong with Metal Braces? Before we dive into the best options for straightening your teeth, let’s look at why so many people dislike metal braces. While they’re largely the traditional orthodontic choice, metal braces are bulky and often less than aesthetically pleasing. With all the wires, ligatures, and other hardware, they can really have a negative effect on self-esteem and how some people view their personal appearance. Furthermore, metal braces require diet changes. Patients generally have to give up sticky and hard foods for the duration of treatment. This includes nuts, hardy candy, popcorn, chewing gum, chips, and crunchy fruits and vegetables. Finally, metal braces are just bulkier and take many more adjustment appointments than other options, like clear aligners. All of that time running back and forth to our office can be somewhat of a pain for a lot of busy people. Different Options for Different Cases of Complexity When it comes to choosing the right alternative to metal braces, it is important to note that you don’t always have carte blanche. Some options are better than others at treating certain cases, which makes it highly crucial that you consult with a dentist who can offer you realistic options. For example, if you have significant overcrowding or a severe overbite, you might not be a good candidate for all of the alternative straightening options. However, if your overbite is just moderate, clear aligners may still be a viable choice. Again, this is something that our team at Bunker Hill Dentistry will help you decide. Here are the most common orthodontic alternatives to metal braces we offer at our practice. Alternative Orthodontic Options to Metal Braces at Bunker Hill Dentistry Metal Braces Alternative Pros Cons Ceramic Braces Less visible than metal braces and work more quickly than most clear aligners. More expensive and can cause gum sensitivity over time. More likely to break than metal braces. Clear Braces Nearly invisible and can, in some instances, be just as effective as metal braces. May not be able to correct complex cases or may take longer to do so. Invisalign Comfortable and easy to wear. Very natural looking with no wires or brackets. Some patients report a short adjustment period when switching to a new set. Required wear time of up to twenty-two hours per day Invisalign/Braces Hybrid Approach Can fix complex orthodontic cases and achieve the same results while wearing traditional braces for less time. Does include wearing traditional braces for a period of time. Not all patients will qualify for this type of treatment protocol. Retainers Less wear time and a shorter duration for patients with minimal spacing or crowding needs. Less expensive than traditional metal braces and some of the other options included in this list. Compliance can be a challenge. Veneers You can transform your smile in only a few dental visits. Veneers are durable and last many years. Expensive and not usually covered by most insurance plans. Dental veneers are also permanent and you’ll need to have them redone eventually. Learn more about our orthodontic services at Bunker Hill Dentistry. Ceramic Braces Ceramic braces are a popular alternative to their metal counterparts. Not only are they ideal for nearly any situation you would normally turn to for metal braces, but they are also a lot more inconspicuous. The reason for this is that they can be tinted to nearly any color. In most instances, patients choose a hue that is similar or identical to their natural tooth shade. In turn, it becomes very difficult to tell that they’re even wearing braces. Most candidates for ceramic braces are in adulthood and have already established their permanent teeth. Pros: Less visible than metal braces and work more quickly than most clear aligners. Cons: More expensive and can cause gum sensitivity over time. They are also more likely to break than metal braces. Clear Braces Clear braces is a catch-all term for discrete orthodontic treatments, and can include ceramic braces and plastic aligners (such as Invisalign). What they share is the ability to be well concealed. As a result, they are an excellent option for adults who feel self-conscious while wearing braces and want a less visible option. Pros: Nearly invisible and can, in some instances, be just as effective as metal braces. Cons: May not be able to correct complex cases or may take longer to do so. Invisalign Clear Invisalign tray over teeth Another very popular option for straightening your teeth is Invisalign. These clear trays are specifically designed to help you achieve a dazzling smile without all the fuss of traditional metal braces. Since the clear aligners are fully removable, you can take them out before eating or drinking. You also have the ability to switch to the next set of aligners when you’re ready, versus having to visit a dentist for adjustments every time there’s a change in your needs. Pros: Comfortable and easy to wear. Very natural looking with no wires or brackets. Cons: Some patients report a short adjustment period when switching to a new set. There is also a required wear time of up to twenty-two hours per day, which can be tough for some people’s lifestyle. Invisalign/Braces Hybrid Approach In addition to wearing just braces or just clear aligners, there’s also a hybrid approach to consider. In this option, you’ll wear traditional braces in order to correct severe bite problems and malocclusions. Once the teeth have reached a certain phase in treatment, we may recommend Invisalign to finish the teeth straightening process. Pros: Can fix complex orthodontic cases and achieve the same results while wearing traditional braces for less time. Cons: Does include wearing traditional braces for a period of time. Not all patients will qualify for this type of treatment protocol. Retainers Source: Hondur While retainers aren’t specifically an alternative to traditional metal braces, they are worth mentioning on this list. If you only have a small amount of misalignment or wore orthodontics as a child, then you might not even need anything more than just a retainer. In most cases, retainers are worn for a short period of time during a twenty-four hour period, usually at night. This makes them highly convenient for those times when you don’t want to have to wear an aligner or permanent braces to work or school. Pros: Less wear time and a shorter duration for patients with minimal spacing or crowding needs. Far less expensive than traditional metal braces and some of the other options included in this list. Cons: Patient compliance can be a real issue and many people forget to wear their retainer over time. Veneers Veneers can correct minor misalignments and cover other imperfections (although it is rarely a straight choice between veneers and braces – read our post on braces vs veneers). This is a very popular option due to the speed in which they can totally transform your smile. How do they work? Instead of using braces or aligners to move your teeth into position, the veneers cover them up. This means that as soon as they are in place, you’ll be ready to show off your megawatt grin to the world. Pros: You can transform your smile in only a few dental visits. The veneers are resistant to stains and continue to look perfect for many years to come. Cons: Expensive and not usually covered by most insurance plans. Dental veneers are also permanent and you’ll need to have them redone after several years. Find the Best Alternative Solution For You Just because you don’t want to have to wear traditional metal braces doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing smile. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we offer all six of the options we’ve described above. Let our team of orthodontic experts help you find the best solution for your particular dental needs. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment. Tri LeA practicing dentist since 1987, Dr. Le has been running successful dental practices in Texas with his wife Ann since 1990. A member of the ADA, AACD and AADSM, Dr. Le has also contributed to several leading dental journals.