4 Alternative Solutions For Straightening Your Teeth
While braces are by far the best known method for straightening teeth, there are several other treatments that an oral surgeon can provide that can be effective for overbites, underbites, and mildly crooked teeth. If you have been hesitant to visit a dentist about having your teeth straightened due to the discomfort or appearance of metal braces, consider talking to your dentist about these four alternative options.
While straightening your teeth is not the primary function of dental veneers, they can be effective for covering up minor misalignment issues or worn and chipped teeth. Veneers are thin layers of dental porcelain that are bonded to your existing teeth to give you a perfectly white smile while simultaneously strengthening your teeth.
Veneers are most effective for covering up gaps between your teeth. This is because the extra layer of material on your enamel will slightly increase the thickness of your teeth, covering up the extra space. The dentist can also intentionally contour the veneers so that they hide minor crookedness of individual teeth.
Dental contouring is a process by which an oral surgeon changes the shape of your teeth by removing enamel. This is a very effective treatment for crowding, where teeth are not extremely crooked but are grouped together so tightly they begin to overlap. Contouring can also be used to fix other problems like cracked and chipped teeth, or teeth that are unusually sharp or dull.
Dental contouring starts with an x-ray to determine the health of your teeth and their pulp and to get a better picture of the thickness of the enamel. The dentist will use a pen to mark off areas that need to be filed or added to. The dentist will then use a small motorized sander to strip away enamel until the tooth has a better shape.
Plastic aligners like Invisalign are one of the most popular alternatives to braces for correcting significant problems with the alignment and spacing of your teeth. These aligners are clear and virtually invisible to the observer, and are also much more comfortable to the wearer in most cases. Plastic aligners can be used to correct whole mouth issues like a minor underbite or overbite, or an open bite, where your teeth do not meet when your mouth is closed.
Plastic aligners are more convenient than braces because they are not permanent. This means that you can remove them for your comfort when you are eating or sleeping, much like dentures. In addition to being more convenient, plastic aligners are a much more affordable option than metal braces.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is corrective surgery that is meant to repair extreme cases of underbite, overbite, or crossbite that cannot be corrected by any other means. To correct underbites and protruding lower jaw, a small portion of the back of the jawbone is removed. Your jawbone is then reassembled using small plates, screws, and wires so that there is no gap where the piece was removed.
To correct an overbite and receding chin, the lower jawbone is split and a small section of prosthetic bone is added in the gap so that the lower jaw can be extended forward. Crossbites may be repaired by removing a section of jawbone on either the left or right side of the mouth depending on the direction of the crossbite.
As these examples show, metal braces are far from the only option for correcting misaligned teeth. If you are unsatisfied with your smile, be sure to talk to your dentist so that he or she can examine your teeth and recommend the best teeth straightening option for you.