Crooked and misaligned teeth aren’t just a vanity problem, they’re a health problem. Teeth that don’t match up when you clench them together can wear each other down, make it hard to chew, or possibly even push against each other to create a permanent toothache and force you to remove more than just your wisdom teeth. Fortunately, there are several methods available for straightening teeth.
Metal braces are the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method of correcting a bite. They work equally well on front teeth and molars, they’re durable, and the rubber bands that hold the wires in place have several colors kids can choose from. However, they have downsides: they add more places for bacteria and food particles to hide from toothbrushes, and they’re easy to spot and can make you stand out (which is especially not a good thing for kids in middle and high school).
These braces work the same way as metal braces, but the brackets are the same color as your teeth or else translucent enough to blend in. Even the wires can be tooth-colored, and the rubber bands are completely see-through. Add it all together and you’ve got a set of braces that are almost impossible to spot even if you have a big, toothy smile. Still, ceramic braces have their own downsides: all that extra care and attention costs more than metal braces, plus they can stain if you don’t take care of them.
Instead of braces, Invisalign uses a set of clear plastic adjusters based on the shape of your teeth and how they need to move. This set can include a dozen adjusters or over twice that many, but they do work. These adjusters are even more invisible than ceramic braces, and better yet they come out, so you can eat whatever you want so long as you clean your teeth right afterwards so food doesn’t get stuck under the plastic adjuster.
The biggest issue with Invisalign is that the flexible plastic is better at moving front teeth than moving molars, and it also has the problem that because they can come out they can get lost or a teen who doesn’t like them can “forget” to wear them all the time. But for that last problem Invisalign makes adjusters with color indicators that let parents know if their kids have been wearing the adjusters often enough.
Braces can be a hard thing for kids to deal with, and even adults can feel awkward at having braces decades after the “normal” time to have them. But thanks to new techniques and new materials, no one has to know your teeth need straightening aside from you and anyone you kiss.