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Oral Health Buzz

How to straighten teeth: Three proven methods

AM Hopkins

A beautiful smile not only boosts self confidence, but it can impact the overall quality of life an individual has. Unfortunately, not everyone is born with a perfect smile, but that doesn't mean that it is out of reach. Everyone knows how to straighten teeth at the most basic level: metal braces. But now there are more options than ever when considering cosmetic dentistry.

Invisalign

Invisalign is one the newest and most popular methods available on the market for straightening teeth. A set of custom designed aligners are manufactured specifically for the patient. Over time, the trays will slowly shift the patient's teeth in the direction prescribed by the dentist or orthodontist. Although they are intended to deliver the same benefit as traditional braces, the look and feel of Invisalign has a markable difference. The aligner trays are made of clear plastic that comfortably fit around your teeth. About twice a month, the patient discards their old aligner trays for a set of new trays, repeating this step until their teeth have aligned. You can find more information about this method in the Colgate Oral Care resources section.

Cosmetic contouring

If your teeth are misshapen, but not necessarily crooked, cosmetic contouring, or reshaping, might be the best option for you. The procedure is generally completed in a single visit and takes less than 30 minutes to complete. During this procedure a dentist will alter the shape and length of the bothersome teeth. In some instances, the position of the teeth being treated are also altered to provide a more cosmetically appealing look. Using a sanding drill or laser, the dentist gently sculpts the teeth by carefully removing the enamel. As the enamel is removed, the shape of the treated tooth is altered. Once the desired shape has been achieved, the teeth are smoothed and polished.

Metal braces

And, of course, there are metal braces. Braces are the most popular answer received when asked how to straighten teeth. They typically consist of four parts: brackets, bonding material, arch wire and ligature elastic. These units work together to exert pressure on the teeth in a specific direction. Over time, the teeth shift into their proper positions. Unlike the Invisalign option, metal braces have a series of metal brackets and wires that are clearly visible on the teeth. They are a less cosmetically appealing option, but are often times considerably cheaper than other methods of teeth straightening. Patients can expect to wear braces an average of two years, but this number will differ depending on the recommendations prescribed by the dentist.

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