Your teeth and your smile are an important part of who you are. It’s one of the first things that people you meet will judge you on, even before you begin speaking. A crooked smile, or a face afraid to break into a smile for fear of being judged on less than perfect teeth, can give the impression of a shy individual. With most braces, you run into these same issues; visible braces are tied, in our society, to the stereotypical image of an awkward, nerdy, individual. Couple this with the teasing issues that people, especially younger students, will have to bear along with their corrective dental wear, and it’s easy to see why so many people with visible braces emerge from the experience, even after their teeth have been straightened, afraid to show those teeth, remembering the sting of their classmate’s words. What can be done about all this? Modern orthodontic advances in the technology of smile correction has provided us with a good answer.
Of course, there’s always the classic alternatives. Most of us, during childhood, have encountered school fellows who had some sort of orthodontic gear. Some children ended up with retainers; easily lost, easily damaged, fairly uncomfortable. Those even less fortunate can end up with headgear; large, impossible to hide, bulky apparatuses that are even more of a source of taunts and teasing so common in school than any other form of orthodontic device. Being forced to wear headgear is so fearful a prospect amongst children that it is the source of numerous stories in pop culture, even showing up in the Simpsons when Lisa Simpson is forced to get (admittedly exaggerated) headgear when Homer accidentally gives up the dental plan in exchange for a keg of beer at every union meeting.
The most common orthodontic device, by far, would have to be traditional braces. These are available in metal (stainless steel, to be specific), gold, and ceramic. All of these can be outfitted with colored rubber bands in order to customize the braces in a way more appealing to the individual, but this is an immense hassle, and the rubber bands are liable to snap due to both the physical stress and the normal wear and tear that they’re exposed to in the average mouth. These braces are also extremely easily visible, what with the metal involved and all. The ceramic ones are much harder to see, but the tradeoff is that you’ve put a less durable material on your teeth, and so proper dental care and hygiene become much more important and much more of a worry than with gold or ‘metal’ braces. Another possibility, a less common variation on what we consider ‘traditional braces’, lingual braces are an option. These are hidden behind the teeth instead of in front of them, so they don’t interfere with your smile or anything you would need an unencumbered mouth to do (like, say, playing a clarinet or saxophone).
There is, however, a final solution. Something that combines the more discreet nature of the ceramic braces with the durability of any other orthodontic equipment, and is removable for eating and for the daily regimen of brushing and flossing and mouthwash. This option is a clear orthodontic appliance, the most well-known of which is Invisalign. Invisalign isn’t head-gear or braces that may need adjusting at your local orthodontist’s office. It’s a series of clear, invisible ‘aligners’ that slowly change the angle of your teeth. You use one set for a predetermined amount of time, then change to the next, which will alter your teeth slightly more, until you get to the end result of significantly straightened teeth. You can remove these aligners at will, making cleaning both the aligner and your teeth a much simpler process than if other form of orthodontic gear was to be used. Invisalign works as a series of custom-made invisible braces, slowly aligning your teeth based on a multiple-step plan that begins with your local professional orthodontist taking a few dental x-rays, a series of dental photographs, and then making an impression of your teeth. These are used as the data from which your personalized Invisalign aligners will be derived, and customized for your use and your use alone.
You have plenty of choices for improving your smile. You can use old technology, which is tried and true, but which has its various drawbacks. Or, you can use a new method, something comfortable, invisible, and something that can be removed at your convenience.
The choice is yours.