Is it possible to straighten your teeth without braces?
The short answer is yes, it’s possible for some people to get straighter teeth without wearing braces. The long answer is… well, a little more complicated.
Sometimes, traditional metal braces are the only option if you have more severely crooked or misaligned teeth, but a dentist or orthodontist can talk to you about alternatives and whether they’re right for your teeth.
To find out more about how to get straighter teeth without braces, we talked to Dr Cameron White and Jody Inouye, principal dentist and dental hygienist at Bupa Dental Hornsby, to get their professional insights.
Can you get straighter teeth without braces?
“It is possible to straighten your teeth without getting traditional braces,” says Jody. “There’s a product called Invisalign®, which are clear aligners that are removable.”
Dr White explains that clear aligners look like very thin, very clear mouthguards. “Those can work very well at straightening your teeth.”
Invisalign® and other clear aligners are made from transparent plastic that’s custom-made to fit over the teeth. These are replaced with a new set every few weeks, designed to gradually move the teeth into their desired position over the course of the treatment.
This treatment is popular for its more discreet appearance compared to traditional braces, but it isn’t suitable for everyone. Generally, those who want to correct more minor orthodontic problems, such as slightly crooked or protruding teeth or small gaps, may be candidates for Invisalign® treatment.
Another alternative to braces and aligners for mild orthodontic issues is dental veneers. These are thin coverings, usually made from porcelain or composite resin, that can be bonded to the front of your teeth to change the look of your smile. Veneers are primarily a cosmetic change and may not offer the same potential health benefits of more in-depth orthodontic treatment.
If you have a more complex case that isn’t suitable for aligners or veneers, your dentist or orthodontist may discuss a less visible type of braces. These may include tooth-coloured ceramic braces and lingual braces that are attached behind the teeth. However, as metal braces exert the most force, these may still be considered the best option in some cases.
Can I get straight teeth at home without treatment? Are “DIY braces” safe?
Videos, blogs and instructions for do-it-yourself teeth straightening have made the rounds online. But dental professionals and orthodontic specialists have repeatedly warned that attempting to move your teeth without professional supervision could mean putting your health at risk.
“I’ve not heard of a way to naturally straighten your teeth. And if there was a way out there, I probably wouldn’t recommend it,” says Dr White. “With all dental treatment, there are risks, and straightening teeth also has its risks. You can cause quite bad harm to your teeth if you try and do it without the professional help.”
Your dentist or orthodontist will explain the possible risks and complications associated with treatments during your consultation. They can also answer any questions to help you make an informed decision about what’s right for you.
Can orthodontic treatment improve oral health?
Whether you use traditional braces or clear aligners, straightening teeth isn’t always about appearances. Crooked or misaligned teeth can sometimes be more difficult to brush and floss, which may increase your risk of tooth decay and cavities. Protruding teeth may also be at greater risk of injury.
“Some people who have gone through braces reduce their risk of getting gum disease,” Jody explains. “They sometimes find it easier to clean their teeth better when their teeth are straighter.”
Brushing and flossing can be more difficult and time-consuming while you’re wearing traditional braces, but it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene throughout orthodontic treatment to lower the risk of problems or prolonging your treatment time.
It’s important to note that if you’re opting for veneers to correct the appearance of minor misalignment, this doesn’t usually involve the same health benefits as orthodontic treatment.