At one point in time, braces used to be considered a vanity process – it was something that was once seen as unnecessary, cosmetic, or only for the affluent. Over the years, however, that conversation has shifted. More and more insurance companies are chipping in with the cost of orthodontia, and we’re seeing the benefits of having straighter teeth beyond the aesthetics of having a perfect smile. Of course, braces help in straightening the teeth, but they can also help with jaw alignment issues, like improper bites, which can contribute to future complications with speech, chewing, or even premature tooth loss. Plus, there are more options than ever when it comes to treatment, so it’s never been easier to get a smile that makes you both confident AND orally healthy.
Orthodontics help in preventing plaque buildup, which can also deter gum issues later on. Once the teeth are aligned and straight, regular cleaning and maintenance also become easier, which means quicker checkups at the dentist and lower chances of advanced dental work in the future, like fillings, implants, and root canals. Whether you’re an adult looking for first-time (or even second-time) orthodontia options or you’re the parent of a child looking to see what choices you have, here is a quick run-down of all the different treatment methods you have available nowadays.
Traditional Metal Braces
This is arguably the most common and the most well-known treatment option for correcting crooked or misaligned teeth. Due to recent advancements in technology in this field, the look of these metal braces are way less intrusive and are more comfortable for the individual. With the ability to add colored bands to the brackets, your teenager will be able to make their look unique and align with their own personality.
When I was 15, I’d go in to my orthodontist about once every other week to get my braces tightened and to change my bands. Even this slight change made me excited to go in for my visit – I’d change the bands to my school’s colors during spirit week or have them coordinate with the nearest holiday. You CAN make braces fun!
Clear (Invisible) Braces
If you or your teenager is a little more concerned about appearance, clear braces might be a better option. While these work in the same fashion as traditional metal braces, these braces are made with translucent materials so that they blend in with your smile just a little bit more. Keep in mind that this option will simply camouflage your braces, so they’ll still be visible to those close to you.
This option is all the rage these days. I got my traditional metal braces off right before my senior pictures were taken in high school (talk about perfect timing), and in the beginning, I was very dedicated when it came to wearing my retainer. I was so proud of my new smile, and I wanted to make sure that it was preserved. But as life would have it, it became more difficult to stick to this habit, and fast forward 15 years later, I was noticing some movement in my smile. While to the naked eye, they still looked pretty straight, I knew my alignment wasn’t as great as it used to be.
I spoke with my dentist about looking into invisible aligners, and within a year, my smile was back to what it used to be. There are plenty of companies that offer this kind of service now, so be sure to talk to your dentist about your options (or do some independent research if you prefer to avoid a visit to the office and to work directly with the company). Depending on the severity of your misalignment, you can expect a successful result quite quickly and relatively painlessly.
Once you decide to start this version of the treatment, a mold will be taken of your teeth to determine the size and fit of your first removable tray. You will wear the tray as often as you can with easy removal for eating, drinking, brushing, and for special occasions. Otherwise, it is important to wear them as often as possible to get the full effect. You may switch out your trays every week or every other week depending on the plan you have set up with your distributor with each new tray being a little tighter than the last. You will enjoy the feeling and watching your teeth move around towards a straighter smile, and your dentist will also appreciate seeing this, as your straighter smile means easier cleaning appointments and healthier gums. Plus, these trays are invisible, so you can go about your daily life without feeling self-conscious.
The Cost of Care
The next question you may probably have relates to the financial details for orthodontic treatment. As I mentioned previously, many insurance companies cover a significant amount of orthodontic care these days, alleviating quite a bit of financial strain on you or your family. Beyond insurance options, be sure to explore these other avenues:
- In-house discounts: Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about any upcoming discounts or specials they may be running. You’d be surprised how often some of these providers host these specials.
- CareCredit: I used this option in paying for the remaining balance of my invisible aligners after insurance. With no interest for the first 18 months, I was able to set up a realistic payment plan without worrying about breaking the bank.
- HSA: So many companies offer this as a great employee benefit. Use your pre-tax dollars to help pay for medical costs, which will also make you feel like you’re in charge of the process AND your money.
With new advancements in dental care, it’s so easy to achieve a great (and straight) smile. Your dentist or orthodontist will offer expert advisement depending on each unique situation, so be sure to explore all the options when it comes to your oral care. A straighter smile is great for the confidence level, but it also ensures a healthier future for your teeth and your gums.