Ask the Experts – How do I straighten my teeth?

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These days there seems to be a myriad of options to straighten your teeth – from traditional braces to clear aligners to do-it-yourself kits. What’s the difference and how do I know which options are the best for me or my family?

An important fact to know, first, is that almost any time you move your teeth, a change will occur in your bite. If the bite isn’t carefully monitored, you could cause damage to the teeth as teeth may collide and cause chipping, fracture or wear. Moving teeth also impacts the gums and causes recession if done improperly. Teeth are part of a larger system involving muscles and joints in our face as well as gum and bone in our mouths. Therefore, moving teeth must be done carefully, otherwise, you may experience undesirable consequences.

Traditional Braces

Typically done by an orthodontist, traditional braces utilize brackets on the teeth, both metal and ceramic, and wires to both correct the bite and straighten teeth. Treatment times vary depending on the case and monthly visits are usually required for monitoring and changing out of wires. All levels of bite correction, including complex cases, can be treated by this method.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign®, utilize retainer-type clear plastic over the teeth, to straighten teeth and correct the bite. This is a popular option for those who do not want brackets and wires on their teeth and is often referred to as “invisible braces”. Clear aligners can be provided by a certified general dentist or an orthodontist. The aligners are worn all day and are only removed during eating. The doctor will monitor the progress with visits every 4-12 weeks. Many bite problems and smiles can be corrected with Invisalign. Your dentist can provide a consultation to see if you are a candidate.

Do It Yourself Teeth Straightening

Recently, do-it-yourself teeth straightening systems have flooded the market offering to straighten teeth at a fraction of the cost of traditional braces or Invisalign. These systems are typically initiated by a dentist located remotely using images so there is no comprehensive evaluation of the patient using X-rays to determine whether the patient is a good candidate and identify potential risks.

Patients take their own molds and send them to a company where clear aligners are made. A dentist who has never seen the patient, except possibly by images, will sign off on the case since the dental license is required to initiate treatment. Noting the consequences of moving teeth, this option has the most potential problems due to the lack of close monitoring by a trained dentist.

Bottom Line 

Whether you want to straighten your teeth for a nicer smile or to improve your bite, there are multiple options now available. Your dentist can speak with you about the many advantages of improving your bite and straightening your teeth and recommend the best options for you.


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Mission Statement

The team at Elan Dental of South Riding arrive every day with the sole purpose of delivering exceptional care to our patients.  We seek to alleviate pain, restore what is broken, and ultimately enhance the health and lives of those who graciously entrust their health to us.  And we do so with the same quality of care, compassion and competence we would deliver to our very own family members. 

We have spent countless hours on designing our office to create a beautiful and relaxing environment so that you can be comfortable while using the latest technology and dental procedures so you can trust in our exceptional and gentle care.

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