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Teeth straightening

Teeth straightening is a popular dental procedure for people who aren't happy with their teeth's appearance. A dentist can recommend teeth straightening for medical reasons, or you can undergo the procedure for cosmetic reasons. Modern dentistry makes correcting even severely misaligned teeth possible regardless of why you need teeth straightening.

Braces are common for straightening crooked teeth, and several options are available, including aligners for fast and affordable teeth straightening if your misalignment is mild.

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Benefits of straighter teeth

Some people think teeth straightening is only for aesthetic reasons, but several medical reasons exist for correcting misaligned teeth. Crooked teeth can result in different problems, depending on the severity of the misalignment. These problems include:

  • Muscle strain
  • Speech problems
  • Risk of damage to other teeth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty maintaining good oral health

Anyone with even slightly crooked teeth can experience difficulty cleaning the teeth. This may increase the risk of plaque build-up and cause tooth decay. You can manage this risk with a thorough oral health regime.

Your teeth' appearance is an important factor, and people who do not have naturally straight teeth may be self-conscious about them. This may raise the need to straighten the teeth even when they don't present any medical issues.

Does straightening the teeth only correct cosmetic concerns?

Straightening your teeth can correct cosmetic issues and enhance your smile, but it also benefits oral health.

For example, crooked teeth may make talking or chewing difficult and also contribute to damage to the nearby teeth or jaw problems. It also makes cleaning and care for the teeth more difficult.

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Teeth straightening options in the UK

Most people often think only of metal braces when they think about teeth straightening, but different braces are available to straighten your teeth, including removable aligners and clear braces.

Options that can straighten teeth without braces are also available.

Teeth straightening options include:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Tooth-coloured or clear ceramic braces
  • Invisible aligner braces
  • Retainers
  • Veneers
  • Home teeth straightening kits

Teeth straightening surgery may be necessary in some cases of malocclusions such as underbite, crossbite, overbite or severe open bite.

Can I straighten my teeth at any age?

The best time for teeth straightening is in the teenage years before the teeth roots and jaw bone are fully developed. This makes taking your child for regular dental check-ups important. If the dentist identifies an issue that requires orthodontic treatment, they can plan the right time for treatment, depending on the child's development.

However, teeth straightening for adults is also effective. Our teeth can gradually change position and become more crooked as we age. This means teeth that were previously straight may give you concern later in life, or you may have always had crooked teeth that didn't bother you as a child.

If you aren't happy with your teeth's appearance, different options are available to correct your teeth' alignment, regardless of age.

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Types of braces for teeth straightening

  • Metal braces

Metal braces are usually the least expensive option for teeth straightening with braces and the only option available in the public healthcare service.

The metal brackets are attached to the teeth, and a wire passes through them to align the teeth. Small elastic bands will also hold the wire in place, and you can choose your preferred elastic band colour to add a bit of style to your braces. The adjustments are usually every month.

Self-ligating braces are another option which does not need elastics. The self-ligating braces auto-adjust, so they do not need frequent adjustments.

If your teeth are severely crowded, you may need orthodontic spaces fitted to make more space for the braces fitting. If you need cheap braces, you can check other options before deciding on metal ones.

  • Clear braces

People who need a less noticeable teeth straightening option may consider clear braces. They work the same as metal braces but with clear or tooth-coloured ceramic materials that make treatment less obvious.

Clear aligners or invisible braces

You may consider clear aligners if you do not want to straighten your teeth with braces. This option is discreet and also known as invisible braces.

They have removable plastic devices that straighten the teeth by applying pressure in certain areas. You will get a new set of aligners every two weeks and have to wear them for 20 – 22 hours daily until your teeth gradually move into alignment.

Invisible braces are effective for mild to moderate teeth misalignment and may be a good option, especially if you only want to straighten your front teeth.

Aligners are common for people who want an inconspicuous teeth straightening treatment, including for professionals and teenagers.

The treatment has no eating restrictions because you don't have to worry about wires or brackets. You can remove the clear aligners to eat and replace them after cleaning your teeth. This flexibility also benefits some sports players.

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  • Teeth straightening kits

Invisalign is a well-known clear aligner brand, but they are expensive. Cheaper clear aligner options are available, such as SmileDirectClub and NewSmile. You can purchase these options online and monitor the treatment remotely through an app.

Some benefits of home teeth straightening kits include:

  • Suitable for people with a dental phobia
  • Treatment can be completed at home
  • No dental visits are needed every few weeks
  • More affordable than in-office braces

At-home aligners are good for everyone, but you can get a free assessment to determine if you are a good candidate. Ensure you have a dental check-up before any teeth straightening treatment because you may need to treat an oral issue first.

How does straightening the teeth at home work without visiting a dentist?

Teledentistry companies use traditional teeth impressions or your 3D mouth scan, allowing the orthodontist or dentist to plan your treatment with a series of aligners. You can check in with the dentist online to see how your treatment progresses.

Treatment usually takes about 4 – 6 months but can be longer in more complex treatments. Nighttime aligners are also available, which you can wear for only ten hours daily, but the treatment duration is longer.

  • Lingual braces

Lingual braces, also called hidden braces, are the least noticeable type of braces because you fix them at the back of your teeth, close to your tongue. This means the braces will only be visible when you open your mouth wide.

However, they are the most expensive braces, especially the custom-made brands like Incognito braces.

If you are concerned about aesthetics but need a cheaper option to straighten your teeth, invisible braces may be the best solution.

How to straighten your teeth without braces

Braces are the most effective teeth-straightening option, and clear aligners are also popular for people who don't want traditional metal braces. However, some alternatives may work for you, depending on your case.

  • Using a retainer to straighten your teeth

Retainers are mainly for preventing the teeth from moving out of alignment after orthodontic work. But, it may be possible to straighten mildly crooked teeth with a retainer or a device like Inman Aligner.

Metal retainers and clear retainers can straighten teeth to some extent, but the results are limited than using braces. While clear retainers look like clear aligner braces, both work differently.

If you need an affordable teeth straightening option for a minor teeth alignment issue, especially after braces treatment, your dentist may offer you a retainer. The retainer may be adjusted slightly as your treatment proceeds, but the extent of movement you can achieve is far less than with braces. When you need greater movement, you may need options.

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  • Veneers for teeth straightening

While veneers cannot change your teeth' position, they can make them look straighter. You can achieve straighter teeth when your dentist removes part of the crooked tooth and fits a porcelain veneer over it.

The result may leave your teeth looking better aligned, but the underlying crooked teeth are still present. This option only works for mild cases.

You can also use veneers to close small gaps between teeth. Veneers for teeth straightening is cheaper than braces, depending on how many teeth you want to treat. This treatment option is also faster and requires only two appointments.

However, veneers do not offer a permanent fix. You will need a veneer replacement after 5 – 10 years. They usually cause irreparable damage to the teeth underneath because it requires removing the enamel, so you want to consider the long-term implications of veneers.

  • Contouring and bonding

In some cases, less involved domestic work is possible. This may include filing down parts of the teeth, like rough, protruding parts and edges, and building other areas of the teeth composite material, a procedure called composite bonding.

Like veneers, contouring and bonding may make the teeth appear straighter but don't change the position of the teeth.

  • Mewing for natural teeth straightening

Mewing is another teeth-straightening technique. It involves consciously pushing the tongue against the roof of the mouth until that becomes its natural resting position.

Mewing doesn't have a proven benefit, so it isn't advisable to use this method. Mewing may expand the palate when done correctly and can reduce issues with overcrowding, but if you already have misaligned teeth, you may need a dental appliance for your teeth straightening.

You can discuss your concerns with an experienced dentist and get advice on the best treatment options.

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What is the cost of teeth straightening in London?

In the UK, teeth straightening costs from £1300 - £10000 with braces and without braces, Below is the average cost of different teeth straightening options.

Teeth straightening option Cost Pros Cons
Metal braces £1500 - £3000 The cheapest type of brace and available on the public healthcare service Quite noticeable
Ceramic braces £2000 - £5500 Tooth-coloured or clear material is less noticeable More expensive than metal
Invisible braces £1300 - £5500 Hard to notice and removable Need disciple and may not correct severe malocclusions
Lingual braces £2000 - £10000 Hidden behind teeth Can be quite expensive
Porcelain veneers £400 - £1000 per tooth Quick cosmetic fix Damage tooth enamel and a temporary solution
Composite bonding £100 - £300 per tooth Cheap and a quick cosmetic fix Damage tooth enamel and a temporary solution

As shown in the table, the cost of teeth straightening varies, depending on the method used. While braces offer a permanent solution, provided you wear your retainer, bonding and veneers are temporary, cosmetic solutions.

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Can I straighten my teeth on the public healthcare service?

Children with dental issues where treatment is medically necessary can get free treatment from the public healthcare service. The treatment will cover metal braces, retainers, and surgery, if necessary.

Adults aren't eligible for teeth straightening, except in extreme cases. You may have to pay privately for your treatment, but options are available to make your teeth straightening more affordable in London.

If you want to straighten your teeth, visit McKennell Dental Practice to have our dentist examine your teeth and recommend suitable teeth straightening options. You can call us now on 020 7834 8802 to book an appointment with our dentist.

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Frequently asked questions

Teeth straightening takes about 12 – 18 months, but treatment can take as little as 3 – 6 months in mild cases. For most severe cases, treatment can last two years or longer.

The type of braces you choose will somewhat affect your treatment time. You may want to know how long your treatment with braces will take before you start the treatment. The dentist can give you an idea of this at your consultation.

Yes, you can. Some options, besides braces, are available. Clear aligners are a popular option. They have removable trays fitted over the teeth to align them. You can also get veneers to make your teeth look straighter.

If you do not want fixed braces, your dentist will explain the suitable solutions, depending on your age and teeth condition.

Using an old retainer to straighten your teeth isn't a good option. While you may want to save money using your old retainer, retainers are for keeping your teeth in place after braces, not straightening them.

Ensure you follow your dentist's instructions to keep your teeth straight after orthodontic work.

Your orthodontist may advise wearing a retainer at night to preserve your teeth in their new positions. But, you need to wear aligners for 20 – 22 hours daily for effective teeth straightening.

If your teeth are not under constant pressure, they may gradually move back to their previous position. Some at-home aligner brands offer a nighttime option. With this option, you will only wear the aligners for ten days at home, and the treatment will be longer.

Except you don't want to wear aligners during the day, the regular aligner option is most suitable because it works better. Invisalign and other clear aligners are virtually invisible, so you don't have to feel self-conscious when wearing them.

Teeth can only straighten themselves when they are still erupting. The first couple of permanent teeth may come in crooked and correct themselves as others erupt. For adults, the teeth are likely to become more crooked over time.

Jaw surgery may be necessary in addition to braces treatment. The surgery doesn't straighten the teeth but re-aligns your jaw to allow the teeth to come together properly.

Most people want to straighten their teeth for aesthetic reasons, but teeth straightening also have health benefits. Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean and may cause oral health issues like gum disease and decay. Straightening your teeth will give you a better chance of avoiding tooth decay and other issues.

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