Veneers, Invisalign, Herbst appliance, etc. are few of the alternatives which you can opt for when you need braces treatment. Even though traditional metal braces are affordable and effective, there are some disadvantages such as esthetically not pleasing, dietary restrictions, discomfort while eating, brushing, etc.

There was a time when correction of malocclusion required wearing metal braces. Back in days, there were not many options to choose from and you would have to spend around two years of your life with metal braces.

That was one of the many reasons why many people avoided orthodontic treatment altogether. In this article, we will discuss these few alternatives to traditional braces.

However, these alternatives might cost you more than traditional braces. So, you will have to keep that in mind.

Alternatives to braces

Accelerated Orthodontics

One disadvantage of traditional braces is the time (usually 1.5 -2 years) that it takes to align teeth. Accelerated orthodontics is an emerging treatment which reduces the time required to straighten teeth.

It takes around three to eight months to straighten teeth depending on patient’s current teeth status. In accelerated orthodontics, a device, known as AcceleDent, is added along with your conventional treatment to reduce the treatment time.

You may need to undergo a minor surgery too. The surgery includes shaving of your gums and bones to accelerate the alignment process.

The device in conjunction with your braces exerts gentle pressure consistently to speed up the treatment process. You can see results in a short time and your treatment time could become half of the original treatment time.

Advantages include –

  • Reduced treatment time.
  • The device can be used with all kinds of orthodontic treatment.
  • Works on almost all types of malocclusion.

Disadvantages include –

  • Accelerated orthodontics doesn’t come under insurance, and you will have to shell out money from your pocket.
  • Since your teeth will be shifting quickly, you will be required to visit your orthodontist frequently for adjustments.

Headgear

If your child has a deep overbite, the dentist may recommend a headgear. The headgear moves jawbones and teeth backward to prevent the front teeth from protruding out.

Dentists assume that the deep overbite is due to the accelerated growth of the upper jaw. So they advise headgear treatment which prevents the growth of the upper jaw and allows time for the lower jaw to grow. (2)

The headgear comprises of three parts which include the wire face bow, the elastic strap, and the neck pad. Headgear corrects overbite in a short time, but its disadvantages are many.

Disadvantages include –

  • Hampers the growth of the upper jaw and can cause breathing problems due to impaired growth of upper airway.
  • Opening the headgear while playing sports, etc.
  • The pushing back of only the upper jaw can result in a not so pleasing profile in some patients.

Herbst appliance

Nowadays Herbst appliance is used to correct overbite instead of headgear. Herbst appliance corrects overbite, and it is better than the headgear.

Herbst appliance aligns both the jaws by helping the lower jaw grow at a comfortable pace. The Herbst appliance takes 12months or less to show its effects.

The Herbst appliance is fixed to the molars, and hence your child will not be required to remove the appliance while eating, playing sports, etc.

Initially, he might experience problems with speech and eating, but that disappears as your child becomes used to the appliance.

Also, initial pain can be taken care of by over the counter painkillers. Only if you open your mouth wide, the appliance will be visible otherwise not. (4)

Veneers

Dental veneers are usually made of porcelain and used to cover the front surface of the tooth. Composite veneers are also available, but porcelain veneers are more resistant to stain. Also, porcelain resembles natural tooth color more closely than composite resin veneers.

Veneers require minimum tooth preparation–only half a millimeter of enamel is removed to place veneers. Suitable candidates for veneers include people who have gaps between two teeth, misaligned teeth, or uneven teeth. (3)

Advantages include –

  • Porcelain veneers last for around 7-15 years and do not require any extra care. Just maintain good oral hygiene, and your veneers will remain well maintained.
  • Veneers match natural tooth color.
  • Porcelain veneers are biocompatible that is they do not irritate the gums.

Disadvantages include –

  • It is an irreversible process.
  • Porcelain veneers are expensive ($1000-$2000 per tooth).
  • Veneers are irreparable.
  • Patients with gum problems and tooth decay cannot go for veneers since it will jeopardize their oral health status further.

In case you have an alignment problem with less number of teeth involved and are not worried about the cost, you can go for veneers and get that perfect smile you always dreamed about.

Invisalign clear aligners

Invisalign clear aligners are similar to braces except for a significant advantage that they offer –they are almost invisible! Also, Invisalign aligners are removable. You can remove them while you eat and wear them after finishing your meal.

These aligners are made of polyurethane plastic and work in the same manner as traditional braces. They apply controlled forces to the teeth and move them into a better position.

Advantages include –

  • You can brush your teeth without any worries.
  • Almost invisible.
  • You can eat food without restrictions.
  • More comfortable than metal braces. (1)

Disadvantages include –

  • Invisalign can’t correct some malocclusions, and you will need traditional braces.
  • Not an option for kids indicated only for teens and adults.

Over to you

There are alternatives to traditional braces, and they are equally effective but other treatment options are expensive, and insurance doesn’t cover these treatment options.

Your orthodontist may have some affordable plan for you which you will have to discuss with your orthodontist before choosing an alternative to traditional braces.

Veneers, Invisalign, Herbst appliance, etc. are few of the alternatives which you can opt for when you need braces treatment.