Braces are not the only way to achieve a straighter smile. Depending on your specific condition, there are other options besides braces to consider. Even though braces have shown to be very effective, they may not be needed to fix some oral conditions.
If your teeth are just slightly crooked, you may have what's called limited overcrowding. You may be able to fix this with a retainer. Fixed retainers such as bonded lingual retainers are attached to the inner surface of the teeth with dental cement. They prevent teeth from shifting over time which can help an individual’s bite and straighten teeth. Fixed retainers are effective, however cannot be removed without a medical professional.
A Hawley retainer or a removable retainer can also work to straighten teeth. However, because they are removable they are much easier to lose and expensive to replace.
If you have an underdeveloped palate or narrow upper jaw, this can be fixed with an expander. An expander widens your palate to create the space your teeth need to shift into the correct place. A narrow palate can be fixed with a palatal expander to widen the arch of the upper teeth. The way an expander works is pretty simple. First, the expander is attached to the upper molars with dental cement. Then, an orthodontist uses a special key to turn a screw in the center, adding gradual pressure on both sides of the upper jaw.
To correct an overbite or underbite, also known as malocclusion, you can get a device called the Herbst appliance. This allows the lower jaw to develop in a forward direction to correct the bite, resulting in the upper and lower jaw eventually meeting. This appliance has a metal extension that attaches to the back molars to connect the upper and lower jaws.
For More Information
You can talk with your orthodontist about alternative methods for your orthodontic problems. For more information on braces please refer to the article “Questions About Braces” on the Oral-B website.