What Are Braces, What Are They Used For?

Braces alternatives

Braces are dental appliances that use wire to apply pressure to your teeth, slowly moving them to correct their position and alignment. They are often used to move misaligned or crowded teeth, both for aesthetic reasons and to improve their function.

Correcting misaligned teeth can make eating more comfortable and aid your long-term teeth and gum health, by distributing the pressure of biting and chewing more evening across your teeth. Crooked teeth can also make it more difficult to maintain good oral hygiene by obstructing brushing or flossing.

How To Avoid Braces? What Else Can You Use Instead of Braces?

Braces can be annoying to wear, as they make it difficult to eat and keep your teeth clean. Sometimes braces are the only way to correct a problem with your teeth alignment, but for many issues, other options for braces that are less inconvenient exist. 

Some types of misaligned teeth are unavoidable without using braces to correct them, such as tooth crowded, while others are caused by childhood habits. Other types can be caused as an adult, such as bruxism

Bruxism is a contraction of facial muscles during sleep that can be caused by your genetics, but it is also a common response to stress. Bruxism can cause you to grind your teeth or bite during sleep, which can push your teeth out of alignment over time. If you experience bruxism, reducing your stress levels, especially before sleep, could prevent you from needing braces further down the line.

Another common cause of crooked teeth in adults is the arrival of wisdom teeth. It is fairly common for your wisdom teeth to come out at the wrong angle because there is not enough room, apply pressure to the rest of your teeth. Having your wisdom teeth removed early can create more room for your teeth and relieve the pressure.

Your posture while sleeping might also contribute to crooked teeth, as it can create pressure pushing your teeth inward. A similar effect can be caused by resting your chin in your hand, or anything else that results in pressure on your jaw or mouth for long periods.

The Top Alternatives to Braces

  • Retainers

Retainers are a removable wire alternative to metal braces that can make more minor adjustments to your teeth’ alignment. You don’t need to wear them all day and can take them out whenever you want. Retainers are often worn while sleeping. They can only make small changes to your bite, however, and unless the misalignment of your teeth only needs slight correction, they are often used as a follow-up to more permanent braces.

  • Aligners

Aligners are clear plastic-type non-metal braces worn over your teeth that apply pressure to move them into the correct position. Invisalign aligners are removable and do not need to be worn all day. They can correct both major structural problems and make minor realignments to correct crookedness or gaps.

  • Veneers

If you want your teeth to be realigned for purely aesthetic reasons and they are not causing you any discomfort or health issues, you could consider getting veneers. Veneers are commonly used not just to cover damaged teeth, but can also be used to cover tooth gaps and misalignments. Veneers are usually permanent or semi-permanent and some require a layer of tooth enamel to be removed to apply the veneers.

Veneers can be an easy alternative to braces for adults, but any teeth alignment issues in children should be properly corrected, as they can impact the future development of healthy teeth.

Braces Alternatives FAQs

Is There a Faster Alternative to Braces?

Braces can need to be worn for up to four years depending on the problems you are trying to correct. You can cut down this time significantly using accelerated orthodontics, which usually need to be worn for less than eight months. There are various methods of accelerated orthodontics, all of which involve causing minor deliberate damage to the bone around your teeth. For example, osteoperforation involves drilling small holes near where your teeth connect to the bone. This stimulates your bone to grow faster, making your teeth shift into the correct position at a quicker rate.

Veneers provide an instant fix but do not correct any underlying misalignment issues that might be causing you pain or poor oral health.

Is There a Cheaper Alternative to Braces?

Aligners are generally cheaper than braces, although they may not be as effective as braces for every issue. Retainers are also cheap but are only effective for making minor adjustments to your teeth’ alignment. Braces are costly, but they are worth the investment. Find clinics that offer dental financing for patients with convenient payment plans.

Can I Get Veneers Instead of Braces?

Getting veneers will give you the appearance of having perfectly aligned teeth straight away, but they don’t fix any underlying issues that might be causing problems in your mouth.