If you’re like 96% of people, you agree that a smile is important to someone’s appearance.

Unfortunately, not all of us were born with a Red Carpet-worthy smile. (If it makes you feel any better, most of the celebrities on the Red Carpet weren’t born with theirs either.)

The good news is that you’re not doomed to a lifetime of crooked teeth. Today there are more options than ever before to get that dazzling smile you’ve always wanted.

In this post, we’ll walk you through 5 great options for straightening your teeth. We’ll also give you some things to think about to help you make the best decision for you.

Your dream smile lies just ahead, so keep reading!

Common Options for Straightening Your Teeth

Think braces are the only option? Think again!

1. Metal Braces

We’ll start with metal braces since they have been (and still are) a popular option.

Braces are made up of bands, wires, and other fixed or removable corrective apparatus. Because everyone’s needs are different, your dentist or orthodontist will create a custom combination of elements that works for your mouth. 

Using special dental glue, your dentist will attach metal brackets to the front of each tooth. These brackets will be held together with flexible wires and rubber bands. Each time you visit the dentist, he’ll make adjustments to place more pressure on the bands and gradually align your teeth.

Depending on your needs, you might need to wear specialized headgear at night to increase the effectiveness of your treatment. You should also expect to wear a clear retainer for 6-12 months after you get your braces off.

2. Invisible Braces (Clear Aligners)

Invisalign exploded onto the scene about 20 years ago and transformed the way we think about teeth straightening. Rather than having fixed equipment in your mouth for a year or more, you wear a series of removable, customized plastic aligners.

The clear advantages (pardon the pun) are that they’re virtually invisible and you can remove them to eat or play sports. They’re also more comfortable for most people and easier to clean than traditional braces.

Your local Invisalign provider can give you more information if you think is the best choice for you.

3. Ceramic or Lingual Braces

Not wanting to be left behind after clear aligners came out, brace manufacturers came up with two “less visible” options.

Ceramic braces are made clear or tooth-colored, while lingual braces attach to the backsides of your teeth. The wires, bands, and other equipment are similar to traditional metal braces.

4. Veneers

Do you only have a few teeth that need straightening? If you don’t want a mouthful of metal or the inconvenience of aligners, you might be able to get away with a quick cosmetic fix.

Veneers are thin porcelain wafers that can be molded into any shape. Your dentist will design one in the shape you want and then attach it to the front of the tooth to permanently alter its appearance.

5. Contouring & Bonding

Like veneers, this might be a good option if you only have a few teeth to straighten or a minor flaw to fix, like a small gap between your front teeth.

Your dentist will gently reshape the tooth (contouring) with a dental filling called bonding. This is an easy and cost-effective way to fix small misalignments.

Getting the Smile You Want: Factors to Consider

So, how can you decide which of these techniques is right for you? Here are some factors that will help you choose.

The Time Involved

There’s no set time for how long you’ll need to wear braces or aligners, as it depends on the distance your teeth must travel. Generally speaking though, braces stay on for 1-3 years, while Invisalign takes about 12 months on average.

Of course, if you opt for a cosmetic fix with veneers or contouring, you’ll get instant results. 

Your Budget

How much money can you realistically spend on straightening your teeth? Braces or Invisalign will set you back anywhere from $3,000-$6,000 (or even more in bigger cities).

Meanwhile, veneers can cost a whopping $925-$2,500 per tooth. At the opposite end of the spectrum, reshaping through contouring or bonding averages $50-$300 per tooth.

Comfort & Convenience

Braces are notorious for causing pain and discomfort, especially after your dentist adjusts them. Invisalign generally hurts less, although there’s still an adjustment phase with each new set of aligners.

An advantage of braces is once they’re on, they’re on, and you don’t have to worry about anything besides keeping them clean. For Invisalign to work effectively, you’ll need to wear your aligners at least 22 hours a day—which means taking them out every time you eat or drink.

Your Appearance

Would you feel self-conscious if you wore traditional metal braces? Would it help if you selected a less noticeable option, like ceramic braces or Invisalign? Or does it not matter to you either way?

Sports & Diet

When you opt for traditional braces, you’ll have to take a few extra precautions with your activities. If you play any type of contact sport, you’ll need to wear a protective mouthguard in case you get hit in the face.

There’s also a list of foods you’ll need to avoid because you risk damaging your braces if you eat them. These include popcorn, hard candies, chewing gum, and crunchy fruits and vegetables.

You won’t have these restrictions with aligners, since you can remove them while you eat or play sports.

Which Option Is Best for Straightening Your Teeth?

As you can see, there’s no “one size fits all” option for straightening your teeth.

Some people are happy with traditional metal or ceramic braces. Others opt for clear removable aligners such as Invisalign. Still others choose the cosmetic route and use veneers or contouring to perfect their smile.

It really comes down to your budget, how much time you’re willing to invest, and how you feel about your appearance during the process.

Did you find this article helpful? Be sure to browse our other recent posts for more great information.