In a world where people are increasingly image-conscious, crooked teeth can prove especially damaging to your self-esteem. Many people with overcrowded, awkwardly angled, or protruding teeth often cover their mouths while speaking or avoid smiling in public.Over the past decade or so, teeth straightening treatment has been growing in popularity amongst adults. Studies indicate that one in every four orthodontic patients is now over the age of 18.
The good news is that orthodontic treatments are now easily accessible to anyone looking to straighten teeth, and cheap teeth straightening methods are a viable option for almost any patient.
The procedures can run the gamut from treating minor problems like crowding to complex issues like jaw realignment and improving the odds of keeping your teeth in the long term.
There’s no reason to sport a smile that doesn’t make you happy, thanks to modern dental technology. Depending on the degree of misalignment, gum health, lifestyle, and budget, you can always find an option that works for your needs.
When are traditional braces typically recommended?
Today, you can choose from several cheap teeth straightening methods that deliver excellent results. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to cross braces off your list. There’s a reason why they’re still considered a classic orthodontic solution. Traditional metal or ceramic braces are fastened onto the teeth with the help of adhesive and connected by wire.
They typically require tightening every four to six weeks to maintain steady pressure and align the dental arch. Traditional braces are preferred for severely misaligned teeth, although they can fix just about any form of bite alignment problem (malocclusion).
Traditional braces are generally fabricated from steel or titanium and gradually push each tooth into the desired position. No one except a dentist can remove them, and they are strong, durable, and consistent in their action.
On the downside, they can irritate the gums and cheeks, are harder to clean, and food debris may get trapped in and around the wires and brackets.
Understandably, many patients, especially image-conscious teens and adults, often feel jittery at the thought of wearing unsightly wires and brackets.
How do clear aligners straighten teeth?
The latest and most well-known orthodontic tools for getting smiles into tip-top shape are clear aligners. Clear aligners are an aesthetic alternative to traditional braces, worn in the mouth for at least 22 hours of the day.
They are barely noticeable and follow a phase-based system whereby the dentist will review progress roughly every six weeks and provide you with the next batch of aligners in the prescribed series.
Clear aligners are made from safe, BPA-free plastic and can be easily removed during meals or for other oral hygiene needs. Transparent aligners are created with computer precision using the latest imaging and molding technology to suit every patient’s unique needs.
Rather than skipping orthodontic treatment altogether due to the fear of unsightly metal braces, clear aligners allow patients to eat their favorite foods, indulge in sports and other physical activities, and confidently enjoy social interactions.
Oral and overall health benefits of teeth straightening with clear aligners
Properly aligned teeth and jaws are much easier to brush and floss as bite forces are more balanced, reducing wear and tear. You can chew your food more efficiently, which leads to better digestion. Clear aligners have no sharp edges or hardware, and you’ll barely notice they’re there.
The smooth surface and customized design reduce the need for frequent adjustments. Moreover, dentists use high-tech 3D imaging technology to create 3D impressions, and patients don’t need to be nervous about gagging on bulky molds. Traditional braces and clear aligners can correct a wide range of occlusion problems like:
- Upper teeth protrusion
- Open bite
- Gapped dentition.
While clear aligners are ideal for correcting mild to moderate misalignment, patients with severe alignment may need to wear traditional braces.
How effective are at-home teeth aligners?
Companies like the SmileDirectClub®, Candid®, NewSmile®, Byte®, and AlignerCo® offer at-home aligners, also called direct-to-consumer aligners, which are very similar to in-office braces. However, unlike ClearCorrect® and Invisalign®, you don’t have to visit a dentist or orthodontist for in-person scans. While companies like Smile Direct Club and Candid have physical locations, others like Byte, New Smile, and AlignerCo operate remotely.
Either way, cheap teeth straightening options like mail-order aligners work faster than in-office options as they are fabricated to cut across the gums, while Invisalign® is customized to match your gum line.
Check out this comparison table below to compare teeth straightening costs, types, and advantages.
They have more than 300 SmileShops across the US and a Partner Network that includes more than 1,000 dentists.
On average, patients can see results in four months.
Byte® At-Night plan includes grind-resistant aligners that require only 10 hours of continuous wear.
They provide remote check-ins every 14 days and panoramic x-rays at their centers.
They can correct all misaligned teeth, including crooked molars (and not just the front teeth).
They are cheaper than many other brands and offer free teeth whitening products for three months, along with the kit and at-home aligner.
AlignerCo offers the best price on aligners for cheap teeth straightening. Patients can also opt for financing through their SmileFlex Easy plan.
How do at-home aligners work?
Step 1 – Place your order online – Once you place an order online, an impression kit containing step-by-step instructions will be delivered to your doorstep.
Step 2 – Impression taking – Take your impressions using the kit provided and send them back to the company using the pre-addressed envelope. Impression kits typically cost between $35 to $100, and you can get a refund if not approved for treatment.
Step 3 – Approving treatment – Once impressions are received, an affiliated dentist or orthodontist will check if you’re a good candidate for clear aligner teeth straightening. Once you’re good to go, you’ll receive the aligners in a few weeks, together with a treatment plan.
Step 4 – Checking in – Patients regularly have remote checkups with a qualified dental professional to review progress. Some companies also offer video consultations when needed.
Step 5 – Follow the plan for straighter teeth – Finally, follow the procedure and swap out your aligners every two weeks for a straighter, healthier smile.
If you’re not comfortable with taking impressions yourself and prefer in-person imaging, providers like SmileDirectClub® and Candid® offer free 3D scans at their retail locations.
Alternatively, if you prefer your treatment to be completely dentist/orthodontist-led, then in-office treatments like Invisalign® and ClearCorrect® may be the best choice.
The bottom line
At-home aligners are a quick, convenient, and cheaper teeth straightening alternative than in-office braces as they eliminate the need for in-office dental visits.
On the flip side, in-office aligners like Invisalign® can treat more complex misalignments with the help of attachments placed on specific tooth surfaces to intensify the treatment. Since only a qualified dentist can place these attachments, they cannot be offered with at-home aligners.
Teeth straightening costs: how expensive is smile correction?
The cost of orthodontic correction can vary greatly, depending on the type of treatment you’re thinking of getting.
Fixed braces can cost anywhere between $4000 and $9000, whereas In-office aligners like Invisalign typically cost between $3,000 to $8,000, depending on the brand, material, treatment duration, and degree of misalignment. On the other hand, at-home aligners can cost somewhere between $1,200 to 2,300 on average.
A caveat – While that’s a significant saving, what you should remember is that minor adjustments cost much less than full-fledged treatment.
Will my dental insurance cover the costs?
It’s natural to assume that your dental insurance plan will cover teeth-straightening (like other treatments), but this isn’t always the case. Some dental insurance plans don’t cover braces at all, or even if they do cover braces, they may not cover Invisalign® or ClearCorrect®.
Ensure that you read through the plan carefully and check if it offers partial or complete orthodontic treatment coverage.
At times, there could be a waiting period between treatments; check if the insurance plan allows for this. Some dental insurance plans require patients to wait for a few months or even a full year before using the benefits.
The bottom line is to read the coverage terms and conditions carefully before you commit to orthodontic treatment.
What about Medicaid?
Medicaid covers the total cost of braces for children under 19, but only if they are considered medically necessary.
How does bonding compare with teeth straightening?
If you have one or more gapped, misshapen, or chipped teeth and are looking for affordable teeth straightening solutions, dental bonding could be the ideal way to transform your smile.
Costs for dental bonding are around $300 -$600 per tooth, but you should remember that this process is purely cosmetic. In other words, it disguises crooked teeth rather than straightens them.
Also, while cosmetic dental bonding is quick, non-invasive, and affordable, the effects may not last long as the resin only masks the imperfections. The dental bonding material may chip or crack over time.
Cheap teeth straightening – Are DIY options worth it?
Orthodontic treatment is a long-term solution that offers life-long benefits of a beautiful smile, better chewing, and reduced enamel abrasion.
DIY teeth straightening using random objects like paper clips, rubber bands, fishing lines, and earring backs can lead to disastrous results and cause irreversible damage to your gums, teeth, and bone.
Complex orthodontic treatments should never be attempted without knowledge, equipment, or professional guidance.
The key takeaway
Choosing the proper orthodontic treatment involves many factors like aesthetics, duration, treatment goals, the severity of misalignment, and teeth straightening costs.
If you want to straighten your smile but cringe at the thought of wearing metal braces, clear aligners may be the right choice for your needs. It’s best to do your homework and research the options available before deciding.
But whatever you choose, it’s good to know that modern teeth straightening tools and technology can help you enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile at any age.
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03141788 (Evaluation of clear aligners to straighten teeth)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449896/ (Impact of dental disorders on self-esteem)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343314/ (Comparison between clear aligners and fixed appliance therapy)