Discovering other ways to straighten your smile.

When we think about orthodontic treatment, we often picture teenagers and preteens, but it’s never too late to work on getting straight teeth. As an adult, think of how life changing it would be to have a smile you love! Finally gaining a straight, even smile can improve your confidence as well as your oral health—factors that you’ll benefit from in your professional and personal life for decades to come.

You might find yourself wondering if it’s really possible to gain the straight teeth you’ve always wanted without the awkward braces phase. Thankfully, the answer is “yes.” Modern cosmetic dentistry has several treatment options when it comes to straightening your teeth. To help you determine which of these options might be right for you, we’ve provided a breakdown of each of them.

Invisalign

How it Works

Invisalign is the most common alternative to braces, so it’s likely that you’ve heard of it. Invisalign uses several sets of clear, removable aligners that have been custom-made for your mouth to straighten your teeth over a period of time. The aligners straighten your teeth using the same basic strategy as braces. They exert gentle pressure, encouraging your teeth to move into the right position. Each time you change to a new set of aligners, the new aligners exert a little more pressure—just like when orthodontists tighten traditional braces. Invisalign can resolve almost any issue that traditional braces can, including misaligned bites and crooked teeth. This makes them a great option for almost everyone.

The Treatment Process

The treatment process for Invisalign begins with a consultation where you’ll discuss your treatment goals with Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko. Your dentist will then scan your teeth to create a 3D digital model of your bite, which will allow them to map out your customized treatment plan. The model and plans are used to create your series of Invisalign aligners, but the model also allows you to see what your teeth will look like once your treatment is complete! Once your aligners have arrived at our office, you’ll wear them for at least 22 hours a day. Invisalign takes an average of 12 to 18 months to straighten your teeth, but sometimes it can take as little as nine months—and you’ll likely begin seeing a real difference in just a few weeks.

Throughout the treatment process, you’ll need to change your aligners at home every week or two, depending on your unique treatment plan, but you’ll still need to visit Drs. Barr and Diachenko every four to six weeks to ensure that your teeth are moving exactly as predicted. Since Invisalign aligners are removable, your oral hygiene routine stays simple and you can continue eating all of your favorite foods throughout your entire treatment! That said, the aligners do need to be cared for properly so that they remain clear. You’ll need to remember to remove them before you eat or drink anything other than water, brush your teeth before putting the aligners back in your mouth, and clean the aligners carefully once a day.

Lasting Impacts

Once you’ve finished your Invisalign treatment, you will likely need to wear retainers to ensure that your teeth don’t try to shift back to their original positions—just like with braces. Everyone’s mouth is different, so Drs. Barr and Diachenko will give you specific instructions once you’ve completed your treatment. In general, however, you’ll start by wearing your retainers full time, gradually reducing the time you spend wearing them until you’re just wearing them to bed at night.

Veneers

How it Works

Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are permanently attached to the surface of your natural teeth. Placing dental veneers on your teeth allows you to change their size, shape, and shade, which helps them resolve a wide range of cosmetic issues—including teeth that are slightly crooked, uneven, or have gaps between them. Dental veneers can’t resolve problems with the alignment of your bite itself, so they may not be the best option if your bite needs to be corrected as well. If your teeth are crooked, however, dental veneers are often a great option that allows you to skip the comparatively long treatment times of traditional braces and Invisalign.

Each veneer is placed on its corresponding tooth individually, so you can place them on a few problem teeth or use a full set to revitalize your entire smile. Since they’re incredibly customizable, you can either have your veneers designed to look like straighter versions of your natural teeth or you can preserve the unique aspects of your teeth. The porcelain can be matched to the shade of your natural teeth, so whether you get a full set or just one or two veneers, they’ll look natural.

The Treatment Process

Receiving dental veneers is much faster than getting traditional braces or Invisalign, taking only two appointments over the course of several weeks to complete. During your first appointment, Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko will numb your mouth and prepare your teeth by shaving a fine layer of enamel from their surface. They will then scan your teeth to create a 3D digital model, which they will use to design your veneers, using your input to help choose their size, shape, and shade. Your permanent veneers need to be milled in an outside lab, so you’ll receive temporary veneers at this appointment. Once your permanent veneers arrive, you’ll revisit our office so that Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko can remove the temporary veneers and replace them with your permanent set.

Lasting Impacts

Since the placement process requires your dentist to remove a small layer of protective enamel from your teeth, dental veneers are permanent. Once they’re placed on a tooth, that tooth will always need a veneer. Veneers are incredibly durable and stain-resistant, but they’ll need to be replaced eventually. How long your veneers last depends on how well you care for them; with a great oral hygiene routine, they can last around 15 years before they need to be replaced. This means you should brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, floss and use mouthwash at least once a day, and visit your dentist for a regular evaluation every six months.

Additionally, the porcelain material of your veneers won’t respond to whitening treatments. This means that if you decide to whiten your teeth after you’ve already gotten your veneers, they may suddenly look a little yellow compared to your natural teeth, making them stand out. As a result, it’s wise to consider whether or not you want to whiten your teeth before you get your veneers.

Same Day Crowns

Dental crowns are tooth-shaped restorations that are milled from porcelain and secured over top of a natural tooth. While they’re often used to restore decayed or damaged teeth, dental crowns can also be used in cosmetic dentistry treatments, such as to correct the appearance of crooked or uneven teeth. Like veneers, dental crowns can’t resolve issues with your bite, but they remain a great alternative for patients whose smile appears crooked because of one or two problematic teeth.

Same day crowns are a type of dental crown that’s designed, milled, and placed in your mouth in a single day using CEREC’s cutting-edge technology. In comparison, since traditional crowns are milled in an outside lab, they take two appointments over the course of several weeks to be placed in your mouth. Same day crowns are milled from the same porcelain as traditional crowns and veneers, so they look just as natural and are just as durable. Your same day crown will blend into your smile so well that no one will realize it’s not a natural tooth!

The Treatment Process

When you receive a same day crown, Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko will begin by numbing your tooth before shaving its sides and top down to accommodate your new crown. They’ll then create a 3D digital model of your bite using a digital scanner, which they’ll use to design your same day crown. Dental crowns are just as customizable as dental veneers, so you’ll be able to provide input about the size, shape, and shade you want your new tooth to be.

Once your crown has been designed, it’s milled right in our office and is immediately secured over your tooth. Your dentist will check your bite to make sure it fits perfectly before permanently cementing it in place. The entire process only takes about two hours. Since it does take time to mill the crown in our office, however, same day crowns work best when you only need a single dental crown. If you need more than one, your dentist might opt to use traditional crowns. Each type of crown looks natural and will do just as good a job of giving you the straight smile you’ve always wanted.

Lasting Impacts

Just like veneers, dental crowns are permanent—once you place one on your tooth, that tooth will always need a crown. Their porcelain material makes them just as durable and stain-resistant as veneers, but they don’t last forever. Dental crowns don’t require any extra care, so simply practicing great oral hygiene can help your crown last around 15 years before it needs to be replaced.

It’s natural to want a straight, even smile that you can be confident in. These cosmetic dentistry treatments allow you to gain the straight smile you’ve always wanted on your own terms, without feeling even more self-conscious of your teeth because of braces. Whether the treatment takes time or a single appointment at our office, your self-esteem will improve throughout the process. If you’re not sure which of these options is best for you, feel free to call our office and schedule a consultation with Drs. Barr and Diachenko at any time.