Teeth straightening is an orthodontic treatment focusing on gradually shifting teeth into their correct alignment. It is often achieved with dental braces, including traditional metal braces and clear braces such as Invisalign. Braces can correct issues such as overcrowding, gaps and spacing issues as well as bite issues like underbites and overbites.
How do Dental Braces Work?
Whether you choose traditional braces or clear braces, all dental braces work to achieve the same result: to gently and gradually shift your teeth into their correct position and alignment.
With traditional dental braces, metal brackets are bonded to each individual tooth, and then dental wire is threaded through each bracket. This wire is then expertly tightened at regular intervals, to slowly move teeth into their right positions.
With clear or invisible dental braces such as Invisalign, a progression of clear, custom-made aligner trays are worn to shift teeth into alignment. These aligner trays are not bonded to the teeth like traditional dental braces brackets, and can be taken out while eating and brushing.
The Teeth Straightening Process
If you’re interested in having your teeth straightened, here’s what you can expect throughout the process:
- You’ll meet with your orthodontist so they can assess your current tooth health and alignment, and recommend a teeth straightening treatment option that’s right for you.
- If you have overcrowding issues, you may be required to visit your orthodontist for a tooth/teeth extraction before your dental braces can be fitted.
- If you’ve chosen clear braces, your orthodontist will then custom-make your clear aligner trays before your fitting.
- You’ll meet with your orthodontist for your first treatment session, during which time your dental braces will be fitted. Your orthodontist will explain how to properly maintain good oral health and hygiene during this session, show you how to properly brush and floss your teeth, and talk you through any discomfort you may experience within the first couple of days of having your braces fitted.
- You will return to your orthodontist for follow-up appointments at regular intervals to have your dental braces tightened, or to have your newest set of clear aligner trays fitted. Your orthodontist will check your treatment results and make any adjustments required to your treatment at this time, if necessary.
- Once your teeth straightening treatment is complete and your teeth are all in their properly alignment, your dental braces will be removed. Your orthodontist may specific that you continue to wear a retainer for a number of months, or more permanently, to ensure your teeth stay in their correct alignment long term.
Read about our Tips and Tricks for Living with Braces here.
Treatment Times and What to Expect
Teeth straightening treatment times can vary significantly between patients, depending on the severity of crowding, spacing and bite issues, and the treatment option you choose. Because the jaw has finished growing and changing in adulthood, this can extend the treatment time for some adult patients, simply because their teeth are set more permanently than someone in their teens.
Your own biology can also affect your teeth straightening treatment time, meaning that your teeth may naturally shift into alignment faster or slower than someone else. Everyone is different, and each patient’s teeth can respond uniquely to treatment.
For the majority of patients, teeth straightening with dental braces may take anywhere between just 6 months and 2 years. Your orthodontist will be able to give you an accurate estimate of how long your braces treatment will take based on their experience treating patients of similar requirements.
Why Teeth Straightening Takes Time
While the idea of being able to magically straighten teeth in one appointment may be appealing, the simple fact is that this process takes time. Because your orthodontist is shifting your teeth – which are set into your jaw bone – into their correct alignment and position using gentle force (created by your dental braces) this has to be done gradually over time to protect the teeth from damage, and make the process as painless as possible.