For those who have ever felt self-conscious of their teeth, everyday activities such as smiling for a photo or wearing a statement red lipstick can feel like a battle against insecurity. Our smiles- wonky, gappy and all- form an integral part of our identity, and for those who would rather avoid looking at theirs, adult braces or retainers are likely something that’s cropped up in your Google searches a handful of times over the years. But what’s really involved in the process, how long will it take to give you a smile you feel truly proud of, and possibly more pressingly, how much will it actually cost? We spoke to SmileDirectClub– pioneers in the world of dentist-directed, dentist-prescribed at-home clear aligner orthodontic therapy- as well as deep diving into your other adult brace options to get the lowdown you need before taking the plunge….

What types of braces are available?

Metal Braces:

The more traditional type of braces, but used less so in adulthood, metal braces or ‘train tracks’ are fixed to the teeth and use constant, gentle pressure to move the teeth over time. The process works by brackets- a piece of ceramic or metal placed on each tooth- that are connected by an arch wire that threads through and is bent to suit your ideal bite. The arch wire applies pressure on one side of your mouth, and with time the tooth moves and a new bone tissue grows in behind it. Although not used in every case, sometimes small rubber band ties are used to help keep the arch wire fixed to the brackets.

Ceramic Braces:

Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces however use clear or tooth-colored brackets as opposed to gray or metallic silver brackets and wires. As a result they tend to be preferable for adult patients, however do tend to be more expensive.

Lingual Braces:

Sometimes called ‘hidden braces’, lingual braces are the same as traditional braces except they are fitted to the inside of the teeth rather than the front, making them practically invisible. Sadly, not everyone is suitable for this type of brace, particularly those with a deep underbite.

Clear Aligners:

Aligners are thin, clear, removable trays made to fit your teeth and are often preferred as a result of being less noticeable than metal braces. They also require less upkeep or dental appointments as the process is typically much simpler. Aligners work in a similar way, creating micro-movements of each tooth; However this is achieved by a series of aligner trays that are worn for a particular period before upgrading to the next tray within the process.

Despite the individual needs of each patient impacting their specific treatment choice, it’s clear that the adult braces industry is booming, with a 2018 report from the British Orthodontic Society finding that 80% of members were seeing an increase in adult patients, up from 75% in 2016.

If you’re thinking about starting your own journey with adult braces and are considering the route of clear aligners, bookmark this Q&A with SmileDirectClub for all you need to know before taking the plunge…

Q: First things first, does it hurt? Be honest!

“Like muscle soreness after a good workout, wearing new aligners may cause short-term tooth soreness. This is perfectly normal. It is a sign that the aligners are working by moving teeth into a straighter position. Your aligners have to put pressure on your teeth to get them moving, and that can feel uncomfortable. They’ll need some time to relax into wearing clear aligners.

If things feel really awkward, or even painful, you might take some dental wax to the aligners, so they shift smoothly over your gums.”

Q: How far in advance should someone think about getting aligners for something like a wedding or big event in which they want to look their best?

On average, SmileDirectClub treatment takes between 4-6 months, depending on the treatment plan and incision of a patient’s teeth. However, patients generally tend to see a difference in their smile within 60 days.”

Q: Are aligners an option for everyone or will some people’s teeth not be suitable for this process?

“SDC clear aligners are best suited for those with mild to moderate crowding and spacing issues with a minimum age of 12 years old. On some occasions, the affiliated network of UK registered dentists or orthodontists will determine clear aligners are not the best option for a patient because their case is too complex for teledentistry. In those instances, we’ll refer customers to a treating dentist in the traditional setting who is convenient to the patient. ”

Q: What are the benefits of clear aligners vs traditional braces? Is the process quicker, longer or the same?

“SmileDirectClub straightens smiles for 60% less than traditional straightening methods and the average treatment plan works 3X faster than braces. This model eliminates the need for customers to go into the office for time consuming checkups!”

Q: How do the aligners actually work?

“Each aligner is designed to gently and gradually guide your teeth into their desired position in accordance with what you and your dentist or orthodontist have determined is best for you and your treatment goals. You’ll begin wearing a new set of aligners as prescribed, (usually you change to a new aligner every 1-2 weeks) advancing you through your smile journey.

“After customers have completed treatment with SDC clear aligners, retainers are needed to maintain the smile you love. We recommend you purchase a new retainer every 6 months to keep your teeth in the desired position.”

Q: Let’s talk pricing. What is the cost of opting for aligners later in life?

“Customers have the option of paying a one-off price of £1639, or they can spread the cost over 25 months at £69.43 per month, with a £69.44 deposit.”

Q: Should those who have sensitive teeth be more wary?

“We recommend everyone have a check up with a dentist before undergoing treatment, to assess whether your teeth are healthy and suitable for teeth straightening. Customers with sensitive teeth may find the first week of wear more painful than expected, but this is perfectly normal as your teeth start to shift position.”

Q: Are aligners an option for everyone or will some people’s teeth not be suitable for this process?

“SDC clear aligners are best suited for those with mild to moderate crowding and spacing issues with a minimum age of 12 years old. On some occasions, the affiliated network of UK registered dentists or orthodontists will determine clear aligners are not the best option for a patient because their case is too complex for teledentistry. In those instances, we’ll refer customers to a treating dentist in the traditional setting who is convenient to the patient.”

Happy smiling!

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