This detailed guide outlines the different teeth straightening options and indicates which age groups or life stages each one is best suited to.
For a long time, braces were the main method used for teeth straightening, but they are now generally not very popular because they change a person’s appearance for a long period of time. However, many people put up with them in order to improve seriously crooked teeth or a misalignment of the jaw.
Nowadays, however, there are several methods of teeth straightening, including also subtle or ‘invisible’ clear models. In the following article you will get to know the different types of braces so you can choose the right one for you. For example, as this website elaborates, there are particular options that may suit children vs young adults vs older adults. Also read: How to whiten teeth naturally – and why to avoid baking soda, lemon and peroxide.
- Teeth straightening options explained
- Teeth straightening options: Braces
- Teeth straightening options: Inserted lingual braces
- Teeth straightening options: Invisible braces / clear aligners
- Teeth straightening options: Fixed braces
- Teeth straightening options: Fixed lingual braces inside (invisible)
- Teeth straightening options: Loose braces
- Teeth straightening options: Activator
- Teeth straightening options: Active plate
- Teeth straightening options: Bionator
- Teeth straightening options: Jaw brace and external brace (head brace)
- Teeth straightening options: Retainer after the braces
Teeth straightening options explained
Teeth straightening options: Braces
Braces are particularly often used to improve jaw or tooth misalignment in children. Parents in particular are confronted with the costs and types of braces and the search for the right orthodontist at an early age. But adults can also wear braces for aesthetic or medical reasons.
Their invention goes back to Edward Angle, who supposedly laid the medical basis for the clasp model with a tight fit between 1890 and 1920. In the years that followed, different variants such as the removable braces, the active plates, the activator and the bionator were developed. This has been made possible by technical developments such as the advent of plastic materials.
Whether crooked teeth, over- or underbite or a temporomandibular joint disorder: Orthodontic treatment can correct a wide variety of problems. Braces can be used for aesthetic and dental reasons.
The ideal time for the medical aid is between 10 and 14 years of age. During this period, the child’s head and mouth are still growing, making realignment of the teeth and jaw easier. But more and more adults are choosing braces. This has both aesthetic and health reasons. Because at the time when many of today’s adults were still at the optimal age for braces, instead of braces, for example, pulling teeth was common practice. As a result, many adults were denied orthodontic treatment, even though it might have been necessary.
The orthodontist determines which patient needs braces. This is done with the help of the orthodontic indication groups (KIG), which divide the necessity into five different categories. This classification is important because the financing of braces for minors by the statutory health insurance is linked to it. This is because this does not cover the cost of braces if they are classified as KIG grades one and two.
Teeth straightening options: Inserted lingual braces
In addition to the well-known fixed braces with external brackets , dentistry nowadays offers a large selection of different brace models. There are also some variants that can be particularly attractive to adults due to their discreet look.
Depending on the type of braces and the treatment goal, the length of time a patient has to wear the braces also varies. Loose models are foreseen for a shorter treatment duration, while fixed braces can remain in the patient’s mouth for up to three years. Retainers can also be used for different lengths of time.
The following table provides an overview of the common types of braces and lists both the duration of treatment and the respective costs. All factors depend on the treatment goal and the degree of the deformity.
Teeth straightening options: Invisible braces / clear aligners
The clear aligner is, so to speak, invisible braces (also called transparent braces). It consists of a plastic splint for the upper and lower jaw, which is both removable and transparent. This makes the clearaAligner a particularly popular type of braces, as it is discreet and can be removed for eating.
The individual adjustment of the clear aligner takes place on the basis of a previously made plaster model or a 3D scan. Based on this, the treatment plan is drawn up, which sometimes determines the regular change of splints and the duration of treatment. In most cases, between 20 and 50 different invisible aligners can be used, each of which is worn for about one to three weeks and then exchanged. The total duration of treatment for clear aligner averages between 9 and 18 months, but it also depends on the individual misalignment of the teeth.
Various online providers of clear aligners now offer an alternative to conventional orthodontic treatments . These also record the patient’s teeth by means of a 3D scan at a partner dentist or with an impression set at home and then assess whether and how the patient can be treated. On average, almost everyone can be treated with a few exceptions. For this, the patients receive an individual treatment plan with a denture simulation and their aligners conveniently delivered to their home. Dentists are available to monitor success and accompany the entire process.
Teeth straightening options: Fixed braces
This model is a classic of braces and is often used by children and adolescents, but also by adults. Fixed braces are preferred for correcting severe tooth misalignments, which is why the treatment often lasts 36 to 108 months.
How long the fixed braces actually have to be worn in the end depends on the individual patient and their dental problem. The fixed clasp is attached by gluing the brackets – i.e. the metal brackets – onto the teeth and stretching wires between them. So-called retainers can be used after the tooth correction. These prevent the teeth from shifting again.
Teeth straightening options: Fixed lingual braces inside (invisible)
The fixed lingual braces are the counterpart to the fixed braces: With the former, the brackets are attached to the inside of the teeth so that they cannot be seen from the outside. This variant is particularly popular with adults who want to avoid external changes over the course of the treatment for professional or private reasons. The lingual braces are also used for severe tooth misalignments.
Adjusting and attaching lingual braces is comparatively more complex. From a medical point of view, the invisible braces serve the comfort of the patient in everyday life.
Teeth straightening options: Loose braces
The term “loose braces” serves as a super-category for braces that are not permanently attached in the mouth and are removable. Common, loose models are, for example, the activator, the bionator and the active plate.
In children in particular, loose braces are often used, as this treatment method is very promising due to the continued growth phase of the adolescent. Accordingly, the duration of treatment with the medical device is between around 9 and 36 months. However, this information depends on the type of loose braces and the patient’s wear routine.
Teeth straightening options: Activator
The so-called activator consists of a plastic plate and is provided with wire extensions. These reach into the area of the upper and lower jaw, so that the teeth “bite” into the frame and the braces get hold. The activator is mainly used in the event of an over- or underbite. Both jaws should move towards each other with the involvement of the muscles. For this reason, this variant of the loose braces is mainly used in the treatment of children.
The braces are usually worn between 12 and 36 months, although fixed braces can be considered if the treatment is unsuccessful. In principle, however, activators can achieve good results from a medical point of view.
Teeth straightening options: Active plate
To stretch the jaw, to give the teeth more space and to move them in a certain direction, the orthodontist often uses an active plate. This plastic plate is provided with adjusting screws, which contribute to the enlargement or reduction of the surface of the plate in the course of the treatment period.
The adjustment of the active plate by means of adjusting screws takes place in the course of the regular control appointments. Since this braces model also has an influence on the mouth, which is still growing, the active plate is increasingly used in children.
Teeth straightening options: Bionator
The Bionator is also increasingly used for the orthodontic treatment of children. Compared to the activator, however, the plastic content of this type of braces is lower. The Bionator also has a so-called palatal bow, which is intended to correct the position of the tongue in the mouth.
The costs for a Bionator are similarly high as for other loose braces:The Bionator is worn for an average of 9 to 12 months.
Teeth straightening options: Jaw brace and external brace (head brace)
The loose braces can exert pressure on the roof of the mouth or tension on the jaw in order to influence the bite position or jaw growth. The jaw brace is usually worn by children for a period of 18 to 24 months. This type of braces is often confused with the so-called headgear, a brace that is attached to the outside of the mouth and neck.
The headgear is one of the external braces and generally does not enjoy a good reputation due to its appearance. However, external braces usually only need to be worn a few hours a day and only at home. The maximum treatment time with a headgear is also around 24 months.
Teeth straightening options: Retainer after the braces
Retainers – these are tooth stabilizers that are mainly used after treatment with loose or fixed braces. They are intended to prevent the treatment result from being deformed again. In addition to loose retainers, a distinction is made between solid stabilizers. Loose versions are worn for 24 hours at the beginning, then only at night. They are available as an activator-like model or as a plastic rail.
Fixed retainers are glued to the inside of the teeth and often remain there for a lifetime. As a result, the result of a laborious orthodontic treatment is also secured for life, which is why the fixed version is usually the more attractive solution.