Fact Checked

5 Teeth Straightening Options Compared and Explained

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

August 01, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. James Younan, DDS

Gone are the days of chunky dental braces and frequent dental visits to straighten your teeth. In recent years, orthodontic treatment for teeth straightening has greatly progressed, making it more accessible than ever. 

If you have been living with a crooked smile or an uneven bite for years, you’ll be happy to know that there are a variety of treatments that can straighten your teeth. With numerous teeth straightening methods that suit every budget, everybody has the opportunity to have the great oral health and the smile of their dreams. 

Why Don't I Have Straight Teeth?

For many people, teeth misalignment shows up in their younger years. However, even as an adult your teeth can move and shift throughout the years.

If you didn’t straighten your teeth as a child to correct misalignment or an underbite or overbite, it is likely that your misaligned teeth will continue into adulthood. 

Teeth misalignment is often genetic or can be caused by habits that you had as a child. This can include thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or prolonged bottle feeding. Your teeth may have been pushed out of alignment by these habits or even after losing a tooth. 

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Common Types of Teeth Misalignment 

There is not simply one type of misalignment that can cause an uneven smile. You can have different types of misalignments, or malocclusions, in your teeth or your bite.

The 7 types of misalignment are: 

Overbite

Also known as a “deep bite” or a “closed bite”. When you clench your jaw, your upper front teeth will overlap your bottom front teeth. 

Underbite

This is the opposite of an overbite. When you clench your jaw, your lower front teeth overlap or sit in front of your upper front teeth. 

Crossbite

This occurs when your upper teeth fit inside your lower teeth. It is not limited to your front teeth and might occur in your back teeth as well. 

Diastema

If gap teeth or space between two other teeth in your mouth, this type of misalignment occurs. 

Open bite

Occurring in the front or back teeth, your teeth won’t touch when your mouth is closed and slant outward. 

Overcrowding

Crooked teeth are the most obvious sign of this misalignment. You may not have enough space in your mouth for all of your teeth, causing your teeth to not grow in a straight manner.

Overjet

Also known as “buck teeth”, this occurs when your upper front teeth protrude. 

What is Teeth Straightening? 

Teeth straightening is orthodontic treatment and process that moves your teeth into a more aligned and healthy position. Using pressure it straightens overcrowded or crooked teeth and can close the gaps between your teeth.

An orthodontist or licensed dentist can help you to choose the best teeth straightening option. Orthodontic treatment can also help to alleviate an underbite or overbite and improve your oral health.  

Why is it Beneficial to Straighten Teeth?

While straight teeth may be more aesthetically pleasing, there are many benefits to straightening your teeth than simply cosmetic reasons. Having straight teeth can improve your overall dental health and can allow you to have fewer dental complications as you age. 

Benefits of teeth straightening include: 

Decreased risk of gum infection 

Overcrowded teeth can cause plaque to build up on your teeth, which then causes tooth decay or even gum infection or gum disease. Straightening your teeth can lessen the occurrence of plaque build-up and lowers your chances of tooth decay and gum disease. 

Jaw pain relief

Often, misalignments can cause pain in your jaw. Correcting an underbite or overbite can not only straighten your teeth, but relieve jaw pain. 

Straighter teeth and brighter smile

Teeth straightening can close any gaps in your smile and straighten your crooked teeth. Once your treatment plan is complete, your teeth will be straighter, healthier, and brighter.

5 Teeth Straightening Options 

With so many different orthodontic treatments and teeth straightening methods, there is bound to be one that fits your lifestyle and your budget. Treatment plans and options have evolved over the years, providing people with discreet options and pain-free solutions. 

If you are looking to compare your teeth straightening options, read on below. 

At-Home Clear Aligners

All the rage for the past few years in the orthodontic treatment world, at-home clear or invisible aligners are the perfect choice for people that prefer low-maintenance teeth straightening options. Orders are usually placed online and reviewed by a dentist or orthodontist. A custom treatment plan is created and mailed straight to your home. 

Once you receive your clear aligners, you are meant to remove them only when eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. Usually, aligner treatment takes around six months, and you do not need to see the dentist or orthodontist for checkups.

The average price of this at-home teeth straightening treatment is $1,900. 

Pros of At-Home Clear Teeth Aligners 

  • Budget-friendly: Because this is an at-home teeth straightening option, it is much cheaper than options that require you to go for dental checkups. Many online options allow for financing or payment plans so it is more affordable. 

  • Short time to straighten teeth: You can have straight teeth in an average of six months with at-home invisible aligners. 

  • No dental appointments: Since everything is done at home, you do not need regular appointments with your dentist or orthodontist. 

Cons of At-Home Clear Aligners

  • Not as much support: While no dental appointments could be a positive for some, others prefer to have access to their dental professional during treatment. 

  • Less accurate diagnosis: Because you are not seen in person by an orthodontist, your misalignment diagnosis and treatment may not be as accurate. If you have a more serious case of misalignment, it may be best to choose a treatment option that comes with your orthodontist’s support. 

Are At-Home Clear Teeth Aligners For You? 

If you are looking for a budget-friendly, quick treatment option and have an uncomplicated case of misalignment, then at-home clear aligners may be a great option for you to consider. 

In-Office Clear Aligners or Invisalign Treatment

Similar to at-home invisible aligners, this teeth straightening option entails being fit with clear aligners by your dentist. The most popular in-office clear aligner is Invisalign, which was approved by the FDA in 1998. Each clear aligner is custom-made after an in-depth evaluation by your dentist in which x-rays and impressions of your teeth are taken. 

Your invisible aligners are custom-made and changed around every two weeks. An Invisalign treatment typically takes 1-1.5 years and you must keep them on for at least 22 hours a day.

These clear aligners cost between $3,000- $8,000.

Pros of In-Office Clear Aligners 

  • Support of your dentist: Unlike at-home invisible aligners, dental visits are necessary for this treatment which means that you will have a professional monitoring your progress. In case you have questions, or if there are complications, your dentist will be able to address them with you right away. 

  • Discreet and comfortable: Braces are a permanent fixture on your teeth until the end of your treatment. But with in-office clear aligners, you can easily pop them off when you need to eat or brush your teeth.

  • Tried and trusted brands: In-office invisible aligners have been on the market longer than at-home clear aligners. Invisalign has been trusted by orthodontists around the world for years and is easily available. 

Cons of In-Office Aligners

  • More expensive: If you are comparing this option with at-home clear aligners, the price is slightly higher. However, you do get more support and guidance from your dental professional. 

  • Frequent dentist visits: People that have busy schedules may find it difficult to keep up with all the dental appointments for over a year. The check-ins can be time-consuming for some. 

  • Limited eating time: These clear aligners need to be worn for at least 22 hours a day in order to be effective. This may prove challenging, as you would need to plan your meal times accordingly and stay within 2 hours per day. 

Are In-Office Clear Aligners For You? 

If you are looking for a discreet aligner treatment with the support of a dental professional, then in-office clear aligners may be a great option. These options are great for people with mild to moderate cases of misalignment. 

Traditional Metal Braces

Even with advancements in orthodontics, many people may still prefer to go the traditional route with metal braces. Proven to have consistent and successful results, metal braces are extremely effective in straightening your teeth. 

The price for this treatment usually ranges between $3,000- $7,000 and treatment can last between 1-3 years. 

Pros of traditional Metal Braces 

  • Highly effective: If you have a more severe case of misalignment, metal braces are likely the best option for you. They have been proven to treat more complex cases of overcrowding and bite issues. 

  • Resistant: Metal braces are extremely durable. Seeing that you can't take them off while eating or brushing your teeth, you can rest assured that they can stand up to wear and tear. 

  • Continuous care: Unlike invisible aligners, you don't need to worry about taking a piece on and off while eating or brushing your teeth. Clear aligners require you to be aware of keeping them on for 22 hours. With metal braces, you don't need to give them a second thought. 

Cons of traditional Metal Braces

  • Requires more cleaning: Because you keep metal braces on while eating, you will need to be very conscientious when it comes to brushing and flossing your teeth and keeping your gums healthy.

  • Discomfort: More common during the beginning of treatment, wearing metal braces may feel painful or uncomfortable around your mouth and gums until you get used to them. 

  • Restricted diet: Foods that are crunchy or sticky do not do well with braces, so you will need to pass on those foods while you are in treatment. 

  • Not discreet: While you can customize the colors of your braces and make them less obvious, metal braces are more visible than clear aligners. 

Are traditional Metal Braces For You? 

Metal braces may be the best option for those with severe bite or misalignment issues. Under the guidance and supervision of your dental professional, this treatment is highly effective in straightening your teeth and fixing misalignments. You also don't need to worry about taking something on and off every day.

Ceramic Braces

This treatment option has similar advantages as traditional braces. However, they are less obvious and more discreet. Instead of ceramic brackets, these braces make use of tooth-colored or transparent brackets and wires. 

Ceramic braces are usually worn for a less amount of time than metal braces and can cost between $4,000- $8,000. 

Pros of Ceramic Braces 

  • Less obvious: Because of their clear or tooth-colored brackets and wires, ceramic braces are a great alternative to metal braces. 

  • Less discomfort: The material is less abrasive than metal braces, providing the wearer with a more comfortable experience. 

  • Overseen by a dental professional: The treatment process requires visits to your dentist. You can be sure that they will be able to manage any concerns or issues that come up during treatment, unlike at-home options. 

Cons of Ceramic Braces

  • More expensive than traditional braces: The price of ceramic braces can be around $1,000- $2,000 more than metal braces. 

  • Less durable: The materials that make up ceramic braces are slightly less durable than that of metal. 

  • They can stain: If you are a big coffee or wine drinker, keep in mind that the materials may absorb the color and stain. 

Are Ceramic Braces For You? 

If you have a more severe case of misalignment or bite issues but aren't a fan of the metal wires and brackets, then ceramic braces are probably a great choice for you. Ceramic braces can be more effective than invisible aligners and may be worn for a less amount of time than metal braces. 

Lingual Braces 

When you choose treatment, many can't even tell that you are wearing braces. Instead of being placed in the front of your teeth, the brackets and wires are placed in the back of your teeth. If you have a higher budget and feel more comfortable with consistent dental supervision, lingual braces may be a great option for you. 

This teeth straightening treatment can cost between $8,000- $10,000.

Pros of Lingual Braces 

  • Almost invisible: Because they are placed on the backs of your teeth, this treatment option is very discreet. Unless you are looking very closely, people will likely not even know that you are wearing braces. 

  • No staining: Since the braces are hidden in the back of your teeth, you don't have to worry about visible stains. 

  • Consistent treatment: Unlike clear aligners, you do not need to take lingual braces off or worry about keeping them in for 22 hours. They are always on your teeth and you can rest easy knowing that the treatment is ongoing. 

Cons of Lingual Braces

  • Higher cost: One of the more expensive teeth straightening options, lingual braces are best for those with a higher budget. 

  • Discomfort: Since they are placed at the back of your teeth, the braces may irritate your gums or your tongue. 

  • Cleaning: Flossing and brushing the back of your teeth may be a bit difficult until you get used to it. 

Are Lingual Braces for Me? 

While they may be slightly more expensive, lingual braces are a great option for those who prefer discreet yet highly effective teeth straightening treatment. If you have a high budget for teeth straightening and mild to moderate misalignment issues, lingual braces may be the best treatment plan.

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Cost of Teeth Straightening 

As you can see, there are teeth straightening options that can fit every budget. In addition, some treatments may have financing or insurance options.

While it is a great idea to factor in the cost when deciding on a teeth straightening method, make sure that you chose the most effective option for your situation. 

The Best Orthodontic Treatment Plan

The best way to straighten your teeth depends on your personal situation and preferences. Some orthodontic treatments may be more painful or uncomfortable than others. In addition, some treatments may take longer to complete or require more maintenance.

If you are going through the teeth straightening process, remember that it will take some time to get used to your aligner or your braces. Whether you choose an in-office option or an at home teeth straightening option, there will be an adjustment period.

Depending on your case of misalignment and the treatment that you choose, the whole teeth straightening process could take 6 months to 3 years. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,900- $10,000. 

Summary

Straightening your teeth has a host of benefits, and there are many teeth straightening options that are readily available. When choosing the best treatment option, factor in what would work best with your budget, your dental needs, and your lifestyle.