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May 16, 2015

I have a space between my front teeth – and my teeth are a little crooked. Do I have any options, other than braces?

479705143Many people would love to have a straighter smile. Whether it’s crooked teeth, gaps between your teeth, overlapping teeth, crowded teeth or other imperfections, there are a number of options available to correct your teeth alignment – without having to get a full set of braces.

Orthodontic work is a type of dental treatment that deals with adjusting the alignment of the teeth. The most common type of orthodontic treatment is braces – which is a rite of passage for many young people during the teenage years.

But what if you don’t want braces, or don’t have time for braces, or can’t afford braces, or are no longer at a time of your life where braces are socially acceptable?

Fortunately, there are other ways to correct certain minor imperfections with the alignment of your teeth. Here are some of the main options that might work for your situation:

  • Removable Retainer: A removable retainer is a small mouthpiece – usually made of plastic and/or metal, that you wear over your teeth. Retainers can keep teeth from moving and can also be used to “train” teeth to move in a new direction. Retainers are one of the most common orthodontic appliances – if your teeth can be corrected without having to get braces, a retainer is usually the solution that will be recommended to you.
  • Permanent Retainer: A permanent retainer is a metal bracket that is cemented to the backs of your teeth – usually after the successful completion of treatment with braces. A permanent retainer does just that: it “retains” teeth “permanently” in the position where they were moved to during the braces treatment. Depending on your situation, a permanent retainer might be an option to keep certain troublesome teeth from moving any further out of position – for example, if you have a growing gap between your front teeth, a permanent retainer can be put on those teeth to hold them in place and stop the gap from increasing.
  • Invisalign treatment: Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that is a popular alternative to braces – especially for adults. With Invisalign treatment, your dentist will fit you with a customized plastic mouthpiece that you wear over your teeth. The Invisalign “aligner” system will gradually move your teeth into their new positions – giving you a straight new smile without the inconvenience and discomfort of traditional braces.
  • Braces: Okay, I know you said that you didn’t want braces…but have you seen some of the new advances in braces technology these days? You might be surprised at how comfortable – and how nearly invisible – braces can be. And you don’t need to be embarrassed about being an adult with braces. More adults than ever before are getting braces to improve the look of their smiles and help maintain the long-term health of their teeth and gums. So don’t be too quick to give up on braces – you might be surprised at how “do-able” braces can be for you.

As always, be sure to talk with your dentist about all of the options available to you. Some people need more complex treatment that can only be provided by an orthodontist – if needed, your dentist can refer you to qualified orthodontists in your area.

January 5, 2014

How do I know if I need regular braces or Invisalign braces?

So you’re trying to decide whether or not to get braces. Perhaps you’ve heard about Invisalign braces and you’re intrigued.

“Wow,” you might be thinking, “It sure would be nice to straighten my teeth without going through the hassle of wearing braces…and they’re invisible, too. So, is Invisalign right for me?”

Here are a few things to consider (and discuss with your dentist or orthodontist) as you make your choice.

  • How old are you? Are you an adult (over age 18)? If not, have you already lost all of your baby teeth? And have your second molars already erupted? (Don’t worry – “erupted molars” are not a bad thing; your dentist will be able to tell you whether or not you qualify.) The reason is – Invisalign can only be used by adults or older teenagers who have lost all their baby teeth and who have erupted second molars. Younger teenagers who do not meet these criteria will have to get traditional braces. (Sorry, kids.)
  • How much orthodontic work do you need? Invisalign cannot do everything that traditional braces can do – only certain kinds of tooth movements can be carried out with Invisalign. If you need more wide-ranging orthodontic work – for example, major tooth movements, or complicated bridge and crown treatment, or if you have certain abnormalities with your jaw and bone structure – then Invisalign might not be the right choice for you. Talk to your dentist and find out if you are a good candidate for Invisalign straightening, or if your orthodontic needs would be better served with braces.
  • How responsible are you? Invisalign can be a great choice and it offers a lot of convenience – but as Spiderman says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” If you have Invisalign aligners, you need to be really careful not to lose them. You need to be responsible enough to make sure that you wear your Invisalign aligners for the full duration of the day – 20-22 hours a day is preferable (removing them only for meals and cleaning). You need to learn how to properly clean and take care of your Invisalign aligners, and follow all of your dental professional’s instructions for completing the treatment. Are you ready for all of this responsibility? (Parents – is your teenager ready for this responsibility?) Traditional braces have their drawbacks, but at least you can’t lose them – they’re stuck right there in your mouth the whole time!
  • How much are you ready to pay? It’s a fact of life that cost is a factor in most people’s decisions about braces. Invisalign treatment tends to be more expensive than traditional braces. (NOTE: Every individual patient’s situation is different, and you should consult your dentist or orthodontist before making a final decision – sometimes Invisalign will be more cost-effective than you might expect. However, it’s fair to say that in general, most patients pay more for Invisalign treatment than they would pay for traditional braces.

Getting braces (or Invisalign) can be a big commitment of time, money and effort. Make sure to think through the various advantages and disadvantages of each course of action, and talk with your dental professional. Hopefully you will find a good solution that will leave you smiling!

December 5, 2013

What are Invisalign Braces?

Adults are one of the fastest growing groups of people undergoing cosmetic dental procedures – and one of the major types of cosmetic dental procedures is the Invisalign system.

Invisalign is a type of dental adjustment system – it works in a similar fashion to traditional braces, but, as the name suggests, Invisalign is practically invisible.

A lot of adults would like to correct some aspect of their teeth in order to have a straighter, more appealing smile – but they don’t want to go through the hassle, awkwardness and discomfort of traditional braces. (After all – once you’re out of high school, it can be a little awkward to be wearing braces.)

Invisalign is one way to solve this conundrum. You can still benefit from getting a straighter “well-adjusted” smile, but without some of the drawbacks that go with traditional metal braces.

Here are some of the benefits of Invisalign:

  • Removable aligners – not “permanent” braces. Instead of traditional metal braces which are fastened to the teeth for years at a time, Invisalign treatment is done with removable, clear “aligners” that are shaped like a mouthguard and fit directly over the teeth.
  • Flexible for a “grown-up’s” lifestyle. When you’re in middle school or high school, you pretty much have to take what your parents give you – if they want you to wear braces, you’re going to wear braces. But once you’re an adult, you need the flexibility that Invisalign offers – you can remove the aligners if you need to. You can still play sports and have an active lifestyle while wearing Invisalign aligners.
  • No more food stuck in your braces. One of the worst parts of having braces, as many mortified teenagers can testify, is the constant “stickiness” of the metal brackets – food tends to get stuck on braces. This is not the case with Invisalign – no food will ever get stuck on your Invisalign aligners, because you remove the aligners before you eat.
  • More comfortable. Invisalign treatment is intended to be more comfortable for your mouth than traditional braces – as your teeth move into place, the Invisalign process is easier on your gums and jaws. Also, since Invisalign aligners do not have brackets or wires, you are likely to have less discomfort than you would with braces. (No more getting stabbed in the mouth with metal protusions and jagged edges!)

Can any dentist prescribe Invisalign?

No – Invisalign has certain special requirements for the dentists and orthodontists who prescribe this form of treatment. Talk to your dentist if you are interested in adjusting your teeth with Invisalign – your dentist or orthodontist needs to be specially trained in how to use Invisalign treatment.

Is Invisalign only for adults?

No – although most of the people who get Invisalign treatment are adults, many teenagers are also able to use this method of teeth alignment. Talk to your dentist – Invisalign patients need to have already lost all of their baby teeth and have their second molars at least partially erupted.

What if I already have braces – can I replace them with Invisalign?

Talk to your dentist or orthodontist – a growing number of patients are receiving a combination of Invisalign treatment and traditional braces, so it is possible to do both. But talk to your dental professional first and see what method will work best for your unique situation.

Invisalign may not be right for everyone – some people need a level of orthodontic work that can only be achieved with braces. However, if you’re interested in the Invisalign method, talk to your dentist. It might be an effective, convenient, and mostly invisible answer to your teeth-straightening needs.

For more information on Invisalign, check out


555 N. New Ballas Rd., Suite 355, St. Louis, MO 63141 USA
Dr. Jeffrey Dalin Dalin Dental Associates is the dental office of Dr. Jeffrey Dalin and is located in St. Louis, MO offering cosmetic dentistry, general and restorative dentistry to families. (314) 567-3555 (314) 567-9047