Colleen Cancio explains on HowStuffWorks that a person can straighten his teeth without braces by using aligners, retainers, contouring or veneers. Clear, plastic removable aligners are the most popular alternatives to braces.
The main advantage of clear aligners over traditional braces is that they are invisible, says Cancio. Moreover, they are removable, making them easy to clean. Unlike traditional braces, aligners do not get in the way of a patient’s oral hygiene. Most aligners are computer-generated and are made using photos, X-rays and impressions of a person’s teeth. There are personalized treatment plans, including a series of at least 24 different aligners designed for consecutive wear. Each of these aligners pushes the teeth approximately 1.2 mm toward the desired position. Aligners have nearly the same treatment time as braces. The only downside is their removability as many patients lose their aligners or simply forget to use them.
For slightly misaligned teeth, Cancio discusses that a simple retainer is effective. Another alternative is contouring, which involves shaving off thin layers of the teeth’s enamel. The application of veneers is also recommended for slight misalignments. Veneers consist of a thin layer of porcelain, and they are permanently attached to the teeth, giving the teeth a perfect appearance.