For adults considering cosmetic orthodontics, there are several options available. If you have a big event coming up such as a wedding, fixing a crooked smile and getting straighter teeth may be at the top of the wish list. So which orthodontic treatment is best to achieve the results you’re after? We’ve outlined the pros and cons of the most popular treatments - veneers, braces and Invisalign.
Veneers are the quickest option for achieving that perfect smile, but there are some things to consider. Depending on the type of veneer you have applied, you could be back within a few years for replacement veneers.
Composite veneers last 2-5 years but eating and drinking foods that stain may shorten their life.
Porcelain veneers last longer but may require more preparation of the teeth so the veneer has room to fit onto the tooth surface and doesn’t look too bulky. The natural teeth may need filing down before the dentist can apply the veneers. Once your tooth has been filed, you will always need veneers to cover the natural tooth.
Even if the dentist doesn’t file the teeth, the bonding agent can damage the enamel of the natural tooth. Again, the damaged enamel means you’ll always need veneers to cover the appearance of the natural teeth. So it’s best not to consider veneers as a short-term, reversible option.
One of the biggest advantages with veneers however is speed. You can have veneers made and fitted within weeks. Braces and Invisalign require months to move the teeth into their desired position.
While veneers can be fit quickly, we recommend you take your time, do your research and carefully consider your options for changing your smile. Getting smile ready for a big event is important but the event will pass in a day and you’ll live with the decision you made forever.
One of the major problems that orthodontists see is building up the tooth to try and camouflage tooth irregularity, either by filing back prominent surfaces or adding composite plastic or ceramic veneers to build out irregular teeth. Not only do these procedures look pretty bad, but the long term health of the teeth and gums can be compromised. Very simply, if the teeth are irregular and either discoloured or misshaped, it’s better to first align the teeth before placing the veneer.
Most veneers last for around a decade, so it’s an ongoing commitment if you want to maintain your smile. You may also need a single veneer replaced due to:
It becoming cracked or damaged
Adhesive breaking down and the veneer coming loose
A surrounding tooth becoming stained and not matching the veneer’s colour
Damage or decay to the tooth behind the veneer
You’ll need to decide if you will use your dentist to fit your veneers or if you’ll see a specialist.
Invisalign is a popular option for adults, with the main benefit of it being more discreet and removable. Adults are usually more compliant and therefore likely to wear their aligners for the recommended 23 hours per day. Teens can sometimes forget to put their aligners back in so teeth aren’t constantly restrained. For this reason, braces are a better option for teenagers because they’re fixed.
Invisalign also appeals to adults because they’re a discreet option compared to metal braces. You can attend work (or Zoom meetings) with colleagues and not see that you’re wearing the thin plastic aligners.
While aligners aren’t suitable for complex orthodontic cases, they do work very well to improve smiles. The aligners are changed fortnightly as they slowly move the teeth into place. Therefore, Invisalign patients won’t see the ultimate result for months rather than weeks like veneers. If the orthodontic case is more complex, then you may need to consider braces.
Some clinicians promote the use of clear aligners to straighten the teeth and often when the teeth are incompletely aligned, veneer the teeth to compensate for the less than ideal alignment. As described earlier, this is a suboptimal approach as the veneers will be compromised and cause long term damage to the health of your teeth and gums.
Some people reach adulthood wishing they had the opportunity of braces when they were a child. They may not have had braces due to cost, lack of access to a local orthodontist or a variety of other reasons.
For some adults wanting to fix their teeth, braces are the only orthodontic option available to them. Usually they have a more complex case that requires the strength of metal braces to move teeth into place. Adults who choose Invisalign should be aware that the final outcome might not be as good as wearing braces because the aligners can’t do the same ‘heavy lifting’ as braces can.
With braces, the orthodontist isn’t just fixing a cosmetic issue. Braces are also used to fix malocclusion (bite) or jaw problems, overcrowding, crooked teeth and reduce the risk of decay and tooth loss.
Using braces to fix a basic cosmetic issue may only take as little as six months then a retainer to keep the teeth in place. If you’re worried about the look of metal braces, you might consider a more discreet option.
Lingual braces are worn on the inside of the teeth so they are difficult for anyone to see, particularly from a distance. There are additional costs with lingual braces as the brackets are individually made to fit the contours of the teeth backs and require additional check-ups.
Another option that sits between metal and lingual braces in terms of cost and aesthetics is ceramic braces. The tooth coloured brackets and wires of ceramic braces mean they are less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
Considering Orthodontic Treatment for Your Child?
There are many advantages to starting orthodontic treatment for children at a young age. Improve your child's smile and book an appointment!
The cost of each of the three options will depend on your case. None of the options are a cheap fix. Some will last the length of a special event and others for the rest of your life. Depending on your level of health cover, you may claim part of your dental or orthodontic treatment on health insurance.
Before committing to any major dental treatment, ask for details of costs. Each provider can give you the item numbers which you can quote when speaking to your health fund. Medicare isn’t available for most people.
Factors to Consider When Making your Decision
It’s important you have all the facts when deciding if veneers, braces or Invisalign is the best course of treatment for you. Ask plenty of questions to help you make an informed decision.
Ask about the:
Estimated length of treatment
Estimated cost of treatment
Time commitment you will need to make
Future treatment required
If you would like to know what your options are, you can always call a therapist at one of our clinics, or contact us online and have your questions answered straight away.