Teeth straightening: The basics



Young man keeping his Invisalign aligners in their case

If you're at the beginning of your journey towards teeth straightening, you might just be in that vague thought process — you know a straighter smile would look and feel good, but you're not sure what it's actually all about. 

With so many teeth straightening options, it can be a bit of a daunting task when you don't know where to start — but that's what we're here for! In this article, we'll answer some of the most frequent teeth straightening questions so that you can have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your smile.

Is straightening your teeth purely a cosmetic decision? 

Invisalign doctor checking iTero scanner

A lot of people believe that teeth straightening is simply a cosmetic decision — and while it's true that teeth straightening can have amazing aesthetic results, there are also some important non-cosmetic reasons to consider teeth straightening treatments. 

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that teeth straightening is a medical procedure, and it should be treated as such. While the many benefits of straighter teeth can be very exciting, we recommend that the teeth-straightening process should be fully supervised by a trained dentist or orthodontist. 

Having the ongoing supervision of a trained dentist or orthodontist means the whole process is as seamless and safe as possible. Rest easy knowing your oral health is taken care of — before, during, and after treatment. It also means you’ll have a professional on hand to answer any questions or concerns you might have during your teeth straightening journey. 

Girl in purple sweater smiling

With that being said, there are a number of benefits associated with straightening your teeth: 

Crooked teeth can put unnecessary strain on your jaw, which can lead to a whole host of problems like headaches, teeth grinding, and even TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders1. If you are able to align your teeth, you have a good chance of alleviating that discomfort2, which is a huge plus. 

Some people might have more complex issues that can affect eating3 & speaking4, These are problems that can truly affect the quality of life on a day-to-day basis — but the good news is many of these issues can be improved by teeth straightening and alignment. 

Blonde woman using dental floss

In addition, it's simply easier to keep your teeth clean when they're aligned properly, which helps greatly with your overall oral health. Teeth that are crooked or too close together are harder to brush and floss effectively, which means that you're more likely to form plaque5 which may lead to gum disease if there is plaque buildup. 

Once your teeth are properly aligned, you can get into all those nooks and crannies with your brushing and flossing, which reduces plaque buildup6 and gingivitis7. That means fewer expensive trips to the dentist in the long term, which we can all agree is a good thing. 

Two young girls taking a selfie

Oh, and while not strictly health-related, having straighter teeth is just a huge boost for your self-confidence! Invisalign® treatment has given over 16 million8 patients worldwide better, straighter smiles, so we know a thing or two about the transformative power of teeth straightening. 

What are the various types of teeth straightening options? 

Open Invisalign case with aligners inside

Generally speaking, there are three main types of teeth straightening treatments: traditional braces, lingual braces (like traditional braces but on the back of your teeth), and clear aligners (like Invisalign treatment). Each teeth straightening method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

Traditional Braces

Someone smiling with braces

Traditional braces are the most common teeth-straightening method, and while they're very effective, they're also the most visible as they use brackets and wires on the front of the teeth. If you're looking for a teeth-straightening solution that's discreet, traditional braces are probably not the best option for you. 

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces in that they use brackets and wires to move teeth, but the difference is that they're placed on the back of your teeth instead of the front. This makes them much less visible, but it can also make them more difficult to clean. 

Clear Aligners

Young man in green shirt putting in his aligners

Finally, clear aligners such as  Invisalign clear aligners are becoming increasingly popular as a teeth-straightening solution because they're incredibly discreet — in fact, most people won't even be able to tell that you're wearing them! They're also more comfortable than bracesand very easy to keep clean. 

To find out more about your teeth-straightening options, you can read our article — ​​Invisalign treatment vs Braces: Which is Best for Your Smile?

Can mouthguards straighten teeth? 

Woman putting in her aligners

Mouthguards are typically worn to protect teeth from sports related trauma, or to help with jaw clenching and grinding10. They are custom-made specially to fit snugly around your teeth and mouth and will not move your teeth to straighten them.  

This is different from teeth straightening systems like the Invisalign system, where you have a series of custom-made clear aligners; each new aligner is slightly different which will move your teeth in small increments to the desired position as outlined in your Invisalign treatment plan.  

How long does teeth straightening take? 

Woman holding her aligners and their case

The length of time it will take to straighten your teeth depends on the severity of your teeth misalignment as well as the teeth-straightening method that you choose. 

In general, traditional braces could take anywhere between 12 and 36 months to work11 — while clear aligners like Invisalign treatment are on the shorter end of the spectrum, with most people finishing their treatment in around 12-18 months. In fact, simpler cases can be treated in a little as six months12

Of course, every mouth is different, so the only way to know for sure how long your teeth straightening will take is to consult with an orthodontist or dentist. 

How much does teeth straightening cost? 

Teen holding aligners

The cost of teeth straightening will vary depending on the method that you choose as well as the severity of your teeth misalignment. Many Invisalign-trained dentists offer flexible financing options, so it may be more accessible than you think. Check with your dentist to find out if they provide financing options.  

How does Invisalign treatment work?

Invisalign doctor with female patient checking iTero scanner

Since we're on the topic of Invisalign treatment, let's explain quickly how it all works. 

In your first consultation with your dentist or orthodontist, your teeth will usually be mapped out ​using 3D imaging technology13, so you can see simulations of what your teeth might look like at each stage of the treatment, including your potential smile. 

Aligners sample

Invisalign providers then use those advanced scans to do a highly detailed diagnosis and design and simulate a bespoke treatment plan. From there, a series of clear, custom-made clear aligners are made that gradually and gently move your teeth into the desired position. After you visit your dentist or orthodontist, you’ll receive your new aligners in the mail that are slightly different from the last, moving your teeth incrementally to get closer to your final goal. 

Having your teeth straightened is a big decision, and your method of treatment is entirely up to you and your dentist to decide. We've only been able to cover the most basic of questions in this article, so if you have any questions, please contact your dentist for a more personalised approach. 

If you'd like help finding an Invisalign dentist, please visit our Find a Doctor page to book a consultation with an Invisalign dentist or orthodontist. 

1   https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/why-do-straight-teeth-matter/
2   https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/why-do-straight-teeth-matter/
3   https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/why-do-straight-teeth-matter/
4   https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/7-common-bite-problems/
5   https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/plaque
6   https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/why-do-straight-teeth-matter/

Worldwide data on file at Align Technology, March 31, 2023 
Study sponsored by Align Technology and based on adult Class I, nonextraction, mild to moderate crowding cases with SmartTrack material. David W. White, Katie C. Julien, Helder Jacob, Phillip M. Campbell and Peter H. Buschang, Discomfort associated with Invisalign and traditional brackets: A randomized, prospective trial. The Angle Orthodontist Nov 2017, Vol. 87, No. 6 pp. 801-808
10 https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/teeth-straightening/can-you-straighten-teeth-with-a-mouthguard#:~:text=%E2%80%9CYou%20cannot%20straighten%20teeth%20with,%2C%20jaw%20clenching%2C%20or%20trauma.
11 https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-do-braces-take
12 Based on mild to moderate malocclusion (defined as crowding and spacing up to 6mm, and overjet and overbite up to 6mm and assuming one week wear), treatment times vary depending on invisalign product type, wear time, case complexity and must be determined by your doctor. Data on file at Align Technology, as of September 9, 2020
13 The availably of the iTero scanner is dependent on your Invisalign provider.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this website are for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek the advice of your health care provider with any questions you may have regarding any dental or medical-related condition and never disregard or delay seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.