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Are You Ready for Teeth Straightening as an Adult?

woman with nice teeth smilingWhen it comes to self-confidence, your teeth and smile have a lot to do with how you feel. Not having the smile you want can make you more hesitant to talk to people and less likely to go after the things you want in life.

And while many women consider their smile something they'd like to fix about themselves, many don't consider getting their teeth straightened as an adult. "Metal mouths" may immediately bring to mind preteens and teenagers, but metal braces aren't your only option.

There are clear aligners that are barely visible, and even metal braces are less visible and more comfortable than they used to be.

If it makes you feel any better, most people—about 75 percent—don't have naturally straight teeth and could benefit from teeth straightening, according to the American Association of Orthodontics. About 4.5 million people in the United States wear braces or other appliances to achieve straighter, healthier teeth, and one in five of those people are adults. So what are the full benefits of teeth straightening, and what are your options?

It's more than just a prettier smile

Improving the look of your smile may be your main reason for looking into teeth straightening, but there are many more benefits if you choose to get your teeth straightened. For example, straight teeth help people chew, bite and speak more effectively. They also contribute to healthier teeth and gums, making it easier for your dental floss, toothbrush and mouthwash to do their jobs.

Not only that, but there are plenty of mental and social benefits. A nice smile boosts self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image, which can lead to more social and career success.

You have options

These days, technology has revolutionized the teeth-straightening industry. Gone are the days of chunky metal appliances and mazes of rubber bands. Today, the traditional metal and bracket wire system involves brackets that are much smaller and can be tooth-colored so they're less noticeable, as well as smaller rubber bands. They allow an orthodontist to use a wide range of techniques to move the teeth, making them effective for even complicated cases.

Clear aligners, like Invisalign, involve clear trays that fit over your teeth and can be removed whenever you want, like while you eat or when you brush your teeth. Every two weeks you change the tray you're using to one that is closer to your end result. They're good if you don't need extensive correction and are committed to wearing the trays.

How much teeth straightening costs depends on where you live and how much straightening you need, but braces and aligners can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000.