Are there any alternatives to braces for minor misalignment of teeth?

Doctor's Answers 3

Hi Ilovetoffeenutfrapp!

Retainers do undergo wear and tear with time, it depends on the individual case, as some people grind more than others and different retainer materials would have different results as well.

With the advances in digital dentistry, some dentists and orthodontists now have intraoral scanners and software systems, which are able to predictably and accurately align your teeth using their own in-house custom clear aligners. For minor misalignment, this would work great for you, and the cost should not exceed a few hundred dollars if only 2-3 aligners are required. Of course it would require a proper clinical assessment, if it requires more than 5-6 aligners I would strongly recommend Invisalign.

I would also advise bringing your current retainers along for the consultation visit so that the dentist is able to ascertain why they have cracked or loosened with time. If you grind at night, a stronger retainer material or even a night splint should be planned as part of the treatment plan at the end of alignment to ensure your teeth do no misalign again.

Hope this helps, all the best!

Warm regards,

Hi Ilovetoffeenutfrappe,

There are 3 ways to correct minor misalignment without resorting to traditional metal braces.

1) Invisalign

This provides the most control over even minor tooth movements and is especially popular among adults with relapse from previous orthodontic treatment. Invisalign is the most premium option because of the level of control and customization possible.

Since you have already had one round of comprehensive orthodontic treatment, I would also suggest you consider fixed retainers in addition to removable retainers. Our jawbones are constantly being remodeled throughout life and the teeth shift to accomodat for this.

Fixed retainers can minimize the chances of your teeth shifting again if you stop wearing your removable retainer or if the retainer becomes loose.

2) Retainers with a reset built in

If it turns out that all of your other teeth have maintained their position as they were after your braces were removed and it is only a few (1-4) teeth that are slightly out of alignment, then you may consider a new set of retainers made with a reset done on the misaligned teeth.

This retainer will not fit passively over the misaligned teeth, but will exert some pressure to squeeze the teeth back into position.

To create space for the teeth to move back into line, you may need some interdental sandpapering of the front teeth (IPR). This is similar to what happens with Invisalign but this is suitable only for patients with near-perfect alignment, since we have much less control of how the teeth will move with this option.

This is the cheapest option but with the least predictability.

3) Veneers/crowns

For patients not keen to undergo another cycle of orthodontic treatment, or if they have other issues with the appearance of their teeth (shape, size or severe colour discrepancies), a restorative option may be more suitable.

Veneers or crowns can improve minor tooth alignment issues in a shorter period of time. However, these are irreversible procedures and I would still advise long term use of retainers. Having a full set of veneers or crowns done is the most costly option of the 3 I have presented. Also these artificial materials do have a lifespan and may need replacement down the line.

I hope this is useful. Do try to find a dentist who is comfortable using all 3 different treatment modalities so that you can have an open discussion about which is going to be best for you.

There are a few ways in which teeth can be straightened. For minor misalignments, sometimes it is possible to improve them with removable appliances such as a spring aligner, or even simply by adjusting your existing retainer.

We will suggest that you see an orthodontist or a dentist for an examination and a discussion on what will be the best option for you. Please bring along your existing retainers during the consultation visit.

For more information, please join us at our 'Smile.Sparkle.Shine' public forum at NDCS on 24th March 2018.

Similar Questions

Do braces change your facial profile?

You have asked a very interesting question and I am afraid the answer is yes and no! I will try to explain it as best I can. Braces CAN change profiles: Braces can change profiles only when the orthodontists and the patient plan to get it changed from the START of the treatment. A good example is when patients complain that when taking photographs, they notice that their side profile is sticking out and they have a very full smile (most patients use the terms, I look like a horse!) In this case, braces can help to retract the teeth to allow the patient to have a softer, gentler profile.

Photo of Dr Sylvia Tan

Answered By

Dr Sylvia Tan


Should I do my dental crown or braces first?

It is better to get your braces done first before your crown. This is because the tooth and gum position will move and it may affect the final crown work. The crown surface may also be damaged during braces work (risk is small) which means that you may need a new crown after braces. If you want to be treated with subsidy you will need a polyclinic referral letter. However please note that there are no subsidies for any orthodontic treatment. You can be seen by the postgraduate students at NUS for a slightly reduced price for braces if you wanted to.

Photo of Dr Sylvia Tan

Answered By

Dr Sylvia Tan


Ask any health question for free

I’m not so sure about a procedure...

Ask Icon Ask a Question

Join Human

Sign up now for a free Human account to get answers from specialists in Singapore.

Sign Up

Get The Pill

Be healthier with our Bite-sized health news straight in your inbox