The first step to teeth straightening is booking a consultation with your dentist – they’ll always be your best and most reliable resource. The next is doing additional research. You should know what you’re getting into, right? The trouble is there’s a ton of misinformation swirling around, so it’s part of your job as a responsible consumer to distinguish between fact and fiction.
So, put on your myth-buster hat. It’s time to set the record straight on a few common misconceptions about orthodontic treatment!
Myth #1: Teeth Straightening Is Only for Young Adults
One common misconception is there’s an “acceptable” and limited time for someone to undergo aligner therapy. Young adults (typically women and influencers) wearing clear aligners on social media perpetuate this idea. But you can seek it whenever you’re ready. The American Association of Orthodontists explains, “Your orthodontist considers many variables when developing your customised treatment plan, but age is rarely a deciding factor.”
Given how discreet and nondisruptive aligners are to one’s daily life, they’re a viable solution for all ages. Successful teeth alignment doesn’t depend on how young or old you are. Instead, it hinges on working with an orthodontic professional who can maximise the aligners’ corrective abilities.
Myth #2: Improving Teeth Alignment Changes Your Face Shape
A combination of soft and hard tissues determines your face shape. As you age, the soft tissues in your face naturally lose firmness, leading to sagging. Meanwhile, hard tissues refer to the bones, which require extensive procedures like bone-cutting surgery to transform. So, don’t let anyone tell you addressing teeth misalignment can shrink your face and drastically change its shape!
At most, orthodontic treatment can change your facial profile, but not by much. The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) notes, “Changes to your facial shape from orthodontic treatment can be minor, depending on the severity of the problems being treated.” Aligners might straighten your profile by a few millimetres, but major movements may still require orthognathic (jaw) surgery. They’re beyond the scope of what orthodontic appliances can accomplish.
Myth #3: All Orthodontic Treatments Are Equally Painful
Do you subscribe to the phrase, “No pain, no gain”? It’s reasonable to assume that getting what you want (in this case, straight teeth) requires suffering. That may be why people think all orthodontic treatments are painful. But clear aligners offer a different experience than traditional, metal-wired braces thanks to their design.
In one study published in the International Dental Journal, researchers found that “patients treated with aligners reported less pain and greater quality of life throughout orthodontic treatment,” compared to patients treated with fixed appliances.
The soft plastic material of clear aligners gives them some elasticity, making them more comfortable for the wearer. They apply an appropriate amount of force on teeth – neither too much nor too little. Remember: excessive force can damage the teeth and their surrounding nerves. Keeping the pressure constant but gentle is the key to painless orthodontics.
Still, you can expect a bit of pressure sensitivity when wearing clear aligners. That comes with trying to move the teeth into their new positions. Bone remodelling around the roots can lead to mild discomfort, but it usually goes away after your teeth get used to a new set of aligners.
Myth #4: Aligners Only Work for Small Movements
Since clear aligners are comfortable and easy to wear, people assume they only work for “simple” teeth correction cases or small movements. For example, patients with minor diastema (a gap between the upper front teeth) might be more inclined to seek treatment than those with advanced crowding. But the reality is aligner therapy has come a long way since its early days.
One case report published in the Journal of Aligner Orthodontics detailed the diagnosis and treatment for a patient with “Class III skeletal and dental malocclusion.” The report noted that cases like these can be “some of the most difficult [to treat], especially in non-growing patients.”
But after 46 months, the aligner treatment successfully helped correct the patient’s complex malocclusion without requiring surgery. The report concluded that “clear aligners can be a viable treatment option for appropriately selected Class III malocclusion cases.”
That’s just one example of clear aligners being on par with traditional orthodontic appliances. While there are still some situations where orthodontists might recommend additional tools to assist movement, aligners are more than capable of tackling most cases. Are you unsure if your misaligned teeth are treatable with ClearCorrect? Check if you might be a candidate here.
Myth #5: Aligner Treatment Takes Longer Than Braces
Many believe something as desirable as straight teeth should take forever to achieve. Some even expect the process to be an inconvenience to be effective. Since removable aligners hardly disrupt your day-to-day, it’s easy to think they need more time to address misalignment vs. braces. But the opposite is true – at least, for specific cases.
Aligners cover more surface area and apply customised pressure per tooth, significantly shortening treatment time. Of course, duration also depends on a patient’s condition and their goals. Smaller movements can take as little as three months, while more complex ones can take up to four years.
The ASO also notes, “Every small amount of time (around two hours a day at a minimum) [aligners] are out of your mouth, your treatment is delayed.” Since clear aligners are removable, the patient needs to be responsible about wear time; otherwise, they risk extending their treatment.
Make better, more informed decisions about teeth straightening by arming yourself with accurate information. After all, these myths are just the tip of the iceberg! There’s more to learn and debunk, so read up: discover the science behind clear aligners, then find out how your smile impacts your face. And don’t forget to seek professional advice, too – your treating doctor will know how best to help you.
Australian Society of Orthodontists. (2022b, October 25). How braces can change the shape of your face. Orthodontics Australia.
Australian Society of Orthodontists. (2023b, March 8). Traditional Braces vs Clear Aligners. Orthodontics Australia.
Baum, A. (2023). Am I too old for orthodontic treatment? American Association of Orthodontists.
Robertson, L. R., Lee, D. L., Elmar, H. E., & El-Bialy, T. E. (2019). Treatment of a Challenging Class III malocclusion case using Invisalign clear aligners and micro-osteoperforation: a case report. Journal of Aligner Orthodontics, 3(3).
Rouzi, M., Zhang, X., Jiang, Q., Long, H., Lai, W., & Li, X. (2023). Impact of clear aligners on oral health and oral microbiome during orthodontic treatment. International Dental Journal.