How You Can Straighten Teeth Without Braces

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Table of Contents

  1. Key information
  2. Natural methods
  3. FAQs
  4. Important terms to know
  5. The importance of straightening your teeth 
  6. 8 ways to straighten your teeth without braces
  7. Straighten your teeth with Byte

Consistent pressure must be applied for an extended time to align crooked teeth. Historically, doctors used braces to do this. But recent advancements in dental technology have opened up many other options. 

If you want to straighten your teeth without braces, you may be a good candidate for a retainer, expander, invisible aligners, or doctor-monitored, at-home aligners.

The emergence of tools like clear aligners has helped millions of people get the smile they always wanted without the hassle.

DID YOU KNOW Aligners work for many orthodontic issues and can cost thousands less than braces.

Key information about how to straighten teeth without braces

Clear aligners are a convenient and comfortable alternative to braces, and they come with unique benefits. For example, experts say it's easier for people to maintain ideal oral health during aligner treatment, as they don't have to skip flossing and gum brushing like they do with braces.

Close to 60% of orthodontists ask patients to wear their retainers part-time but indefinitely after their braces are removed. That retainer technology could also be used for minor dental adjustments in adults. 

Veneers are a good option for people who want a quick fix for their smiles. While veneers can break, studies suggest close to 94% of them remain intact at the 10-year mark. 

The search term “straighten teeth DIY” delivers more than 636,000 Google results. The term “how to do braces at home” comes with 131,000,000 results, and many are videos. Social media influencers suggest anyone can straighten their smile with tools like rubber bands, sticks, or their fingers. None of these methods are either effective or safe.

Important terms to know

When you’re reading about how to straighten teeth, you may come across words and phrases that are unfamiliar or confusing.

This glossary may help:

  • Retainer: This device is worn after treatment with braces or aligners to keep the teeth in place.

  • Expander: This device sits on the roof of your mouth, slowly providing pressure to expand the palate and give teeth more room.

  • Palate: This is another term for the roof of your mouth.

  • Veneers: These thin pieces are glued to the front of the teeth to give the appearance of a brighter, straighter smile.

  • Crowns: These tooth-colored implants look just like the real thing.

  • Lingual braces: These metal or ceramic braces sit behind your teeth (on the lingual side), not in front of them.

  • Orthognathic surgery: This type of surgery repositions the chin or the upper or lower jaws.

The importance of straightening crooked teeth 

Your crooked teeth can harm your self-confidence, making it tough to smile openly or laugh with your mouth open. But those crooked teeth could also hurt your health.

As the American Dental Association points out, crooked teeth can cause these health problems:

  • Poor oral hygiene, leading to cavities or gum disease

  • Difficulty chewing foods carefully

  • Speaking difficulties

  • Abnormal wear and tear to tooth enamel 

  • Jaw problems 

In the past, straightening crooked teeth meant going to the dentist for braces. But dental innovations mean more options for getting the smile you always wanted.

8 ways to straighten your teeth without braces

Your smile is as unique as your fingerprint. Whether you need a subtle shift or a full mouth overhaul, dental professionals can craft a plan that's just right for you. They might choose from one of the following options:


Who should use this option?

Clear aligners

People with mild to severe dental problems who are committed to following their treatment plan carefully

Orthodontic appliances

Children and young adults with jaw alignment issues (such as a major overbite or underbite)


Adults who need a minor adjustment to their smile


Adults with chipped, stained, or gapped teeth that are straight at the roots

Palatal expanders

Adults and children with crowding, crossbite, impacted teeth, or other significant dental issues caused by an improper jaw size

Dental bonding

People with cracked, chipped, shortened, or gapped teeth

Dental crowns

Adults and children with teeth damaged due to implants, root canals, or unsightly fillings

Orthognathic surgery

People with severe dental issues that can’t be treated via any other method

Keep reading to learn how to get straight teeth without braces and what options might be right for you. 

1. Clear aligners

Clear aligners are made of high-quality polymers based on models of your teeth and a 3D plan of your ideal smile. Wear trays for most of the day and night, and swap the trays every few weeks as you march toward your straight-tooth goal. 

Researchers say aligners are associated with better oral health than braces. You can take them out to brush and floss, which is impossible with braces. Aligners are also discreet and private, so few people will know you're undergoing treatment. 

Aligners require compliance, so you must commit to putting them in, taking them out, and wearing them all day. While they're appropriate for dental issues ranging from mild to significant, patient compliance is key. If you don't wear your trays, they can't help you. 

Find out if you're a good candidate for clear aligners in only 30 seconds with this handy tool.

"Lingual braces have been a great option for adults who want straight teeth and a beautiful smile without being obvious about the fact that they are wearing braces. However, on the downside, this treatment approach is not cost-effective because of the large amount of chair time required. Clear aligner therapy (CAT) is also an option that makes oral hygiene easier and allows patients to go about their normal lifestyles without disruption. It is particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the unflattering look of traditional metal braces."

2. Orthodontic appliances

When people think about traditional orthodontic appliances, they often consider braces. But there are plenty of other options out there that can fix teeth without braces. 

Those options include the following:

  • Headgear: Hooks or bands attached to the teeth connect to wires and frames surrounding the head. Alignment issues (such as overbite or underbite) are often treated with headgear, but it works best in young people with still-growing bones. 

  • Herbst appliance: This device moves your lower jaw forward and your upper jaw back. It's attached to both upper and lower molars and looks a little like a spring. Both adults and children can use this tool.

  • Mara appliance: This device works (and looks) much like the Herbst. But the Mara appliance is slightly smaller.  

People with significant smile problems caused by misaligned jaws can benefit from orthodontic appliances. But these devices can cause pain, and the more uncomfortable they are, the more likely patients are to discontinue treatment

If you opt for orthodontic appliances, talk to your doctor about pain-relieving options. And if it's too uncomfortable, ask for an adjustment. 

3. Retainers

After significant orthodontic treatment, people use braces to preserve their new smiles. But this same technology could help adults correct minor smile problems. 

Retainers wrap around teeth and apply gentle pressure, just like aligners do. Wear them enough every day, and you could get your teeth straightened without braces. 

These tools work best in adults, as they're more likely than kids to stick with this therapy. But many types of retainers exist, and people must be careful to choose the version that's right for their teeth and smile. 

4. Veneers

Veneers are thin, shell-like pieces glued or bonded to the front of your teeth. No one can tell that your smile has been treated, and you're not required to place veneers on every tooth. Your dentist could match your veneer to the color of your existing teeth. 

Some people consider braces because one or two teeth are twisted or uneven. Veneers can be a good solution, and they're usually applied in one visit. 

Veneers can also be good choices for people with teeth weakened by multiple fillings. A veneer covering can provide stability while making the tooth look better. 

But veneers can't fix larger problems, like big gaps between teeth or jaw alignment issues. They're not strong enough or designed for these issues. Veneers are also very expensive ($250 to $2,500 per tooth), so a full-mouth restoration could be cost-prohibitive for some. 

5. Palatal expanders

Your palate is the hard bone at the roof of your mouth, providing support for your upper teeth. If it's too small or bent at a sharp angle, your teeth crowd accordingly. 

A palatal expander exerts gentle pressure on this bone, pushing it into a new shape with enough space for your teeth. Dentists widen it via a series of appointments. 

Palatal expanders work best in children with still-growing jaws. When applied at the right time, this device could solve crooked tooth problems before they start. 

6. Dental bonding

Dental bonding is very similar to dental veneers. Doctors create a resin material that matches the color of your existing teeth, and it's applied to the surface of your chipped or otherwise non-ideal tooth. A UV light hardens it within minutes. 

People use dental bonding to fix the following types of problems:

  • Stains or discoloration 

  • Cracking or chipping

  • Gaps between teeth 

  • Exposed roots 

Dental bonding can cost between $100 and $1,000 per tooth, so it's not an ideal option for a full-mouth correction. But it could be appropriate for small problems. 

7. Dental crowns 

Dental crowns work best to correct cracked or significantly decayed teeth. Typically, crowns are applied as a last resort to fix teeth that are significantly compromised. 

While they can be applied in one visit, some types of dental crowns are fragile and can crack if you bite down too hard. Crowns can also be expensive, so they’re not ideal for full-mouth treatments.

8. Orthognathic surgery

Orthognathic surgery is designed to reposition your upper jaw, lower jaw, or chin. It’s made for people who are too old to use tools like palatal expanders or who have conditions that are too severe for routine orthodontic care.

A surgeon performs a comprehensive evaluation and talks to the person about what the surgery can do and how the person might look when it’s done. Sometimes, doctors use things like liposuction to make the results even better. Sometimes, that’s not needed.

Surgery is performed in a hospital, and the recovery can be extensive. While researchers say most people can go to work in 10 to 14 days, facial swelling may persist for several weeks. It’s also hard to eat and drink naturally after surgery, and talking can be tough.

This type of surgery is typically reserved for very severe cases. While it may not be your first choice, it’s a good option if you have significant issues that just can’t be fixed via another method.

Can I straighten my teeth naturally?

Wires, trays, veneers, and expanders can make some people feel uncomfortable. If they search the internet, they could walk away with plenty of dangerous ideas about how to fix their teeth naturally.

Common DIY teeth-straightening options people have tried include the following:

  • Rubber bands or fishing line to push teeth together

  • Sticks to push teeth into place

  • Fingers to shove jaws into new spaces

  • Biting on pencils to force teeth together

  • Creating fake retainers

Natural tooth straightening isn't effective, and it isn't safe. The California Association of Orthodontists and the American Association of Orthodontists say these methods can lead to “devastating consequences” for the people who have tried them.

DIY tooth straightening has been associated with the following problems:

  • Infections: Rubber bands, essential oils, and other at-home therapies can lead to deep infections that could cost you your teeth and your overall oral health. 

  • Cracking: The enamel coating on your teeth doesn't regrow. Using tools like sticks or metal bars could harm it permanently. 

  • Pain: Pushing and pulling on your teeth can harm your soft tissues and lead to bleeding and pain. 

  • Toxin exposure: Paper clips and other metal bits aren't meant for your mouth. 

  • Fracture: Pushing teeth too hard can break them.

Straighten your teeth with Byte clear aligners 

Clear aligners are clear winners for people hoping to get straight teeth without braces. And Byte clear aligners are doctor directed, professional grade, and very effective. 

Get started with a custom impression kit. A dental professional will examine your mouth and your goals, and you'll get a complete picture of what your smile will look like after treatment. 

You'll get trays to wear and swap out on a schedule directed by your dental team. And someone will be available to you around the clock to answer questions and stay on track. 

Take this 30-second assessment to see if Byte aligners are right for you.

FAQs on Teeth Straightening

We've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions on teeth straightening options outside of braces:

Yes. Clear aligners, retainers, dental bonding, and dental crowns are just a few of the options available to help you straighten your teeth without braces.

Clear aligners are often less expensive than other options like braces or veneers. While DIY options seem less expensive, they're not safe or effective. Never choose these methods over those supervised by a dental professional.

Generics, age, shifting teeth, thumb sucking, and malnutrition are just some of the factors that can lead to crooked teeth.

Yes. Crooked teeth can lead to significant problems in time, including poor oral hygiene, difficulty chewing foods carefully, and enamel wear and tear. Leaving crooked teeth untreated can also impair your confidence.

Many orthodontic appliances (like braces and aligners) work via gentle pressure. You may feel discomfort when you start treatment or take the next step in care (like getting your braces tightened or swapping out aligner trays). Over-the-counter remedies should help. Braces may be the more painful choices, as the devices can cause cuts and scratches inside your mouth.

It depends. Mild-to-moderate issues might be treated with aligners within months. Severe issues that involve braces, headgear, and more might require years of work. Your doctor can help you understand how long your program will take.

If you have dental insurance, you may get help with orthodontic care. However, some plans limit how much they will pay, and others require you to work with doctors within their network. Call your insurance company and ask about your coverage.

You’ll stay in close contact with your dental professional while you’re using treatments to straighten teeth. When that intense stage is complete, you’ll see your doctor yearly or not at all. Your doctor or aligner treatment company can help you determine a schedule that’s right for you.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
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