The unwanted look: Ugly Betty
If your teeth have gone a little wayward but you don't want to look like Ugly Betty having them sorted out, fortune may be about so smile on you.
A brace whose working parts remain largely out of sight is about to revolutionise cosmetic dentistry, practitioners claim.
And the Inman Aligner is likely to appeal to more than just vanity.
It claims to straighten teeth in just a month, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional treatment.
While a standard brace can take more than two years to create the perfect smile, the new spring-loaded device takes between four and 16 weeks to nudge teeth back where they belong.
And while existing systems can cost up to £4,000, this one is £1,500. It is barely visible, apart from a single clear wire, and it can easily be slipped in and out of the mouth, allowing the wearer to go brace-free for important occasions. Scroll down for more...
The aligner can only be fitted to teeth which are full-formed and, as such, is not suitable for children. It is also limited to mild or moderate realignment, treatment which is not normally available on the NHS, and so is only available privately.
Nevertheless cosmetic dentist Tif Qureshi, whose practice in Sidcup, Kent, is one of the first in Britain to offer the U.S. invention, hails it as revolutionary.
"It will become the treatment of choice for many who need alignment of the front teeth," he said.
"There are many different types of braces on the market but most need to be kept on for at least 12 months and some take more than two years.
"The Inman Aligner is a great solution for adults who never considered braces due to the lengthy time commitment."
Dr Tim Bradstock-Smith, of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, said: "It is ideal because the brace can be removed for job interviews, family photos or any type of special occasion."
Patient testimonials from America vouch for its effectiveness, saying it is comfortable, affordable and fast.
Created by Florida dental technician Don Inman, the aligner is similar to a gumshield, except that the acrylic casing that covers the teeth is transparent and hardly seen.
The mechanics consist of a series of coiled springs which sit at the back of the teeth, pushing them forward, while a thin plastic bar across the front of the teeth exerts pressure in the opposite direction.
Careful adjustment of the opposing forces brings the gentlest of pressure to bear in the desired direction, depending on the problem to be corrected.
Intriguingly, it is the subtlety of the pressure which ensures it works more quickly than conventional braces.
Dental scientists have discovered that reducing the amount of pressure reduces the tooth's natural resistance to being moved and so speeds up the process.
In addition to this, conventional braces, in which metal brackets are bonded to the teeth and threaded together with flexible wire, gradually loosen and have to be tightened regularly by the orthodontist.
This means there are periods between adjustments when the device is doing little to correct the teeth.
Fitting the aligner takes two halfhour appointments, followed by 15-minute monthly check-ups. The advice is that it should be worn for between 16 and 20 hours a day and removed for eating and sleep. Patients may find they need to take mild painkillers for the first week or so and may develop a temporary lisp. The makers also caution that the aligner may case the wearer to salivate more than usual in the first 48 hours... so it may be wise to choose your company carefully for a couple of days.
The invisible brace which promises the perfect smile in a month - and won't leave you looking like Ugly Betty | the Daily Mail