Last Updated on

UPDATED 05-05-18

Combat overcrowding. Your smile is important. Straight, healthy teeth can help you feel more confident, attractive, and comfortable with your appearance. But did you know that braces and Invisalign may not be needed to achieve your best smile? Dr. Adam Schulhof is specialized in several treatment options available to help you build a more beautiful smile.



Who Needs Braces?

Firstly, it can be helpful to start by understanding who requires braces to achieve their ideal smile, and who is eligible for alternative options. Let’s begin by taking a look at who really needs braces. You may have to use braces or Invisalign if you have any of the following conditions:

• Teeth are badly misaligned or crooked
• Teeth are too far apart
• Severe overbite, underbite, or crossbite

If any of the above conditions sound familiar to you, then you may have to use braces or Invisalign (possibly together with other treatments) to correct the problem. If your misalignment or uneven bite is not that severe then a retainer, certain appliances, or expanders may be able to correct the problem.

Alternatives to Braces

Overcrowding can be caused by several different factors. There are a few alternatives to braces or Invisalign that can fix these orthodontic issues. These may actually take less time than braces and can be more subtle as well. You may be eligible for these alternative treatments if you have any of the following conditions:

• Minor overcrowding (slightly crooked teeth)
• Bite misalignment
• Narrow or underdeveloped palate

If the conditions above describe you then you should visit our practice for an appointment to meet with Dr. Schulhof and explore your best treatment options.


Treatment for Minor Overcrowding

Minor overcrowding can happen over time, even if you are fortunate enough to have a naturally straight smile. If you had braces in the past and have stopped wearing your retainer, it is possible to have some misalignment develop as the years go by. You can prevent this by holding onto your retainer and wearing it regularly as recommended by your orthodontist.

Thus, if you are beginning to have a few teeth getting out of alignment, make an appointment with us. We can look at a fixed retainer or a removable retainer to straighten your upper and lower teeth.

Fixed Retainers. A fixed retainer is a semi-permanent solution. These retainers are attached to the inner surface of your teeth. They are bonded to the teeth using heavy duty dental adhesive and help prevent the teeth from getting out of alignment. Fixed retainers can last for years, They are good because they are installed on your teeth so you do not have to remember to put the retainer in or take it out. The drawback is that they can be difficult to brush and floss around, and may require special tools like flossers to properly clean the teeth that are in contact with the fixed retainer.

Removable Retainers. Removable retainers (also known as “Hawley retainers”) can be put in and taken out as needed. These are not recommended for younger patients or forgetful folks because they can be easily misplaced. Removable retainers are made based on a dental impression. They are worn all the time and taken out for eating and cleaning.

Treatment for Narrow or Underdeveloped Palate

If your palate is too narrow or underdeveloped it can cause overcrowding of the teeth. This happens because there simply is not enough room for the adult teeth to grow in proper alignment. This is a problem that can be solved by widening the palate or the upper arch of the mouth.

Palatal Expanders. If the palate is too narrow then expanders may be the best solution. An expander (also called palatal expanders) is a small device that is placed between the upper molars. It is adjusted little by little to widen the arch in the roof of the mouth. This allows the space needed for teeth to align properly. It can also solve certain issues with an uneven bite by giving the upper and lower teeth enough room to line up as they should. An expander may take a year or more to fully adjust the palate to the right width, but it is a way to avoid braces and Invisalign.

Treatment for Bite Misalignment

If your upper and lower teeth are not lining up where they should, then you may have a bite misalignment. Often times, bite misalignment is actually a jaw problem. If the jaw itself is out of alignment it can cause the teeth to connect in the wrong place, resulting in overbite (top teeth too far forward) or underbite (lower teeth too far forward).

Jaw issues can cause visible problems such as the teeth getting out of alignment, and also invisible issues like headaches and neck pain. Correcting this problem can not only improve the look of your smile but also help you prevent serious medical issues and discomfort.

Here’s the Kicker

Accordingly, at our practice, Dr. Schulhof provides treatments that can help correct this type of issue.

Herbst Appliance. A device called the Herbst appliance can be used to correct improper jaw alignment. The appliance is fastened to the teeth and adjusted to help the jaw develop in the correct position. It can take about a year for this treatment to be completed.

Headgear. Unlike a Herbst appliance which is fastened to the teeth, headgear is a removable tool to adjust jaw position. For the best possible results, headgear has to be worn about 12 to 16 hours per day. It is visible because it is worn outside of the mouth and connects to brackets on the rear molars.

In conclusion, there are many solutions for orthodontic issues that do not rely on braces or Invisalign. Depending on your age, the type and severity of your condition, and what types of treatments you can responsibly manage, Dr. Schulhof can create an effective treatment plan with or without the use of traditional braces.


Contact us to make an appointment and explore your options today!


The Schulhof Center for Cosmetic Orthodontics
400 Kinderkamack Rd.
Oradell, NJ 07649
Phone: 201-523-9450


How to Correct Minor Overcrowding? [Without Braces]

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