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Veneers, Aligners or Braces: Which Ones Should You Get? An Expert Explains the Tools Behind a Perfect Smile

Vogue Arabia, November 2019. Photo: Kat Irlin

The perfect smile. You’ve seen it in movies, on red carpets, in the pages of your favorite magazine, but the seemingly effortless feature can sometimes require a bit of work. Thanks to the progressions in dental sciences over the years, a perfectly balanced set of teeth no longer needs to be an unattainable goal. Just ask Dr Reham Kilano, clinical operations manager for aligner company Eon Dental.

Having spent her life between Iraq, the United Kingdom, and Jordan, Baghdad-born Dr Kilano holds multiple dentistry degrees, and currently uses her expertise in Jordan, where she helps give patients their smiles—and confidence—back. In a special interview, she sits down with Vogue Arabia to help break down the difference between three major tools when it comes to perfect teeth: aligners, braces, and veneers. Dive in to find out everything you need to know before you consider making an appointment.

First things first. Can you please help our readers understand the fundamental difference between veneers, braces and aligners?

While all three options work on enhancing your smile, they each do it in a slightly different way. Veneers are shell-like layers that cover each individual tooth to improve its appearance, which is mostly a cosmetic treatment. On the other hand, braces and clear aligners work on straightening your existing teeth, improving both aesthetics and function.

Clear aligners differ from braces in that they are practically invisible series of trays that are tailor-made to fit your teeth and work by applying pressure to force the teeth to move in the right direction to a favorable final position. They are worn for 22 hours a day, and each tray is worn for at least one week before switching to the next one. You can start seeing results from as early as 4-6 weeks into treatment, depending on your case.

Often, braces are seen as something one can only get done in their teenage years. Is this a common misconception, or do you believe this is true? Do you think aligners are better suited for working adults only?

The short answer to this is that you can get braces at any time in your life. However, while it is true that there is nothing that stops you from having braces during your adult life, your treatment can be longer and they can pose some limitations and inconveniences.

For clear aligners, you can start during your teenage life or adult life. Due to the nature of the clear aligner, this technique is more of a discreet treatment option, and is a preferred method by a lot of people, It is, of course, advised that you get your dentist’s professional opinion about the best time to start the treatment and s/he will walk you through the available options.

Dr Reham Kilano

You have had some incredible insights into the world of dentistry with your educational and career experiences. What’s the most common request you hear from patients when it comes to the health and appearance of their teeth?

Our teeth play a significant and major role in our day to day life. They not only help us eat and speak properly, but they also have an impact on our appearance. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise that people are becoming more and more aware of their smiles and are being more attentive to the smallest details. Some of the  frequent requests are usually to have even, straight and whiter teeth.

How much do you think an even, balanced smile contributes to one’s overall look?

A beautiful smile is a great asset. Straight teeth and a healthy smile not only increase one’s confidence, but are also believed to be one of the most memorable features about a person. Therefore I’d say a smile contributes a great deal to an individual’s overall appearance

When should a patient consider veneers? When should they go for braces? And when should one explore aligners? How do we know which one is the best route for us?

If you’re looking to improve your smile then you’ve probably pondered this question a lot, and while there is no easy clear answer and each case needs to be assessed differently, here are some general ideas to think about when choosing the right treatment option for you:
1. While veneers are a cosmetic treatment that enhance the smile through adjusting the shape, size and color of your teeth, they cannot change the position of the teeth underneath them, but instead, hide it.
2. On the other hand, both braces and clear aligners work on enhancing your smile by straightening your natural teeth with some differences between both. Clear aligners are nearly invisible, hygienic, causes less pain and discomfort, and come with little to no dietary restrictions.

Often, dental care/correction is associated with pain and discomfort. What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with patients who have always been apprehensive about seeing a dental professional?

First and foremost, you need to know that you’re not alone in this. A lot of people face this and it is considered something universal. Some advice that you could try on your next appointment is to discuss this with your dentist, make sure s/he is aware of your fear, so s/he can better work with you to ease your apprehension. You can also agree with your dentist on a stop signal, which is basically a sign that you will give to your dentist to let her/him know that you need to stop the procedure to rest or have a rinse. You can also ask your dentist to explain the procedure to you at each step along the way, so you are mentally prepared for the next step which in turn can help decrease anxiety.

When it comes to dental care, many of us are guilty for skipping steps. What are your five top rules to gleaming, healthy teeth?

My top 5 rules would be:
1. Brush your teeth twice a day two minutes each.
2. Don’t neglect your tongue. Brush it as well!
3. Floss once a day.
4. Avoid sugary food, or limit their intake.
5. Visit your dentist regularly every six months.

Clear aligners. Photo: Courtesy Eon Dental

Can you share with us the main rules one should follow when they have braces? Same with veneers and also with aligners?

For veneers:
1. Limit your intake of staining food and drinks.
2. Get rid of any bad habits that can break your veneers.
3. Be careful with what you bite into.
4. Brush and floss your teeth regularly.

For braces:
1. Avoid hard foods.
2. Avoid chewing gum.
3. Do not bite on your front teeth.
4. Stay on a soft diet the first few days after application.

For clear aligners:
1. Wear them for 22 hours a day (take them off during eating and drinking).
2.Only drink clear liquids when you have your aligners on.
3. Clean your aligners and your teeth before putting them on.
4. There are no dietary restrictions with aligners, as they need to be taken off while eating.

 As someone who has spent considerable time in Baghdad, Jordan and the UK, do you see a difference in the beauty standards/requests in the Middle East as compared to other countries?  Would you say there is a bigger emphasis on perfecting smiles in a specific region?

The beauty standards are of course defined differently around the world, and while there is no universally ideal smile, the increase in awareness about the importance of a healthy smile and straight teeth has certainly made people everywhere—and especially in our region—more conscious of their smile. That’s why we see a surge of requests to perfect these smiles.

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