But now, a lot of that painful and often tedious work can be done from home.
Perhaps the most impressive dental progression in years has been that of Invisalign – the clear braces that are tailored to your needs and changed when you see fit.
While the process isn't for everyone, it's understood by dentists everywhere that straight teeth are healthy teeth, meaning that the desire for uniform gnashers isn't entirely laden in vanity.
We asked Clearbraces.ie – the number one Invisalign provider in the Republic – to give us the skinny on what the process in its entirety consists of.
1. Does it hurt?
No the process is not painful. Invisalign works by using a constant gentle pressure to move the teeth.
2. How long does the whole process usually take?
The average patient now finishes in 10 - 12 months with some patients finishing in as little as 6 - 9 months.
3. Would you recommend to everyone?
Yes, Invisalign works for almost everyone so we would really recommend visiting one of our clinics for a free consultation.
4. Is there anyone who shouldn't get Invisalign?
There are some patients for which Invisalign will not be the best option but these are few and far between, the best way to check if you are suitable is to get in touch and we will arrange for you a free consultation at a time that suits you best.
5. Can I drink coffee/tea with my Invisalign in?
Yes you can. You can drink tea and coffee wearing an Invisalign aligner, so long as whatever you're drinking is not too hot.
Just be sure that once you get home, you brush your teeth and brush the aligners. Also, if you are going out for a night, you can drink, but be sure to keep your retainers in, and once again be sure to brush your teeth and brush the aligners.
6. What happens if I lose mine - can I get another?
If you lose your aligner, do not worry. If you have just opened a new Invisalign pack within three days, wear your previous aligner and call your surgery as soon as possible.
If you are over three days into an Invisalign pack, open your next pack and see if it fits. If it does, then wear this aligner for an additional week.
7. How many hours a day should I be wearing them?
22 hours per day, removing them for eating, brushing and flossing teeth.
8. Are they appropriate for kids?
Yes Invisalign is suitable for any age, our Invisalign teen cases will be monitored carefully by our specialist orthodontist.
9. How do I keep them clean?
To keep your aligners clean you can brush with your normal toothbrush and you will also receive retainer cleaning crystals in your first fit pack.
10. Any tips for anyone about to undergo the process?
Go for it, our initial consultations are free of charge, we will happily check that you are suitable, answer any questions you may have and help get you on the road to a more beautiful, healthy smile.
The bottom line, according to the experts, is that there are many advantages of Invisalign over traditional braces for achieving a healthy, attractive smile.
However, they are not appropriate for everyone. If you are considering Invisalign, it is best to consult an experienced orthodontist to best understand how these advanced aligners can address your needs.