The New York Times recently reported that more and more teenagers are straightening their teeth with clear aligners instead of braces. In the past, Invisalign was mostly reserved for grown-ups but as the treatment has evolved, it’s become an effective option for younger patients too. We’ve certainly seen the popularity skyrocket at our own practice as the number of our Greer and Simpsonville Invisalign Teen patients has grown. While, of course, braces are excellent for patients of all ages and they’re smaller, more attractive and more comfortable than ever, clear aligners offer another great choice. We’re going over the pros and cons of Invisalign Teen to help you decide if it’s something you want to consider for your teenager.
What is Invisalign Teen?
Just like standard Invisalign, Invisalign Teen involves a series of clear, BPA-free plastic, removable aligners. At Davis Orthodontics, we kick off the Invisalign procedure by using our iTero scanner to take a quick, comfortable scan of your teenager’s teeth and gums. A 3D model of your child’s mouth is created from the scans and Dr. Buddy plans exactly when and where each tooth will move directly on the computerized model. He can also show you what your teen’s smile will look like when treatment is over before you even get started. A series of custom, clear aligners are created based on Dr. Buddy’s specifications. Your teen will wear their aligners for about 20 to 22 hours every day and change to a new set every one to two weeks, depending on their treatment plan. As they go through the series of Invisalign Teen aligners, their teeth will shift little by little into their new positions.
Often, parents have questions about the effectiveness of Invisalign vs. braces. Years ago, Invisalign Teen was reserved for simple orthodontic issues. However, these days, we can achieve outstanding results for mild, moderate and complex cases with both types of treatment! Dr. Buddy is a Platinum Invisalign Provider, meaning he has extensive experience with the teeth-straightening system. Additionally, the new and improved SmartTrack® material the aligners are made from, allows for improved control and predictability and we’re also able to use tooth-colored attachments to facilitate complicated movements. The aligners are designed specifically for teenagers’ mouths and have features like eruption tabs to accommodate erupting molars. While the only way to determine for sure if your child is a candidate for Invisalign Teen is to be evaluated by a doctor, we are able to use the treatment for most patients.
The Pros of Invisalign Teen
- Treatment is Comfortable – Invisalign Teen aligners are made from smooth plastic, they’re customized to your teenager’s mouth and the aligners are even trimmed based on their gum line for the perfect fit. The biggest thing when it come to Invisalign vs. braces is Invisalign Teen doesn’t involve brackets and wires so there is no irritation, poking wires or accidental cuts to the mouth. Most of the time, patients forget they’re wearing the aligners.
- The Aligners are Virtually Invisible – Since aligners are crafted from a translucent material and they’re molded to fit the mouth, most people won’t notice your child is wearing them. Our Simpsonville and Greer Invisalign Teen patients report that they feel confident showing off their smile all throughout treatment. While even modern metal braces are streamlined, some patients still feel self-conscious about drawing attention to their smile with brackets and wires. Though teens can opt for clear braces or lingual braces for a discreet alternative, Invisalign Teen offers the best of both worlds because it’s removable and aesthetically appealing.
- There are no Food Restrictions – Braces trap food and the brackets and wires can get damaged by really chewy, sticky or hard things, including popcorn, taffy, licorice, caramel, hard candy and pizza crust. Those types of foods have to be avoided until a teenager’s braces come off. Invisalign is removable and you take the aligners out to eat and drink (anything aside from plain water). For that reason, patients can eat whatever they want throughout their treatment and none of their favorite foods are off limits.
- Oral Hygiene is a Breeze – Maneuvering around brackets and wires does take more attention to detail. In addition to taking Invisalign Teen aligners out to eat, kids will also remove them to brush and floss their teeth. They can continue to use the same technique they always do. While the actual process of brushing and flossing is easier with Invisalign Teen, patients do have to brush more often since it’s best to brush after eating before putting aligners back in.
- Appointments are Shorter – Invisalign Teen doesn’t require any adjustments like braces do. Your teen will simply come in about every six to eight weeks for a quick check-up. Over the course of their treatment, this will save you some time.
- There are no Emergency Visits – Eating certain foods or getting hit in the mouth can result in damaged braces that need to be repaired. Since Invisalign Teen aligners don’t consist of brackets and wires, you won’t have to deal with any emergency appointments.
- Invisalign Teen is Precise – Invisalign Teen treatment is extremely precise. The system is based on computerized treatment planning and the aligners are custom made for your child’s mouth. The precision, combined with Dr. Buddy’s experience, ensures amazing results!
- The Aligners Don’t Get in the Way – If your child plays sports or a wind instrument, it can take a bit to get used to having braces. Plus, if they forget to wear a mouthguard and get hit in the mouth, it can result in a broken appliance or an injury to themselves or their opponent. Invisalign Teen aligners won’t accidentally cut their mouth and your kiddo can take them out to play their instrument. Due to the fact that Invisalign Teen requires minimal lifestyle changes, it can be an easier transition for patients.
The Cons of Invisalign Teen
- Success is Based on Compliance – The aligners can only move your teenagers’ teeth into place if they wear them. For best results, we recommend patients wear their aligners for approximately 22 hours every day. For the majority of teenagers, it’s not a huge deal and they’re willing to wear them according to plan to get a beautiful smile. The aligners also feature blue compliance indicators to show parents and the doctor whether or not teens are wearing them enough. As a parent, you know your child best. If you don’t think they’ll stick with the treatment plan, braces could be a better option as they’re bonded to the teeth.
- Aligners can get Lost – Being able to take aligners out to eat or brush and floss is a benefit, however, it also means patients have to keep track of them. Lost aligners can set treatment time back and get expensive. Thankfully, Invisalign Teen does have some free replacement aligners built into the system. Again, if you don’t think your teen is up to the task of storing their aligners in their Invisalign Teen case and keeping tabs on them, braces may be a good alternative.
To find out if Invisalign Teen is right for your child, book a free consultation with our Greer and Simpsonville orthodontist Dr. Buddy today!