For decades, metal braces were the only option for teenagers in orthodontic treatment. That’s why they became sort of like a teenage rite of passage. While today’s metal braces have seen huge improvements and they’re a great choice for a lot of patients, there are other options now, including Invisalign Teen. In fact, I’ve seen more and more of my Alaska and Seattle-area orthodontic patients opt for clear aligners. If your teen is interested in the braces alternative, read on to learn more about Invisalign Teen.
What is Invisalign Teen?
Just like standard Invisalign, Invisalign Teen involves a series of clear, custom, removable, plastic aligners. Your teenager visits our office and a team member takes a quick, comfortable digital scan of their mouth with our iTero scanner. A 3D digital rendering of their dental anatomy is created and I’m able to map out their tooth movements and complete their Invisalign treatment plan directly on the computerized model. Invisalign then creates the custom aligners according to my prescription. Each set of aligners is programmed to achieve certain tooth movements and as your teen makes their way through the series, their smile takes shape bit by bit.
Invisalign Teen is designed especially for younger mouths and has eruption tabs to accommodate erupting molars. When considering Invisalign for kids, parents often worry about compliance, which is a valid concern. Well, Invisalign Teen aligners also have blue compliance indicators to indicate whether your teen is wearing their aligners as directed or not. Another perk for parents is the system includes a few free replacement aligners.
What are the Invisalign Teen Pros and Cons?
As with any treatment there are Invisalign Teen pros and cons. Here are the Invisalign Teen benefits:
- Virtually Invisible – Invisalign Teen is made from the same smooth, clear plastic that Invisalign is made from. Most people won’t notice your child is wearing the aligners. For patients who don’t like drawing attention to their smile, this is one of the most important Invisalign Teen benefits.
- Comfortable – The aligners are smooth and custom-designed to fit perfectly. There are also no brackets and wires, which can cause irritation.
- Convenient – Invisalign Teen aligners are removable. Your teen can take them out for picture day, to eat, and to brush and floss their teeth, which is pretty convenient. Additionally, the aligners don’t’ require adjustments, so visits are shorter.
- Zero Food Restrictions – When comparing Invisalign vs. braces, this is a big one for some our Alaska, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek Invisalign Teen patients. When wearing braces, you do have to avoid certain foods, including things like popcorn, whole, raw apples, caramel, and other chewy, sticky or hard foods. Since Invisalign Teen aligners are removable and your child will take them out to eat and drink, they can eat whatever they’d like.
- Oral Hygiene is a Breeze – Brushing and flossing with braces is a little more challenging because you have to work around the brackets and wires. Your teenager will take their aligners out to brush and floss, so they can do it just as they normally would. While brushing and flossing is easier with Invisalign, your teen will still have to be diligent with oral hygiene and brush after eating or drinking so food doesn’t get trapped between the aligners and teeth, which can lead to tooth decay.
- Doesn’t Interfere With Activities – Because there are no brackets and wires and the plastic is smooth, your teen won’t have to worry about getting cut by their hardware if they get hit in the face while playing sports or trying to hit a note on a wind instrument.
There are a few things that could be considered Invisalign Teen cons, including:
- Success is Based on Compliance – The aligners can only straighten the teeth if they’re being worn. For the best results, your teenager will have to wear their aligners for about 22 hours per day. This means only taking them out to eat and brush and floss. For many teenagers, this isn’t a problem but for others, remembering to put them back in is a challenge. You know your teenager and their level of responsibility the best. However, keep in mind that the compliance indicators can be a good reminder for your teen even if they do tend to be a little forgetful.
- Invisalign Teen Aligners are Easy to Lose – Since the Invisalign Teen aligners are removable and they’re transparent, they can be lost. Doing something like putting them in a napkin while eating is a surefire way for them to get accidentally thrown away. Your teen will need to put them in their Invisalign case whenever they’re not being worn. The good news is, there are several free replacement aligners included with the treatment.
Is My Teenager an Invisalign Teen Candidate?
One of the main things parents worry about when it comes to Invisalign vs. braces is effectiveness. Years ago, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen were reserved for mild cases. However, thanks to improvements in the materials, the precision in treatment planning and the use of tooth-colored attachments, an experienced Invisalign provider can facilitate complex tooth movements with the treatment. I’ve gotten great results for mild, moderate and complex cases, so while it does depend on your teenager’s individual needs, most patients are candidates for Invisalign Teen.
Are you looking for an Alaska, Monroe, Bothell, Mill Creek or Everett orthodontist to find out if Invisalign Teen is the right choice for your teenager? Schedule a consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics today!