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Invisalign is a popular alternative to braces due to its low profile and convenience. It’s commonly used by adults, but kids as young as six and teenagers can also benefit from treatment. Invisalign Teen is a treatment designed specifically for teenagers.
While immediate treatment is unlikely at that age, any potential problems can be noted and discussed. The orthodontist can explain what treatment may be necessary and when it should begin.
An important thing to keep in mind is that Invisalign aligners are removable. This means that they can be misplaced and depend on compliance to be effective. If your child often loses things or has trouble following directions, these are things to consider.
For responsible and conscientious kids, Invisalign treatment can be a good option.
Fix your teeth from home for cheaper than Invisalign. Learn about the best Invisalign alternatives.
Invisalign treatment begins with a visit to a dentist or orthodontist's office.
Once in the office, your child’s mouth will be digitally scanned using 3-D computer imaging.
Then, a series of aligners are made based on both current and desired teeth alignment. They are custom-made to fit snugly against the teeth. These aligners are meant to be worn for 20 to 22 hours per day. Over a two-week period, the teeth will move 0.25 to 0.3 millimeters.4
The aligners are swapped out for new ones every two weeks. In some cases, they may need to be worn for longer if the teeth aren’t shifting as expected.
Total treatment length can last anywhere between three months to a year and a half. It all depends on your child’s teeth alignment issues and if the aligners are worn as directed.
One of the main reasons Invisalign is so popular is, as the name implies, it’s nearly invisible.
Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign is hardly noticeable. This is a major benefit for children and teenagers, who can often be self-conscious.
It can be challenging to get kids to brush and floss their teeth. Braces make this nearly impossible with their metal brackets and wires getting in the way.
Not only is brushing and flossing harder, but the braces themselves also need to be kept clean.
Invisalign can be removed while brushing and flossing, making good oral hygiene easier.
Invisalign treatment is less time-consuming than traditional braces.
People who use braces typically visit for follow-up appointments every 4 to 6 weeks. Invisalign users go in every 10 to 12 weeks. The actual visits are shorter as well.
For kids, this means less time out of their busy school schedules. It also means less time their parents have to spend driving them to and from appointments.
An Invisalign aligner is thin enough that a mouthguard can easily fit over it, making it ideal for sports. This may not be true for braces.
In addition, a hit to the mouth of a child wearing braces can damage either the braces or the child’s mouth, or both. This can mean expensive repairs or even a trip to the emergency room.
Braces can also make it difficult to play certain musical instruments, whereas Invisalign can be easily removed for performances.
Traditional braces come with dietary restrictions to prevent damage to the brackets and wires. Hard or sticky foods like popcorn, nuts, hard candies, caramel, gummy bears, and beef jerky are off-limits.
Other foods like apples and raw carrots must be cut into bite-sized pieces. Chewy pizza crust should be avoided.
Because Invisalign can be removed during meals, children can eat what they want. And unlike braces, cleaning your Invisalign aligners is simple.
Invisalign doesn’t have any pieces of metal to poke or scrape the inside of your child’s mouth.
In addition, the forces applied to the teeth are more gradual, so there is less pain with Invisalign. According to a 2014 study, traditional braces are significantly more painful.1
Invisalign straightens teeth. But aside from a better smile, it’s easier to brush and floss effectively. This means fewer cavities or other dental issues like gum disease.
Also, after metal braces are removed, white spots on the teeth are sometimes visible. This does not happen with aligners.
Finally, there is less risk of a problem called root resorption, which is where the tooth’s root below the gum disappears. This is more common with braces because they use greater force levels.
Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.
Invisalign is best for mild cases of malocclusion. Malocclusion is when your top and bottom teeth don’t line up properly.
Some common examples of this seen in children include crowded or gapped teeth, as well as misaligned baby teeth.
Invisalign can treat mild bite issues and help your child’s jaw develop properly. It can also correct bad habits that cause bite issues to develop, such as thumb-sucking.
Cases where braces may be more suitable include:
Compliance is also key to Invisalign’s effectiveness. Aligners can be removed or lost. Braces may be a better option if your child isn’t mature enough.
Invisalign’s average treatment time ranges from 3 to 18 months, depending on compliance and issues involved. For braces, it’s typically 18 to 36 months. When retainers are factored in, it’s even longer.
Several studies show Invisalign is between four to almost six months faster than braces.2, 4
The cost of either Invisalign or braces depends on location and insurance. That said, they’re roughly comparable to each other.
Pre-insurance, the national average cost of Invisalign is between $2,500 and $8,000. For braces, it’s between $1,800 and $8,000.
If you have dental insurance, you may be able to receive coverage for a portion of the cost. You can also pay with a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA).
The cleaning process for Invisalign involves scrubbing the aligner with a soft-bristled toothbrush and some soap. After that, simply rinse it with warm water. You can also let it soak overnight in antibacterial mouthwash.
It’s essential to be mindful of what you eat while wearing braces. Foods such as popcorn and gum can get stuck in and even destroy brackets. Special flossing tools and brushing techniques are also necessary to keep food out.
Both Invisalign and braces can correct a wide range of bite issues. Invisalign is a reliable alternative to braces in cases of mild-to-moderate malocclusion. Braces are better in more severe cases.
Aside from Invisalign, there are a variety of other clear aligners. Most of these are at-home aligners, meaning treatment is mostly or entirely remote.
These aligners cost thousands of dollars less than Invisalign and have the added convenience of minimal in-person check-ups. However, this can be a detriment if the case is very difficult and requires the consistent supervision of an orthodontic professional.
The lack of check-ups does mean there is a risk of treatment being less precise. However, given their affordability, they can be a good option for those with mainly cosmetic teeth issues, such as mild crowding.
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