Invisalign for Children

Should You Get Invisalign for Your Child?

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 can benefit from it as well.4

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 kids who are responsible and conscientious, Invisalign treatment can be a good option.

How Invisalign Treatment Works 

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.5

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.

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7 Benefits of Invisalign for Kids

1. Low Profile

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. 

2. Easier Oral Hygiene

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. 

3. Appointments are Fewer and Shorter

Invisalign treatment is less time-consuming than traditional braces.

People who use braces typically have to go in 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.

4. Great for Extracurricular Activities

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.

5. No Food Restrictions

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.

6. Comfortable

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

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7. Better Dental Health After Treatment

Invisalign leads to straighter teeth. Aside from leading to a better smile, that means it’s easier to brush and floss effectively. That means fewer cavities or other dental issues like gum disease.

Also, after metal braces are removed, sometimes white spots on the teeth are 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.

Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign: Which is Right for Your Child?

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. 

Here are some types of malocclusion Invisalign can treat:

  • Crowded teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Gapped teeth 
  • Open bites
  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • 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:

  • When a tooth is severely tipped or rotated
  • Closing gaps due to pulled teeth
  • Correcting severely rotated teeth
  • Drawing out impacted teeth
  • Lowering teeth too high up
  • Bite problems involving the back molars

Compliance is also key to Invisalign’s effectiveness. Aligners can be removed or lost. If your child isn’t mature enough, braces may be a better option.

Treatment Time

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.3, 5

Cost Difference 

The cost of either Invisalign or braces depends on factors such as 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. 

Care & Cleaning

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.

Treatment Outcomes 

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.

When are Metal Braces Necessary Over Aligners? 

Children with severe malocclusion issues should use braces. Braces can apply more force so they’re better for more complicated or severe issues.

Additionally, sometimes children with severe jaw alignment or bite issues need to wear orthodontic headgear. In these cases, braces are a better option.

How Much Does Invisalign for Kids Cost?

Invisalign costs the same whether it’s for kids or adults. The main factors affecting the cost include what the problems are and treatment length. 

Invisalign is included in many insurance plans and also accepts HSA and FSA. Some dentists and orthodontists allow you to make monthly payments.

Resources

Cardoso, Paula Coutinho, et al. “Pain level between clear aligners and fixed appliances: a systematic review.Progress in orthodontics, vol. 21, no. 1, 2020. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.

Consumer Guide to Dentistry. “Invisalign – How it Works & What it Costs?www.yourdentistryguide.com.

Gu, Jiafeng, et al. “Evaluation of Invisalign treatment effectiveness and efficiency compared with conventional fixed appliances using the Peer Assessment Rating index.American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, vol. 151, no. 2, 2017, pp. 259-266. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

Invisalign. “Mix of Baby & Permanent Teeth (Phase 1).www.invisalign.com.

Lanteri, Valentina. “The efficacy of orthodontic treatments for anterior crowding with Invisalign compared with fixed appliances using the Peer Assessment Rating Index.Quintessence international (Berlin, Germany, vol. 49, no. 7, 2018, pp. 581-587. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

Ling, Paul H. “Clinical Limitations of Invisalign.Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, vol. 73, no. 3, 2007, pp. 263-266. http://www.cda-adc.ca/.

Papadimitriou, Aikaterini. “Clinical effectiveness of Invisalign® orthodontic treatment: a systematic review.Papadimitriou, Aikaterini et al. “Clinical effectiveness of Invisalign® orthodontic treatment: a systematic review.” Progress in orthodontics vol. 19,1 37. 28 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1186/s40510-018-0235-z, vol. 19, no. 1, 2018. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

Weir, T. “Clear aligners in orthodontic treatment.” Australian Dental Journal, vol. 62, no. 1, 2017, pp. 58-62.

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