Your child’s teenage years are some of the most awkward and self-conscious of their lives. They’re also the years when your child is probably in the greatest need of orthodontia.
In the past, that meant they had to put up with a mouth full of metal brackets, wires, and rubber bands for a few years to shift their teeth into their proper positions. In addition to the potential for embarrassment, metal braces can be painful, require dietary changes, and are notoriously difficult to keep clean.
Then, in 1998, the FDA approved Invisalign®, a revolutionary new product that uses a series of clear plastic aligners instead of metal. They’re virtually invisible and discreet, and they can handle most mild to moderate issues that regular braces do.
While originally aimed at an adult market, the aligners have become commonplace among teens. Dr. Karen Guinn at The Smile Agency Orthodontics is a certified Invisalign orthodontist who understands the unique needs of teens who require orthodontic work.
Since parents may initially be a bit hesitant about the new technology for their teen, she’s put together this guide to help inform you about the many benefits of using Invisalign to treat teenage dental problems.
While most people think of Invisalign as a discreet alternative to braces for adults, the patented clear retainer system can also be tailored to children and teens.
According to the company, the best candidates are usually children 12 and older, as long as they have their full set of adult teeth (minus the wisdom teeth) and are responsible enough to commit to wearing the aligners 22 hours a day and cleaning them properly.
To date, over 1.4 million teens have used the Invisalign aligner system to transform their smiles.
Invisalign aligners can correct a number of orthodontic issues, including:
- Malocclusions (bite problems)
- Crowded teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Gaps between teeth
Even better is that while traditional braces usually take 18-24 months to accomplish the task, with Invisalign, it’s 9-15 months. That’s almost a 50% reduction in treatment time!
Invisalign aligners have a number of other advantages over traditional braces as well.
Traditional braces contain metal brackets glued onto the teeth and tightened, quite painfully, with strong wires. These metal and wire parts can easily cut into your child’s cheeks and gums, causing pain and discomfort.
Invisalign aligners are made from a patented thermoplastic polymer called SmartTrack®, and the edges of the trays that fit over your child’s teeth are smoothed to prevent gum irritation.
Every two weeks, your teen swaps out the trays for ones that apply just a little more pressure, forcing the teeth to keep moving in the right direction. No snapped wires, broken brackets, or emergency trips to the dentist.
With brackets and wires, it’s easy to get food caught in the mechanism that can’t be easily brushed or flossed out. That means bacteria can build up, potentially causing decay.
With Invisalign aligners, however, you remove the trays before you eat or drink to prevent staining. Then brush your teeth, clean the trays, and reinsert. No muss, no fuss.
If your teen is into contact sports, metal braces can be dangerous — to other athletes and to your child. Blows to the mouth can snap wires, resulting in ineffective hardware that also cuts into the gums, lips, and cheeks.
Invisalign recommends its aligners for young athletes because the form-fitting plastic doesn’t cause further injuries during an accident.
Since so many foods can get caught in metal brackets, and since crunchy, hard, and sticky foods easily break them or the wires, traditional braces mean you have to give up many of your favorite foods, like popcorn, gum, and apples.
But because you remove your Invisalign aligners before eating, there’s no dietary adjustment at all. The only thing you need to know is that your teen is responsible enough to brush their teeth and clean the trays before putting them back in.
So, is Invisalign right for your teen? Give The Smile Agency a call at our Pasadena or West Covina, California, office to set up a consultation with Dr. Guinn, or book online with us today.