Just as your teen’s social life is beginning to bloom, they need orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth and/or correct their bad bite. Teens often dread the thought of getting metal braces. With today’s modern dental technology, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to wear clear aligners rather than metal braces to fix the problem.
Dr. Karen Reese, orthodontic specialist with Reese Orthodontics in New Hope and Chanhassen, Minnesota, has been practicing dentistry for more than 20 years. She’ll examine your teen’s mouth and review their dental history. If your teen’s dental issues can be corrected with clear aligners, Dr. Reese highly recommends the Invisalign® system made specifically for teenagers.
How Invisalign aligners work
Invisalign aligners are custom-made from a 3-D scan of your teen’s teeth; there are no messy molds where they have to sink their teeth into a cement-type mixture. The aligners apply gentle pressure on their teeth to gradually straighten them during treatment.
Your teen receives multiple sets of clear aligners; they wear each set for about two weeks. Dr. Reese checks after the first two weeks to ensure the aligners fit properly, and then your teen continues to wear the aligners as directed by Dr. Reese, with follow-up appointments scheduled about every six weeks to two months.
Benefits of Invisalign aligners for teens
There are numerous benefits of Invisalign aligners for teens when compared with metal braces.
Teenagers are usually self-conscious about their appearance and dread anything that makes them different from their friends, including braces. Metal braces hide their smile and become the most prominent feature of their face when they talk.
Invisalign aligners live up to their name: they’re largely indiscernible to the eye when your teen is talking or smiling. They won’t have to try to keep their mouth in a closed smile as they might with metal braces. American teens live in a visual culture; selfies and social media photos and videos are part of daily life. No teen wants to wear an unsightly mouth full of metal for a year or more.
Metal braces can be more than uncomfortable; they can be painful, especially just after each follow-up appointment when wires are tightened. Sometimes wires break loose and can cause their mouth to bleed, resulting in an additional office visit.
Invisalign aligners are snug when first put in, but they’re far less painful than traditional braces. There are no metal parts that can break free and hurt your teen’s gums or lips.
No food restrictions
Metal braces come with a list of foods to avoid. Hard, crunchy foods, chewy, sticky, and gummy foods — snack foods that teens love — can break a bracket or wire. Think of popcorn, bagels, hard taco shells, pretzels, nuts, hard candy, gum, caramel, and more.
Even healthy foods such as raw vegetables and hard fruits are likely to cause problems with braces. In fact, when braces are first applied, patients are advised to eat soft foods for a period of time, so teen diets are really restricted.
On the other hand, Invisalign doesn’t disrupt your teen’s eating habits since they can remove the aligners when they eat. They can still enjoy their favorite foods.
Able to maintain the same dental hygiene
Your teen is able to maintain their regular brushing and flossing routine with the Invisalign system. They just remove the aligners, follow their normal procedure, and pop the aligners back in. Good oral hygiene prevents cavities and gum disease.
It’s much more difficult to maintain good dental hygiene with metal braces. Flossing isn’t easy when maneuvering around brackets and wires. It’s possible your teen will need to use a water irrigator as well as brushing and flossing. Compliance with a regular routine may slip.
Able to play sports and instruments
Some sports can cause damage to teeth with braces. Your teen won’t want to stop playing a sport they love and lose out on fun, friendship, and teen activities that make life enjoyable. If your teen plays a brass instrument, their braces may interfere with their mouthpiece. The transition can be difficult. On the other hand, Invisalign aligners don’t cause these problems.
Parental ability to check compliance
Your teen wears each set of aligners for two weeks. To see whether your child has been wearing the aligner as they should, simply check the blue dot on the aligner. This way, you can ensure that treatment is progressing normally.