First, before we get into our newest blog post, I wanted to say just how awesome it’s been seeing all of our patients again now that our offices are re-opened. If you’re wondering how things have changed and the steps we’re taking to keep patients and our team safe during visits, read all about our new protocols here.
As for our post, today I’m talking about clear aligners for teenagers. Even with the smaller, more streamlined metal braces and clear braces available today, at my office and many other practices around the country, we’re noticing a huge shift in the popularity of Invisalign Teen. To help give you a better idea of how the treatment works and whether it’s something you want to consider for your own teenager, I’m answering the questions I hear most often from the parents at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics.
What is Invisalign Teen?
First things first, what is Invisalign Teen? Invisalign Teen involves a series of removable, clear, BPA-free plastic aligners. Does that sound familiar? If it does it’s because it’s the same principle as regular Invisalign. We use our iTero® scanner to take quick, comfortable digital impressions. A 3D model of your child’s mouth is created and I use software to map out their tooth movements directly on this computerized model. I can calculate the right path of movement and staging (how it moves and when it moves) for every tooth movement and decide where each individual tooth will end up, creating a smile that complements your teen’s facial features. I can even use my Invisalign Outcome Simulator to show your child what their smile will look like at every stage of their treatment.
Once my Invisalign Teen treatment plan is complete, I send the specifications off to the Invisalign lab and they print out aligners based on my prescription. So each patient’s prescription is different, and it’s me (Dr. Jeff) who does the planning behind the scenes. The aligners are created in a series with each tray designed to achieve specific tooth movements. As your child makes their way through their trays, their smile takes shape.
How is Invisalign Teen Different From Invisalign for Adults?
Invisalign Teen is designed specifically for teenagers. It has features like eruption tabs to accommodate erupting teeth. Another huge bonus is the system includes some free replacement aligners, whereas regular Invisalign does not. I have to say, this isn’t an issue for 95% of my Invisalign Teen patients. They are amazing about wearing their aligners and not losing them but I know this does give parents peace of mind.
What are the Benefits of Invisalign Teen?
The benefits of Invisalign for teens include:
- Virtually Invisible – The aligners are smooth and clear. They slip right over the teeth and most people won’t be able to tell your teenager is wearing them. While some teens prefer metal braces because they want to rock colorful elastics, others don’t want to draw attention to their smile. If your teen falls into the latter camp, then I usually recommend Invisalign Teen, clear braces or INBRACE™ hidden braces.
- No Food Restrictions – One of the other big benefits of Invisalign Teen is that teens can eat whatever they want during treatment since they’ll take the aligners out before meals and snacks. With braces, kids have to avoid things like popcorn, pizza crust, chewy candy and some other fan favorites.
- Brushing and Flossing is a Breeze – Teens will remove their aligners to clean their pearly whites. There is no hardware to maneuver around so they can brush and floss their teeth as they normally do.
- Comfortable – The aligners are super comfortable. They are crafted from smooth plastic and I design them based on a 3D model of their mouth, ensuring a perfect fit. They won’t irritate the inside of the mouth like braces sometimes can.
- Won’t Get in the Way – Not that braces prevent kids from playing sports or an instrument but Invisalign for teens can make it easier. Teenagers won’t have to worry about getting cut by their hardware if they get hit in the mouth during a game or while trying to hit a high note on a wind instrument.
- No Adjustments or Emergency Visits – The aligners are designed in a series and they’re pre-programmed. There are no adjustments so appointments are quick and easy. You won’t have emergency repair appointments either because there is nothing that can break on them.
- Excellent for a Variety of Cases – The digital treatment planning process is very precise. Additionally, because of my experience with aligners and innovations like Invisalign attachments and rubber bands, I can achieve more complex tooth movements with Invisalign than I could in the past. This means that a lot of teens are good candidates for clear aligners and will see great results.
What are the Disadvantages of Invisalign for Teens?
As for the disadvantages of Invisalign Teen, the removability, which for a lot of people is a positive, can be a negative for others. This is because the aligners can be lost and the success of treatment depends on them being worn as directed. The main thing to consider is how well your teen follows instructions. The fit of the plastic against the edges of the teeth are a telltale sign of whether they are wearing them enough. Additionally, while the system includes some replacement aligners, it’s still a good idea to try not to lose the aligners so treatment doesn’t get off track. As I mentioned, most of my El Dorado Hills Invisalign Teen patients are really responsible and follow directions just fine. However, you know your teenager best and if you don’t think they’ll hold up their end of the deal, braces might be better since they’re bonded to the teeth.
How Many Hours Per Day do Kids Need to Wear Their Aligners?
To get the best possible results, I recommend wearing Invisalign Teen aligners for about 22 hours per day. As I jokingly say, “22 hours a day keeps the braces away.” Have your child take them out to brush and floss their teeth, and eat and drink anything aside from plain water. They may also have to take them out to wear a mouthguard during sports, which is fine. Any other time, however, make sure the aligners are in their mouths.
They’ll change their aligners to a new set about once every week or two depending on their Invisalign treatment plan. On a related note, any time your teen isn’t wearing their aligners, encourage them to store them in their Invisalign case. This will prevent them from being lost, accidentally thrown away, or gnawed on by the family pet.
How Do You Clean Invisalign Aligners?
When it comes to how to clean Invisalign, keep in mind your teen is only wearing the aligners for a week or two. So, while you can purchase Invisalign cleaning crystals to get a deeper cleaner, you don’t have to. By the time aligners get really gross, it’s time to pop in a new set anyway. Instead, your teen will just brush their aligners gently with a toothbrush and lukewarm water whenever they take them out to brush their teeth. This will get rid of any plaque and keep them fresh. I usually tell patients to stay away from toothpaste because it can be abrasive and scratch the aligners. If they do want to freshen up their aligners, the best option is to use a 3% hydrogen peroxide (1 part hydrogen peroxide, 2 parts water) and soak the aligners for about 5-10 minutes.
Are There Any Oral Hygiene Considerations With Invisalign Teen?
Your teenager will need to brush their teeth more often during their treatment. Whenever they eat or drink something except for water, it’s recommended that they brush their teeth before they put their aligners back in their mouth. This is because the aligners fit snugly against the teeth and the sugars and starches from food and drinks can get caught between the aligners and the teeth, just sitting there, which increases the risk of tooth decay. Normally, the saliva in your mouth would wash it away but the aligners prevent this. So, brush after eating and brush, or at least rinse out the mouth, after drinking beverages.
What Happens if My Teenager Loses an Aligner?
If your teen loses an aligner, give our office a call right away so we can determine the next step for you. It’s a good idea to keep their previous sets on-hand when they move on to the next tray. Generally, it’s ok to move forward to the next aligner but reach out to our team so that we can check for you and let you know how long you’ll have to wear it for.
Is Invisalign for Teens Really as Effective as Braces?
While every situation is different, in many cases, Invisalign Teen is just as effective as braces. If I need to achieve certain tooth movements, I can bond Invisalign attachments to your teenager’s teeth. These tooth-colored shapes are glued to the teeth and give the aligners something to push on to apply the correct amount of force. We can also use rubber bands to help align the bite for good function. At your complimentary consultation, I’ll evaluate your teenager’s bite and let you know if it’s the best option for them.
Will My Child Need to Wear a Retainer After Invisalign Teen?
Yes. The only way for your teenager to maintain their results for life is to wear a retainer. The good news is, I also offer clear, invisible retainers that look and work much like their aligners, so it won’t be a huge transition. Eventually, they’ll only have to wear their retainer at night.
How Much Does Invisalign Teen Cost?
The cost of Invisalign for teens varies depending on how complex your child’s case is and how long their treatment will last. Once I’ve had a chance to evaluate their bite and develop a treatment plan, I can let you know an exact Invisalign Teen cost. At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, I strive to make treatment affordable for patients and have a variety of financing options and accept most insurance.
Are you interested in finding out if your child is a candidate for El Dorado Hills Invisalign Teen treatment? Schedule a complimentary consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today in-person or book a virtual consultation today to get started from the comfort of your own home.