Clear aligners might seem to be the perfect orthodontic solution for everyone. Invisalign is an almost invisible solution and the trays can be taken in and out when needed, so there is no need to modify your diet or the way you brush your teeth. Their advantages are ideal for adults, but are they just as suitable for children?
Invisalign is a Removable Orthodontic Option
Invisalign can be taken in and out of the mouth in seconds. Being able to take Invisalign out means you don't need to alter your diet like you do with braces. After taking out your Invisalign, you can eat all the foods you enjoyed prior to treatment - nothing is off the menu.
Being able to remove your Invisalign means children may not put them back in as fast as they should each time. Your Invisalign needs to be worn for 22 hours per day to be as effective as possible. Anyone who has Invisalign needs to be very disciplined in putting them back in as soon as they have finished eating, drinking or brushing their teeth. Many parents of children who have had Invisalign find themselves hassling their children daily to put their clear aligners in. The months of nagging aren't pleasant for the parent or child.
Braces eliminate the nagging because they can’t be removed by the patient. They remain on their teeth 24 hours a day doing their job at repositioning teeth. If your child hasn’t made dental hygiene a priority until now, it’s unlikely that they will change their attitude towards their teeth overnight, so Invisalign might not be ideal. You’ll still need to keep reminding them to brush and floss daily, but at least their treatment will continue all day every day.
There are times when Invisalign causes some discomfort to teeth, usually when new trays are used. It’s tempting to leave the Invisalign out to stop the discomfort. Most adult patients will understand that leaving the new Invisalign trays off will prolong the discomfort for later in the day, tomorrow or the next day. Some children don’t have the same understanding and may put off wearing their Invisalign.
Kids are Less Self-Conscious Than Adults
Parents often consider Invisalign for their kids because they think their child is concerned about their appearance with braces. The truth is most kids aren’t as worried about wearing braces as parents think. They see so many of their peers with braces that it’s not as daunting as an adult who will have few, if any, colleagues or friends with braces. Even those children who are worried about the look of braces, quickly get used to them. However, if your child is feeling self-conscious about wearing braces, there are ways to make them less noticeable.
Invisalign is ideal for adults who would prefer not to wear braces, as it is an almost invisible alternative to metal braces.
Consider Your Child’s Age
A child’s age and level of maturity plays a part in being a suitable candidate for Invisalign. A child may be ready for orthodontic treatment while in primary school, but they may not be old enough for the responsibility of removable Invisalign clear aligners. For them, the best option may be the fixed braces. However, this same child in a few years time may have the maturity and responsibility to cope with Invisalign. They will be more likely to look after the trays when they take them out to eat or drink and replace them quickly so they maintain the minimum daily wearing time.
Not Every Issue is Treatable with Invisalign
Some children (and adults) have an issue that can only be corrected with braces. Invisalign doesn’t have the same degree of pulling power that braces do. When teeth need to move considerable distance to their desired location, an orthodontist may only recommend traditional braces to do the job. Other options such as Invisalign may greatly improve the appearance of teeth, but they can’t get the teeth to the optimal position. Braces may be the best option for achieving the ideal outcome.
Other Options to Consider Besides Invisalign
If a parent or orthodontist recommends against a child having Invisalign but still wants the aesthetic benefit of something other than metal braces, there are alternative options to consider.
Lingual or inside braces (as they are also known) are another almost invisible orthodontic option. The custom made brackets are adhered to the backs of teeth and the archwire connected. The front of the teeth remain completely clear, so it’s difficult to see if a person is wearing lingual braces when face to face or in photos.
However, lingual braces do have their own set of disadvantages. The cost of lingual braces is higher than traditional braces due to the customisation of the brackets required to fit the exact contours behind each tooth. A digital scan or impression is taken of the top and bottom row of teeth so that the lingual braces can be custom made in a dental lab before fitting. More appointments with the orthodontist are required during treatment too.
Braces can be less noticeable when the metal bracket is replaced with a tooth coloured ceramic bracket. Ceramic braces work the same way as metal braces, however they are a little more delicate to metal ones so they can be damaged or break more often which requires an urgent appointment to have them fixed. The ceramic brackets can also stain, so it’s best not to eat foods that stain like tomato-based sauces, curry and berries.
Tooth-Coloured Wire and Elastics
Some kids choose the brightest coloured elastics that sit around the brackets. They aren’t worried about the braces standing out. If you prefer a more discreet option, choose non-coloured elastics so they don’t attract any more attention.
Discuss Your Options
It’s best not to make any decisions on which orthodontic option you will choose until after your first appointment with an orthodontist. Take with you a list of questions and once you have all the information, make a decision on what option works best for you and your child.
You can discuss Invisalign and other clear aligner treatment with one of our specialists by calling your nearest clinic, contact us online to book an appointment.