Invisalign®, a clear aligner system, was originally introduced to the market in the late 90’s to correct crooked and spaced teeth, but at that time it was limited to adult treatment. Today, Invisalign® is significantly more advanced, capable of treating a greater variety of malocclusions and now offers a product specifically developed for Teens as an alternative to traditional braces.
There are, however, a significant number of differences between an orthodontic correction with Invisalign® versus traditional braces. I thought it would be helpful to highlight some of these differences to help parents and their teenage children make informed choices about what treatment best suits them.
1. How does Invisalign® Teen work?
Invisalign® Teen is a clear aligner system for teeth made specifically for teenagers. It provides an almost invisible way of straightening teeth using clear, removable aligners that are custom-made specifically for your teen’s teeth that fit over small tooth-coloured attachments to effect tooth movements. Traditional braces use brackets and wires while Invisalign replaces all of these appliances with a simple, easy to wear, clear and comfortable solution.
Aligners are plastic trays that move your teen’s teeth in a very similar way to how braces move teeth. The aligners put pressure on the teeth, gradually shifting them out of misalignment and into alignment. Every week, your teen will swap out their worn aligner for a next one in the series, and the teeth will continue to move. There may be some discomfort as the teeth adjust to the new aligner, but there is generally less discomfort than with metal braces.
2. How many hours a day does my teen need to wear his/her aligners?
In order for treatment to be as effective as possible, your teen needs to wear their aligners for a minimum of twenty-two hours every day. That gives them plenty of time to take them out for eating and cleaning. At all other times, as often as possible, they should be wearing them. On occasion, your teen may have extra-curricular activities that require them to remove their aligners, like for playing a musical instrument or participating in sports, but Invisalign aligners are designed to be discreet enough that they can be worn at all other times without disrupting your teen’s life.
In conclusion aligner treatment requires a high level of responsibility in being committed to the required wear time, keeping track of aligner change intervals and not misplacing aligners as this could result in a treatment interruption. Braces on the other hand are cemented to the teeth and working to move teeth at all times.
3. How often would my teen need to attend for appointments?
Teens with Invisalign® treatments attend at our office every 6-10 weeks whereas teens with braces attend almost twice as often, every 4-6 weeks. Appointment times for teens with braces are also scheduled for 2-3 times more chair time.
4. Is there anything that my Teen should not eat while undergoing an Invisalign® treatment?
Teens with braces know that they have a long list of foods that they are not supposed to eat in order to avoid breakages of their braces and/or bending their wires. For these reasons, Teens with braces are at a greater risk of requiring extra appointments to repair/replace broken and/or poking parts.
Happily, with Invisalign®, you do not have to worry too much about this. There are very few limitations on what you can eat while using Invisalign® because you can simply take off your aligners when you want to eat something. Invisalign’s tooth-coloured attachments that are bonded to some of teeth’s surfaces are at a much lesser risk of debonding.
5. How does brushing and flossing differ with Invisalign® treatments?
It is no secret that most teens are not the greatest brushers. Our patients with traditional braces receive extensive oral hygiene instruction on how to brush their teeth with braces in order to avoid developing inflammation, bleeding gums and permanent scarring or white spots on the teeth. Teens with Invisalign® treatment have a much easier time with brushing because the simply need to remove their aligners to do so. Even with Invisalign’s tooth-coloured attachments there is negligible accumulation of plaque around them to cause any negative sequalae.
6. Is there anything my Teen shouldn’t to do while wearing their aligners?
In general, it is not a good idea to eat anything or drink anything other than water while wearing your aligners. Eating could damage the aligners, and drinking anything except water, especially juice or pop that is high in sugar, could harm your teeth and your aligners. Aligners can trap the sugar and acids in the juice or pop and hold it in contact with your teeth. If this done regularly enough, the aligners can become etched, creating a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and begin the destruction of the enamel on your teeth.
7. Is Invisalign® more expensive than other types of treatments?
One of the reasons many parents decide on traditional braces over Invisalign® is the misconception that Invisalign will be more expensive than other treatments. While some offices may charge more for Invisalign than for traditional orthodontic treatment because of the it’s high lab cost, most braces and Invisalign treatments in our office cost close to the same if not the same.
If you are interested in finding out more about Invisalign for your Teen, call our office at 416-481-4040 or book an exam online at luksorthodontics.com.