Getting braces is almost a rite of passage for teenagers. Around 70% of teenagers wear braces during their teen years and, this is for a very good reason. During the teenage years, the jawline is still growing which means that teeth are much easier to move and manipulate into the desired position.
But, so many teenagers dread the idea of getting traditional metal braces due to aesthetic reasons, no matter how important it is to invest in your health. During a time when self-awareness is at an all-time high and emotions are heightened, the thought of having such a big change in terms of physical appearance is enough to put teenagers off the thought of having braces.
However, with more and more dentists turning into private practices and NHS orthodontic treatment becoming less easy to access, this then opens up avenues for alternative teeth straightening treatments, such as Invisalign. Let’s take a look at whether or not Invisalign is suitable for teenagers as a teeth straightening treatment.
Why Get Braces As A Teenager?
Whilst it is never too late to get orthodontic treatment, getting teeth straightening treatment is optimum between the teen years due to the fact that the jawline is still developing. As mentioned, this means that the teeth can still be moved into place. It is also at this point that all adult teeth should have come through, so they can be realigned.
Traditionally, this would be done through the use of metal orthodontics where the metal wire and brackets are tightened to pull the teeth together. With Invisalign, clear Invisalign aligners are used instead and they slowly realign the teeth into the desired position.
What Makes Invisalign Different To Traditional Braces?
The biggest difference between Invisalign and traditional metal braces is that Invisalign is virtually invisible. They are much less noticeable to wear which, for teenagers is a huge benefit. This method of teeth straightening gives teenagers the confidence to smile and talk as they would normally, without feeling like they need to hide their smiles like many teenagers with metal braces do. There are other ways that Invisalign is different to traditional braces, including:
Easy To Clean
Whilst metal braces are attached to the front of teeth, Invisalign braces are fully removable aligners. As they need to be worn for around 22 hours per day, this means that they can be taken out when eating or drinking. Metal braces need to be cleaned thoroughly to ensure no food debris is stuck in between the brackets, potentially causing issues such as tooth decay or plaque buildup, whereas Invisalign aligners can be removed to ensure teeth and gums are clean. For teenagers, this can often be much easier to maintain and can make them feel less paranoid about their oral health.
Less Discomfort Than Other Braces
For teenagers with traditional metal braces, this treatment can be accompanied by discomfort, aches and pain. The metal wires and brackets used for traditional braces are tightened periodically by orthodontists and this is how teeth are moved into the desired position.
This can then cause sensitivity and dull aching which can often be uncomfortable and, as well as this, the wires can often poke into the cheeks and the metal brackets can rub against the inside of the mouth, causing pain. With Invisalign, the aligners are changed every few weeks and this process is what realigns teeth. This process is typically less uncomfortable than traditional braces.
No Changes To What You Eat
When you have traditional metal braces, orthodontists will typically recommend that you avoid certain foods such as popcorn, corn on the cob, chewing gum and crunchy bread. When braces are tightened, it can cause sensitivity and discomfort so severe that it can put you off eating. As Invisalign aligners can be removed, this means that you don’t need to change your eating habits – simply remove your aligners before meals or snacking.
No Changes To Appearance
At the time when teenagers typically get braces, this is when they are most self-conscious about their appearance. With traditional metal braces, this obviously includes a change in appearance, which can put teenagers off having the treatment altogether. With Invisalign, as the aligners are clear, there is no change to physical appearance, so teenagers can wear them discreetly and without feeling self-conscious.
Things To Consider With Invisalign For Teenagers
For teenagers considering Invisalign, there are some things that should be taken into consideration before deciding to go ahead with the treatment. Not all teens will be suitable for Invisalign treatment, so you will need to attend a consultation with your local private cosmetic dentist.
Teenagers Need To Be Cooperative
For Invisalign, there is some cooperation required for treatment. With metal braces, you can almost forget that they are there, but with Invisalign, you can remove them for up to 2 hours per day, meaning that you have to wear them for at least 22 hours. If you feel as though this is something your teenager might not be able to keep on top of, then they may be better suited to metal braces instead.
Whilst Invisalign aligners can be removed and mean that you don’t need to alter your diet or the foods that you eat, for teenagers, they may be inconvenient to remove at meal times or when drinking especially if they are around friends or are out. Some teens prefer the fact that they need to remove the aligners in order to eat and drink as they can better plan their meals or make snacking in between meals less likely. This is entirely dependent on a teen-by-teen basis, as each teenager is different!
Some Discomfort Is To Be Expected
No matter the type you choose, discomfort is to be expected with braces simply because they are moving and realigning the teeth. With Invisalign, it is expected to feel some type of pressure when wearing the aligners as the teeth are adjusting. This pressure, however, is usually more tolerable compared to metal braces.
What Age Can Teenagers Get Invisalign?
So long as all of your teenager’s adult teeth have come through, then they will likely be suitable for Invisalign treatment. One thing to consider is the level of other orthodontic work that may need doing, such as having teeth removed. Your teenager may need to wait for this work to be completed before they have Invisalign treatment. This will usually be discussed during your initial consultation, as well as the predicted length of treatment. For most teenagers, Invisalign treatment can be around 12-18 months, however, this is dependent on how many teeth need moving such as whether it is both the upper and lower jaws.