Did you know that teenagers are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in clear aligner usage? Just like adults, teenagers love the discreet appearance and fast timelines offered by the Invisalign® orthodontic system. This patient group has taken an interest in Invisalign, so Invisalign has taken an interest in them. Today teens can opt to use the Invisalign Teen system, which offers special benefits to younger patients.
How Invisalign Works
Rather than using brackets and wires to improve the placement of teeth, Invisalign uses a series of clear aligner trays that are worn for 20-22 hours of the day. Every two weeks, you receive a new set of aligners to wear on the top and bottom teeth. These trays apply constant, gentle pressure to encourage the teeth to slowly shift into a more harmonious state of alignment.
This system has proven to be equally effective as traditional braces, though it cannot correct the same wide range of alignment issues that metal braces can. One thing our Invisalign dentist in Scottsdale can do better than braces, however, is make efficient use of your treatment time: braces usually require 24 months of treatment, while the average timeline for Invisalign is 12-18 months.
What Makes Invisalign Teen Different?
Invisalign Teen is the same effective system that adults use (since teens’ teeth are essentially adult teeth), but it includes a number of added benefits that assist younger patients. One of these benefits is the blue dot.
Do you remember the toothbrush with the stripe of blue bristles that faded as you used it? When the blue color faded to white you knew it was time to replace your toothbrush. The color dot on Invisalign Teen aligners works the same way. It slowly fades over time when the aligners are worn in the mouth. If the two weeks of wear time ends and the dot hasn’t faded, this means the patient has not been wearing his/her aligners for the proper amount of time. This can be a great tool to help both parents and teens monitor their wear time and compliance with the treatment plan. Teens today are busier than ever, and it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of time spent without the aligners in the mouth. If you have to remove your aligners for field hockey, play practice, and meal times, for example, you may not be aware of how quickly the off-hours can add up.
Another added benefit of Invisalign Teen is the free aligner replacements. With a limited amount of space in one’s backpack, short lunch periods, and crowded bathrooms at school, it’s no surprise that teens may be more prone to losing their aligners than adults. Invisalign Teen includes a specific number of free replacement aligners, should a patient lose them during their treatment. Aligner replacement and speedy delivery help teens stay on track with their orthodontic treatment, even when aligners go missing.
Is Invisalign Right for My Teen?
Invisalign Teen is a discreet and convenient way for young people to improve their smiles, but it may not be right for every patient. Invisalign requires a high level of patient compliance in order to deliver successful and predictable results. If a patient cannot log the minimum hours of wear time, braces should be considered instead.
It may be tempting to assume that not getting a full 20-22 hours of aligner time each day would simply mean more months of wearing the aligners to make up the time—but that’s not how Invisalign works. Each set of aligners is carefully calibrated to enact changes based on two weeks of the full daily wear time. If a young patient only logs half their hours, for example, this means the next set of aligners will not fit properly and the treatment plan will need to be changed. This can result in a costly and time-consuming repeat of the treatment plan or mid-course correction. Teens should only consider using the Invisalign system if they are committed to wearing the aligners for the full number of hours per day.
Similarly, if a young person has been known to cut corners on oral hygiene, braces might be a better option. Why is this? Patients must brush and floss the teeth after every meal, snack, or beverage. If you replace the aligners without cleaning the teeth thoroughly, you run the risk of developing rapidly advancing dental decay. Any particles of food left on the teeth will allow mouth bacteria to feast and excrete acids that leach minerals from tooth enamel. Ordinarily, this is not a problem because our teeth are in constant contact with saliva, which neutralizes and rinses away bacteria. When you wear the aligners, however, your teeth do not come into contact with saliva.
A lot of patients would like to know the difference between clear aligners and braces.
If your teen is deeply motivated to improve his or her smile, Invisalign Teen may be a beneficial treatment option. Contact Dr. Rod W. Gore, DDS at 480-585-6225 to set up a consultation for you and your child in our Scottsdale, AZ dental office.