Invisalign Teen

It's practically a rite of passage to get your teeth straightened as a teenager. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, over 4 million children under the age of 17 receive orthodontic treatment each year.

Teenagers are notoriously self-conscious. When they learn they may have to get braces, they may worry about how this will affect their look. They may have concerns about what they will and won't be able to eat. Anxiety may abound. When you think of braces, you may think of traditional braces, with brackets attached to the front of each tooth, all connected with wire. While those are always an option, your teenager has another option—Invisalign. At Dr. Beanca Children's Dentistry, we are experts in Invisalign. Keep reading to learn more about how Invisalign technology could straighten your teen's teeth.

The Traditional Braces Route

If you wore braces as a teen, you likely had traditional braces. Back in the 70s and 80s, braces were metal bands placed around your teeth and connected with wires. You visited the orthodontist every once in a while for the wires to be tightened. In between, you may have managed tiny bands which ran from a top band to a bottom band, putting pressure on the teeth to adjust accordingly. During the 90s, braces began to change. Brackets were attached to the fronts of teeth instead of around them, though they were still connected with wires. Small rubber bands were still employed to place targeted pressure between visits to the orthodontist.

Headgear was also a thing back in the 70s and 80s. This was a device that was strapped around your head and attached to the braces to aid in shifting the teeth. Sometimes headgear was worn only at night, sometimes it was necessary to wear during the day as well. In either case, it was not the most comfortable of treatments. Many orthodontists still offer the modern equivalent of traditional braces. Brackets have improved over the years, becoming small and, in some cases, clear. The process of getting teeth straightened has become less expensive, so more people—children and adults—are able to afford to visit the orthodontist.

Traditional braces do a good job in straightening teeth, but there are cons associated with them. They require multiple visits to the orthodontist for tightening, there are dietary restrictions while the braces are on, and they are visible both in person and in pictures—not great for a teen's fragile self-esteem. Fortunately, there is a great alternative for traditional braces—Invisalign. You may have an Invisalign Teen.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a system for straightening teeth that more and more people (both teens and adults) are opting for. It's a system that works just as well—if not better than—traditional braces, and there are many pros to making the choice to go the Invisalign route. Invisalign treatment consists of a series of custom-made trays that the wearer places over their teeth, switching out trays at specific intervals to aid in the straightening process.

The first thing that needs to happen is that an orthodontist needs to examine your teen's mouth to see if they need any tooth straightening. If they do, this examination will help the orthodontist determine whether your teen is a good candidate for Invisalign. If Invisalign appears to be a good option for your teen, a treatment plan will be developed, including the procedure that will be employed and the estimated treatment time.

The next step in treatment is having a digital mold made of your teen's teeth. A digital scan will be taken, along with digital photographs and x-rays. The orthodontist will want to make sure they have a complete, accurate representation of every part of the mouth and teeth. All of these digital items go to the Invisalign lab for the creation of custom aligner trays.

Once your teen's custom trays are made, it's time to visit the orthodontist once again. Your teen's first set of aligner trays will be checked to make sure they're a perfect fit. The orthodontist may affix small attachments to your teen's teeth to help the trays stay in place. These temporary buttons are nearly invisible and painless to place. Once the trays are properly fitted, your teen will learn how to take care of the aligners.

Periodically, your teen will need to visit the orthodontist for a check on how treatment is progressing, Your teen will work through a series of trays, each one designed to continue the straightening process. In the event that the trays are not working, new digital images will be made to create a new set of trays.

The Benefits of Invisalign

There are multiple benefits to Invisalign, especially when compared to traditional braces. For your teen, the biggest benefit may be that Invisalign is almost completely invisible. Next to no one will be able to tell your teen is getting their teeth straightened. At this potentially self-conscious age, this may be a big selling point.

Another huge benefit is that Invisalign trays are removable. With traditional braces, there are some food restrictions which can be challenging for a teen to live with. No popcorn, nuts, or chewy candy, just to name a few of the foods a teen will have to give up for the length of treatment. This is not the case with Invisalign. Trays can be taken out, and your teen can munch on whatever they usually eat—though they should, of course, practice healthy eating habits. The trays are also, of course, removable so teeth can be cleaned—and proper oral hygiene is always important.

Invisalign trays are easy to take care of. They can be cleaned with cold water and returned to the mouth ready to continue straightening. In addition, the treatment time for Invisalign is generally shorter than it is for traditional braces. If a minor adjustment is needed, a teen may complete treatment in as little as 6 months. A more complex case may take 12-18 months. Traditional braces can take as much as 2 to 3 years (though less complex cases may take less time).

Considering Invisalign for Your Teen

We are lucky at Dr. Beanca Children's Dentistry to have Dr. Shawn Yu, an expert orthodontist, right in our office. If you think your teen may need to have their teeth straightened, make an appointment to visit Dr. Yu at our Huntington Beach office. He will be happy to help you determine whether Invisalign is the ticket to your teen's brighter smile.