If your teen is self-conscious about a crooked or crowded smile, the Invisalign® system may be an option. Invisalign can correct mild-to-moderate crowding and misalignment in about two years or less—but it may not be right for all teens, just as it isn’t right for all adults.
How Invisalign Works
Rather than using the traditional system of brackets and wires to gradually shift teeth into new positions, Invisalign uses a series of clear aligners designed to exert constant gentle pressure that encourages teeth to move. Aligners are worn 20-22 hours per day, and are replaced every two weeks. Patients must not eat or drink when wearing their aligners, with the exception of plain water. Over a period of about 12-18 months, teeth are shifted into more ideal positions for balance and aesthetic harmony.
The best part about Invisalign, of course, is that it can improve your smile without altering your appearance too dramatically. Metal and wire braces are traditionally associated with childhood, so few older teens or adults want to commit themselves to two years of “metal mouth.” Invisalign’s clear aligners are not as noticeable as traditional braces, and can even be removed for special occasions.
Who is the Ideal Candidate for Invisalign?
Invisalign is ideal for mild-to-moderate crowding or misalignment in adults and teens whose facial bones have stopped growing. The aligners cannot rotate teeth, or reposition teeth that need to be moved vertically, however. For more severe cases of misalignment and bite disorders (overbite, under bite, or cross bite), bracket-and-wire braces are usually more appropriate.
Beyond Invisalign’s capabilities, there are other things to consider. Since aligners can be removed at any time, compliance is a serious consideration. If a patient does not wear the aligners for the full 20-22 hours every day, the treatment plan and progression of graduated aligners will not be effective. This includes wearing them at night when you sleep. All patients who start Invisalign should be intrinsically motivated to improve their smile; they should want it enough to be willing to commit to the behavioural changes required of Invisalign. For example, patients cannot eat or drink between meals or when wearing the aligners, and must clean the teeth and aligners before wearing them again.
Patients also need to be incredibly diligent in their oral hygiene. After meals, patients must brush their teeth carefully before replacing their aligners. When wearing Invisalign, teeth do not come into contact with saliva—which just happens to be nature’s best anti-cavity aid. Without saliva to neutralize bacterial acids and rinse away food particles, any food left on the teeth can contribute to rapid tooth decay.
How to Support Your Teen During Invisalign Treatment
Today’s teens tend to have very active social, academic, and extracurricular lives. Aligners can often be misplaced in the hustle and bustle of a busy daily routine, and can be expensive to replace. To help your teen stay organized and maintain good oral hygiene, give your teen a small bag or organizer case that fits easily into their school bag. This kit should have room for:
- a case for holding the aligners while eating
- a small collapsible cup for rinsing with water
This kit will help your child maintain good hygiene habits and make it easy to establish new routines while wearing Invisalign.
Parents can also help their children by showing them how to keep a log of the hours they wear their aligners, to make sure they get the full benefit of the treatment. Alternately, a timer can be used to make sure that the aligners don’t stay out of the mouth for more than 2-4 hour per day. Paying attention to establishing good habits from the outset of treatment can help your teen stay on track and get the most out of Invisalign.
Invisalign for Teens & Adults in Lawrence Park
To learn more about Invisalign for adults and teenagers, schedule a consultation with Platinum Dental Care, your Lawrence Park, Toronto family dentistry. One of our friendly doctors will perform an examination and assess whether Invisalign can help you get the smile you’ve always wanted!