Clear Aligners vs. Braces: Which One’s Best for Your Kids?

Invisalign or braces - which is better

Choosing Between Clear Aligners and Braces for Your Child or Teen

Your child or teen is getting ready to embark on an exciting journey towards a straight smile. But now you’re left wondering, “Are clear aligners or braces the right choice for my kid?”

If you had orthodontic care as a child yourself, chances are you didn’t have much of a choice in how their teeth were straightened. It was either braces or… well, braces. Today’s kids and teens are lucky enough to have a few more choices in orthodontic appliances!

As a concerned parent, you want to be sure you pick the right choice for your child since they’ll be committed to the choice for the next one to three years. So, here’s the lowdown on the braces versus clear aligners decision.

Clear aligners and braces are both effective and successful choices.

First, it’s important for parents to know that clear aligners and traditional braces are both great choices. You’ll notice that many pediatric orthodontists offer both of these options, and occasionally other clear aligner systems. This is because all of these orthodontic appliances yield beautiful, lasting results for kids and teens.

Simply put, if you’re feeling overwhelmed that your choice between clear aligners or braces is going to in any way negatively impact your child’s straightening success, don’t worry! Both options will be a success for your child. The only differences lay in how the process will work, and some unique benefits with each type of treatment.

Aligners are becoming much more popular for older kids and teens.

Clear aligners have been available for kids and teens for a while, but the treatment’s popularity has been slow-growing compared to the adult market. However, many older kids and teens who are much more conscious of their appearance are asking for clear aligners over traditional braces at a higher rate.

Clear aligners are the epitome of subtle orthodontic care.

Your child will be given a series of clear trays that pop over their teeth and slowly begin to reshape their smile. Every two weeks or so the old aligner is replaced with the next in line, continuing until treatment is complete.

Clear aligners aren’t exactly invisible, but they are about as subtle as you can get. Most of your kid’s teachers and friends won’t even notice they’re wearing clear aligners unless your child happens to share their secret or they notice your child removing the aligners at lunch.

This brings us to the biggest benefit and disadvantage of clear aligners.

The removable nature of clear aligners is both a pro and a con.

Clear aligners are removed for eating, drinking anything other than water, and brushing, flossing, etc. Being able to simply pop out the aligners is a huge benefit when it comes to lifestyle and oral health.

Your child or teen can eat the foods they love without worrying about the dietary restrictions of braces. They’ll also be able to brush and floss their teeth without braces or wires getting in the way. These benefits also give parents confidence.

However, being able to pop out aligners before a snack or before brushing isn’t a benefit if they forget to put them back in.

Clear aligners have to be worn for a minimum of 20 hours per day, with 22 hours being the ideal wear-time. If your child often forgets to replace their aligners, this can drastically slow down their straightening progress.

Braces remain the go-to choice for pediatric orthodontics for a reason.

Traditional braces are a little bulky, very obvious, and take some getting used to for kids and teens. However, they are a foolproof way of efficiently straightening teeth with minimal chances of complications.

The major advantage of braces over clear aligners is that they can’t be removed, which eliminates any worries about forgetfulness and minimum wear time. Your child’s treatment timeline will be on schedule and you won’t need to worry about how many hours they’re actually wearing their orthodontic appliance.

You will need to help your child change their diet to a braces-friendly one and you may need to invest in some new dental care tools to help them clean in those hard-to-reach spots. A water flosser, interdental cleaners, and a powered toothbrush are all great tools for braces.

Are clear aligners or braces right for your child?

The answer to this question really comes down to your child’s age and their level of responsibility.

Many pediatric orthodontists recommend clear aligners for teens rather than young children as teens generally are responsible enough to wear their aligners. Teens also have the motivation to wear their aligners because the alternative is braces, which a fair number of teens would like to avoid.

That being said, older kids who show they are responsible and dedicated to their oral health can do great with aligners. If your child takes the initiative to care for their teeth without constant supervision or reminders, chances are they will also be careful to wear their aligners often.

Your child’s dentist is a wealth of knowledge on the clear aligners versus braces debate.

Your child’s pediatric dentist or pediatric orthodontist will give you valuable insight into whether clear aligners or braces are the right choice for your child. Not every orthodontic case is a candidate for clear aligners, which means a consultation is also necessary, even if your child or teen has their heart set on them.

You can schedule your child’s consultation today by calling The Tooth Doc Omaha office or filling out this online form.