Is My Child an Ideal Candidate for Clear Aligner Treatment?
Give your child a healthier, more confident smile.
Orthodontic treatments provide so many long-lasting benefits for children’s oral health and confidence that they’ve practically become a rite of passage for teens and preteens. Straight teeth are easier to brush and floss thoroughly, decreasing your child’s chances of growing cavities or developing gum disease, and fixing a misaligned bite like an overbite will ensure your child is functioning at their best. Additionally, having a beautiful smile will give your child a boost in self-esteem that they’ll carry into adulthood. Feeling confident in their smile will help them make good first impressions in both their professional and personal life.
Unfortunately, teens and preteens are at an age where they’re often struggling with their self-esteem and lack confidence in the way they look. As a result, they can be reluctant to get traditional braces, which become a very visible feature of teeth throughout the treatment process. Your child might even be dead set against the idea despite clearly needing orthodontic treatment. If this is the case, you might find yourself looking into alternative options like clear aligners, such as an Invisalign product, and wondering if it’s an effective treatment or if it’s right for your child. We’ve done our best to offer you an honest look at the pros and cons of clear aligner treatments, including how mature your child should be before starting the treatment.
Clear aligners and traditional braces use similar concepts to shift teeth.
Clear aligner treatment uses a series of custom-made aligners to straighten your child’s teeth and correct misaligned bites. Your child will switch to a new aligner every week, depending on their unique treatment plan. Clear aligners work like a set of clear braces, since switching to a new aligner is very much like an orthodontist making an adjustment to the wires with traditional braces. Each new aligner shifts your child’s teeth a little more by exerting gentle, gradually increasing pressure on their teeth. Over time, this will guide your child’s teeth into the position they need to be in to create a straight, even smile.
It’s not ideal for every orthodontic case.
Despite the many benefits of clear aligners, they’re not ideal for every orthodontic case. Clear aligner treatment can resolve almost every issue that traditional braces can, but they work best with mild to moderate cases. Traditional braces are still the best orthodontic treatment method when it comes to severe or complex cases.
Additionally, receiving clear aligner treatment does take a certain level of maturity. Your child has to be ready and willing to take on the responsibility of the aligners, which are small enough to lose and require a certain level of care to stay clean and effective. While they’re removable, the aligners also need to be kept in for at least 22 hours a day in order to do their job properly, so you have to be able to trust your child to wear the aligners when they’re supposed to—even when their teeth are sore right after they’ve switched to a new aligner. If your child is mature and responsible enough to handle the aligners, however, it’s a great option that can help them stay confident throughout their treatment.
Is your child mature enough for clear aligners?
When your child gets clear aligners, they’ll need to remember to remove the aligners for meals and snacks, brush their teeth immediately afterward, and then put the aligners back in. This ensures that the aligners stay clear and that they’re in your child’s mouth for the full 22 hours a day. There are a few ways you can determine if your child is mature enough for this. The first is to simply pay attention to how committed they are to getting straight teeth. If they’re self-conscious of their smile, excited about the idea of straightening it, and don’t put up a fight about going to appointments, they’re likely more than willing to put in the work to build the necessary habits.
Even if they aren’t enthusiastic about the prospect of orthodontic treatment, you can determine if they’re mature enough by looking at their other habits. How good are they at remembering small tasks like putting dishes away? Do they regularly complete tasks that benefit them in the long run, even though it may not be very fun? If they’re mature enough to recognize the importance of taking a little trouble in the short-term to gain long-term benefits, they’re mature enough for clear aligner treatment.
Is your child responsible enough for clear aligners?
Since clear aligners take a certain amount of responsibility on your child’s part to care for their aligners and keep track of where they are, you’ll also want to make sure they’re responsible enough for the treatment. Once again, you can do this by looking at their habits and daily behavior. For example, do they brush and floss their teeth regularly without being told? This is a good sign that they’ll have the responsibility and personal motivation to take care of their aligners.
On the other hand, however, if they’re constantly misplacing important items such as their glasses, cell phone, or homework, they may not be responsible enough to keep track of the aligners. Aligners can be replaced if they’re lost, but it adds time to their treatment process because the new set will need to be custom-made again; if your child loses the aligners repeatedly, it can add unnecessary expenses and make their treatment last longer. So while accidents happen and it’s not uncommon for even adults to lose a set of aligners, it’s important to make sure that your child is responsible enough that this won’t be a regular occurrence.
Listen to the orthodontist and follow your gut.
When you’re trying to make the final decision about your child’s orthodontic treatment, it’s wise to consult your child’s orthodontist or pediatric dentist closely. Explain your situation, ask for their advice, and listen carefully to their response. At the end of the day, however, it’s best to simply follow your gut. You know your child and their habits best. Do you think your child is ready? If you don’t, you might be better off getting your child traditional braces. If you think they are ready, however, the many benefits of clear aligners can help improve your child’s experience during their treatment and increase their confidence.
It’s very smart to make sure that clear aligners are a good fit for your child before you commit to it. Thankfully, if your child is mature and responsible enough to follow their orthodontist’s instructions, clear aligners are a great treatment for many teens and preteens. If you’re interested in learning more about clear aligners and whether or not it’s an option for your child, feel free to schedule an appointment with our orthodontist.