7 Questions Every Parent Has About Invisalign for Teens
Braces have long been a staple of the teenage years. When we were growing up, most of our friends probably had them, all at about the same time. I myself had metal braces for the last two years of high school. In my group, they were so commonplace that they weren’t something that anyone was teased about. The same probably could not be said of other groups and other people. The most aggravating thing about braces was not even the possibility of being teased—it was the discomfort and annoyances that went along with have metal brackets cemented to your teeth.
Enter Invisalign: removable plastic aligners that do much of the same work as metal braces. They are universally lauded as being easier to wear, less noticeable, and more comfortable than metal braces. But are they right for your teen? Here are seven questions that every parent has about Invisalign for teens.
1. How does Invisalign work?
Invisalign often looks just like the plastic retainers that most teenagers get when they are done with their metal braces treatment. How can these plastic trays actually move your teen’s teeth? They actually do it in a very similar way to how braces move your teeth. The aligners put pressure on the teeth, gradually shifting them out of misalignment and into alignment. Every two weeks, your teen will trade out the old aligner for a new one, and the teeth will continue to move. There may be some discomfort as the teeth adjust to the new aligner, but there is generally less discomfort than with metal braces.
2. Is Invisalign more expensive than other types of treatments?
One of the reasons many parents decide on metal braces instead of Invisalign is the misconception that Invisalign is always going to be more expensive than other treatments. While it might have initially been more expensive than other treatments, today, most braces and Invisalign treatments cost about the same amount, if your insurance covers Invisalign, which most plans do, these days. The simplest answer to this that you will have to ask your orthodontist specifically what the costs will be in your case. In most cases, the costs are about the same.
3. What happens if my teen loses an aligner?
It is possible that your teen might take out his aligners to eat lunch at school, put them on a napkin, and accidentally through them away. He might leave them at a friend’s house, or they might, as things do, just disappear. What is going to happen if you misplace a set of aligners? In general, you can simply get a replacement by contacting us and letting us know that the aligners have gone missing. Depending on how close your teen was to swapping out those aligners for the next set, we might just move on to the next set and not worry about a replacement.
4. How many hours a day does my teen need to wear his aligners?
In order for treatment to be as effective as possible, your teen needs to wear his aligners for a minimum of twenty-two hours every day. That gives him plenty of time to take them out for eating and cleaning. At all other times, as often as possible, he should be wearing them. Sometimes, your teen might have extracurricular activities that require him to remove those aligners, like band or sports, but Invisalign aligners are designed to be discreet enough that they can be worn at all other times without disrupting your teen’s life.
5. Are there any diet restrictions?
With metal braces, there are lots of diet restrictions and it can be very difficult to determine whether or not your teen is actually following those restrictions. I know that I, as a teenager who wore braces for almost two years, did not always follow the instructions of my orthodontist, probably much to his chagrin. I had spacers in between my back teeth and once bit down so hard on a gummy bear that they were completely displaced and I had to go in to have them removed and replaced the next day. With Invisalign for teens, however, there are no dietary restrictions. In fact, because your teen can remove the aligners completely from his or her mouth when it is time to eat, they can eat whatever they like, whenever they’d like.
6. What are some common issues with Invisalign?
The biggest roadblock we see with Invisalign for teen patients is that they simply do not wear their aligners enough. Especially in the beginning, there is an adjustment period, during which your teen might speak with a little bit of a lisp or notice increased saliva production as the mouth adjusts to something new in its environment. These things can discourage a teen from wearing their aligners, even if they know that, over time, if they keep wearing their aligners, those issues will go away. It is really up to the parent and the teen to make sure that the aligners are being worn.
7. How can I know if my teen is wearing his aligners?
We will be able to tell, when your teen comes in for checkups, whether or not he has been wearing his aligners. If he is progressing at the right rate, it will be obvious that he has been diligent about wearing those aligners as much as possible. If he is lagging behind a little bit, this could be an indication that he has not been wearing them as often as he should have been. If he is far behind on his treatment, we can attribute this to not wearing his aligners as prescribed.