By Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer on Apr 19 2019
Being a teenager is hard enough without throwing a mouthful of metal brackets into the mixture. Luckily, braces are no longer the most popular and viable option for treating your teenager’s bad bite, or misaligned teeth - Invisalign clear aligners have given the traditional metal brackets some competition.
We know that when it comes to orthodontic treatment, teenagers can struggle with the appearance of it more than most. They may be hesitant to side with the chunky, metallic look of braces, simply due to the way it will change their appearance. This is where Invisalign comes in!
However, with a new treatment comes new questions. As a parent, you may not have much insight into what exactly Invisalign is, how it works, and how you’ll know if your teens treatment is on track. Invisalign greatly differs from braces, after all; how will you know if your teen is taking the treatment seriously, or if they’re wearing them all the time? We’ll answer common questions and highlight important points below!
What is Invisalign, and How Does it Work?
We’ll start with the basics - what is Invisalign, anyway? Invisalign is simply a set of completely clear aligners that are removable like retainers, but carry the impact of braces. The process of Invisalign includes a series of aligners that gradually shift your teeth into place by applying pressure on designated areas.
Each tray is specifically manufactured to be slightly straighter than the tray that came before it, and each tray is custom made in a lab to specifically fit your teeth. The lab receives instructions from your orthodontist regarding how to construct them for the patient, meaning you’re in extremely good hands, and the aligners will be entirely accurate before they’re given to your teenager to wear.
Before moving forward with and investing in the Invisalign process, your orthodontist will first ensure your teen is a good candidate for the clear aligners. This will be done through a thorough consultation so there is absolutely no trial and error involved in the process.
How Would My Teen Benefit From Invisalign?
Like we mentioned earlier, teenagers are often hesitant to wear braces. They’re chunky, coloured, very noticeable, and sometimes cause a great deal of discomfort. This takes us to our first benefit:
They’ll Remain Self Confident
Invisalign clear aligners are practically invisible. Your teen will get all the benefits of wearing braces without having the look of wearing braces - a complete win win situation!
This will naturally ensure their confidence doesn’t take a hit - if anything, it will be slowly building as their smile becomes straighter and straighter! They won’t be afraid of smiling in photos, public speaking, or anything at all.
They’ll Be Comfortable
It’s not uncommon for braces to cut or irritate the mouth during the treatment process. Invisalign has the potential to irritate, but these sharp edges and corners can be shaved down by your orthodontist. In addition to this, unlike braces, Invisalign aligners are uniquely trimmed to fit each individual’s gum line to lessen the chances of discomfort and irritation.
If your teen is comfortable, they won’t experience distractions or interruptions during their everyday life. They’ll be able to direct their full attention to the important things, such as work, school, and extracurricular activities.
They Won’t Have to Change Their Diet
There’s a very long list of foods, beverages and snacks that you should avoid when you have braces, but Invisalign is a little different. While your teeth and gums will need to be extremely clean so the aligners themselves can be kept clean, there’s no limit to what you can and can’t eat.
Your teen’s only worry will be remembering to remove the aligners before their meal, snack, or hot drink, and then remembering to put them back in. Ideally, in order for them to have the best oral health and for their aligners to be kept spotless, you should be encouraging your teen to brush their teeth before their aligners go back in. If the aligners aren’t being returned to clean teeth, this leaves an opportunity for bacteria to become trapped within them and create decay and staining.
You’ll also need to ensure they know that under no circumstances should they be eating or drinking anything while wearing their Invisalign. Water is okay, but if your teen is consuming tea, coffee, or any type of food, it’s extremely likely their aligners will stain. Hot drinks also have the potential to melt their aligners, which can warp them, and make them lose their desired shape.
Here’s What Most Parents Want to Know:
How Will I Know They’re Wearing the Aligners?
This is an excellent question. Teenagers aren’t known to be the most responsible age group at times, and many parents feel that their orthodontic investment will be wasted on a lack of structure and routine.
This is a fair concern, and something that both your orthodontist and a feature within the aligners will be able to help you with.
When your teen is receiving their aligners for the first time, the orthodontist will take it upon themselves to stress the importance of wearing the aligners for at least 22 hours per day, which is the standard. This is helpful, but it may take a little more.
Invisalign has a unique feature that allows both you as the parent and the orthodontist to closely monitor the situation. This feature is called compliance indicators.
Compliance indicators consist of a series of blue dots on the aligners. These blue dots will disappear if your teen is wearing them as recommended for their treatment, but will remain present if they spend too much time with them in their case.
This allows both you and your teenager’s orthodontist to monitor their progress, and be able to interject when needed. If every check-in presents blue dots to their orthodontist, they may have to have another conversation that highlights the importance of frequent use and wear. As a parent, you can also check their aligners every once in awhile to ensure that their treatment is on the right track.
What Happens if My Teenager Loses Their Aligners?
Teens tend to lose things, even things that are expensive and crucial to their orthodontic treatment. It may be comforting to hear that losing your Invisalign is actually a common problem among patients - many people will take it out in a restaurant or food court to eat, put it on the table for the time being, and leave without it. Some even wrap it in a napkin and throw it in the trash along with their leftovers.
This can be a nightmare for a parent, both with the financial implications of the orthodontic treatment, and the fear that your teen may fall behind in their treatment plan.
When you contact your orthodontist to give them the bad news, there are a few different things they can do to rectify the situation.
- Depending on how far along you were with that aligner, they may be able to start you on your next set. This will eliminate any potential bumps in the road, and your teen won’t miss or have to catch up on any treatment.
- A replacement may have to be crafted. This isn’t the end of the world, and once again, you won’t be the first patient to ever lose an aligner. Luckily for you, the total cost of your treatment can cover up to six free replacement aligners.
Of course, you should encourage your teen to take extremely good care of their aligners and to always stow them in their proper place during meal times, but your orthodontist is there to help if there’s a slip up! The best news is, this slip up won’t break the bank.
What Should I Look For in an Invisalign Provider So They Get The Best Treatment?
As a parent, you want to know that any orthodontic procedure you sign your teenager up for will be safe, reliable, and most importantly, effective. Many people have a very limited knowledge of Invisalign, and may not know who to look for, or what to ask when they find the right orthodontist.
When you’re on the hunt for a provider, make sure you’re looking for someone with lots of experience in the industry that has successfully handled several cases. Ideally, you won’t want to do business with a practice that specializes in metal braces - in order to ensure the best results, selecting someone that supports and deals largely with Invisalign is key.
The reason for this is that the clear aligners themselves only shoulder so much of the work. Yes, they’re the physical component that helps to guide the teeth to their proper place, but the event is solely orchestrated and guided by your orthodontist. The treatment plan they create does most to all of the work, as Invisalign is not a one size fits all approach to teeth straightening. Your orthodontist will be the one monitoring the situation, making adjustments as needed, and answering questions and concerns - for all these reasons, it’s best to have an expert!