Invisalign for orthodontic treatment is arguably one of the most effectively marketed treatment methods in recent memory. Consequently, it’s also incredibly effective treatment and has been shown to successfully correct a wide range of malocclusions.
It comes as no surprise that more patients ask for the treatment by name. Even parents ask us about Invisalign for their younger children.
There is a big reason why orthodontists often shy away from recommending Invisalign for young kids: Compliance. Because the clear plastic aligners can be removed to eat or to brush and floss, Invisalign’s success and ability to correct malocclusion within the projected timeframe relies heavily on the patient’s willingness to wear the aligners 22 hours per day. Younger children may not always be good at remembering to wear their aligners. They also may be more likely to remove their aligners if they experience soreness as a result of prescribed tooth movements. Fixed orthodontic appliances such as brackets and arch wires tend to be much more effective for younger patients.
Invisalign aligners are fabricated to meet each patient’s individual needs. Each progressive aligner in the series relies upon the patient to dutifully wear the previous aligner for the prescribed length of time, which typically is 22 hours per day for about two weeks. Doing so shifts the teeth slightly toward their ideal position. The next aligner in the series picks up where the last one left off, and progresses the bite and alignment movements a bit more. Failing to wear each aligner as prescribed means patients run the risk of the next in the series not fitting properly.
Even though younger children may not be ideal Invisalign candidates, it can be the right treatment for teens who are willing to commit to wearing their aligners as prescribed. The makers of Invisalign saw the potential for teens to receive aesthetic orthodontic treatment and created a system geared toward them.
Invisalign Teen meets the unique needs of teenage patients by providing key features such as compliance indicators and free replacements.
The indicators are tiny blue dots that fade with wear to let orthodontists know they are being worn as prescribed. Frankly, some adult Invisalign patients could benefit from these indicators, too!
Mistakes happen. Aligners may get left in a restaurant or bent in a backpack. Invisalign Teen provides up to three free replacement aligners during active treatment to cover loss and damage.
There also are physiological differences in teens that are addressed in the Invisalign Teen aligners. They include features to address the natural eruption of key teeth and root control issues that are common in patients ages 13 to 19.
Cases That Can be Treated with Invisalign Teen
Invisalign advanced long ago from a one-size-fits-all approach to mildly crowded or crooked teeth to being capable of treating more complex orthodontic issues. The makers of Invisalign work continuously to treat more and more complex cases and achieve even better results. Following are common alignment issues that are addressed with Invisalign Teen.
Spaces between teeth-Some people like the space between their front teeth; others don’t. If you have spaces between any of your teeth, it could be a sign of abnormal jaw growth, or a sign that you have congenitally missing teeth. Invisalign treatment can close those gaps to create your ideal smile.
Overbite-This happens when the teeth in your upper jaw bite over the teeth in your lower jaw. It tends to be caused by genetics, poor oral habits, or overdevelopment of the bone that supports the teeth. This can lead to gum problems or irritation, abnormal tooth wear, jaw discomfort and joint problems.
Underbite-This can occur when the lower teeth jut forward in front of the upper front teeth. It is usually caused by undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or a combination of the two. Underbite can make it impossible for your front teeth and your molars to function properly, and can lead to joint issues and jaw discomfort.
Crossbite-This condition happens when the upper and lower jaws are both out of alignment. It causes some of your upper teeth to bite on the inside of the lower teeth, and can happen on the front and the sides of the mouth. This can cause teeth to wear prematurely in certain places, and can lead to periodontal disease and bone loss.
Open bite-This is the term used to describe teeth in the upper and lower jaw that don’t make contact as they should when the jaws are closed together. Genetics typically are the culprit in this condition, but it also can be caused by excessive thumb-sucking.
Crowded teeth-Tooth crowding occurs when there isn’t enough room in the mouth for all of your teeth to fit appropriately. Crowded teeth can become more crowded over time, which can lead to plaque accumulation, tooth decay and an increased chance of periodontal disease.
How the Process Works
Determining whether a teen is a good candidate for Invisalign Teen begins with a comprehensive orthodontic evaluation. We take X-rays and photographs of the teeth to evaluate the bite, alignment and spacing.
If it is determined that your teen is a candidate, we use a scanner to capture 3-D images of the teeth. Those images are used to develop a treatment plan and determine the tooth movements required to bring the teeth into proper alignment. This information is sent to the Invisalign laboratory, where the series of custom aligners is made.
Our patients will receive three sets of aligners at each appointment. Each aligner is worn for approximately two weeks before moving on to the next in the series. Over time, you will see that the teeth are gradually shifting into alignment.
In some cases, we perform interproximal reductionon certain teeth to create enough space to achieve the desired tooth movements. In other cases, we use “buttons” or “attachments” that are bonded to certain tooth surfaces to help perform specific tooth movements. These buttons create extra grip for the aligners so they can apply more force to achieve tooth movements.
If you’re interesting in an Invisalign evaluation for yourself or a loved one, please call our office to schedule an appointment. We look forward to working with you to achieve your smile goals!