As Invisalign treatment shifts from the traditionally adult market to a younger clientele, orthodontists are treating more teens and children without the use of traditional wire braces.
Invisalign teens are a generation of young people who are incredibly image-conscious, with social media making it that much more difficult to go through any kind of “awkward” phase. Luckily, an increasing number of young adults are finding that there is an alternative to traditional, long-term braces. Many teens can be treated with the clear, removable aligners of Invisalign instead.
Invisalign Popularity Grows Among Teens: The Numbers
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly 4.3 million patients 17 years old and younger were treated in North America in 2016—a 66% increase since 1989.
The maker of the Invisalign brand, Align Technology, informs us that between 2013 and 2017, sales of its clear aligners increased in the adolescent sector from about 100,000 to more than 235,000. Additionally, since 2017, the volume of Invisalign teens and tweens has grown at a faster rate than their adult market; Invisalign was previously only used for adults, but it is now available for teens, and sometimes even for younger children who still have some of their baby teeth.
The Benefits of Invisalign for Teens
The increasing number of Invisalign teens and other influencers on social media is obsessed with the clear aligners for several reasons—namely, their invisibility and removability.
Over the years, braces have evolved, and clear and ivory-colored options have been made available to give the illusion of invisibility. However, these are typically not as discreet as clear aligners. Because wired braces are not flush on the teeth the way clear aligners are, our eyes tend to pick up the shape and shadow of these “invisible braces” more easily. Worst case scenario, they can make your teeth look “lumpy.”
Invisalign retainers are made with SmartTrack material, which is a patented, medical-grade plastic that is strong, flexible, and crystal clear. They are almost totally invisible when they are worn and cared for correctly, offering a boost in confidence for those who might be embarrassed about the look of traditional braces.
Another benefit that draws teens to Invisalign is the ability to remove them. This means they can (and should!) be removed during mealtimes, so you don’t have to give up your favorite foods as you would have to for braces. Hard candy, popcorn, corn on the cob, caramel—it’s all on the table!
Removability is also a selling point for special occasions. Whether for weddings, dances, family portraits, or Instagram beach shoots, you can make sure your photo memories aren’t marred by being too embarrassed to smile.
Invisalign Requires Responsibility
It is important to note that while Invisalign retainers are removable, they are meant to be worn at least 22 hours a day and removed only for meals and maintenance (brushing teeth, cleaning retainers, etc). Every hour they’re removed beyond the recommended time is another hour of treatment you’ll have to add to the end of your treatment timeline. If you’re not careful, a 12-month treatment could easily become an 18-month treatment (or longer).
When you’re choosing your tooth alignment method, be honest with yourself about the answers to a few questions. Is it likely that you will end up removing these aligners for multiple hours a day, every day? Is it likely that you will misplace your aligners or throw them away accidentally? Are you good at keeping track of time and sticking to a schedule?
All of these questions can help you to determine whether traditional braces or Invisalign is the better option for you. Remember, the ultimate purpose of Invisalign is to straighten your smile, and this cannot be achieved unless the retainers are worn consistently and correctly.
Invisalign Teens Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you have to wear Invisalign?
The answer to this question is completely dependent on your diagnosis. Minor adjustments to the alignment and position of your teeth will naturally take much less time to correct than major dental problems. In general, it takes between 6 and 18 months to complete an Invisalign treatment.
Talk to your orthodontist or dentist about your treatment options and what timeline looks best for you.
Can I use whitening strips with Invisalign attachments?
We recommend that you do not use whitening products until after your Invisalign treatment is complete. If you have attachments on your teeth, the surface area under the attachments will not be whitened, so you may end up with darker patches when the attachments come off.
How do I clean my Invisalign retainers?
Most orthodontists believe that toothpaste and toothbrushes are too abrasive and will scratch your aligners, leading to discoloration, bacterial growth, and buildup of food particles in the scratches. This can negatively impact the appearance of your teeth and put them in danger of decay and cavities. As a result, orthodontists often suggest that you soak your Invisalign retainers in denture or retainer cleaner and rinse them with cold water.
DO NOT put your aligners in the dishwasher or the microwave to disinfect them; this will melt the plastic, and you will have to pay for new aligners. We also do not recommend soaking the retainers in or putting them under hot or boiling water. Even a small amount of warping or misshaping can affect the comfort of your aligners, or worse, interfere with the corrected alignment of your teeth.
How do I keep my teeth healthy during Invisalign treatment?
Keeping your teeth healthy during Invisalign mostly involves keeping up with your regular dental hygiene. You should brush at least twice a day, and you should rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash once a day to help keep your mouth fresh and clean.
You will also want to make sure that you floss once a day to avoid unnecessary tooth decay. This is sometimes a difficult habit to keep, but it becomes even more important with Invisalign. If you have any food trapped between your teeth, the aligners will seal in the food particles and cause them to decay faster than they would when oxygen is freely circulating over the teeth, making them much more vulnerable to cavities and other problems.
The most important difference in your dental hygiene routine will be caring for the aligners themselves, so make sure you thoroughly clean and rinse them at least once a day. Your orthodontist will give you additional tips on how to properly care for your Invisalign retainers and any attachments that accompany your treatment.
Why are my Invisalign retainers yellow?
Much like your teeth, your Invisalign retainers can become discolored due to staining foods and drinks. In addition to regular, daily cleaning, you can keep your alignment trays from yellowing by avoiding things such as:
- Lemons and other citrus fruits
These items all cause tooth discoloration, and if they are allowed to sit on your teeth encased in the plastic of your aligners, the discoloration can transfer. You will especially want to avoid these staining food items in the middle of the day when you are less likely to be able to rinse out your retainers (and your mouth) before you put them back in.
Dean Dental Solutions
If you have any questions about Invisalign, Dean Dental Solutions is here to help. Contact us online, or call 501-771-2911 today! We’re happy to help you make an appointment and get started on your journey toward a happier, healthier smile.