When it comes to braces, your kids will either be very excited to have them or hoping to avoid them at all costs. With new orthodontic treatment options gaining popularity, many people are now seeking alternative treatment with clear aligners, such as Invisalign®, 3M Clarity® or Spark® for teens.
If you’re curious about clear aligner treatment options and are wondering if it is the right choice for your child, then read on to learn more.
Clear aligners are removable, plastic devices used to straighten or adjust teeth. They can be a good alternative to braces and have become increasingly popular because they can be removed for eating and cleaning, along with their near-invisible look.
Invisalign® is the most recognised branded name for the orthodontic treatment that involves a series of clear aligners but there are other companies that also manufacture aligners for orthodontists (Such as 3M Clarity® or Spark®).
Aligners are made out of a clear plastic material from a mould or digital scan of your child’s teeth. They are virtually invisible when they’re being worn, which makes them a popular choice for those who are self-conscious about their orthodontic treatment.
As your child progresses through their clear aligner treatment they will receive a new set of aligner trays to wear every 1-2 weeks. The small changes in the shape of the aligners helps to gently guide their teeth into a new position over a period of up to two years.
Clear aligners can be used for teenagers, however, some allowances may need to be made for newly erupting teeth. Please also remember that clear aligners can only predictably straighten teeth if they are worn correctly and 22 hours per day.
For treatment with clear aligners to be effective, the wearer needs to be incredibly disciplined. They need to be worn for a minimum of 22 hours every day, only being removed to eat, brush your teeth and to clean the aligners. If this isn’t strictly adhered to then it will significantly limit the effectiveness of the treatment and traditional fixed braces should be considered instead.
There are also some orthodontic tooth movements that cannot be effectively achieved with clear aligners. In such cases, your orthodontist will recommend alternative treatment options.
Clear aligner treatment is also better suited to older teens who have all their adult (permanent) teeth fully erupted into the mouth.
There’s lots of things you can do to help your child keep their aligners in top shape – from removing them when eating or drinking anything except cold water to cleaning them properly twice a day.
And the best ways to keep your clear aligners clean include:
- Gently brushing them with a liquid soap: Gentle brushing can remove any plaque, residual food debris and helps stop bacteria from building up.
- Using a denture cleaning tablet: You can buy these from pharmacies and then simply follow the instructions on the packet.
- Rinsing whenever you remove: A good habit to get into is rinsing clear aligners whenever you remove them.
- Rinse whenever you remove: a good habit to get into is rinsing your clear aligners whenever you remove them.
Metal braces are still the most popular treatment option for teenagers – especially those who require more extensive tooth movements during their treatment. It involves metal brackets that are attached to the teeth and connected by a thin metal wire that is adjusted at regular intervals to get the desired movement. Metal braces are also popular with younger patients as bright colours can be added.
Ceramic braces work in the same way to metal braces, except clear or tooth-coloured brackets and wires are used for a subtler appearance. This is a popular treatment option among adults and older teens who would like a discreet treatment option.
Lingual braces are custom made for each patient and are attached along the inside of your teeth, making them practically invisible. Because of the braces close proximity to the tongue, this method will be more uncomfortable and affect speech for longer than other options.
Every orthodontic patient is different and requires different levels of treatment, which may exclude certain treatment options such as clear aligner treatments like Invisalign®, 3M Clarity® or Spark®. The more effective a treatment option is for your child, then the less likely it is that they will require additional treatment down the line.
Finding the right treatment option for your teenager is about more than just the aesthetic appeal, so it is essential that you consult a specialist orthodontist to discuss the best option for your child and their smile.
Clear aligner treatments are available in Australia under a number of different brand names, including Invisalign®, 3M Clarity® or Spark®. Orthodontics Australia does not endorse the use of any particular brand of clear aligner treatment and acknowledges that specialist orthodontists will work with whichever brand is best suited to their practice. For more information about Clear Aligners please download our eBook.