Clear Aligners For Kids
Clear aligners have been around in some form or another for almost two decades, and during that time, they’ve mainly been associated with adults looking for a discrete, non-invasive way of straightening teeth. As a transparent orthodontic device, clear aligners are about as far removed from bracket and wiring style braces as it’s possible to get. So, for today’s self-conscious teenager, you’d think that clear aligners would offer the obvious solution. Indeed, they might, but before you rush out and start exploring the possibilities, there are a number of considerations you might want to look at.
Like all good evaluations, we’ll start with the positives, and these are:
Clear aligners for kids are pretty discreet
While undergoing orthodontic treatment as a child may seem like part of growing up, it’s unlikely that conventional ‘train-track’ style braces will do much to enhance anyone’s street credibility. The problem is that, for teens especially, how one is perceived amongst others is highly important.
In fact, according to research, personal image is an essential factor in building future relationships. With this in mind, because aligners are made from clear, thin molded plastic, you’d have to get pretty close to someone to know that they were actually wearing them. As such, they’re about as discreet as 21st century orthodontic treatment gets.
You get to eat what you like
Usually, when wearing braces, you’ll have a list of foods you really should avoid. Foods like popcorn, candy, and potato chips usually, most of which kids/teens love 🙂 The reason? They tend to get stuck in between the brackets, making the teeth difficult to clean. Because clear aligners are designed to be removed before eating, patients get to eat whatever they choose, just so long as they clean their teeth thoroughly afterward before putting the aligners back in.
Speaking of cleaning teeth, this leads us on nicely to the next advantage…
Better tooth care
Most traditional orthodontic treatments remain in the mouth for the duration of the treatment. In other words, they’re fixed permanently. The trouble is, when there’s a lot of metal framework in the way, it can make it difficult to clean teeth. Research has shown that while there is no direct link between wearing braces and the onset of periodontal disease, there does appear to be an increase in periodontal disease-causing bacteria in many cases. So, extra care needs to be taken to maintain a kind of bacterial equilibrium through precise and regular brushing.
Conversely, with clear aligners, teeth are easily accessible as aligners are removable, making normal brushing, flossing, and rinsing that much easier.
So now we know about the positives of clear aligners for kids, what about the negatives?
This is a major consideration before beginning treatment. Bear in mind that clear aligners need to be worn for approximately 22 hours a day for 6 months or more to be effective, that’s a big ask for a teen wearing a device that’s designed to be removed quickly and easily. Anything less, and it’s likely that treatment will stall.
As such, it requires a huge amount of self-discipline from the wearer to ensure that any tooth movement remains on track. Is this something your child/teen is prepared to do?
Let’s face it, who doesn’t like the occasional snack? The problem is that with clear aligner treatment, snacking between meals can become a real pain in the butt!
Don't forget to clean your teeth after snacking before putting your aligners back in!
Because, every time you eat or drink anything but water, you’ll need to remove your aligner, give your teeth a thorough clean, and rinse out your aligner before putting it back in place. In addition, there’s the time factor…
Don’t forget that aligners need to remain in the mouth for a minimum of 22 hours a day to be effective so, unless you’re the Usain Bolt of the eating world, snacking between meals may well have to be on hold, for the time being at least!
Of course, you could always turn that into a positive and say that refusing the odd bag of chips or cake is a good thing, but we’ll leave that up to you to decide 🙂
Clear aligners are not for every case
While clear aligners can help with the majority of orthodontic issues, there are certain severe cases that other orthodontic treatment methods are better suited to. That said, your local orthodontist should be able to tell you whether or not your teen is a good candidate for clear aligner treatment. Alternatively, why not send us a picture of your teen’s smile via our mobile app and let our highly skilled orthodontists tell you whether we can help.
It’s an age thing!
When we use the term ‘clear aligners for kids’, we really mean older children or young teens. The reason for this is that clear aligners are better suited to those who have all their adult premolars, molars, and canine teeth in place. Typically, this occurs between the ages of 11-13.
So, there you have it…the pros and cons of clear aligners for kids!