Orthodontics is a rite of passage for many teenagers who want to correct issues with misaligned teeth or jaws. Orthodontic problems can affect someone's ability to eat and speak normally and increase their risk of dental injuries, as well as impacting on their appearance.
Traditional orthodontic treatment involves fixing metal braces to the teeth followed by a retainer, but some teenagers don't like the idea of braces. If this is the case, ask your dentist or orthodontist if they offer alternative treatments such as Invisalign® Teen 'invisible' aligners.
What age can orthodontic treatment start?
Orthodontic treatment usually begins in the early teens, from the ages of 11 to 13. By this time, all of the permanent teeth should have come through, but the teeth and jaws are still growing and easier to move into their desired position.
Depending on your child's individual clinical needs, orthodontics can sometimes start earlier in childhood, around the age of 8 or 9. Many older teenagers and adults can also benefit from orthodontic treatment, although treatment outcomes may be less reliable compared to younger teens.
What are 'invisible' aligners?
While clear aligners aren't strictly 'invisible,' they are less noticeable in the mouth than metal braces. They're made from transparent plastic that's custom-moulded to fit over the teeth and gradually move them into their correct position over time.
Clear aligners may not be suitable for all orthodontic conditions, but they can be effective if minor adjustments are needed for crooked or misaligned teeth.
If you or your child have a more severe overbite, underbite or crossbite, or another issue such as crowding or protruding teeth, your dentist may recommend traditional braces.
What are the benefits of Invisalign®?
Invisalign® and Invisalign® Teen were designed to be a more discreet option for teenagers and adults who don't want to draw attention to their orthodontic treatment. They also have other advantages over traditional braces, including:
- Improved oral hygiene – unlike fixed braces, aligners can be removed when brushing and flossing teeth. This makes it easier to keep teeth and gums healthy and lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease that can interrupt orthodontic treatments.
- No changes to diet – while your dentist will recommend you follow a healthy diet, you won't have to avoid certain foods like you would with braces, where food can get trapped in the brackets and wires or cause damage.
- Avoiding injuries – braces that come loose or rub inside the mouth can sometimes cause scratches, injuries or ulcers. This is avoided with clear aligners.
- Compliance indicators – coloured indicators clearly show dentists whether aligners have been worn for the recommended amount of time, so parents don't have to worry that their kids are avoiding treatment.
- Easily replaced – dentists can replace a lost or damaged aligner more easily than repairing a damaged brace.
What are the risks?
Any dental or orthodontic treatment has risks, and your dentist will make sure that you and your child understand the possible side-effects and complications when making your decision.
Invisalign® Teen clear aligners avoid some of the risks of braces, as there are no brackets or wires to cause injuries. However, there may still be a risk of relapse if a retainer is not worn after aligners are removed. This can cause the teeth to shift back towards their old position and may require another treatment.
To minimise the risks, check your dentist's credentials to make sure they have experience in teenage orthodontics.
Book an orthodontics consultation in Brisbane
To find out more about Invisalign® Teen and other orthodontic treatments we offer for teenagers and adults at Face Value Dental, book a consultation with our experienced dentists Dr Adam Alford or Dr Jena Ward today.
 Healthdirect. Dental braces and retainers [Online] 2018 [Accessed January 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-braces-and-retainers
 Better Health Channel. Orthodontic treatment [Online] 2018 [Accessed January 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/orthodontic-treatment