Invisalign braces have become increasingly popular over the years and have resulted in additional versions, one of which is Invisalign teen. As the name suggests this brace is especially designed for teenagers who dislike uncomfortable metal braces.
Teenagers are at an awkward age where they are self conscious about their appearance so the thought of having to wear a ‘train track’ brace fills them with dread. And the chances are that they will refuse to do so.
But companies such as Align Technology (www.aligntechnology.com) have recognised this and have responded by developing a clear type of brace which is easy to wear and clean. Plus it looks great as well which is the main factor for any teenager.
What are Invisalign teen braces?
This type of brace is classed as an ‘invisible brace’ in that it is hardly noticeable when placed over the teeth due to the design and materials used. It looks very similar to a plastic gumshield as used by boxers and other sportspeople although it is lighter and made from a transparent material.
These aligners contain marker tabs which change colour to indicate that a new one is needed which is particularly useful for teenagers who have a habit of losing or forgetting to wear their brace.
What do Invisalign teen braces treat?
They are used to treat cases of crooked or misaligned teeth, overcrowding or gaps between the teeth. But like Invisalign for adults, it is not suitable for every orthodontic problem.
A conventional brace is more appropriate for major orthodontic problems.
However, Invisalign teen is suitable for minor orthodontic conditions which particularly affect teenagers. A good example of this is a ‘bad bite’ caused by teeth which stick out due to childhood thumb sucking.
Advantages of Invisalign teen braces
These include ease of use (can be easily removed and replaced), aesthetic appearance and a comfortable fit. But it is the fact that it is practically invisible which attracts many teenagers who don’t want a noticeable ‘train track’ type brace.
Are there any disadvantages? This brace is effective for mild orthodontic conditions only such as an underbite/overbite, overcrowding and gaps in the teeth. Plus there is a flip side to the removable aspect of this brace as it is all too easy to take this device out and then forget to replace it which slows down the treatment process. And forgetting to wear the brace is a common problem amongst teenagers.
This brace has to be worn for 20 hours a day and replaced every two weeks which pushes up the cost. Plus it means more trips to the orthodontist.
How do Invisalign teen braces work?
The Invisalign brace is worn on the upper or lower teeth and gradually realigns the teeth over a period of 1 to 2 years. These aligners have to be replaced every two weeks but the Teen version has a clever system for informing its wearer that it needs to be changed.
The Invisalign teen brace contains a marker tab which changes colour after two weeks as a form of a reminder. This change in colour happens gradually in that two week period and shows the progress of their treatment to the wearer, their parents and their orthodontist.
Any change to this may indicate that the teenager is not wearing the brace for the designated period of time. In these cases a fixed brace may have to be worn instead.
Fitting an Invisalign teen brace
The treatment process begins with an initial consultation with the orthodontist. He/she will carefully examine your teeth before taking X-rays/photographs of your mouth. An impression of your teeth (using a putty filled mould) will be taken and this combined with the visual evidence enables the dental laboratory to create your Invisalign braces.
You will be notified once they are ready. The brace is fitted over your teeth which you will be shown how to do. This is an easy brace to remove and replace which can sometimes but its downfall! You will also be advised about cleaning your brace (and teeth) and the importance of visiting the orthodontist every two weeks to exchange your brace for a new aligner.
It is important that you do this. And don’t forget to wear your brace for 20 hours each day. Any interruption to this will only slow down the treatment which makes it less effective. Plus bear in mind that this is an expensive form of treatment so it makes sense to get the full benefit from it.