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Invisalign for Kids and Teens? Why Clear Aligners Could be the Best Choice

By April 13, 2021Blog, Orthodontics

seperators for orthodontic treatment

Invisalign ® for Kids and Teens? Why Clear Aligners Could be the Best Choice

Metal braces used to be a middle school and high school rite of passage. That’s not the case anymore. These days, while metal braces, particularly the self-ligating braces we use at our practice, are smaller, more streamlined and attractive, they’re not the only option. Younger patients who want to skip the metallic hardware can opt for clear braces, which are less noticeable than their metal counterparts. Patients can also straighten their teeth without braces at all thanks to Invisalign®. With upgrades in engineering, materials and treatment planning capabilities, as well as the unparalleled experience of our Bellaire and Houston orthodontists, Invisalign for teens and kids is a viable solution for many patients. 

In this post, we’re covering:

Can Kids Get Invisalign?

Yes, many kids can get Invisalign. Every patient is unique but as certified specialists in orthodontics, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller, Dr. Wadler and Dr. Bloome are experts in dental and facial development and are able to determine the treatment option that will bring out the best in a growing smile. For some children and teens, that’s clear aligners. 

Is Invisalign for kids under 13 possible? In certain cases, kids can get Invisalign even if they don’t have all of their permanent teeth. This is because while Invisalign Teen works the same way as Invisalign for adults, it’s designed especially for younger patients. It has eruption tabs to accommodate erupting teeth, which means using Invisalign for kids under 13 doesn’t require that they have their permanent molars. 

How Does Invisalign Work for Kids and Teens?

So, how does Invisalign work? Whether we use Invisalign for kids, teens or adults, the basic principles are the same. The size and features of the aligners are really the only things that are different. 

Here’s how Invisalign works for younger patients:

  • Your child or teen will come in for a consultation and one of our Bellaire or Houston Invisalign Diamond Plus Providers will evaluate their diagnostic records and perform a thorough examination. This will allow the doctor to develop an accurate diagnosis and make personalized treatment recommendations. We’ll answer any questions you have and walk you through the process.
  • If it’s decided that Invisalign Teen is the best option for your child or teenager, a team member will take quick, comfortable digital impressions using our iTero® scanner (no goopy, mess molds!). The scans will be uploaded to our computer and a 3D model of your child’s mouth will be created. The orthodontist will plan out your child’s treatment directly on the model, moving each individual tooth into its ideal position. They can visualize different outcomes and troubleshoot in advance, to create the perfect smile for your kiddo’s unique facial features, while also ensuring treatment is efficient. 

Using the Invisalign Outcome Simulator, they can even show you what your child’s smile will look like when they finish treatment. Once the treatment plan is in place, the orthodontist will send their specifications off to the Invisalign lab. 

  • At the Invisalign lab, the orthodontist’s instructions will be translated into a series of custom, 3D-printed aligners. When your child’s Invisalign aligners are ready, you can come pick them up. 
  • Your child or teenager will wear their Invisalign Teen aligners for about 20 to 22 hours per day, taking them out to eat, drink anything aside from plain water, and brush and floss their teeth. The aligners fit snugly against the teeth and exert steady, gentle pressure to shift teeth into place. Each set of aligners is pre-programmed to achieve certain tooth movements, so as your child makes their way through the series, their smile will take shape bit by bit. 
  • Kids will change to a new set of Invisalign aligners according to their treatment plan, typically every week. They’ll come in occasionally for a check-up so Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Bloome, Dr. Muller or Dr. Wadler can keep an eye on their progress. We also offer Grin® Remote Dental Monitoring to keep tabs on your child’s smile remotely. Using a smartphone and a reusable mouthpiece, your child can take orthodontist-ready scans of their teeth in under a minute. They’ll send them through the Grin app, usually once a week, and their orthodontist will assess their progress, cutting down on the number of in-person visits needed. 
  • When your child takes out their final set of Invisalign aligners, they’ll have a beautiful, healthy smile to show for it. They’ll come in to be fitted for a custom retainer (be sure to ask us about our Retainer Club!). Wearing a retainer is the only way to prevent the teeth from shifting back to their old places and, eventually, it will only need to be worn a few nights per week. We offer clear retainers, sometimes called Invisalign retainers, that fit just like Invisalign aligners and are equally as under-the-radar and comfortable. 

What are the Benefits of Invisalign for Kids and Teens?

There are a number of benefits of Invisalign for kids and teens, including:

The Aligners are Virtually Invisible

Invisalign Teen aligners are made from smooth, BPA-free, clear plastic and they slip right over the teeth. Most people won’t notice your child is wearing aligners, and they can continue to smile with confidence all throughout their treatment. 

There are No Food Restrictions

Patients sometimes ask things like, can you eat lollipops with Invisalign? Is popcorn allowed during clear aligner treatment? Yes, you can eat lollipops with Invisalign and popcorn is fair game. The aligners are removable, so there are no food restrictions. Kids can continue to eat all of the things they love, including popcorn, pizza crust and candy, as long as they take their aligners out first and brush their teeth before putting the aligners back in. You won’t have to worry about your child eating something hard at school and breaking their appliance or having to skip out on sweets during the holidays. 

Brushing and Flossing are a Breeze

The fact that the aligners are removable also means kids can brush and floss as they normally would and don’t have to navigate around brackets and wires. If your kiddo isn’t the best with oral hygiene, this is something to consider when comparing braces vs. Invisalign

Treatment is Comfortable 

Invisalign aligners are smooth and comfortable. They won’t irritate the mouth like braces can. While during the first week with Invisalign, and sometimes after putting in new aligners, kids may have some sensitivity, it’s mild and aligners are well tolerated among our Houston Invisalign Teen patients. 

Kids and Teens Will Get Used to Wearing Aligners Quickly 

Speaking of the first week with Invisalign, getting acclimated to wearing aligners is easier than getting used to wearing braces thanks to the lack of hardware. The only complaint some patients have about their first week with Invisalign is a slight lisp, but speech returns to normal quickly.

Great for Active Teens

Musicians and athletes will love Invisalign Teen. Kids don’t have to worry about getting hit in the mouth during a game or cutting their lip while trying to hit a high note. 

Effective for a Variety of Orthodontic Concerns

Invisalign works for a wide range of cases when treatment is planned by an Invisalign expert like the orthodontists at Houston Orthodontic Specialists. We can use Invisalign for an overbite, spacing, crowding, an open bite, and more. 

Ideal for Special Occasions

While kids will have to wear their clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day, they can remove their aligners for special occasions, like class pictures, school dances or to wear a mouthguard when playing sports. Invisalign will have a minimal impact on their daily life. 

Are There Are Any Cons to Invisalign Teen?

While there are a lot of benefits to Invisalign for younger patients, there is one potential drawback: Kids will have to keep track of their aligners and be diligent about storing them in their Invisalign case when they’re not wearing them. Invisalign aligners being removable, while a perk for some, can be a con if your child tends to lose things easily.

If you don’t think your child or teenager will be responsible for their aligners, braces could be a better option since they’re bonded to the teeth and stay put throughout their entire treatment. The good news is, there are a few free replacement aligners included for you kids in the Invisalign Teen system.

How Much Does Invisalign Cost for Kids and Teens?

Now, the million dollar question: How much does Invisalign cost for kids and teens? The exact Invisalign cost for kids varies depending on several factors, the most important being the complexity of your child’s case. Once a Bellaire or Houston orthodontist completes an examination and develops a diagnosis at the initial consultation, they’ll fill you in on the exact Invisalign price. 

We strive to make braces and Invisalign affordable for all of our families. We accept most insurance and if your insurance covers orthodontic treatment, this can greatly reduce how much you pay out of pocket. We can also work with your HSA or FSA and we offer flexible financing options, including no-interest, in-office financing to make treatment work for your budget. 

Now that you know, yes, kids can get Invisalign in many cases. Are you ready to find out if clear aligners are the best option for your child or teen? Schedule a complimentary consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today. We’re not just a leading Houston Invisalign provider, we’re also among the top 1% of providers in the country. We have the experience to treat patients of all ages with Invisalign, including those with complex cases. And the best part (well, aside from the results)? We make the process positive and fun for kids and parents alike!