Orthodontic treatment is important for every age, but the best time to begin is at age 7 according to most orthodontists. While the treatment itself may not begin at this time, an early visit can help your orthodontist spot any potentially developing problems that will need to be addressed. Often known as phase one treatment, an orthodontist will observe the stage of development, the developing problem, and the options available to fix it.
While many people associate Invisalign aligners with older teens and adults who tend to be more self-conscious about wearing metal braces, younger children can be good candidates for this method of teeth straightening too. Because Invisalign aligners are designed to produce predictable results custom fit to the patient’s mouth, they are uniquely suited for the needs of growing children.
Invisalign can be a good choice for younger children, and there are some significant benefits that it can provide. The most significant include:
- Invisalign aligners can easily be removed when eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth. This means that kids will have an easier time adjusting to their treatment than with traditional metal braces that require more care. While aligners still need to be rinsed and cleaned, you won’t have to worry about restricting foods or investing in special cleaning devices.
- Aligners can also be removed if your child plays sports, allowing them to play without the need for an uncomfortable mouthguard. This helps ensure that kids can continue the hobbies they enjoy without needing additional support to protect their braces.
- Invisalign can also help prevent anxiety over appearance, which some young children can experience. They can continue smiling at school without everyone knowing they’re undergoing teeth straightening treatment. This can help improve their confidence and keep them smiling throughout treatment and beyond.
- Invisalign aligners are also much more comfortable to wear than traditional metal braces. Kids also won’t have to worry about getting painful adjustments or tightening procedures. While there is some initial discomfort while your mouth adjusts to the aligner, it is a far cry from the discomfort that metal braces can cause.
What Makes a Good Candidate for Invisalign?
When an orthodontist is deciding whether a child is a good candidate for Invisalign they will take a few things into consideration. Firstly, they will consider the age and maturity of the child. While there is no specific minimum age, the aligners do need to be worn for at least 22 hours every day. An orthodontist will want to make sure that the child is mature enough to wear them for the allotted time without taking them out too often or leaving them out for too long. Every Invisalign tray has an indicator strip on it that will fade the more a person wears them. With this, an orthodontist can keep track of if the child is wearing them frequently enough.
Secondly, the orthodontist will check the teeth positioning and if all baby teeth have been lost. Invisalign is recommended for patients with a full set of permanent teeth, and it isn’t advisable for children whose mouths are still developing. Similarly, it’s important to take care of any cavities or tooth decay before beginning the treatment.
Thirdly, the orthodontist will take x-rays to ensure that the teeth have enough space to move without hindering any teeth that haven’t come through yet. Typically the second and third molars do not have to have erupted yet for the procedure to be appropriate.
Is Invisalign Right for Your Child?
While your orthodontist will advise you on if your child is a good candidate for Invisalign, only you know if they are mature enough to be able to wear them long enough and take care of them properly. While it’s always important to supervise your child and ensure they are caring for their aligners properly, you also need to make sure that they won’t take them off during school and forget about them. If you feel confident that they can handle the responsibility, speak with your orthodontist and schedule a consultation to learn more!