Your teenage years are some of the most awkward and self-conscious years of your life. They’re also a time when many kids need orthodontia. In the past, you had to put up with a mouth full of wires, metal brackets, and rubber bands for a few years. Those were painful, difficult to clean, and often made kids even more self-conscious about their appearance.
In 1998, though, the US FDA approved Invisalign®, a revolutionary new product that forgoes the metal and uses clear aligners instead. They’re invisible, discrete, and can handle most mild-to moderate issues that regular braces do.
At Silver Lake Dentistry in Raymore, Missouri, Dr. Joshua Whitford and Dr. Jessica Whitford are sensitive to the needs of their teenage patients, and are pleased to offer Invisalign as a more timely and less conspicuous alternative to becoming a “metal mouth.” Here’s what they want you to know about the technology and why more teens are opting for the clear choice.
Invisalign is a form of orthodontia that uses clear aligners, also called trays, instead of metal. The aligners are fabricated from flexible plastic — specifically, a patented thermoplastic called SmartTrack® — manufactured in the company’s own laboratory. The aligners are light but still strong enough to put pressure on the teeth that need to be moved, shifting their position gradually to where they need to go.
You switch out your trays every two weeks or so for new ones. Each replacement tray will feel slightly tighter than the previous one, which continues the pressure on your teeth so they move to their intended destinations.
Unlike metal braces, which have 100% compliance since they can’t be removed, you have control over how long you wear the aligners. To be effective, you should wear them 20–22 hours/day, which a responsible teenager should be able to handle. However, you can easily take them out when you eat and drink (thereby preventing staining), as well as when you brush and floss your teeth and when you clean the trays. Metal braces are notoriously hard to clean.
The beauty of the process is that the aligners are practically invisible — no one is likely to notice when you wear them out in public, which does wonders for a teen’s self-confidence.
To date, over eight million people, 1.4 million of them teens, have used the Invisalign aligner system to transform their smiles.
What conditions can Invisalign treat?
Invisalign can treat most mild-to-moderate conditions, including:
When your teeth are crowded, it’s hard to brush and floss thoroughly. That allows bacteria, plaque, and tartar to build up, which, over time, can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
You have an overbite, also called a “deep bite,” when your top teeth overlap your bottom teeth too much. This can create issues such as excessive tooth wear and jaw pain. Dentists express overbites as a percentage — 5% to 25% is ideal.
When your top teeth rest behind your bottom teeth, it can be hard to chew properly and even to speak clearly. Your teeth are also more prone to wear.
When you’ve got portions of an overbite and portions of an underbite, it can lead to teeth wear and chipping. Your gums may also start to recede, or your teeth can leave marks above your gum line where they press into the tissue. Both can lead to painful gums or even bone loss.
Creating and fitting the aligners
Even the process of getting your Invisalign aligners is ideal for the teen with a short attention span. The start of your journey begins with a consultation with your dentist. They take a detailed oral and medical history and review your dental goals. That gives them information on the work that needs to be done.
Invisalign uses the iTero Element® scanner, a 3D digital imaging device to quickly and painlessly create an accurate model of your teeth and gums. Your dentist scans the image into the computer, where the Invisalign program develops a detailed treatment plan for you. You’ll even be able to see how your teeth will move over time and what your mouth will look like when you’re done.
The dentist sends the model to the Invisalign lab, which constructs the aligner trays. When they come back, you’ll have a fitting session, then you’re ready to go! You’ll swap out the trays every two weeks, and you’ll have periodic appointments with the Silver Lake Dentistry team to ensure everything is going to plan.
If you have a teen who needs orthodontic work but doesn’t want the discomfort or the visibility of a mouth full of metal, Invisalign might be a great option. Give the Silver Lake Dentistry office a call at 816-368-5968 to set up a consultation, or book your appointment online. We’re in the business of making our patients confident of their smile.