Invisalign Teen vs Adult Invisalign
Invisalign (sometimes referred to as Invis) is a popular choice among adults and teens for achieving a beautiful smile. More than 11 million adults and teenagers have improved their smiles using Invisalign. Because of the unique needs of teenagers, Invisalign developed a version of their product called Invisalign Teen. Invisalign Teen is very similar to the “adult” version of Invisalign but has some key differences.
In this article, we’ll provide a general overview of Invisalign, highlight the benefits of Invisalign, and then discuss the features of Invisalign Teen that differentiate it from the regular version of Invisalign.
What Is Invisalign?
Invisalign (or Invis) uses a series of removable, clear aligners (also called trays) to move and straighten teeth and align bites. The aligners must be worn approximately 20 to 22 hours a day to be effective.
The aligners are made of a smooth thermoplastic material (termed SmartTrack by Align Technology) that fit closely against the teeth. The material has been approved by the FDA and does not contain BPA, BPS, latex, or gluten. The material used is the result of years of research and development, which included testing hundreds of different materials.
The plastic material is specially engineered to:
- Apply gentle and constant force
- Improve control of tooth movement
- Fit snugly around teeth
- Predictably straighten teeth
Every one to two weeks, patients switch to a new set of custom-fit trays that are designed to gradually move teeth into the proper position. These custom-fit trays are designed using advanced computer aided technology after taking a digital scan of the patient’s teeth with an iTero intraoral scanner. The iTero scanner takes a precise digital impression of teeth so that the aligners fit more accurately and precisely than other clear aligner products.
Can Everyone Use Invisalign to Straighten Teeth and Correct Bite Issues?
Although Invisalign can be used to treat a wide variety of bite issues (such as gap teeth, overbites, and underbites), Invis or Invisalign teen is not always appropriate for correcting each patient’s unique orthodontic needs. Clear aligners are only one “tool” in an orthodontists “toolbelt”. Invis can be great in some cases, while other orthodontic devices (braces, expanders, etc.) are a better option in other cases. Patients with severe malocclusion or jaw alignment problems will most likely need braces. Even some seemingly simple cases may be treated better with braces. After a thorough examination, our orthodontists will present all treatment options and recommend a treatment plan. At this time, patients will be informed about the pros and cons of Invisalign vs other devices and what to expect with each treatment option. Many patients ask if they are a candidate for Invis. A better question, which will be discussed during the consultation, is if they are a good candidate for Invisalign.
However, SmartForce Attachments allow Invisalign to be used on a wider range of patients that might not have been good candidates for Invis in the past. These attachments help to ensure that each patient gets the proper amount of force applied to their teeth to create an attractive smile. These small tooth-colored shapes are attached to a patient’s teeth before or during Invis treatment. These attachments act like tiny handles to give the aligners something to gently push on.
Another Invis innovation are called precision cuts, which allow for elastic hookups to correct bites in adolescents while straightening teeth at the same time. Class II malocclusions (overbites) are the most common type of bite problem, and these precision cuts help in correcting this type of bite.
What Are the Benefits of Invisalign?
One of the reasons that Invisalign is so popular is that it offers several appealing benefits.
- Fewer visits to the orthodontist’s office. Unlike braces that require adjustment by the orthodontist every 4-10 weeks, Invisalign aligners come in a series. Patients change to a new set of trays every 1-2 weeks and orthodontists typically give the patient several of these sets at a time. This means appointments are every 8-12 weeks versus every 4 to 10 weeks for patients with braces.
- Easier to brush and floss. Invisalign trays are removable, which makes it easier to brush and floss. Invis wearers can brush and floss without the need for the special tools required to clean braces.
- No diet restrictions. Because Invisalign is removable for eating and drinking, there are no dietary restrictions as there are with braces. This means hard, sticky, and chewy foods are allowed while wearing Invisalign.
- Less visibility. Many patients prefer Invis because the clear material makes the aligners less noticeable than metal braces. However, tooth-colored ceramic braces are an excellent alternative for patients who are esthetically motivated but not good candidates for Invis.
- Because Invis aligners are made from smooth plastic and custom-fit to each patient’s teeth, there are rarely bothersome areas like the sharp edges or wires used with braces systems.
- Fewer emergencies. Invis aligners do not have the potential to break as easily as the wires and brackets on braces—making them well-suited for those teens who may be rougher on the orthodontic devices.
What Are the Downsides of Invisalign?
While it is clear there are many benefits to Invisalign, there are some drawbacks for teens.
- Excellent cooperation is required. To be successful with clear aligners, excellent cooperation is critical. 20-22 hours of wear per day is needed for good results. Teens who are forgetful or non-compliant with treatment instructions will either have their treatment prolonged and/or finish with a less than ideal result.
- Limited precision and/or predictability with certain movements. There are certain movements that are not as predictable with clear aligners as with fixed appliances (braces). Vertical movement of teeth and large rotational movements can be difficult for the plastic to achieve. Additionally, large bite discrepancies (crossbites, overbites, etc.) are better treated with other devices.
What Makes Invisalign Teen Different?
Although regular Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are the same in almost all respects and offer the same benefits, Invisalign Teen offers some additional features designed with Invisalign for teenagers in mind.
Adolescents sometimes need additional time for all their adult teeth to erupt. Invis eruption tabs provide space for second molars to come in. In addition, the eruption tabs help these molars align properly as they come in—preventing molars from coming in too far off track or growing into an opposing molar’s space.
Does it matter where a teen gets their Invisalign?
It is important to remember that the results achieved in treatment are directly related to the skill level of the orthodontist and staff involved in treatment. The materials (either braces or Invisalign) are simply a tool used by the treating professionals. Choosing your orthodontist wisely is critical. Proper diagnosis and an up-front discussion of the pros, cons, and limitations of a treatment plan and the expected results is critical prior to starting treatment.
Burke & Redford Orthodontists have been shaping beautiful smiles in Riverside County Since 1991 and has amassed hundreds of 5-star reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook from satisfied patients. To schedule an appointment for a free consultation with Dr. Redford or Dr. Burke at our Lake Elsinore or Temecula office to discuss Invisalign teen, Invisalign, or braces, call (951) 699-8011 or fill out the Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation form on our website.