Invisalign is a popular option for straightening teeth. But when it comes to kids, we have found that parents have a lot of questions—and misconceptions. Here are some of the common questions we hear from parents looking for “kid’s Invisalign”:
- Does my kid need braces, or is Invisalign an option?
- Do I need to find an orthodontist to get Invisalign?
- Should we get started now, or should we wait until my kid is older?
It is worth taking a minute to clarify some of the assumptions behind these questions. Knowing what to ask for before you start searching for Invisalign providers will help a family save time, money, and frustration.
Self-consciousness comes with the territory for many adolescents. Invisalign has become a popular treatment for straightening teeth, thanks in large part to being a clear device (and therefore discreet). Your kids may be urging you to let them have Invisalign instead of traditional braces.
Invisalign is a safe and effective treatment for mild to moderate crookedness, crowding, and gaps. But is it right for your child? And how early can they start using Invisalign? To know this, there are a few other questions you need to consider:
Do I Need to Find an Orthodontist, or Talk to My Dentist?
Your first stop when researching teeth straightening options is an orthodontist, right? Actually, it makes sense to start with your dentist. No one will be able to assess your child’s teeth like the dentist they’ve been seeing since they were small.
Many dentists can also provide Invisalign products to their patients. If it is a good option for your child and your dentist has experience with it, you may be able to skip finding an orthodontist altogether.
That said, Invisalign is usually only recommended for teenagers (see below) and adults. In other words, there is no “kid’s Invisalign” available on the market. Working with your kid’s dentist, you should be able to review the course of treatment and decide if your child is ready for Invisalign. (If you don’t have a dentist, use our search tool to find one.)
Is My Kid Too Young for Invisalign?
Even if your child wants Invisalign, they may still have to wait. There is no specific age requirement for Invisalign, but the product is generally meant for adults and teens. Most dentists and orthodontists will not recommend them for children under the age of 12.
Before Invisalign can work effectively, your child needs to have all their permanent teeth. If all the adult teeth haven’t come in yet, the mouth and jaw are still growing and developing. Moving the teeth before the mouth is mature will almost certainly result in having to repeat treatment (and the cost) again at a later time.
Maturity Is As Important As Age
Your child’s mouth and teeth are not the only things that need to be mature. Does your child have the necessary level of responsibility and discipline for Invisalign?
Part of Invisalign’s appeal is that it’s removable. Unlike braces, wearers can eat whatever they want because they take the device out for meals and snacks. Crunchy food, gooey caramels, and bubblegum are no longer out of the question (although Dental Health Society dentists still recommend staying away from excessive sweets and hard foods).
Another advantage is that the aligner trays can also be removed to thoroughly clean the teeth with normal brushing and flossing. Some young kids aren’t skilled at brushing their teeth yet, and maintaining good oral hygiene can be even more challenging with braces.
But the freedom of a removable appliance has a downside for a child who is not ready for the responsibility that goes along with it. The appliance needs to be worn for 20 to 22 hours each day. If a child removes it every time it is uncomfortable or forgets to wear it, the treatment won’t be effective.
And anyone with children knows how easily things get lost. Replacing misplaced or accidentally thrown-away Invisalign trays can be costly and inconvenient.
What Problem Are You Trying to Fix?
For some severe dental issues, braces may be more effective. Malocclusions such as overbite, underbite, and crossbite may get less help from Invisalign. Braces, whether metal or clear, are sometimes the best option for a straight smile.
Your dentist will be able to judge the seriousness of the problem. They may rule out devices like Invisalign and feel that braces are the only way to achieve the necessary changes. If this is the case, they can refer you to an orthodontist. On the other hand, they might find that the changes will be easy with Invisalign, and may even be able to start the process.
If You’re Set On Invisalign
Invisalign is popular for a reason. The effectiveness, convenience, and comfort make it a terrific option for many people. If your dentist agrees that your older adolescent or teen is a good candidate, it can be the practical choice.
If your child is too young for Invisalign but you’re convinced it will be the best option, you can find a dentist who has experience in the product. The dentist can monitor your child’s readiness during their regular checkups. As soon as their adult teeth are in and they are mature enough to handle the responsibility, the dentist can get them started with Invisalign treatments.