What's the Best Age to Begin Invisalign® Treatment?

What's the Best Age to Begin Invisalign® Treatment?

While some kids are lucky and have beautifully straight teeth, most don’t. Whether it’s an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or other misalignment, many need to have their teeth straightened, usually during their early teenage years.

Traditionally, straightening has meant metal-and-wire braces bonded to their teeth, with all the difficulties they present: pain, irritated gums, limited diet, and difficulty brushing and flossing properly.

That all changed in 1998, when the FDA approved the revolutionary Invisalign® system, a series of clear aligners that can treat mild-to-moderate alignment problems. By 2017, over 5 million Americans had used Invisalign for their bite issues, with 20% of them being teens.

At Loudon Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Haidy Messih and Dr. Basma Armanious use Invisalign for their patients in the Leesburg, Virginia, area who need tooth straightening. Many parents want to know what the best age is to begin Invisalign treatment. Here’s what our experts have to say.

About Invisalign

Invisalign was the first system to use clear aligners, custom-molded trays produced from the strong, flexible thermoplastic SmartTrack®. The aligners fit over your teeth, but they’re so clear that, unless someone looks very closely, they’re practically invisible.

The trays are easily removable, which permits you to eat and drink what you want while not staining or breaking them. This also lets you brush and floss your teeth easily and clean the aligners appropriately.

If your dentist determines you’re a good candidate for Invisalign treatment, she starts by using the Itero element scanner to create a 3D picture of your teeth, which helps you and her visualize how Invisalign will transform your smile. The scanned images also allow her to develop a customized treatment plan for which teeth need to move and where.

The dentist sends your treatment plan to the Invisalign lab, which manufactures the aligners. When the aligners come back in about six weeks, she fits them to your teeth and educates you on how to wear and care for them. She also smooths any rough edges that might irritate your gums and adds tooth-colored attachments to the teeth to help the aligners do their work. She’ll remove the attachments once the treatment is complete.

You wear each set of aligners for about two weeks, at which time you swap it out for the next one in the series. Each subsequent aligner fits a little more tightly, applying a little more pressure on your teeth to ensure they keep moving in the right direction.

To get the maximum benefit from the Invisalign system, you need to wear the trays about 20-22 hours a day; you only take them out when you eat, clean them, and brush and floss your teeth. And while traditional metal braces generally require 1-3 years, you may only need to wear the aligners for about half that time.

What’s the best age to begin Invisalign?

Adults are often drawn to Invisalign, as the clear aligners mean they can get needed orthodontic work without advertising it to the world. But it’s much easier to prevent problems from happening than to correct them after the fact.

Orthodontists are able to see issues that need early treatment when a child is only 6-10 years old. This proactive approach is known as Phase 1 treatment.

However, we should note that since metal braces are bonded to the teeth, you get 100% compliance in keeping them on for as long as the treatment takes. Since Invisalign aligners can be removed for eating and cleaning, the child needs to be responsible enough to 1) clean them properly, 2) put them back in when finished eating/cleaning, and 3) wear them for the required 20-22 hours/day.

If your child is responsible enough, this can work, but if they’re not, Invisalign may not be the appropriate treatment until they’re older.

Want to learn more about how Invisalign can help straighten your or your child’s teeth? Give Loudon Family and Cosmetic Dentistry a call at 703-952-7332, or book a consultation online with one of our dentists today.

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