Teenagers and their parents want a healthy smile that lasts for years to come. To reach this goal, most teenagers undergo a teeth straightening treatment.
For teenagers looking for a way to straighten your teeth and promote a healthy smile for years to come, there are plenty of options.
All of them will straighten teeth. But teenagers often have unique considerations, and it’s often parents who are footing the bill. Today, we’re sharing everything there is to know about teeth straightening for teenagers.
Why should teens straighten their teeth?
A teen looking their best is just the beginning. Everyone wants a healthy, glowing smile full of straight teeth, and it’s not always for appearances:
Healthy teeth and gums. Even distribution and straight teeth are easier to keep clean because there are fewer nooks and crannies to seek out when brushing and flossing. That means fewer painful trips to the dentist and more clean bills of dental health.
Preventing jaw problems. You use your teeth all the time—biting, chewing, speaking—and an uneven set of teeth can lead to overcompensating behaviors that, over time, sometimes build up to jaw issues.
Confidence. There are very real reasons that a healthy smile leads to more confidence. Teenagers going through those crucial developmental years will want to ensure a healthy smile for first dates, class engagements, and even their first job interviews.
Saving money. According to the Wall Street Journal, the range of teeth straightening costs goes up as much as a thousand dollars when it’s handled as an adult. Getting it done as a teenager is more cost-effective and could prevent further problems down the line.
The differences between straightening teeth for teenagers and adults
The basic science of straightening teeth is always the same: you want to gradually “move” the teeth into favorable positions and bring them into a clean set for a healthy smile.
Both teenagers and adults want to avoid the embarrassment of overly-obvious braces. The difference between the two is that it’s often more important to ensure that the teeth develop from a young age, which is why so many teenagers often need braces. (Even so, teeth straightening is perfectly common for adults).
There are some additional concerns for teenagers, however:
One study found that nearly three out of four people associated a nice smile with trust. Teenagers want that healthy smile, but they don’t want their braces to be distracting.
Teenagers have athletics and schoolwork to consider, as well as the prospect that teeth straightening might interfere with their social life.
The key: finding the solution that’s right for you or your child. And that includes variables like finding a solution that offers as much “invisible intervention” as possible.
Solutions for straightening teeth
The science of straightening teeth is actually fairly straightforward: a specialist creates a piece of hardware that slowly “nudges” your teeth in a new direction on a regular basis. With frequent (often monthly) follow-ups, your teeth straightening are constantly adjusted in order to create a healthy, well-balanced smile.
The average teen’s choice for teeth straightening comes down to this:
Invisalign vs. braces for teenagers
There’s no mistaking what braces are: brackets bonded directly to your teeth. These brackets are connected with wires that can be adjusted over time to guide the movement of the teeth as they straighten. While braces can often be very obvious in your smile, there are some methods for making them less noticeable, including clear braces.
Invisalign looks more like a “mouthpiece” that can be worn or taken off throughout the process. You’ll frequently change this mouthpiece as the process continues and your teeth chance position. It’s nearly impossible to tell if someone’s wearing Invisalign unless they were to take them out and show it to you, which is a major advantages for teenagers who want as little change to their social life as possible.
The basic difference, aside from how they look: Braces are a semi-permanent solution that will require special visits to remove; Invisalign can be taken off for basic activities like eating, so they’re minimally invasive.
Retainers are another tooth-straightening solution, designed to keep your teeth in place after a straightening has taken place. Like Invisalign, they can easily be taken out and put back in—but since they come on top of a teeth straightening process that’s already taken place, they’re not often seen as a solution in and of themselves.
Comparing options for straightening teeth
If you’re going to figure out your best option, it helps to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. The teeth straightening process often lasts well over a year, which is why you’ll want to know as much as you can about how your life will change at the very start:
Extra concerns for teenagers
Let’s be honest: teeth straightening can be a bit overwhelming. Not only are semi-permanent solutions like braces daunting, but they’re a choice that, once made, shouldn’t be reversed until the process is ended.
Invisalign is an alternative solution that allows a teenager to keep their white, clear smile with minimal invasion. Because they’re made of BPA-free plastic, it’s easy to see just how harmless they are. The overall experience is smoother, and can be encouraging for someone who wants to begin a lifetime of taking good care of their oral health.
Braces are a perfectly viable option as well, particularly with modern technology that allows for clarity or color matching that will provide minimal disturbance to your smile.
Ultimately, it will come down to a teenager’s priorities. Do they want to be able to remove their straightening solution when eating and drinking, for example? Will they be able to be compliant, leaving in Invisalign aligners at all times?
Try to picture what life will look like during teeth straightening and see which better fits your goals—both for oral health and for a lifelong, healthy smile.