Invisalign® has become an unbelievably popular option among teenagers who are looking to fix problems with their oral health. They are quickly replacing braces as the dental apparatus of choice. For a long time, metal braces have had a negative reputation. Teenagers have suffered taunting and teasing from their peers because of wearing metal braces. If you used metal braces as a child, then you clearly understand just how hurtful this teasing and taunting can be.
Teenage years are already challenging. They are marked by awkward growth spurts and changes in physical appearance, emotions, bodily functions, and thoughts. There are a number of studies that suggest that some of the changes that go on in a teenager’s brain during adolescence increase their sense of self-consciousness. These emotional and psychological changes due to neural reactions make teenagers ultra sensitive. It makes them think that everyone is focused on them. It makes them think that if there is just one thing wrong with them, everyone in the world notices it and everyone else in the world cares.
There was a bit of research that was done recently that might shed some light on why teenagers are drawn to Invisalign® retainers as opposed to traditional metal braces. In this survey approximately 70 participants who were between the ages of eight years of age and 22 years of age were told that as they laid down in an MRI machine, they were going to be recorded using state-of-the-art camera technology. As an added kicker, they were also told that someone of their own age and gender was going to be watching them on a screen in a different room.
There was no screen in the other room nor was there anyone watching anything. The goal of the study was to see whether or not simply believing that there was someone watching them affected the way a teenager’s mind functions. In order to achieve the desired results, an indicator was placed inside the MRI machine to give the participant the perception that when the indicator was on, the camera was recording.
Throughout the study, these researchers measured different aspects of the teenager’s brains. The results clearly showed that simply believing that one was being watched was enough to trigger emotional responses on all of the levels that they were measuring. There were indicators of self-consciousness, physiological reactivity, and emotional reactivity simply because a teenager thought that they were being watched or were being evaluated by someone else. As was mentioned, the study included individuals from eight years of age all the way up to 22 years of age. What was seen is that these emotional reactions where the strongest among those who were in their teenage years.
What Are the Benefits of Invisalign®?
Clearly, there are emotional and social benefits to teenagers whose parents allow them to use invisible braces. But one could argue, teenagers have used metal braces for decades and it did not kill them. So what other benefits exist that might persuade parents to use invisible braces as opposed to traditional metal ones?
There are a number of health benefits that come from using invisible braces. For example, with traditional metal brackets, the braces are in place. They cannot be moved or removed. As a result, cleaning one’s teeth becomes exponentially more challenging. Traditional toothbrushes and floss are not designed to work around braces. And because of their design, braces can quickly become a repository for food. Food sits on the teeth, and this in turn leads to decay and increases the risk of gum disease. It is not uncommon for a person to use metal braces only to have them removed and then need additional dental work to repair the damage to the enamel or the staining that happened while they were using traditional braces.
However, when a teenager uses invisible braces, these problems disappear. With invisible braces, the teenager’s teeth are straightened out by a series of changing plastic aligners. These plastic aligners help to push the teeth into a new position. The plastic aligners can be left in for 24 hours a day if the person so desires. However, they are designed to be removed whenever the wearer wants to remove them.
This means that in the morning when brushing your teeth, in the evening when flossing, or while rinsing out your mouth with mouthwash, you can take the aligners out. As a result, you are able to maintain the same oral health routine that you had prior to having the aligners installed. This also means that you will not need to go through an extensive tooth whitening process after having your teeth straightened. This is another issue that people face when they use traditional braces. The area where the metal brackets were located stayed white. However, the area around the brackets may take on a yellow tinge because they are not cleaned as well as they were before the person used metal braces. When the metal braces are removed, the person is walking around with a bunch of white squares on all of their teeth.
Another benefit along a similar vein is that of convenience. With traditional braces, you can only eat certain types of foods at certain times. Hard candies are out of the question. Corn, apples, and other foods that you might love are no longer an option. However, with invisible braces that use plastic aligners, you can eat whatever food you want. Simply take out the aligners, eat your meal, clean your teeth, and then put the aligners back in. This is of benefit to both parents and their teenagers. Parents can cook nutritious meals and include whatever ingredients they want, while at the same time teenagers can eat the foods that they want at home or when they’re out with friends.
What Conditions Can Be Addressed by Invisalign®?
Some people worry that using invisible aligners will not have the same effect that traditional metal braces will. But, for the most part, this is not true. There are some rare instances where people have severe dental abnormalities where traditional metal brackets are going to be the only option. However, in most cases, a person can correct crooked teeth, crowded teeth, and an abnormal bite using invisible aligners.
When these conditions are not addressed, they can lead to further oral health issues. They can lead to cavities, gum infections, tooth loss, problems speaking, and difficulty eating. When a person’s teeth have awkward spacing or are overly crowded, it can lead to gum disease. When a person uses invisible aligners to properly position their teeth, the gums fit firmly around the teeth, which provides a strong defense against future gum infections.
This is especially important for teenagers because during these formative years, their teeth and their gums are taking on health attributes that are going to affect them for the rest of their lives. If teenagers use Invisalign® braces, after a couple of years, they are going to have healthy teeth that are going to benefit them for the next 50 or 60 years.
We would be remiss if we did not go back to the idea of aesthetics. Having straight teeth means that a person has a more attractive appearance. The more attractive a person appears, the better they are treated by society. Whether it is right or wrong is a topic of a different discussion, but it is a fact. Teenagers who use Invisalign® braces set themselves up to be young adults who have an inviting, attractive, and appealing smile.
As they go off to college or as they go off to seek employment, people are going to react to them in a positive way because of the appearance of their smile. This is definitely a benefit that can affect the course of the rest of their life.
Finally, we need to discuss the issue of comfort. Anyone who has used metal braces knows firsthand how uncomfortable they can be. They hurt. They cut your mouth, the wires are uncomfortable, and getting metal braces tightened is a nightmare. All of this discomfort disappears with invisible aligners. These have been designed to have smooth edges so that they can be comfortable. They have been designed to offer the teenager greater control over the teeth straightening process. Each aligner is custom-designed to the mouth of the user. With each change in the aligners, the teeth are moved slightly, be it horizontally, vertically, or even rotating them on an axis when need be.
Comfort is also seen in the fact that with invisible aligners, trips to the dentist are cut down. Most patients visit their dentist once every month or every month and a half.
If you are interested in learning more about how Invisalign® can improve your teenager’s oral health, help them maintain their confidence, allow them to eat the foods that they want, while simultaneously keeping their teeth healthy, then we encourage you to visit Davis Orthodontics in San Diego or Escondido. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!