Is My Teen Less Likely to Have Decay With Invisalign Vs Traditional Braces?

I’m looking into Invisalign for my teenage son. It seems to be the better option for him because he’s not great about flossing and I’m afraid if we go with traditional braces, he will wind up with a ton of cavities. The problem is, he’s also somewhat absent-minded. What happens if he loses a tray or forgets to wear it? Is it ok if I only have him wear the Invisalign at home when and at night so I can be sure he’s compliant and doesn’t lose it?



Dear Mary,

Recent studies have shown that the teen brain is little like the adult brain and often doesn’t function or process things like an adult’s will until as late as the mid 20’s. They aren’t wired to think long-term or assess risk as an adult would, which is why they need an adult present at the exact moment they are pushing adults away. This is also the same period of time where many teens may engage in risky behaviors like doing stunts on bikes and skateboards or eating food from the bottom of their backpack that no longer resembles something edible. If you son has ever come home covered in “battle wounds” and has said, “But, Mom, you should have seen how cool it looked,” he’s just doing what teens do best.

Inability to see long-term consequences comes into play a lot with teenage boys and flossing too. So although it might seem to make sense from a hygiene aspect that he wear Invisalign, it’s also important that he be sure he has clean teeth before he puts the trays in or he’ll be trapping food and germs right next to his teeth for hours on end and if he’s been backpack scrounging for food, it can be twice as terrifying.

Some dentists offer an Invisalign plan made specifically for teens that allows for a couple of replacement trays at no charge. You’ll have to check with your dentist about this and find out what his protocol is for lost or damaged trays.

Invisalign is designed to work best when worn all day, except while eating. Limiting your son to wearing it only in the evenings will compromise his treatment.

The best thing you can do is schedule a consultation with your dentist so you and your son can discuss all of the options available and find out which changes he’s truly motivated to make or your attempts to help his smile may be as futile as trying to keep him out of the kitchen.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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