How Young is Too Young for Invisalign?

My daughter is nine and she sucked her thumb until about a year ago. The end result is that her teeth stick out quite a bit. I’d like to get her started on Invisalign as soon as possible, but I’m wondering if it’s an option at this point. I have seen ads for Invisalign teen, so I think she’s probably reaching that point. What’s the general rule? I know correcting her smile would do wonders for her self-esteem, so it would be great if we could get a jump on this sooner rather than later.


Dear Marian,

There isn’t a general rule, per say. Most dentists want to wait until a patient’s mouth has developed to a certain point before starting Invisalign. This usually means your daughter will have almost all of her adult teeth, though sometimes those 12-year molars wait a while to kick in, and of course, the baby teeth should have all been lost as well.

There are also a few other factors that come into play, mostly regarding the patient’s level of maturity. Wearing Invisalign is a big commitment, and your daughter will have to keep the aligners on 23 hours of every day. She’ll also be responsible for the care and cleaning of them, as well as for practicing exceptional oral hygiene. Although she can take the aligners out to eat, she’ll need to brush and floss extremely well before she puts them back in. Otherwise, she’ll create the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish, which will almost certainly result in tooth decay. Additionally, some of the younger patients have difficulty keeping track of the aligners as well, and they wind up in trash bins with lunch scraps or eaten by the family dog. Some kids are prepared to take on this kind of responsibility at a very young age, while others need a few more years to develop good habits.

If you feel confident that your daughter has the maturity to take an active role in treatment, it’s worth scheduling a consultation to see if her mouth is as ready as she is. At age nine, she might not be quite ready yet, but everyone develops at their own pace, so it’s possible. Much of the time, dentists offer free consultations, so you can schedule a quick exam to see if she’s a candidate now.

This blog is sponsored byElgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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