Invisalign vs. Traditional Metal Braces: Which Is Best for Your Child?

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February 2, 2021

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children visit an orthodontist by age 7. By checking with an orthodontist early, you can spot and start treating any issues right away. Most children receive orthodontic treatment between the ages of 9 and 14.

Popular treatments include traditional metal braces and Invisalign aligners.

Starting treatment early will help correct your child's growth discrepancies. Otherwise, gaps in their smile could lead to oral health issues like gum disease.

Are you trying to decide between braces and aligners for your child? The extent of their orthodontic issues could determine which treatment they need. By reading this guide, you can walk into their orthodontic appointment armed with the knowledge to make the right choice.

Learn more about your child's orthodontic options with this guide today! 

What Is Invisalign?

First, their orthodontist will need to take a scan of your child's teeth. This scan allows them to create your child's custom-made Invisalign aligners. The plastic trays are clear, BPA-free, and almost invisible. 

These trays are comfortable and fitted to sit around your child's teeth.

Your child will receive different aligners over the course of their treatment. The aligners will draw their teeth together, closing gaps and improving alignment issues. Invisalign isn't ideal for every orthodontic case, though.  

With Invisalign treatment, your child won't have to deal with the brackets or wires associated with traditional braces. Since they're clear, the aligners are more discreet than braces, too. In fact, your child can remove their trays to eat or drink beverages besides water.

Your child will need to wear their aligners for 22 to 24 hours each day. 

Pros

Invisalign benefits patients who are looking for more discretion. Your child won't have to feel self-conscious about having metal brackets covering their smile. Most people won't realize they're wearing aligners.

Remember, your child can also remove their aligners as needed. It's important to remove the aligners to eat and drink. Otherwise, food particles or dyes could stain the clear plastic.

Since your child can remove their aligners alone, they won't have to worry about food restrictions. 

If you're concerned about your child's comfort, they might prefer Invisalign. The smooth plastic will likely feel more comfortable than metal brackets. 

Cons

Before choosing Invisalign for your child, it's important to speak with an orthodontist. How long will their case last? It can depend on the severity of their alignment issues.

For most patients, treatment lasts for 18 months. It's important that your child keeps their aligners in when they're not eating. Otherwise, they might need to wear the aligners longer.

Younger children might have a difficult time wearing their aligners all day.

It's also important that your child maintain their oral hygiene routine. Each time your child eats, they'll need to brush and floss before putting the aligners back in. Otherwise, they could trap food particles between their teeth and the aligners.

Bacteria could start to spread, which could lead to gum disease.

Instead, they'll need to keep their teeth and aligners clean. Some children find it frustrating to brush after every meal. If your child is younger, you might want to consider metal braces instead. 

Some children lose their aligners, too. When they remove their trays to eat, they'll need to place them in a case. 

If they place their aligners on a napkin, they might accidentally throw them away. Replacements can become costly. 

What Are Traditional Braces?

About 4 million people younger than age 18 are wearing braces. In fact, four out of every five people in braces are minors. 

Like Invisalign aligners, metal braces can help close the gaps between your child's teeth. Closing these gaps can straighten their smile and keep food particles from hiding between their teeth. While the goal is the same for these two treatments, the process is a little different.

Traditional braces use wires and brackets to draw the teeth together. The brackets adhere to your child's teeth, while a metal wire runs between the brackets.  

Pros

When choosing between Invisalign vs braces, it helps to take your child's age into account. 

If your child is younger and can't handle the responsibility of aligners, consider metal braces instead. Your child can't lose their braces! They won't need to switch out their aligners over the course of the treatment, either. 

Remember, forgetting to wear their aligners can delay your child's treatment. With braces, you won't have this concern.

Instead, you'll have peace of mind that their treatment is on track to end on time.

Your child might have a shorter treatment time with traditional braces.

Unlike Invisalign aligners, braces are customizable accessories. Your child can choose different colors for their brackets. For younger children, that's the best part of the treatment. 

Cons

It's important that your child maintains their oral hygiene during the course of either treatment. If they don't brush and floss, food particles could get trapped between their brackets.

Your child might complain about discomfort. It's normal to feel uncomfortable during the first few weeks.

They might need time to adjust to having wires and brackets in their mouth.

Your child will need to understand there are food restrictions to follow, too. With metal braces, they can't eat sticky candies or foods. 

Some children struggle to follow instructions after their braces treatment. Once they get their braces removed, they might need to wear a retainer. Failing to wear a retainer at night could impact the results of their treatment later on.

Invisalign vs. Traditional Metal Braces: Your Path to a Straighter Smile

To recap, what's the difference between Invisalign vs braces? While both can help treat your child's alignment issues, the process is a little different. If you have younger children, they might prefer metal braces instead.

Traditional braces are also ideal for patients with more severe alignment issues. 

Want to discuss your child's oral health needs? We're here to help!

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation appointment.