3 Tips: How to choose between braces & clear aligners for your child

So your child needs orthodontic treatment, but you’re both having trouble deciding between braces or clear aligners (like Invisalign® and Spark™). We’re familiar with this dilemma! So let’s talk more about each option and your child’s preferences.

A common concern we hear from kids is having a “brace face” throughout treatment. In fact, 41% of teens think it’s embarrassing to wear braces! But aren’t braces highly-effective at straightening teeth and isn’t Invisalign expensive? We know you want to make the best decision for your child’s health while also staying within your budget so we’re here to support you with the facts.

Here’s a few tips for deciding between braces vs Invisalign or Spark treatment for your child.

Are braces “better” than Invisalign or Spark aligners?

First of all, no one treatment option is “better” than the other! Both braces and clear aligners are effective treatment options for correcting orthodontic conditions and giving your child a beautiful, healthy smile. At the end of the day, it all comes down to which one your family decides on. That being said, we’ve got a few tips for choosing the best orthodontic treatment option for your child.

Tip #1: Understand your child’s orthodontic condition(s)

At your child’s first orthodontic exam, one of our highly-experienced orthodontists will examine your child’s teeth and bite to determine which conditions are affecting their smile. Your child may have one, two, or more orthodontic issues responsible for their malocclusion (bad bite), this is common!

While many orthodontic problems require a trained orthodontist’s eyes to detect, others are pretty obvious to parents and kids alike. Common orthodontic problems such as crowded teeth, crooked teeth, spacing or gaps, and some bite conditions, like overbite and underbite, can be noticeable. And these conditions happen when unhealthy teeth or jaw development occurs like losing a tooth too early or just genetics!

Dr. Nease, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Higginbotham, and Dr. Horvath all love to talk about everything orthodontics so be sure to ask them any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s orthodontic conditions or the treatments offered to you. They make time during every exam to make sure you and your child leave your first visit feeling comfortable and informed.

Tip #2: Evaluate your child’s lifestyle and personality

As parents, you know your child best! We encourage families to talk over each treatment option together and listen to your child’s concerns or hesitations. A few questions to consider during your chat are:

  • Is your child in sports? Parents of kids or teens who play contact sports like football or basketball will often choose clear aligners (like Invisalign or Spark) over braces because they feel more comfortable about their child’s safety during practice and games.
  • Do they have concerns about their appearance? If your child is already a little self-conscious about their looks, consider the aesthetic advantages of Spark or Invisalign vs braces for teenagers, as clear aligners are a more discreet option.
  • Is your child more enthusiastic about one treatment above all others? It’s important to consider your child’s preferences. You want them to feel comfortable and motivated during treatment so they can get to their dream smile and learn some responsibility along the way!
  • What’s their level of responsibility or maturity? Considering your child’s ability to follow instructions and maintain proper oral hygiene is extremely important when deciding between braces or clear aligners like Invisalign or Spark for younger kids.
  • What extra dental products will your child need for life with braces or Invisalign? With braces, your child will need a floss threader, Super Floss, or an orthodontic flosser to help them floss around their wires and brackets. And with Invisalign, your child will need an extra soft-toothbrush or a product like Invisalign Cleaning Crystals to clean and disinfect their aligners daily.
  • What is your budget? Affordability is an important factor to consider when making any financial decision, but we make it easy at Nth Degree Orthodontics as we offer a variety of discounts and flexible payment plans to help maximize your insurance benefits and lower your out-of-pocket costs!

Tip #3: Consider all the braces vs Invisalign pros and cons

As with everything there’s pros and cons to different orthodontic treatment options too! Here’s a helpful list of the advantages and disadvantages to each that can be helpful when deciding between braces or Invisalign for your 12 year old or younger.

Damon™ self-ligating braces

Damon braces use advanced “sliding-door” technology to reduce the friction that’s common with braces treatment. So what does this mean? Your arch wires will slide through your brackets (back and forth), giving you increased comfort during your tooth movement journey!

Pros of self-ligating braces

  • Highly effective at treating simple and complex orthodontic problems. Braces can help fix your teen’s bite and can eliminate crowding, spacing, cross bites, overbite, and underbite!
  • Your child can personalize their braces with colors. With our Damon braces, elastics are purely for fun, not function due to their “tie-less” technology! Teens can choose from our wide variety of rubber band colors – go for a bold, fashion statement or a subtle monochrome look!

Cons of self-ligating braces

  • Higher risk of orthodontic emergencies. Braces brackets and wires can be prone to bend or break, especially if your teen plays contact sports! While we always recommend kids and teens wear a mouthguard to protect their smile, accidents can still happen off the field.
  • Restrictive diet. Hard, crunchy, sticky foods are off the table for your child with metal braces. Your teens’ brackets can crack and break under the pressure exerted by these types of foods! Sticky foods are also difficult to clean from brackets and causes the dental cement to loosen or detach from braces brackets.

Clear aligners

Invisalign and Spark clear aligners are the clear alternative to traditional braces! Kids and teens can now straighten their teeth without feeling self-conscious. No need to worry about looking good for yearbook photos, prom dates, or the big game on Friday night. Unlike traditional braces, clear aligners are clear, comfortable, and removable.

Here’s a few pros for choosing clear aligners.

  • Clear aligners are virtually invisible. Teens can live their social lives and smile confidently without hiding their smile; clear aligners are practically undetectable when in place.
  • Clear aligners are removable. Remove your clear aligners to eat, brush your teeth, floss your teeth, clean your aligners, whiten your teeth or temporarily replace them with a mouthguard. Store them in your Invisalign carrying case, then rinse them out and pop them back in when you’re done!
  • Clear aligners are comfortable. Clear aligners are custom-designed for each smile. Your aligners are literally made for you, your perfect match!
  • Clear aligners won’t hold you back. Your teen’s favorite foods are still on the table! Clear aligners don’t require any dietary restrictions; simply remove your trays to eat and place them back in after. Invisalign and Spark empowers teens to live life the way they want.
  • With clear aligners, your teen gets less office visits. Office visits for teens with clear aligners are every 10-12 weeks with us versus monthly visits for traditional braces. Which means less time they’re missing out in school and extracurriculars! And they have the option of virtual check-ins instead of in-office appointments with our Dental Monitoring app too.

Cons of choosing clear aligners for your child.

  • Smile results depend on compliance. With clear aligners, kids and teens have to be committed to wearing their trays for 20-22 hours a day. If your child is not dedicated to their clear aligner treatment, their dream smile is at risk and they will need additional aligners, or refinement treatment!
  • Your child should have a strong oral hygiene routine. With clear aligners, your child will need to brush their teeth and gums after every meal, floss once a day, and clean their trays once a day.
  • Aligners can get lost. Because clear aligners are removable, they can be easily lost if not placed in a carrying case.

Choose a treatment that fits your child at Nth Degree!

No matter the orthodontic treatment your family decides on, braces or clear aligners, you’re helping your child a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime and helping boost their self-confidence and improving their oral health!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We love to hear from you. At your child’s first visit, our experienced orthodontists will craft a custom treatment and payment plan 100% for your child and you!

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in the Upstate of South Carolina, come meet our amazing team! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.

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