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I can hardly believe it, but Fiona is in her last set of Invisalign® clear aligners! Since she only started her treatment in October, this blows my mind. My own treatment took about a year and a half, so I was expecting something similar. Instead, she should be totally done less than a year from when she started.
The envelopes holding her trays had very clearly said “1 of 18” or “5 of 18” – you get the idea. And when Fiona started I asked Dr. Hung if eighteen trays would be her whole treatment, and he said he wasn’t sure at that point. He wanted to see how the treatment would go. For my own treatment, my envelopes said “XX of 31” and I didn’t end up using the last eight or so, so I knew that the numbers weren’t set in stone.
Consequently I didn’t pay much attention to those numbers, but I was still aware that her treatment was going much faster than mine. I had been changing my trays every two weeks, and Fiona was changing hers every ten days (I’ve heard that some patients are now changing trays every week!). When we went to Fiona’s last orthodontic visit Dr. Hung looked at her teeth and said that’s it, you’re in your last trays!
So now she’s in what I call Taper Mode (I’m sure there’s an official name for it but I don’t know what it is!) where she’s stepping down gradually from wearing her last set of trays all day to wearing them only at night. She has to wear them as usual (22 hours a day) for two months, then 18 hours a day for a month, then 12 hours a day for a month, and then just at night!
Invisalign vs. Braces#Invisalign vs. braces: let's talk about some common misconceptions. Click To Tweet
Since Fiona is almost done I thought this would be a good time to talk about some common misconceptions about Invisalign treatment, especially when it comes to Invisalign vs. braces. I knew what to expect as an adult, but wasn’t sure how treatment would go over with a child. I’m thrilled to say we had a really easy time. The only part that my daughter has found to be uncomfortable so far was at orthodontist visits when she had to get the spaces between her teeth widened (kind of like being flossed with sandpaper!). I agree, that part was never pleasant, but it was always over with quickly.
“I survived metal braces as a teen, it’s a rite of passage!”
I’m really not into coddling my kids, but I also don’t believe in making life harder for them than necessary for no reason. While I did not have braces as a kid, I have watched many of my friends go through braces with their kids. Picking food out of the wires, having trouble getting their teeth clean, and dealing with broken wires at sleepaway camp are just a few of the things that Fiona and I didn’t have to go through, thanks to Invisalign clear aligners.
“I don’t believe that Invisalign clear aligners will work for my teen’s issues.”
I’m not an orthodontist, so I can’t really address that myself. But I do know two things. 1) Invisalign clear aligners can treat a wide variety of issues. 2) You should see an experienced Invisalign provider to find out if your issues can be addressed with Invisalign. I initially asked my (former) dentist about Invisalign treatment, and he said it didn’t work. Later, he told my daughter the same thing. I’m so glad that I got a second opinion. My (former) dentist had a partnership with an orthodontist who only dealt with traditional braces, not Invisalign treatment, so it wasn’t in his best interest to recommend Invisalign clear aligners to anyone. My Invisalign provider does both braces and Invisalign, and recommends what he thinks is best for the patient. Find a provider who will give you the right answer for your situation, not the one that is in his own best interest.
Check out Fiona’s teeth at the beginning of her treatment, and a few weeks ago:
I’m so glad we decided on Invisalign!
“I was under the impression that Invisalign treatment is much more expensive than traditional metal braces.”
Before I started working with Invisalign I was already checking into getting them for myself, and what I’d found was that my insurance covered them to the same extent that they covered braces, and my out of pocket costs would have been similar for both. Check with your insurance provider and price both with your orthodontist.
“I thought Invisalign was only for adults.”
Not only can Invisalign work on tweens and teens, according to my orthodontist they work faster on younger teeth. My daughter’s one-year treatment vs. my 18-month treatment is a great example.
“I thought my child was going to be constantly misplacing their Invisalign clear aligners.”
Know what? So did I. My daughter loses everything. I’m thrilled to say that she hasn’t lost a tray yet. Her dad did accidentally throw a set in the garbage once when she left them on our dining room table wrapped in a napkin (don’t ever do that!), but we realized it a few minutes later and saved them. So while a couple of replacement trays are available for teens, we never had to take advantage of that.
“I did not think my child would be responsible enough to wear the Invisalign clear aligners as directed.”
My orthodontist explained it pretty clearly to Fiona: If she didn’t wear her trays as much as she was supposed to, he would switch her to braces. Maybe that scared her into complying, or maybe she would have been great about it anyway. But you know your child best. If you don’t think your child will take this seriously, talk to your orthodontist and see what the options are. Compliance is everything with Invisalign treatment. If they’re not worn 22 hours a day they can’t do their job properly.
“I thought Invisalign could only treat very minor teeth straightening issues.”
I don’t think Fiona or I had especially complicated cases, although both of us had plenty of overlapping teeth. But I’ve talked to an Invisalign provider about this and he’s treated many complicated cases with Invisalign clear aligners. Sometimes he has to do some palate expanding work first or do a combination of braces and Invisalign, but the before and after pictures that I saw were super impressive. Check with an Invisalign provider, even if you think your case (or your child’s case) is too difficult for Invisalign. And if you don’t think that person is capable of handling a difficult case, find a provider with more experience.
If you have any questions I’m happy to answer them, and you can also check out the Smile Assessment Tool to find out if Invisalign is right for you or your child!
I am a member of the Invisalign Moms Advisory Board. My daughter is receiving complimentary Invisalign treatment as part of this program. All opinions are my own and based on my own and my daughter’s treatment experience. Full disclosure can be found here: http://shout.lt/ggGP.