Great question! Adults overwhelmingly prefer Invisalign because we don’t exactly want to show off our orthodontics. Kids don’t mind wearing braces since lots of their friends and classmates wear them. But the choice is less about personal preference (though that’s important) and more about what is going to work out best for your child.
To put things on a level playing field, traditional braces and Invisalign both do a great job of straightening teeth and getting the jaws properly aligned. Not everyone is a good candidate for Invisalign, but most of my patients are. The treatment time and cost are very comparable. Most parents and kids can choose either and end up with that amazing smile they want.
Where Invisalign and braces differ is in their appearance, eating & drinking, daily care, lifestyle, and orthodontic appointments needed. Here are the important factors to consider:
Invisalign is virtually invisible. Most people won’t even notice your child is wearing them. That is a huge plus for some kids, especially those who are self-conscious. Other kids prefer braces and enjoy changing the colors of the bands. We understand how important a child’s appearance is, especially teens, but kids who feel awkward wearing braces quickly realize they blend in at school and it’s no big deal. What will become more important to your child – and you – are the other factors.
Eating & Drinking
With braces, kids have some begrudging limitations on what they can eat. We will provide an extensive list of yummies to stay away from including bagels, popcorn, chips, sticky candy, hard candy, corn on the cob and anything else that can get lodged into or damage the braces. With Invisalign, they can eat whatever they eat now.
This is where knowing your child will be very important. With Invisalign, they can eat whatever they want, BUT they must remove their aligners every time they eat or drink anything other than water. Will your child remember to take their aligners out and put them in their case every time they eat? Every time they have a soda or juice? This is where some parents make the executive decision to go with braces because they stay in place with zero risk of becoming lost.
With either appliance, kids will need to be more diligent about their oral care. Braces require a more thorough job of brushing and flossing. They must be careful to get food particles out because what stays behind can cause cavities.
Invisalign aligners pop out, so brushing teeth is easy, BUT they need to brush their teeth after each meal or snack before putting the aligners back in. They also need to brush their aligners.
Either option may sound like a hassle, but it’s really a matter habit. Kids get used to the additional care, and it becomes part of their routine.
If your kids have a very busy lifestyle or play sports, consider the benefits of each option. If your child has a lot going on, here and there and everywhere, braces may be easier to keep up with. They’re not going to lose them, leave them at someone’s house, or forget to put them in.
If your child plays sports, Invisalign is probably a better option. If there’s a chance they’ll get hit in the mouth with a ball or body, not good for the braces or mouth. With Invisalign, your child can remove the aligners and put in a mouthguard.
With braces, you bring your child in once a month to get them adjusted and change bands. With Invisalign, we send you a box full of aligners that your child changes every week or so. You come back every 3 – 4 months to check your progress. So, Invisalign means far fewer orthodontic visits throughout treatment.
It’s all Worth It!
Whichever you choose, it will be worth it. Braces or Invisalign is a short-term investment in your child’s oral health, appearance, and self-confidence. It takes a little extra effort to have a successful treatment, but the results pay off for a lifetime!