teen orthodontics

clear aligners

Teen Candidacy for Aligner Treatments

Talking with Parents and Younger Patients

Clear aligner treatments are becoming extremely popular with young people. Invisalign specifically markets to teenagers now, with a separate teen version of the product. Young adults and teens love clear braces as much as adults do, so many can improve their smiles, due to the broad range of issues aligners can correct. However, aligner orthodontics for young people is still a relatively new territory. Many of the old habits we have regarding kids in braces simply do not apply.

The role of the parent in traditional orthodontic treatment is pretty straightforward. The parent pays the bills, wants to understand the treatment plan, and can reinforce good hygiene habits at home. The parent basically makes all the decisions (except for the color of the bands!).

With aligner treatments, things get a little more complicated. Yes, the parent will be making the investment, but the everyday compliance is going to rest solely in the hands of the patient. A child can’t decide not to wear his bracket-and-wire braces for a day or two when he feels like it—but an aligner patient can. If a young person is physically developed enough to be wearing aligners, he or she is old enough to be independent in his or her daily eating habits and oral hygiene.

This presents unique challenges when you consider the broad range of habits and behavior you can expect from adolescents. Most teenaged patients try their best to follow the plan, but teens are not best known for their ability to manage time and pay attention to details. Ultimately you have two clients to think about, two sets of expectations, and two people who need to understand what it will take to make sure the treatment plan works!

Who Wants the Ortho? Parent or Child?

Since compliance is key, it’s important to make sure the patient is on board. He or she has to be really on board in order for the treatment plan to work. If the patient isn’t deeply, truly intrinsically driven to change his/her smile, there’s a good chance those aligners aren’t going to get worn and the eating habits aren’t going to change.

Being able to spot a lukewarm patient can save you the headache of having an unsuccessful case or having to re-do the treatment plan midcourse. It can also save a parent thousands of wasted dollars and a damaged relationship with their teen.

Having an honest conversation about the daily routine changes required for clear aligner success isn’t just a box to check off during your treatment planning and patient intake. The outcome of that conversation, and an honest commitment from the patient should really be a prerequisite to treatment.

Two Clients, Not One

In treating patients, we’re used to having one client make a commitment, financially and otherwise. We have a standard set of procedures and signatures required before we proceed with treatment. But with teens wearing aligners, you have to split that thinking into: two clients and two messages.

A few tips that may help you help your teen patients and their parents:

1. Don’t Start Treatment Until You are Convinced – Have the compliance talk as soon as a patient asks about clear aligners. It’s not right for everyone. Don’t even conduct an ortho assessment until the patient understands that it’s not an “easy” alternative to braces.

2.Consider an Informal Patient Contract – If a parent commits to treatment, ensure that the patient does, too. A formal-looking patient contract to do X, Y, and Z will get any teen’s attention. Having your teen patient sign a commitment may help reinforce the message that a positive outcome is dependent on his or her actions.  Draw up a printed document for the patient to sign. It should promise to wear their aligners the full 20-22 hours per day, refrain from eating and drinking while wearing them, and follow the prescribed oral hygiene routine. Such a “contract” may not be legally binding, but it will help the parent/patient dynamic if compliance problems pop up. It may even pre-empt them.

3. Treat Your Patients as Adults, Even if They Aren’t – They may not be the legal adult responsible for paying for treatment, but teen patients wanted to be treated as adults. If a patient isn’t wearing his aligners enough or is developing calculus and staining from inefficient hygiene, they’ll want to hear it from their doctor, not their parent.

Are some of these tips more parenting than clinical care? Yes. But that doesn’t mean they are outside your purview as a provider. If your heart and soul is committed to giving more people a healthier smile and a better life, they are small considerations to make.

Stay Connected for More Helpful Tips on Aligner Treatments

Stay connected with OrthoSnap for more tips on giving your patients a great experience with their clear aligner treatments. There are many aligner orthodontics providers nowadays, but OrthoSnap is unique because we use a patented molding system to create a better-fitting orthodontic treatment. You can hear it in the “snap” of a perfect fit. Our system moves the teeth faster than 3D-printed trays and costs less to manufacture. With OrthoSnap, you can give your patients more treatment options, with equally effective, predictable results. Learn more about OrthoSnap by contacting us at 516-606-7606.


teen orthodontics

Teenagers and Clear Aligner Treatments

Are Teens the Fastest-Growing Demographic Group for Clear Aligner Treatments?

Invisalign announced last year that over a million teens have used their product, and it’s clear that young people care about correcting their smiles. Perhaps we can thank selfie culture for making young people more conscious of their oral health, but the trend is clear. Teens and young adults are seeking out clear aligner treatments and their parents are supporting this choice.

Typically, it is parents, not children, who decide whether a child will undergo orthodontic treatment. On the whole, metal braces are still less expensive than clear aligners, but that may be changing. More and more insurers are providing partial coverage for clear aligner treatments. Between in-house financing at private practices and consumer credit programs like CareCredit—many parents are finding they can afford clear aligners as easily as they can afford more traditional treatments for their children.

Why Teens Love Clear Aligners

Teens prefer clear aligner treatments to traditional braces for the same reasons that adults do. They are less noticeable in appearance and more flexible when it comes to eating and cleaning the teeth. Beyond the basics, teens have other reasons for preferring the treatment.

They are perceived as less painful.  Having your wires tightened at the orthodontist’s office every month hurts. Young people know this because they have watched their friends complain of sore teeth due to braces. Most patients report clear aligners to be less painful, since the progression of changes to the aligners is more subtle.

They may feel like they will be teased less by their peers. One could argue that kids are more accepting of differences today than in the past. You probably won’t hear “brace-face” or “metal mouth” as jeers in many high schools nowadays, but metal braces do make you look younger. That’s something no young adult wants, if there is an alternative.

Clear aligners are easier for sports and other activities. Since clear aligners snap in and out quickly, young people appreciate that they can use their normal mouth guards for sports. This aspect is also appreciated by young performers who can remove aligners easily before singing, acting, or playing an instrument on stage.

They want to look their best before heading to college. Kids who have put great time and academic efforts into gaining admission to their preferred schools want to be ready for this new phase of life. If a six-month course of aligners can correct their perceived flaws, they may be more inspired to seek treatment.

The “accidental diet.” Adolescence is a time of identity-building and appearance is a part of that. If you read online posts and videos from young people who are pleased with their aligner treatments, many of them view it as an added plus that their treatment forced them to change how they eat, which led to losing some weight. Many report less snacking and soda consumption, which has obvious health benefits.

Leveraging the Growing Teen Market for Aligners

How can dentists and orthodontists benefit from this growth in the teen market for aligner treatments? It can often be as simple as knowing of the opportunity it presents and starting conversations.

It’s been long known that “kids can’t use clear aligners,” and it’s also been long known to parents that standard braces cost less than aligner treatments. Due to these biases, parents may say “no” on impulse if they are unaware of the affordability and benefits of the treatment. If you aren’t already sharing the aligner option with your teen patients and their parents, you may be surprised by the difference an enlightening conversation can make.

Are You Looking for A More Affordable Option for Your Patients?

At OrthoSnap, we provide aligners using a simpler process than the big-name provider. Instead of 3D printing aligners, we use a more accurate moulding process that creates a better fit and more precise treatment. It also reduces the overall cost of the treatment, which means you can offer your patients price-point options for orthodontic aligners.

You may have noticed that with the expiration of the original patents, Invisalign’s monopoly over 3D printed aligners has ended. Many companies are 3D-printing aligners, and some of them are even disregarding clinical precautions with a direct-to-consumer model. Having a more affordable, yet equally effective technology to offer your patients may help you protect them from trying a potentially unsafe alternative.

To learn about OrthoSnap’s dynamic physical modeling system, visit our webpage How OrthoSnap Works, or email OrthoSnap inventor Yan Pogorelsky at yan@orthosnap.com.

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