Orthodontic treatment is not limited to teenagers and adults. Many children may require orthodontic intervention to correct dental alignment issues and achieve a healthy, properly aligned smile. While traditional braces have been a common choice for young patients, clear aligners have gained popularity as a discreet and convenient alternative. However, parents often wonder if aligners are safe for their children. This article will explore the safety of aligners for children and provide insights to help parents make informed decisions.
Get an orthodontic evaluation
The first and most important step to determine if your child can use aligners is to talk with your orthodontist and receive a complete evaluation. The orthodontist will evaluate your child's specific orthodontic needs, dental development and jaw growth to determine the most suitable treatment approach. They will assess whether aligners are viable or if traditional braces or other orthodontic appliances would be more appropriate.
Age and maturity
Clear aligners are generally as safe and effective for children as they are for adults, but there are more considerations to account for before starting treatment. For example, most orthodontists won't begin aligner treatment until all of the child's baby teeth have fallen out, which should happen by age 12. Aligners may still be in the cards for children with one or two baby teeth left. Additionally, a child does not necessarily need to have wisdom teeth in place before qualifying for clear aligners.
Braces may have drawbacks in a parent's mind, but there is no doubt they offer a hugely helpful advantage: the child can't take them off. Compliance, for the most part, is inherent in the treatment process.
Aligners, however, require strict compliance to see results. In most cases, aligners must be worn at least 22 hours per day. This requires a level of maturity and understanding on the part of the child. The last thing you want as a parent is for your child to wear the aligners when you can see them but take them off rebelliously in school. Aligners may not be the best choice if compliance is a concern.
Supervision and support
Compliance from the child isn't the only piece of the puzzle to worry about. Parents have to take an active role in the aligner treatment process, understanding how the devices work and helping the child with questions and any issues that may come up. Monitoring compliance and strictly enforcing proper oral hygiene practices may be wise. Regularly engage the orthodontist with questions and schedule follow-up appointments. Orthodontic care for children is a collaborative effort that requires hard work from both parties.
Safety and comfort
Aligners are a safe option if the child meets the orthodontist's requirements. The ability to remove them makes it easier to clean the teeth each day thoroughly. Aligners are less noticeable than braces and could be more comfortable for the child.
Additionally, aligners could be more convenient for a child who plays sports or is constantly active. Collisions, falls and general roughhousing could cause the metal brackets of the braces to scrape the lips or cheeks. Aligners are clear plastic and will not cause any such injuries.
Understand the why
So, aligners are safe for children if the orthodontist approves them. Before making the decision, be sure you understand why you're choosing aligners over braces. Talk to your child about what they want. Outline the pros and cons of each option and work to help them understand the process. Rank priorities. If you feel that the aesthetic benefits of aligners don't quite overcome the compliance risks, be open and honest with your child about a preference for braces.
If your orthodontist approves your request, then yes - aligners are safe for your child. Keep in mind what this means. It means rigorous compliance checks, follow-up appointments and strict adherence to excellent oral health, all in the name of making the results worth what clear aligners cost. It will take a lot of work from both you and your child. If all goes well, this aligner journey could be rewarding and provide lifelong benefits for your child.
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