A straight smile can do wonders for your confidence and oral health. And whether you’re investigating orthodontic treatment for your child or yourself, clear aligners could be a good option.
But what’s the best age to start clear aligners? Walied Touni, DDS, MSD, and our team at Touni Orthodontics in Sunnyvale, California, specialize in orthodontic care, and we’ve developed customized clear aligner treatment plans for children and adults of all ages.
Here’s what you need to know about how clear aligners work and how to decide what age is best to start treatment.
How clear aligners work
Clear aligners are a modern alternative to traditional braces for straightening teeth. The aligners are custom-made clear plastic trays that gradually shift your teeth into their proper positions.
Treatment begins with an orthodontic assessment. Dr. Touni does an oral exam and reviews your medical history to determine if clear aligners are right for you.
Next, we take a 3D scan or impressions of your teeth to create your treatment plan. You get a new set of aligners every two weeks or so, and each set represents a specific stage of tooth movement.
You wear your aligners for 20-22 hours a day. You can take them out to eat, drink, and clean your teeth, but wearing them most of the time is essential to keeping your treatment plan on track.
During treatment, you have regular checkups with Dr. Touni and our team. We check your progress and give you your next set of aligners at each appointment.
Choosing the right age for clear aligners
Now, let's take a closer look at age-specific considerations for clear aligners.
Children under 12
For younger children, early orthodontic intervention can be beneficial. Clear aligners can address common issues like crowding or spacing, without the hassle of traditional braces.
However, young children may struggle with oral hygiene or wearing their aligners for at least 20-22 hours a day. And if your child doesn’t have all their permanent teeth yet, we may need to adjust their treatment plan as they lose baby teeth and grow adult teeth.
Teens are often excellent candidates for clear aligners. Their permanent teeth are mostly in place, making treatment more predictable.
One of the best benefits of clear aligners for teens is that they’re discreet. They don’t require metal brackets or wires, which can appeal to image-conscious teenagers. Plus, clear aligners are generally more comfortable than braces.
The biggest potential drawback of clear aligners for teens is consistency. Your teen needs to wear their aligners at least 20-22 hours a day, and struggling with consistent wear can negatively impact their treatment outcomes.
If you’re thinking about clear aligners for yourself, there are a lot of benefits to consider. They’re nearly invisible, so it’s not obvious you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. You can take them out to eat and clean your teeth, which makes both eating and oral hygiene easier during treatment.
Since adult jaws and teeth are fully developed, your treatment path is highly predictable. One of the only downsides to clear aligner treatment as an adult is that some complex cases may require longer treatment durations than traditional braces.
So, what’s the best age for clear aligners? The answer depends on your or your child’s individual circumstances. Clear aligners offer a path to a straighter, healthier smile at any age — and it’s time to learn more about your options.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Touni by calling our office today or booking online any time.