27th Sep, 2023
When your child or teen is told they need orthodontic treatment, it’s natural for them to feel a mix of emotions, including some worry about getting braces. While it might be surprising to learn that the majority of kids feel excited about getting braces, not everyone feels the same.
Fortunately, there are a range of treatment options available. Thanks to significant advancements in the field of orthodontics, there is a wide range of brace alternatives that can help your child achieve a beautiful smile.
As Canberra’s leading childrens orthodontist practice, we’re here to help you explore the different children’s braces alternatives and address any concerns young people may have about braces.
When Are Traditional Or Clear Braces The Right Option
We find that for the majority of our patients, traditional children’s braces or clear braces are the most efficient and suitable treatment option. They’re the most suited to complex corrections, and give the largest amount of control and change to the patients smile.
Clear Braces – A More Subtle Choice
Clear braces are an excellent solution for many children. They offer similar treatment benefits to traditional braces, however they’re built with clear brackets to be a far more discreet option. We find that after talking through the range of treatment solutions available, children often feel comfortable with the idea of clear or coloured braces as they’re discreet and provide the best results.
When To Consider Alternatives To Braces
Children may need orthodontics for various reasons, whether it’s crooked or overcrowded teeth, or an over- or underbite. The orthodontic treatment chosen often depends on how severe the child’s teeth are, the desired comfort levels, and the finances of the family.
While conventional metal braces have long been the most effective treatment option for young people, every child is unique with their own preferences and concerns. Exploring alternative options allows us to cater to their individual needs and create a tailored orthodontic experience.
Whether it’s addressing aesthetics, comfort, or lifestyle concerns, seeking alternatives opens up new approaches to your child’s specific needs.
Several exciting alternatives to traditional metal braces have gained popularity. Plus, they come with great benefits. Some options can provide a more discreet treatment, boosting your child’s confidence throughout their orthodontic journey. Certain alternatives also provide the convenience to adapt to your child’s lifestyle.
Exploring Different Alternatives to Traditional Braces for Kids
Many young people struggle with wanting to fit in and, for them, braces are often the thing that makes them stand out. This makes the idea of regular braces less appealing.
The good news is that orthodontic braces have come a long way! At Orthoclinic, we offer a range of discreet braces options that children can embrace and feel comfortable with while giving them a straight smile.
Clear aligner treatments are the most discreet orthodontic treatment. One popular brand is Invisalign, which uses clear trays custom-made to fit and gently shift your teeth.
The treatment involves multiple sets of clear trays, each gradually shifting the teeth until the desired results are achieved. Unlike regular braces, these aligners can be easily removed for brushing, flossing, eating, and drinking.
Aligners are a discrete alternative to braces, however, they don’t correct teeth as effectively as braces and hence might not be suitable for all cases.
Ceramic braces are another great alternative if your child is concerned about the visibility of metal brackets.
As the name suggests, these are made of ceramic material that closely matches the teeth’s colour. They are equally effective in straightening teeth, but the key difference is that they’re less noticeable.
It’s important to note that ceramic braces may be slightly more expensive than traditional fixed braces. Your child will also need to be more careful when consuming colourful foods or drinks that can potentially cause staining.
Addressing Concerns and Preferences of Teenagers
Many teenagers have concerns about wearing traditional metal braces, and it’s completely understandable. It’s a time in their livers when they’re hyper-aware of how others perceive them, and the thought of braces can be a real confidence challenge.
One of the biggest worries for teens is how they’ll look with braces. They fear their friends might poke fun at them or that it could impact their dating life.
Another concern is the discomfort associated with braces. They may have heard “horror” stories from their friends or even family about the achiness and soreness. It’s enough to make anyone a bit anxious!
Then there’s also the long-term commitment. The idea of having something attached to their teeth for an extended period may not sit well with some teens.
But with all that said, braces are a common part of the teen experience. A lot of teenagers will have braces at some point. Chances are your child has friends who either already have braces or will be getting them soon.
Remind your teen that wearing braces for a few years is a small sacrifice for a lifetime of a perfectly straight smile. The end result is worth it! And if they’re concerned about the appearance of braces, there are some effective ways to address that.
Alternatives to braces like clear aligners, ceramic braces, or lingual braces can ease some of the aesthetic concerns.
Invisalign vs. Traditional Braces for Kids and Teens
While there are several alternatives to braces, invisible braces like Invisalign have become the most popular for kids and teens.
Advantages of Invisalign
- They’re invisible: The aesthetic appeal of clear aligners is the main reason why they’re so popular. Made from a transparent plastic material, they are virtually invisible when worn. This makes them a great choice for those concerned with the look of metal braces.
- Generally faster: While the average treatment time for braces varies depending on the orthodontic problems, Invisalign braces have been shown to work slightly faster.
- They’re practical: Unlike traditional braces, clear aligners are removable, making it much easier to enjoy your favourite foods, sports, and activities without restrictions.
- More hygienic: Given that clear aligners are removable, it is much easier to maintain healthy oral hygiene. Metal braces often make this harder and require more extensive cleaning.
- They’re comfortable: Unlike metal braces, Invisalign is less likely to cause irritation to the inside of the mouth due to its smooth plastic construction. They fit snugly over the teeth without causing abrasions.
What to consider when deciding between Invisalign and traditional braces
It all comes down to personal preferences and priorities. Let’s look at some of the key points to consider:
- Effectiveness: This is the most important factor. Traditional braces have long been the go-to solution for a variety of misalignments, from minor to severe. Invisalign, however, is more effective for less severe orthodontic problems.
- Comfort: Invisalign tends to be more comfortable than braces as the pressure applied by clear aligners is gentler, and they lack the brackets and wires that can cause irritation to the gums and cheeks.
- Appearance: If your teen is concerned about the look of traditional metal braces, Invisalign is the clear option to go with.
- Cost: In general, the cost of Invisalign aligners is comparable to that of traditional braces. They can be slightly more expensive due to the lab fees and technology used in creating them.
- Maintenance: Oral hygiene is made much easier with clear aligners as they can be removed. Traditional braces require special attention to ensure a deep clean around the brackets.
Comparing the Differences Between Invisalign and Braces
While both Invisalign and braces are popular options for straightening teeth, there are important differences between these two orthodontic treatments.
Invisalign uses clear plastic aligners that are practically invisible with no brackets or wires. The aligners are custom-made for your teeth and are replaced approximately every two weeks as your teeth gradually shift into the desired position. Clear aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours a day to ensure a successful treatment.
Traditional braces use metal brackets that are attached to each tooth and connected with wires. The wires are periodically tightened by your orthodontists to gradually move your teeth. While braces are more noticeable, they are the best option for complex cases.
Looking at the pros and cons of each, it really comes down to individual needs and preferences.
In some cases, Invisalign aligners can be a suitable option for teenagers who have mild to moderate teeth misalignment. These aligners are nearly invisible and can be removed for eating and cleaning, which can be appealing to teens. However, patients must practice discipline, as consistent wear is essential for success.
Alternatively, if your child has severe teeth misalignment or issues with their bite, traditional braces may be the more suitable choice. They’re ideal for correcting complex cases and there are multiple types to choose from (eg. metal, lingual, and ceramic).
The downside of traditional braces is the aesthetics, but ceramic and lingual braces can help with that. Brushing your teeth effectively can be difficult and there are certain food limitations so as not to cause damage to the brackets or wires.
Choosing the Right Brace Alternative for Children
Choosing the right brace alternative for your child can be a tough decision. With so many options available, it’s important to consider various factors to ensure the best fit.
Assessing their needs
Younger children may have different orthodontic needs compared to teenagers. Their teeth and jaws are still developing, which means certain treatment options may be different. What’s more, children can only start clear aligner treatment when their adult teeth have come in.
The severity of your child’s orthodontic issues is another factor. Are they dealing with just a few crooked teeth or is there a more complex situation? Traditional braces are often the go-to for straightening teeth and fixing bite alignment. But for mild to moderate cases, clear aligners like Invisalign could work wonders.
Considering their lifestyle
Beyond the orthodontic factors, your child’s lifestyle may also influence the choice between different brace alternatives. Do they play a sport or an instrument where braces might be a problem?
In these cases, lingual braces (placed on the back of teeth) can be a great choice to minimise injuries or interference. If your child needs the freedom to remove braces occasionally, clear aligner treatment might be the way to go.
Consulting with an orthodontist
Ultimately it’s important to consult with an experienced orthodontist who can evaluate your child’s specific needs. They can also help guide you through the decision-making process to find the best alternatives to braces.
At Orthoclinic, our orthodontists specialise in a range of brace alternatives, including traditional metal braces. With an understanding of the unique challenges they face, our specialist orthodontists can help your child achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.
Frequently Asked Questions about Children’s Braces Alternatives
How do I prepare my child for braces?
Transitioning to braces can be a new experience for kids, but with a little preparation, they can navigate it smoothly. It’s important for kids and teens with braces to be mindful of what they eat and to establish good oral hygiene habits.
When should my child get braces?
The right time for a child to start orthodontic treatment varies, but most children get braces when they’re between 9 and 14 years old. Some children may even start their orthodontic treatment as young as 6 or 7. This all depends on the unique need of your child as some require earlier intervention than others.
What is the most cost-effective alternative to braces?
Generally, traditional metal braces are the most cost effective solution. The most cost-effective alternative is dependent on a range of factors, however ceramic braces may be a suitable alternative without a significant increase in cost.
Retainers or Clear aligners are also a popular alternative, but the cost of treatment with options like Invisalign can be quite expensive. This may vary depending on the severity of the dental issues.
Thanks to new advancements in the field of orthodontics, traditional metal braces are not the only solution for helping your child achieve that perfect smile. Whether it’s clear aligners, ceramic braces, or lingual braces, there are a range of brace alternatives to choose from.
By exploring different alternatives and consulting with an orthodontist, parents can find the most suitable option for their child’s specific needs.
Our experienced orthodontists specialise in orthodontic treatments for all ages. We understand the challenges they face and work closely with families to create treatment plans that deliver beautiful smiles.