©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / PORTISHEAD1

The world of orthodontics has come a long way since we were kids. As more teenagers try Invisalign—the brand name of a popular style of clear plastic aligners—you may wonder if it’s a smart choice for your kid. Besides the obvious benefit of clear plastic aligners being far less noticeable than braces, there are other perks, too. But is your teen responsible enough to keep them in, keep them clean and not lose them? Here’s what you should consider:

IT’S NOT AS EXPENSIVE AS YOU MAY THINK.
My children’s orthodontist does so many Invisalign treatments that his price for braces and Invisalign is almost the same. Ask about pricing before assuming Invisalign is out of your budget.

THEY’LL NEED TO WEAR THEM MOST OF THE TIME.
Aligners need to be on for 20-22 hours a day, and only taken off when eating or brushing teeth. They may fidget with the top aligner, which comes off more easily than the bottom one.

KEEPING THEM CLEAN IS A DAILY RESPONSIBILITY.
Your kid also needs to brush his aligners with a soft-bristle brush, just as often as brushing teeth. He can also soak them in water and Invisalign’s Cleaning Crystals or a denture cleaner.

DON’T STRESS IF YOUR KID LOSES AN ALIGNER.
If you lose an aligner, call your orthodontist right away. In most cases, the office can get you a replacement tray at little to no cost. Keep the last set of trays used as a backup, but make sure you ask your orthodontist before using them.

REMEMBER TO REPLACE ALIGNERS WEEKLY.
Invisalign trays usually need to be replaced every one to two weeks depending on the treatment plan, so set reminders. Each set of aligners helps shift teeth into their correct position. The whole treatment could take anywhere from 12-18 months.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT A CASE.
They should never eat with aligners on so it’s important for your kid to carry a storage case to use when eating. Wash hands before handling the trays or keep sanitizer handy.

THE ALIGNERS MAY BE UNCOMFORTABLE (AND MAYBE EVEN PAINFUL) FOR A BRIEF PERIOD.
My son complained of discomfort when wearing them (and even when taking them off to eat) for about a week. During this time, plan on giving your kid soft foods like yogurt, oatmeal or soup. After that, he got used to wearing them—and barely feels them.

KEEP THEM AWAY FROM THE DOG.
Dogs love the smell of saliva and if your kid leaves aligners out, don’t be surprised if your dog makes a jump for them.Avoid the dog ate my Invisalign excuse by keeping trays far away from your pooch.

See What Our Readers Are Saying