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November 22 2010

Invisalign Teeth Straightening is Finally Available for Teens

Until recently, almost 70% of all American teenagers were condemned to enduring “tin grins,” those uncomfortable, unattractive orthodontic appliances needed to straighten teeth and enhance smiles. Now, however, the clear plastic Invisalign teeth straightening system has been tailored to accommodate the unique needs of young adults, dramatically cutting down on the number of “brace faces” seen in school.

Aside from their unsightly appearance, metal braces often cause injuries to teeth, lips, mouth and gums. They also cause embarrassing stuck food and make-out incidents because of their sharp-edged brackets. On the other hand, with the Invisalign plastic trays method users are able to eat anything they like, compete in sports with impunity, play musical instruments with ease, and kiss each other without injury to lips or self-esteem.

An additional advantage of the Invisalign tooth straightening system is the ease and depth of oral hygiene for the wearers.  With traditional braces, flossing is impossible and really extensive brushing complicated for everyone. Tooth whitening – very fashionable, especially among teens, has to wait until the braces are removed. All in all, good oral hygiene is just about put on hold for almost two years while traditional braces are worn.

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In 1997, a few Stanford graduate students began to experiment with computer graphics to bring up to date the field of orthodontics and within three years had formed Align Technologies, the home of Invisalign. Last year, the company discovered a way to adapt the design to allow for guiding in emerging molars in teenagers. They also added a blue dot that proves compliance to scheduled wearing hours by fading to transparent when the appropriate amount of time in the mouth has passed.

Normally, dentists propose twenty to twenty-two hours per day for about a twelve months to achieve the desired outcome. The majority of teenagers find this to be pretty easy, since Invisalign trays are almost invisible and can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing or when attending special functions. This of course is preferred to long-established metal braces which usually have to remain in place for two years or more and must stay attached until painstakingly removed by a dentist.

Any practitioner who offers the Invisalign straightening system must initially be qualified by Align Technology. Originally offered only to orthodontists, the company later opened their training to general dentists who are required to take coursework, seminars and workshops to become affiliated with Align. All practitioners of general dentistry is required to be educated about the types of difficulties that can be corrected through use of Invisalign and which problems need other measures. For the most part, common teenage malocclusion, such as overbite, spaces and crooked teeth can be corrected by the clear trays. Computer-generated prescriptions are changed about every two weeks, each new custom set specifically made to progress the alignment of the patient’s teeth over time.

Although the expense of Invisalign teeth straightening is somewhat more expensive than that of traditional metal braces, any teenager would say the difference in price is more than worth it in terms of comfort, appearance and social life. What parent might disagree?

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