Over the years, tray methods for straightening teeth, such as Invisalign, have become more acceptable for teens and possibly tweens. This has provided kids with a nice option that doesn't result in having metal brackets stuck on each tooth. However, as nice as methods like these are, they are sometimes not that appropriate for a tween or teen who needs braces. Because the trays can be removed at will and are clear, your child might really want to use that method instead of traditional braces, so you need to know how both would affect your child.
How Severe Is the Misalignment?
Does your teen need a few teeth straightened up? Invisible trays could work wonders. One of the beautiful aspects of the trays is that you get only as many as you need, so a mild course of teeth straightening could last only a few weeks and not cost that much. With traditional bracket-style braces, those braces are stuck on there, and you don't get that much of a break on costs if they come off earlier, except in the form of fewer wire-adjustment appointments.
However, if the teeth misalignment is severe, and your teen or tween needs a lot of intervention, trays aren't going to be the most efficient choice. In this case, traditional braces that pull and push teeth no matter where they are on the jaw are best.
How Good Is Your Child at Following Instructions?
Can you trust your teen or tween to wear the trays as needed? These trays need to sit in the person's mouth for most of the day and night, with minimal time out for eating and brushing teeth. If you are sure that your teen or tween will put the trays back in after lunch, for example, then trays could work. If you're not confident that your child will put them back in, or you're not confident that your child won't lose a tray, traditional braces are going to give you more peace of mind. Your child will have to be careful eating so as not to dislodge a bracket, but at least the braces won't "walk off" anywhere during lunch.
What Will Your Child's Classmates Do?
Say you trust your teen to use the trays properly. What if your teen says that his or her classmates will just steal and destroy the trays? Listen to your child in this case. Bullying and generally irresponsible classmates can ruin a set of trays and set you back hundreds of dollars while also making it harder for your child's teeth to move into place as needed. If your child hints that classmates may be a problem, go with traditional braces.
Each case will be different, so don't assume that because your older child had one set of needs, your younger child will be the same, and so on. Talk to your child's orthodontist about braces for kids to see which style of teeth straightening could be the easiest to use given the situation.