Invisalign teen image of my daughter Lily Varley

Invisalign Teen – A Parent’s Dilemma

As you can see from the Invisalign before and after pictures in the right sidebar, my teeth before Invisalign were horrible. Not just slightly wonky, or slightly yellow, or even just slightly English, neglected teeth; rather, my teeth were of the kind that induce nightmares in small children. Ok, so I wasn’t quite Shane McGowan of The Pogues, but I could have been his long lost cousin- the one without any singing talent.

Part of the reason for my terrible teeth was years (I can’t tell you how many, there are some things even I am not willing to share with the world- suffice to say it was many, many years) of thumb sucking. The other reason was simply bad genes. Everyone in my family has bad teeth, to some extent or another. Unfortunately for me, mine were the worst of this bad lot and it was only as a result of a minor miracle that I was still able to model despite my teeth.  In nine years of modelling I only ever smiled in two shoots, and even then it was only because they were paying me handsomely to do so. The Colgate girl I was not.

Shane McGowanKnowing the agonies I went through as a teenager- trying to hide my teeth behind a half cupped hand and peering out through a haze of self consciousness, I want to do everything that I can to ensure that my own children don’t have to spend their time cultivating a tight, closed mouth smile. So, buoyed by how happy I am with my own Invisalign experience,  I recently took my nine year old for a check up with my orthodontist to assess whether she yet needs braces or is likely to do so in the future.

My 9 year old daughter is beautiful. Really, really beautiful – and I am not in any way biased as her mother, of course. As my husband often says to me “Isn’t it funny how everyone in the world thinks their daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world, and ours actually is?” So I think she’s lovely. You get the picture.

Invisalign teen image of my daughter Lily Varley
My daughter – too young for braces yet!

Luckily for her, she also has GREAT teeth. I don’t know where they came from but I can only give thanks that not only are they strong and healthy, but they are regularly shaped and almost all in line too. I want to do everything in my power to keep them that way.

The orthodontist took some x-rays, examined her teeth and her bite and told us that her teeth are fine at the moment, she certainly doesn’t need braces now. I watched her face as he told her this, and know that for a fleeting moment  in her nine year old mind she was slightly disappointed by this news. There is a certain cachet amongst nine year olds when it comes to getting braces, she felt that she might be missing out on something slightly glamorous.

However, what my orthodontist did tell us was that he thinks that in the future she may need some minor orthodontic work, probably at around the age of 14 or 15. Nothing major, but when her molars come through, she might need some minor straightening. My daughter took this on board, nodded sagely at my orthodontist and declared “That’s fine, I’ll just get Invisalign like mummy.”

It was at that moment that it hit me. Although I love that fact that my braces are transparent and virtually unnoticeable, do I actually want that for my teenaged daughter despite knowing how great Invisalign teen are (read below for a full description of how Invisalign teen differ from standard Invisalign)?

Lets get something straight here. I wasn’t a perfect teenager myself. I wasn’t a deliquent, but I am young enough that I remember exactly what teenage girls are like, and more importantly, I remember only too well what teenage boys are like, particularly when in the presence of a girl as lovely as my daughter. Call me overprotective, (and plenty of people do) but I have always quite liked the idea of my teenage daughters wearing large unsightly metal braces; the orthodontic opposite of a boy magnet, if you will.

With this in mind, I pleaded with my orthodontist for several minutes about the necessity of my daughter wearing large, metal braces from about the age of 14 and preferably for a minimum of four years. Sadly he is far too ethical to apply unnecessary orthodontic devices at the behest of over-vigilant mothers and is also of the belief, as a parent himself, that braces aren’t as much of a boy deflector as I might think.

So therein lies my dilemma. The things that I love about Invisalign; how inconspicuous it is, how easily removable it is, how you can still appear attractive whilst wearing it, are the very things that make me hesitate about allowing my own daughter to have it. I want her to have the ease and convenience of Invisalign, I want her to avoid the pain of metal braces, but my visions of my keeping my daughter away from boys as a teenager by making her wear an ugly school uniform, black lace up shoes, no make up and large metal braces are fading fast.

Luckily it seems that I have several years to mull over this decision; let’s just hope in the meantime that the good people at Invisalign come up with something a little less attractive for the Teen market. If they absolutely must insist on offering teenagers clear plastic aligners, I wonder whether they couldn’t at least make large black attachments on every tooth standard issue with their Invisalign Teen system? They might just make a few mothers like myself very, very happy.


As a footnote, for those of you not so over-protective as myself, Invisalign teen are very much like standard Invisalign, with a few minor differences. They have compliance indicators so you can see how much they’ve been worn (glad I didn’t have those!), they allow for unerupted teeth (i.e. where adult teeth have not yet grown through, and they offer up to six lost aligner replacements free. I’m not sure what the downside is, or why orthodontists don’t just pick these for everyone, it seems to me like it might make more sense. You can read more about Invisalign teen here.


4 thoughts on “Invisalign Teen – A Parent’s Dilemma”

  1. orthodontic problems are better treated at an early age.. well for me if I can see orthodontic problems with my daughter at her teenage times already, invisalign teen would be the best for her…cause we all know the world of teenagers, they hate to be in a treatment or therapy which people will notice..Invisalign will be just so perfect then for the therapy.

  2. Hi Andy,
    Invisalign teen has a compliance indicator that shows how much the aligner has been worn. I am not an orthodontist, nor have I ever seen one of these indicators so I don’t know how reliable they are. I should imagine that orthodontists and parents probably need to screen patients fairly rigorously to make sure that only the most responsible teens wear them. I do remember as a child in the 70s and 80s that many people had removable plate braces quite successfully. I presume that there were similar compliance issues with those.

  3. In my opinion, I think the main drawback to letting a teenager wear Invisalign is that you can’t really trust them to stick to the entire process. Naturally, adults themselves aren’t perfect, but at least they realize they’re paying a large amount of money for it. Can one really make sure a teenager will wear their aligners for the required 20 hours?

  4. just a little warning – most orthodontic problems are better addressed at a young age while the patient is growing. Waiting until teeth come in could mean all sorts of problems can happen in the meantime.

    I don’t know the specifics of your daughter’s orthodontic issues, but I often see cases where extractions or other complications could have been avoided if an orthodontist had begun treatment early.

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