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Are There Age Limits for Clear Aligners?

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young child sitting at table with grandmother

Ever since clear aligners were introduced as a viable alternative to metal braces, they have appealed to patients of all ages. For children, they are perfect for the era of social media and can help someone maintain their self-confidence while at school. And for adults, aligners allow them to enhance their smiles without their friends and coworkers noticing their treatment. But, can someone’s age actually prevent them from getting clear aligners to straighten their teeth? Sometimes! Why? An orthodontist in Westerville answers this question below.

Can Someone Be Too Young for Aligners?

Clear aligner treatment is typically recommended for older children and adults, but why not young children? Surely they could benefit from the comfort and aesthetic advantages of aligners versus braces, right?

The main issue is that wearing clear aligners requires a small amount of discipline, and this can often lead to trouble with children. Ideally, a patient needs to wear their aligners for 20-22 hours a day and only take them out to eat or clean their teeth. Because they are removable, children often don’t wear their aligners correctly, or they lose them altogether. Replacing a tray can take up to a month in some situations, greatly slowing down treatment, plus an added cost may be involved.

With braces, the appliance is fixed in place, and that’s it. In the end, a more traditional approach tends to be more effective and less stressful for the child, the parent, and their orthodontist. 

Can Someone Be Too Old for Aligners?

Fortunately, there basically is no upper age limit for any type of orthodontic treatment, including clear aligners! Straightening the teeth as an adult may take notably longer compared to a child because the mouth and jawbones are fully grown and set, but they can still be adjusted to create a more beautiful and functional smile.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if an adult has a dental problem that could affect the success of their orthodontics (i.e., an untreated cavity, gum disease, missing teeth), it will need to be addressed first. This can lengthen the process, but it’s essential to ensuring a smooth experience and lasting result.

When is the Right Time to Start Aligners?

Whether you’re thinking about aligner treatment for your child or yourself, the best way to get the answer is to simply talk to a board-certified orthodontist. They can perform an exam, determine what adjustments need to be made, and suggest which type of treatment would be best (in addition to when it should be started in the case of a child). Whatever treatment you choose, you can look forward to a tailored experience that is guaranteed to result in a truly stunning smile.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is a board-certified orthodontist based in Westerville, and he has been an Elite Invisalign Provider since 2017. He’s able to offer personalized orthodontic care for patients of all ages, including Invisalign and Invisalign TEEN. To see if clear aligners would work for you or your child, you can schedule a FREE in-person consultation by clicking here.