Are Teens the Fastest-Growing Demographic Group for Clear Aligner Treatments?
Invisalign announced last year that over a million teens have used their product, and it’s clear that young people care about correcting their smiles. Perhaps we can thank selfie culture for making young people more conscious of their oral health, but the trend is clear. Teens and young adults are seeking out clear aligner treatments and their parents are supporting this choice.
Typically, it is parents, not children, who decide whether a child will undergo orthodontic treatment. On the whole, metal braces are still less expensive than clear aligners, but that may be changing. More and more insurers are providing partial coverage for clear aligner treatments. Between in-house financing at private practices and consumer credit programs like CareCredit—many parents are finding they can afford clear aligners as easily as they can afford more traditional treatments for their children.
Why Teens Love Clear Aligners
Teens prefer clear aligner treatments to traditional braces for the same reasons that adults do. They are less noticeable in appearance and more flexible when it comes to eating and cleaning the teeth. Beyond the basics, teens have other reasons for preferring the treatment.
They are perceived as less painful. Having your wires tightened at the orthodontist’s office every month hurts. Young people know this because they have watched their friends complain of sore teeth due to braces. Most patients report clear aligners to be less painful, since the progression of changes to the aligners is more subtle.
They may feel like they will be teased less by their peers. One could argue that kids are more accepting of differences today than in the past. You probably won’t hear “brace-face” or “metal mouth” as jeers in many high schools nowadays, but metal braces do make you look younger. That’s something no young adult wants, if there is an alternative.
Clear aligners are easier for sports and other activities. Since clear aligners snap in and out quickly, young people appreciate that they can use their normal mouth guards for sports. This aspect is also appreciated by young performers who can remove aligners easily before singing, acting, or playing an instrument on stage.
They want to look their best before heading to college. Kids who have put great time and academic efforts into gaining admission to their preferred schools want to be ready for this new phase of life. If a six-month course of aligners can correct their perceived flaws, they may be more inspired to seek treatment.
The “accidental diet.” Adolescence is a time of identity-building and appearance is a part of that. If you read online posts and videos from young people who are pleased with their aligner treatments, many of them view it as an added plus that their treatment forced them to change how they eat, which led to losing some weight. Many report less snacking and soda consumption, which has obvious health benefits.
Leveraging the Growing Teen Market for Aligners
How can dentists and orthodontists benefit from this growth in the teen market for aligner treatments? It can often be as simple as knowing of the opportunity it presents and starting conversations.
It’s been long known that “kids can’t use clear aligners,” and it’s also been long known to parents that standard braces cost less than aligner treatments. Due to these biases, parents may say “no” on impulse if they are unaware of the affordability and benefits of the treatment. If you aren’t already sharing the aligner option with your teen patients and their parents, you may be surprised by the difference an enlightening conversation can make.
Are You Looking for A More Affordable Option for Your Patients?
At Orthosnap, we provide aligners using a simpler process than the big-name provider. Instead of 3D printing aligners, we use a more accurate moulding process that creates a better fit and more precise treatment. It also reduces the overall cost of the treatment, which means you can offer your patients price-point options for orthodontic aligners.
You may have noticed that with the expiration of the original patents, Invisalign’s monopoly over 3D printed aligners has ended. Many companies are 3D-printing aligners, and some of them are even disregarding clinical precautions with a direct-to-consumer model. Having a more affordable, yet equally effective technology to offer your patients may help you protect them from trying a potentially unsafe alternative.