Today’s teens have options when it comes to orthodontics

This photo illustration shows the difference in appearance between Invisalign and traditional orthodontic braces.

Photo: Lindsay Breslin

This photo illustration shows the difference in appearance between Invisalign and traditional orthodontic braces.

Everybody wants a great smile, but sometimes teeth don’t understand that they’re supposed to grow in straight and lovely. That’s when many teens turn to an orthodontist to correct what nature didn’t.

Today, young people who need braces have options that earlier generations did not.

Invisalign is a substitute for traditional orthodontic braces, and it seems to be rising in popularity with teenagers who would rather not have a mouth full of metal. Parents and children alike are often faced with a choice between traditional braces and Invisalign, which, as the name suggests, is a clear, discreet alternative.

The question parents ask is: Which is better long term for their teeth? Invisalign may look good, but when it comes to their children’s health, parents would rather their teens have healthy teeth rather than fashionable teeth.

In fact, Invisalign may not always be a good option. For more serious cases, Invisalign takes longer or doesn’t work as well as traditional braces. On the flip side, there’s a long list of grievances against braces and pain seems to be at the top.

Autumn Harvey, a sophomore at Fairmont, has been an Invisalign patient for 3 years. “For Invisalign, they just sort of mold it to your teeth then snap the Invisalign on,” Harvey said.

Harvey enjoys the freedom Invisalign offers, allowing her to eat whatever she wishes. “I can take them out and eat whatever I want,” she said. “But I have to keep them on all other times.”

However, she does find fault in Invisalign. “You have to change them every two weeks. They are supposed to be invisible, but I drank coffee a couple of times with them on and they got stained.”

Patrick Norman is a senior who, on the other hand, remembers his 5-year experience with braces. “My whole mouth and teeth hurt,” Norman said. “I couldn’t chew anything when I first got them in; it was terrible.”

Norman remembers all the food he wasn’t allowed to eat during his braces ordeal. “You can’t eat solid food like pizza, hamburgers or chicken,” he said.

Thankfully, Norman’s pain and anguish paid off. “Now that I have them off, I feel pretty, like I don’t have huge metal things hanging on my teeth,” he said.

Norman can’t recall how much his braces cost, but he knows they were expensive. “My mom use to scold me all the time with ‘Do you know how much I spent for your teeth?!’” he said. “So it was probably a lot.”

According to MedicineNet, the cost of braces varies, but a patient can expect the cost to be between $1,800 and $5,500. On average, however, once the braces are put on, they usually remain in place for 1 to 3 years.

Harvey remembers clearly how much her Invisalign costs. “It cost around $3,000 with my insurance,” she said. Invisalign’s website says the cost of Invisalign treatment ranges from $3,500 to $8,000, with a national average of about $5,000. But the price depends on how serious the problem is.

Deciding whether to go with traditional metal braces is both a medical and personal choice, and teens sometimes regret their choices.

“If I could go back, I’d definitely switch to Invisalign,” Norman said. “I wouldn’t have had to live with annoying braces I hated.” Norman said.

Harvey wishes the opposite. “I’ve had my Invisaligns in for about 3 years now,” she said. “If I could go back, I would have picked braces. This Invisalign stuff is taking really long and I lose them sometimes. You can’t lose braces.”