Understanding Dentistry: A Guide

Why Clear Aligners Are Perfect for Autistic Kids and Teens

Children and teens on the autism spectrum often face a multitude of challenges when getting dental treatment, and braces are no exception. Autistic people with sensory processing issues, for example, can face serious discomfort and sensitivity throughout the process—from trips to the brightly lit orthodontist to the sensation of having braces tightened. Autistic children may also have greater difficulty following the complex instructions for braces wearers, along with problems communicating their own experiences.

Thankfully, however, there is a better option out there: clear aligners. Here are three reasons why they're the perfect orthodontic treatment for people with autism.

1. You can eat more foods with clear aligners

There are a lot of restrictions that come with traditional braces, including what you can and can't eat. Sticky sweet foods, for example, can get stuck in the brackets and wires, while crunchy foods can break the connectors.

This can be a big issue for autistic children and teens, many of whom struggle with picky eating. Crunchy and sweet foods are the only "safe foods" some people with autism are willing to eat, so being restricted from them can cause serious dietary concerns.

Clear aligners, however, can be removed for several hours a day. This gives your child time to eat and drink whatever they'd like without the risk of damaging their braces.

2. Clear aligners are more comfortable

The brackets and wires of traditional braces can rub against the inside of your child's mouth, causing discomfort, sores and pain. This is uncomfortable enough for the average person, but even more so for autistic people with a heightened sensory ability. What feels like minor discomfort for one child may be excruciating or completely distracting for a neurodivergent child.

Clear aligners make a great alternative because they're made from a smooth, soft material. They fit snugly against your child's teeth and won't scratch or irritate the inside of your child's mouth.

3. Clear aligners make hygiene easier

Even on a good day, dental hygiene can be a difficult task for someone with autism to manage. The smell, taste and feel of toothpaste can cause sensory issues, and children with autism may have difficulty following all the necessary steps of tooth-brushing and flossing.

Of course, when your child has braces, dental hygiene becomes even more important. Traditional braces can trap food and bacteria, which can quickly lead to decay or gum disease if ignored.

The difference with clear aligners is that they're removable. Your child will be able to take their aligners off to brush their teeth every morning and night, eliminating the need to learn a more complicated brushing routine—perfect for kids and teens who struggle with change.  

For more information about Invisalign, contact a local company.