Midline misalignment (also called midline discrepancy or deviated midline) is a condition defined by asymmetry between the teeth and facial structure. The center of your front teeth should line up with your nose and between your eyes, but in certain cases, it’s slightly off-center. This is a midline misalignment.
In 2002, Tom Cruise made the condition famous when he got braces to treat his own midline discrepancy. In many cases, it’s a cosmetic issue rather than a medical concern, but it can be accompanied by other, more significant bite misalignments.
While midline issues can arise from a number of causes (both mild and severe) there are a few effective treatment options, Invisalign included. Adults often opt for Invisalign because it can usually achieve the same results as braces without any metal brackets or wires. Read on and you’ll find a ton of helpful information on Invisalign as a midline treatment, plus some alternatives if the clear aligner company isn’t right for you.
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Is Invisalign Effective for Treating Midline Misalignment?
In most cases, yes. Invisalign is a highly effective and versatile treatment that can correct a wide range of teeth and jaw misalignments. However, your dentist or orthodontist may still recommend braces for certain rare midline cases.
This is because midline shifts are often caused by an underlying issue. Some of these issues are minor, like simple crowding or missing teeth, while others can be more severe, like posterior crossbite. Invisalign is capable of correcting almost all of these conditions. Because it can incorporate proprietary “Smartforce” attachments and appliances like elastics, Invisalign is able to achieve complex tooth and jaw movements, even for issues like overbite or crossbite.
However, if your midline discrepancy is due to a skeletal disharmony that pushes an entire dental arch off-center, your orthodontist might recommend braces instead for their durability and power.
All that said, these days there are many other providers offering clear teeth aligners. If you’re looking for a more affordable treatment method than Invisalign, or are simply curious about what other brands are out there, we encourage you to keep reading.
What Is it Like to Wear Invisalign?
The leading reasons adults often favor Invisalign over braces are that they’re 1) clear, and 2) removable. This means that they’re much less noticeable than metal (or ceramic) braces, and you can take them out to eat, brush your teeth, or even attend an important meeting or special occasion. If your treatment plan includes Smartforce attachments, these will remain fixed to your teeth for all or most of your treatment duration — but again, these appliances are hardly noticeable.
Invisalign also tends to be more comfortable than braces. Since they’re made of plastic, Invisalign trays cause less irritation on the cheeks and tongue than the metal wires and brackets of traditional braces. This isn’t to say Invisalign doesn’t cause any discomfort whatsoever. Moving your teeth is going to result in some pain and discomfort, regardless of the dental appliance you select. But all in all, Invisalign tends to offer more comfort and flexibility to the user than conventional braces.
On the flip side, it’s worth keeping in mind that Invisalign treatment calls for a significant amount of discipline not required by traditional braces. Since Invisalign trays are removable, it’s up to you to keep them in your mouth for 22 hrs each day in order to progress through the alignment process successfully. If you’re not motivated enough to play through the pain for the long-term payout, Invisalign may be TOO flexible of an option for you, and you may consider a more rigid and consistent treatment, like traditional braces, instead.
Alternative Invisible Aligners
While Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner market and remains among the most popular providers out there, there are a few other clear aligner brands that can be administered by dentists around the country. Additionally, there’s a whole new industry on the rise for at-home teeth alignment that can be completed without ever having to visit a dentist.
Whether you’re simply interested in an alternative clear aligner brand or you’re looking to correct your midline misalignment from home, there’s most likely a solution on this list for you. Below, we’ve broken down the most common alternatives to Invisalign and several reasons you might consider going with one of these options instead.
Align Tech (makers of Invisalign) is no longer the only company that partners with dentists and orthodontists to provide treatment with clear aligners. Today, many dentists instead offer aligners produced by a Texas-based company called ClearCorrect.
Though comparable to Invisalign in terms of effectiveness, ClearCorrect aligners are made using a different material and production process. Their aligners are slightly thinner and said to be less noticeable, but some patients find them to cause a bit more soreness and sensitivity in the teeth and gums.
Although ClearCorrect is less well-known than Invisalign, some dental providers prefer these aligners because they cost significantly less to offer. Occasionally these savings are passed along to the patient — however, this totally depends on the particular dentist you’re working with, and the type of treatment plan you’ll require. The average cost of treatment with ClearCorrect is still right around the same cost as Invisalign.
Express aligner systems offer a shorter treatment period and more affordable pricing than traditional clear aligners. Most express systems include 10-15 sets of aligners (as opposed to the roughly 30 required for a full course Invisalign or ClearCorrect treatment) and come out to about half-to-two-thirds the cost of standard treatment.
Because they’re less robust, these systems can only treat a limited scope of conditions, primarily slight crowding and spacing issues in the front teeth. They’re often used for patients whose teeth relapse after previous orthodontic treatments. This means that they’re not always a good option for midline misalignment, which may require movement of your back teeth. However, if your midline issue is confined to the front teeth, consult your dentist to see if one of these treatments is appropriate and available:
- Invisalign Express: Unsurprisingly, Invisalign offers its own express treatment option. Invisalign Express is typically only used for mild misalignments, often recommended for folks who fail to wear their retainers after braces. Treatment typically costs between $1,800 to $3,500 and ranges from 5 to 10 months in duration. Even though Invisalign Express might be effective in certain situations, most dentists will still recommend traditional Invisalign for midline misalignments, as it’s the more comprehensive and versatile option.
- Simpli5: A competitor to Invisalign, Simpli5 offers fast-paced treatment plans that last just five months on average. Simpli5 costs significantly less than traditional Invisalign treatment, but just like Invisalign Express, is limited in capability and not well-suited to address some patients’ smile concerns. Pricing is typically a bit lower than Invisalign Express, averaging around $2,000.
- Six Month Smiles: Although best known for their 6-months braces treatment, Six Month Smiles also started offering express clear aligner treatment as well. However, as with other Express services, Six Month Smiles aligners are not nearly as robust as traditional clear aligner treatment. They’re also somewhat more expensive than other express options, averaging $3,500 to $5,000 for a six-month course of treatment.
At-Home Invisible Aligners:
In recent years, a number of online companies like Smile Direct Club, Candid Co, and Byte have entered the industry to provide a more affordable option for adults seeking to improve their smile or correct certain midline issues from home. Similar to the Invisalign treatment process, you’ll receive a set of clear, removable aligners customized to your teeth by a dental professional — but unlike Invisalign, your care will be handled entirely remotely and won’t require any trips to the dentist’s office.
Home alignment products are more affordable than any other corrective treatment option, with an average cost of just $1,900. The companies that sell home aligners typically provide an opportunity to review your expected results before purchasing a full course of treatment, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before moving forward. If your midline misalignment stems from a minor condition like mild crowding or spacing, home aligners could be a viable option. But if you have a posterior crossbite or other backbite concerns, you might be better off with a more robust option like Invisalign or traditional braces.
To learn more about home teeth alignment, check out our review of the top services.
Other Treatment Options
Braces: They’re the oldest and most widely-used orthodontic treatments, and they can facilitate impressive smile transformations regardless of your condition. They can induce powerful jaw shifts to correct bite misalignments and may be a more surefire solution than Invisalign for significant midline deviations.
The main advantage that braces hold over Invisalign is their sturdiness and durability. Because you can’t take them off, they’re always working and leave no room for user error. Many adults shy away from the metal brackets and wires involved, but recent orthodontic advancements have created more discreet options like lingual and self-ligating braces.
Like Invisalign, braces are an investment of both time and money. On average, the entire treatment lasts 18-30 months and costs $3,000-7,000. This isn’t to say that every single case falls within these ranges. If you have a minor case that doesn’t require complex movements, you might end up with lower costs and a shorter time frame. If you can get past the metal brackets, braces are perhaps the most reliable option available for midline misalignments. If that piques your interest, check out our comprehensive guide to correcting midline misalignment with braces.
Veneers: But maybe you’re after instantaneous results, a treatment that can transform your smile right away. If your midline condition is minor, veneers could be your answer. Veneers are strong porcelain tabs that a dentist can affix to the surfaces of your real teeth, so you can leave the office with a perfectly straight, white smile, no teeth shifts necessary.
These benefits are balanced out, however, by a few drawbacks. To effectively place and arrange your veneers, the dentist may need to shave down your real teeth, which is an irreversible process. Additionally, they don’t solve the underlying issue and they can potentially break, especially if you tend to clench or grind your teeth. Replacing veneers isn’t cheap, and even if yours don’t break, you’ll need to get new ones every 7-20 years.
For mild midline shifts that don’t affect your bite or back teeth, veneers could be an attractive, quick fix. But at $500-2,000 per tooth, you’ll want to be absolutely sure that they’re the ideal option for your goals and budget.
Your midline misalignment is nothing to be ashamed about! But there’s no problem with seeking a transformed smile either. There are plenty of effective options, whether your midline issue is caused by slight crowding, severe crossbite, or something else entirely.
Invisalign is one of the most effective and best-looking teeth straightening treatments out there. It might not be as consistent as braces or convenient and affordable as home teeth aligners, but Invisalign has a long track record of success treating a wide variety of conditions, including midline misalignment.
Keep in mind, though, that every smile is different – an ideal treatment for someone else might not be the best option for you. Don’t dive into a particular treatment without doing your due diligence. Research the pros and cons, then see how each one measures up against your unique condition and goals. This way, you won’t just get a great midline discrepancy treatment, you’ll get the absolute best treatment for you.