Teeth spacing is a condition characterized by gaps between multiple teeth. These gaps, called “diastemas,” can appear anywhere in the upper or lower dental arches. Teeth spacing is often harmless, but some cases create “food traps” between the teeth. This can cause difficulty chewing and plaque accumulation, and lead to tooth and gum decay down the line. Moreover, teeth spacing can reduce the confidence you have in your smile.
Consequently, it’s common for adults with teeth spacing to seek corrective treatment, and many go with Invisalign, a popular brand of clear aligners. Invisalign offers comparable results and cost to braces, but without all the metal. Consider this guide your roadmap to Invisalign as a teeth spacing treatment, presenting all the pros and cons, along with potential alternatives if you decide Invisalign isn’t right for you.
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Is Invisalign Effective for Treating Teeth Spacing?
Absolutely. Teeth spacing is typically considered a minor dental concern — quick and simple to correct, in many cases only affecting a few teeth. In fact, when a spacing issue is not accompanied by a bite misalignment or other complication, Invisalign’s express alignment system is a totally viable treatment method (more on this in a bit).
Invisalign has been producing impressive treatment results for teeth spacing (and many other more complex dental concerns) for over 20 years. And with advances in their technology, Invisalign has only become more effective over the years. Today, it’s as ubiquitous a treatment as traditional braces, particularly when it comes to spacing issues.
For cases that call for more involved movement of the teeth or jaw, dentists can supplement Invisalign with appliances like elastics, or Invisalign’s proprietary “Smartforce” attachments. These attachments are discreet tooth-colored devices that allow for more intricate tooth movements. In other words, even if your teeth spacing is accompanied by a more complicated condition (such as overjet or crossbite), Invisalign will be plenty capable of producing the results you’re seeking.
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 teeth spacing 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.
These systems are mainly limited to crowding and spacing issues in the front six teeth. But quite often, cases of spacing are also confined to these few teeth. Also, because the front six teeth are often the only teeth seen when a person smiles, Express Aligners can be a great option for someone who is simply looking for a “smile makeover.” If your case is minor, express aligners might be an ideal option for you, and there are several brands potentially available from your dental provider:
- 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 due to its versatility and comprehensiveness.
- 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.
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 spacing and crowding issues at 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. All in all, home teeth alignment could be a feasible solution for your case of teeth spacing, especially if it’s a mild or limited issue.
To learn more about home teeth alignment, check out our review of the top services.
Other Treatment Options
Braces: If you think you’d have trouble integrating Invisalign into your day-to-day routine, it might be worth considering traditional braces instead. Braces are one of the most trusted and time-tested treatment options for teeth spacing. Adults might shy away from the metal brackets involved, but their transformative results are undeniable. Not to mention that recent dental technology has engendered the development of new, less visible styles, like clear braces that blend in with your teeth and lingual braces that are positioned behind them.
Traditional braces generally take 18-30 months and cost $3,000-7,000 to achieve the desired results. However, teeth spacing cases are usually much simpler than, for example, bite misalignments, so they often fall into the lower end of both ranges. While they are slightly more intrusive and sometimes uncomfortable, braces are a reliable option for treating teeth spacing. Read more about types, effectiveness, outcomes and much more in our guide to correcting tooth spacing with braces.
Veneers: Veneers can be a good option for anyone looking to transform their smile without physically shifting their teeth. These thin, strong pieces of porcelain are affixed to the front of your teeth, giving your smile an immediate makeover.
Adults that have less severe cases of spacing, ones that only affect a few front teeth, can opt for veneers to achieve visually impressive results in just one dentist visit. They give the appearance of a straight, gapless smile without the discomfort and time commitment of shifting teeth with braces or aligners. On the downside, veneers don’t solve the underlying issue and aren’t a permanent solution, lasting 7-20 years before they need to be replaced.
At $500-$2,000 per tooth, veneers are a quick route to a brand new smile, but it’s worth considering whether you would rather put that money toward a more permanent fix.
Bonding: For very minor cases, specifically ones only involving the front four teeth, dentists can use a moldable, putty-like substance, very similar to the substance used to fill a cavity, called bonding to fill in the gaps. Once the spaces are filled, the dentist uses ultraviolet light to harden the substance. Bonding is both strong and durable, but like veneers, it doesn’t solve the underlying orthodontic issues, and it isn’t a permanent solution. Still, it could be a desirable option if your teeth spacing is mild and confined to just a few teeth.
Given the success it’s had correcting teeth spacing over the years, it’s no wonder that Invisalign is one of the most popular options out there. Inconspicuous, removable, and effective when used properly, it may very well be able to provide the transformative results you seek with minimal intrusion. That said, Invisalign requires more discipline than braces and it isn’t quite as affordable as home teeth aligners.
It’s all about finding the best solution for your unique dental and financial circumstances. Before choosing a treatment path, weigh the pros and cons of each and speak with a dentist to get their professional opinion. Then, you’ll be ready to make a thoughtful, well-informed decision, and soon you’ll begin a treatment journey that will empower you to flash that beautiful smile without hesitation.