Tooth gap, or diastema, is a dental condition in which a visible space exists between two or more teeth, most often between the two front incisors (midline diastema). Don’t let the name fool you — although “diastema” sounds somewhat serious, it’s totally harmless and very few cases cause any side effects. That said, if your tooth gap bothers you for any reason, correcting it is incredibly easy, regardless of your age.
Since diastema is such a common and minor type of misalignment, there’s a whole world of treatment options to choose from. Invisalign, a popular clear aligner brand, is among the most common methods for treating adult dental concerns. But frankly, with an average cost of $5,000, this robust treatment system isn’t always the right fit for correcting simple spacing issues. With this in mind, let’s dive into the details of Invisalign’s program and outline a few more affordable alternatives in case it’s not right for you.
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Is Invisalign Effective for Treating Tooth Gap?
Absolutely. Tooth gap is considered a very minor dental issue, typically affecting only a few teeth. In fact, when it’s 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 diastema (and much 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 diastema is accompanied by a more complicated issue (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 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 of all this, 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.
If you think you’d have trouble integrating Invisalign into your day-to-day routine, it might be worth considering braces instead. These days there are many more options available than the traditional metal braces you remember from your childhood. We go over the various types of braces that exist today (and much more) in our guide to correcting tooth gap with braces.
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 tooth gap 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 aligners 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.
Express alignment systems, which specifically target the front six teeth, are often a great option for correcting diastema. As long as your tooth gap isn’t accompanied by another condition (like severe overjet or overbite), one of the express alignment plans below would likely be able to produce your desired results:
- Invisalign Express: Unsurprisingly, Invisalign offers their own express treatment option. Invisalign Express is often recommended for folks who fail to wear their retainers after braces. Whether or not you’ve had previous orthodontic treatment, though, Invisalign’s Express system may be a viable option for you. Most cases of tooth gap are fairly straightforward and don’t take very long to correct. Treatment with Invisalign Express typically costs between $1,800 to $3,500, and ranges from 5 to 10 months in duration.
- 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 more complex 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 straighten their teeth and correct spacing issues. 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. People with tooth gaps are optimal candidates for home aligners. Since it’s such a simple type of misalignment, some cases can be fully corrected in as little as 3 months.
To learn more about home teeth alignment, check out our review of the top services.
Adults with minor dental concerns such as tooth gap have turned to Invisalign time and time again because of the program’s flexibility, low profile, and proven results. However, Invisalign is no longer the only treatment method with these qualities, and it’s certainly not the most affordable one in the bunch.
As you consider potential treatment options, we encourage you to weigh the pros and cons of each and measure them against your unique dental and financial circumstances. If you haven’t yet, it’s also a good idea to consult a dentist for an analysis of your particular condition. With a professional opinion and some independent research in your back pocket, we trust you’ll be able to choose the path that best suits you — even if that means not pursuing treatment at all. Best of luck to you and your teeth!