Underbite is a type of misalignment that occurs when the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth rather than behind. The condition varies in severity, but many cases are mild, appearing as a slight overlap of the upper teeth. Most of the time underbite is not a serious medical concern, but even mild cases can result in excessive wear on the teeth’s enamel, jaw pain, headaches, and some other uncomfortable side effects. Moreover, having an underbite may keep you from feeling 100% comfortable with your smile.
For all these reasons and more, it’s very common to seek corrective treatment as an adult, and one of the top treatment protocols is Invisalign. Many adults favor this clear aligner treatment option because it’s much less conspicuous but generally just as effective as traditional braces — plus, they’re usually about the same price ($5,000 on average). However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before moving forward. In this guide, we’ll get into the details of treating underbite with Invisalign and some alternative treatment options if Invisalign isn’t right for you.
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Is Invisalign Effective for Treating Underbite?
Yes! Invisalign is very effective at correcting bite issues, underbite included.
Invisalign has come a long way since the technology was introduced over 20 years ago. Today, Invisalign is offered at dental offices nationwide and is considered to be as effective as braces at correcting most types of dental misalignments, including typical cases of underbite.
Invisalign treatment is often paired with additional appliances such as elastics to aid in the bite adjustment process. In addition to conventional dental appliances, treatment often includes Invisalign’s unique “Smartforce” attachments. These tiny tooth-colored devices get fixed to the front of the teeth to add additional pressure in the desired direction. Between elastics and Smartforce attachments, Invisalign is able to achieve complex bite adjustments without any metal in sight.
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 other 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 flipside 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 underbite 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 underbite 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.
Although they’re most suitable for cases of crowding and spacing in the front six teeth, these treatment methods can sometimes work to treat minor bite issues as well. With this in mind, there are several brands of express aligners your dental provider may offer:
- Invisalign Express: Unsurprisingly, Invisalign offers their 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. For the vast majority of cases, dental professionals will typically suggest traditional Invisalign instead of Invisalign Express, as the Express service is quite limited.
- 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 straighten their teeth or correct minor bite 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. All in all, if you have a minor case of underbite, home teeth alignment may be a perfectly viable option for you.
To learn more about home teeth alignment, check out our review of the top services.
When Standard Treatments Options Aren’t Enough
Corrective jaw surgery is reserved for cases of severe underbite in which the patient is seeking a radical transformation of the face and jaw. This procedure can work to shift the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both into the desired position for a more significant adjustment to one’s bite and facial structure. In any case, corrective surgery is most often used when standard treatment options are unable to produce sufficient results.
This is a pretty significant form of surgery. In addition to being quite expensive, it can also take a while to recover from. Fortunately, most cases of underbite don’t require surgical intervention, and can be effectively handled using one of the options discussed above. If you have a very severe underbite, an orthodontist can help you determine if surgery is warranted.
Invisalign is among the most popular treatment options for adult underbite because it’s inconspicuous, removable, and extremely effective when used properly. However, Invisalign does require much more discipline than braces, and isn’t nearly as affordable as some other treatment options like home teeth aligners.
We encourage you to consider the pros and cons of each treatment option discussed above, and (if you haven’t already) consult a dentist to make sure you understand the nature and severity of your particular condition. That way, you’ll be confident in your ability to shop around the most appropriate treatment options for you. Best of luck to you and your beautiful smile!