Finding a teeth straightening treatment as an adult can be a challenge, especially since most people aren’t comfortable wearing traditional metal braces outside of their teen years. And, if you’ve never had orthodontic treatment before, you may be unaware of how far the industry has come in the past couple of decades.
Invisalign was introduced in 2001 as a more convenient and discreet alternative to braces. Today, they’re still a household name, and millions of adults have used the treatment to achieve a more flattering smile. Known for being inconspicuous and slightly more affordable than braces, Invisalign is a highly successful brand. However, not everyone knows exactly how the treatment works.
If you’ve been considering Invisalign, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the clear aligner treatment process, and help you decide whether Invisalign is the right choice for your teeth.
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Getting Started With Invisalign
Before beginning Invisalign treatment, you’ll need to choose a dentist or orthodontist. Fortunately, Invisalign is so popular that most dentists offer it through their practice, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find an experienced provider. Once you’ve chosen your dentist, you’ll need to schedule a consultation so he or she can evaluate your teeth.
During your initial appointment, your dentist will take photos and x-rays of your teeth to determine whether you’re a good candidate for Invisalign treatment. If so, they’ll take impressions of your teeth to send to Invisalign’s dental lab. The lab will collaborate with your dentist to create a personalized treatment plan and custom aligners. It typically takes around 4 weeks to manufacture and ship your aligners. Then, you can schedule an appointment to pick them up from your dentist’s office.
Before taking your new aligners home, you’ll have a chance to try them on and make sure they fit comfortably. Your dentist will also give you instructions for wearing your aligners during treatment. Most importantly, you should wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Additionally, most dentists also recommend brushing your teeth after meals and cleaning your aligners at least once per day.
What To Expect During Treatment
Depending on the severity of your case, your Invisalign treatment will last about 12-15 months. During this time, monthly dentist visits are required to monitor your progress and change aligners. Each new set of aligners will slowly move your teeth until they’ve reached the desired position. You may experience some discomfort after changing aligners, but the soreness usually subsides after a couple of days.
Your dentist can also modify or supplement your treatment plan during appointments, if necessary. For example, to treat more complex cases, dentists use SmartForce attachments. These are small shapes, placed on specific teeth to make more detailed movements. They’re the reason why Invisalign can treat such a wide variety of conditions (more on that later).
Ultimately, your dentist will decide whether attachments are necessary for your treatment. Keep in mind, though, that SmartForce attachments will draw more attention to your aligners.
It’s extremely important to follow your dentist’s instructions throughout treatment. As we previously mentioned, you should wear your aligners for at least 22 hours per day to ensure optimal effectiveness. Constantly removing your aligners could prolong your treatment time.
It’s also essential to remove your aligners before eating or drinking anything besides water. If they get heavily stained or damaged, you’ll need to order replacements and wait for them to arrive in the mail. So, play it safe and follow your dentist’s instructions carefully to make sure your treatment is safe and successful.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Invisalign?
Invisalign is a versatile and thorough treatment. But, it’s not right for everyone. It can treat almost any condition that braces can, including most cases of crowding and spacing. Even patients with more complex misalignments or bite issues are typically good candidates for Invisalign.
As we previously discussed, SmartForce attachments are the most common way for dentists to supplement Invisalign treatment. They help your aligners make more detailed movements and can be used to treat more complex misalignments. However, if your case is especially severe, you may need a more traditional treatment, like braces.
Invisalign is also a great option for anyone searching for a less visible in-office treatment.
Although home aligners have recently taken the orthodontic industry by storm, some people prefer having one-on-one time with their dentist. And, in those cases, Invisalign will likely be the most suitable choice. Typically, for adults, the best option is the least visible one. So, Invisalign is meant for people who want a comprehensive treatment that isn’t noticeable.
Unfortunately, Invisalign is not a good fit for anyone who eats or snacks often. Since you’ll have to remove them to eat, you may need to limit your snacking to make sure you’re wearing your aligners for the required 22 hours per day. Taking them out for too long could prolong your treatment or make it less effective.
How Much Does Invisalign Cost?
Invisalign doesn’t have a standard price. What you pay depends on your condition’s severity and which dentist you choose. Each dentist has slightly different rates, so some may be cheaper than others. Plus, more complex misalignments require more aligners to correct. So, Invisalign will be more expensive if you have a severe case. On average, you can expect to pay 3,000 – $5,000.
If you don’t have thousands of dollars lying around, you’re not alone. And, it might be more convenient for you to pay for treatment over time. Most dentists offer financing plans to help make the cost of treatment more manageable. So, there are options for people who don’t want to pay the entire cost upfront. Unfortunately though, most financing programs require a credit check or a hefty deposit, and your approval isn’t always guaranteed.
Some insurance companies provide partial coverage for Invisalign. However, they rarely cover the entire cost of treatment.
Pros & Cons of Invisalign Treatment
Invisalign is the #1 clear aligner brand, but like any other dental treatment, it has both pros and cons. And, although Invisalign is a highly effective and well-established brand, there are some drawbacks to treatment. These are our top pros and cons of Invisalign:
- Almost invisible: Clear aligners are one of the least visible treatment options available. Invisalign’s aligners are also frosted, so they blend in better with our naturally matte teeth.
- Highly effective: Invisalign can treat most of the conditions that braces can. And, reviews for the treatment online are overwhelmingly positive.
- Well-established: Invisalign was founded in 2001, and they’ve treated more than 5 million patients to date.
- Excellent customer service: Regular dentist visits ensure that your treatment is constantly monitored. And, if you have any questions, your dentist can address your concerns in-person.
- Cost: At an average price of $3,000 - $5,000, Invisalign can be a substantial financial burden. And, while most dentists offer financing or payment plans, your approval is not always guaranteed.
- Attachments make aligners more visible: Attachments used to supplement your treatment may make your aligners more noticeable, and it’s not up to you whether you get them. Your dentist will decide if they’re necessary.
- Inconvenient office visits: Monthly dentist appointments can take a huge chunk of time. So, they might be difficult to fit into your already busy schedule.
Alternative Clear Aligner Options
Invisalign currently leads the clear aligner industry, but it’s not the only option available. And, there are additional treatments, both in-office and at-home, that could be the perfect fit for you. If you’d prefer to stick with an in-office treatment, ClearCorrect is the most popular Invisalign alternative. The treatment plan is almost the same as Invisalign, and most dentists and orthodontists offer it in their practice. ClearCorrect is also slightly cheaper than Invisalign, and it was founded in 2006. So, it has an equally impressive record of success.
If the major drawback of Invisalign for you is the required office visits, you may be happier with home aligners instead. Home aligner treatment was introduced in 2016 as a faster and more convenient alternative to Invisalign — at less than half the cost. With home aligners, you can complete treatment in roughly 6 months without ever having to make a dentist appointment.
You’d still have a dentist monitoring your treatment remotely. So, home aligners are completely safe to wear. However, there are several brands on the market. And each one has its own unique advantages. So, you’ll have to choose the brand that works best for you. Our picks for the top 3 home aligner providers are Byte, Candid, and AlignerCo.
Invisalign is one of the most recommended and well-established orthodontic treatments available. It has been proven to be very effective at transforming smiles and doesn’t show signs of slowing in popularity. Still, you should weigh the pros and cons for yourself to decide whether it’s the right treatment for you.
If you’ve been considering getting Invisalign, schedule an appointment with your dentist to evaluate your teeth and discuss your options. They’ll let you know whether you’re a good candidate for Invisalign, and help you choose the best treatment for your teeth.