Invisalign was the first clear aligner to ever hit the market, and it remains incredibly popular today — especially for adults. And although competitors like SmileDirectClub have recently been giving Invisalign a run for its money, the original aligner system still has a lot going for it.
If you’re still deciding whether or not Invisalign is worth the hefty bill, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll discuss the four major benefits of Invisalign, weigh the pros and cons, and provide some alternative treatment options to help you make the right decision for your smile.
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The 4 Biggest Benefits of Invisalign
1. It’s the most well-established and widely trusted clear aligner brand.
Invisalign is the most trusted and experienced clear aligner treatment on the market. The company began producing aligners over two decades ago, and they’ve treated over 15 million patients to date. No other clear aligner brand has such a long history of success. So, if credibility is important to you, Invisalign may be an excellent choice.
Since its introduction in 1997, Invisalign has garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews. Since then, newer companies have given it some competition, but Invisalign remains the leading clear aligner treatment. It would be difficult to find a dentist or orthodontist who doesn’t offer Invisalign at their practice, simply because the treatment is so common.
At-home aligners like Byte and AlignerCo may offer more convenience than Invisalign, but they have a much shorter track record of success. Invisalign has had 20+ years to innovate and improve their aligners, and it shows in their treatment quality.
2. Invisalign is much less noticeable than braces.
For most people, the best cosmetic dental treatment is the least noticeable one. Traditional braces are widely considered effective, but they’re bulky and nearly impossible to hide. Invisalign’s aligners are clear and very inconspicuous, so friends and coworkers won’t even be able to tell you’re wearing them. And if you feel uncomfortable, you can always remove your aligners for special events. Just be sure to meet the required 22 hours of wear time per day.
Invisalign’s aligners are also less noticeable than other clear aligner brands. They’re cut in a scalloped-fashion to match your gumline and can be more comfortable than home aligners, which are typically cut straight across.
All of the aligners we review on the site are made from transparent, BPA-free plastic. However, due to variations in the manufacturing process, each brand looks slightly different. Unlike some brands, Invisalign uses frosted aligners, which are a better match for our more matte teeth. They tend to blend in better than completely clear aligners and are less noticeable as a result.
3. It can treat many of the same issues as braces.
Innovation and added convenience are great, but they don’t matter if the treatment can’t get the job done. Invisalign can correct almost any condition that braces can. In contrast, newer treatments like home aligners are best for people with mild-to-moderate misalignments and no bite issues. And although we think they’re very convenient, home aligners can’t treat more complex conditions.
Invisalign’s aligners are made by Align Technology, the #1 clear aligner manufacturer in the world. Their products are some of the most trusted in the industry, and they created the original Invisalign system. Years of advancements in materials and technology have made their aligners some of the industry’s most widely trusted.
Smartforce® attachments are tooth-colored shapes that give an extra push to individual teeth that need more movement than the others. Not everyone needs them, but they are just one thing that enables Invisalign to handle more complex cases.
Another advanced feature is designed for tweens and teens to help move the jaw forward. Called mandibular advancement, Invisalign adds small “wings” to their aligners to help fix an overbite.
Invisalign’s results are just as impressive as treatment with braces, and with proper aftercare, your teeth won’t shift back to their original position. So, you can be sure that your results will last, and you won’t need additional treatment in the future.
4. You’ll get plenty of one-on-one care from your dentist.
One of the biggest downsides to at-home clear aligner treatment with providers like Byte is the lack of one-on-one time with a dentist. You won’t get the same personalized experience, and you won’t have the option of scheduling an appointment with your dentist if you have any questions or should something go wrong during your treatment.
With Invisalign, you’ll receive the same personal attention that you’d get with braces, and unlike home aligners, you can choose the dentist who will handle your treatment. Your dentist and their team will be your primary contact throughout treatment.
As we previously discussed, most dentists and orthodontists offer Invisalign, so you can personally choose the provider that best matches your needs.
Do The Pros Outweigh The Cons? Our Perspective.
Every treatment has pros and cons, so you should be sure the one you choose doesn’t have any downsides that are deal-breakers. Invisalign completely changed the orthodontic industry, and it’s the leading clear aligner brand for good reason. However, like any other dental treatment, it does have drawbacks.
1. Invisalign treatment is expensive.
There is no “one size fits all” price for Invisalign. More severe or complex cases require more time and aligners to correct. Your dentist’s time and supplies cost money, so your exact treatment cost will depend on the severity of your case. The cost of treatment may also vary by region, with treatment costing more in a larger city than it would in a more rural area.
Invisalign’s average price is about $5,000. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars lying around, and most insurance companies don’t provide full coverage, so dentists typically offer financing plans. However, these plans usually require a credit check or a hefty down payment.
2. Invisalign treatment is somewhat time-consuming.
The trade-off for having facetime with a dentist is carving out time in your schedule for regular office visits. We all lead busy lives and our time is valuable, so it may be challenging to schedule a monthly dentist appointment.
The average treatment time for Invisalign is 12-18 months. And it requires regular check-up appointments to make sure your treatment is progressing as planned. You should make sure you’re ready for such a considerable time commitment before diving in.
So, do Invisalign’s pros outweigh its cons? It depends. We think Invisalign is worth it for folks with moderate-to-severe alignment issues, but many cases can be resolved with a smaller investment of time and money (which we’ll discuss in the following section).
Is There A More Affordable Option?
If cost is your primary concern, Invisalign may not be the ideal treatment for you. And, if you have a mild-to-moderate case of misalignment, other options can be significantly cheaper. Home aligners, as well as more limited Invisalign treatments, are both great options that are quickly gaining popularity for their more affordable costs.
Here are a few alternative clear aligner treatments worth considering:
At-Home Invisalign Alternatives:
We think Byte is one of the most innovative and compelling at-home aligner companies out there. They boast an average treatment plan length of 4–5 months, and with every aligner package, they include a high-frequency vibration device called HyperByte, which they say “may help reduce discomfort.” Then, after you wrap up treatment, they help you maintain that smile for life with their Byte for Life Guarantee.
For a more detailed look at Byte, check out our comprehensive Byte review.
Candid is the only provider that blends elements of in-office and at-home care. Their hybrid model requires two office visits to kick things off — one to get your digital scan and one to check your aligners, then take them home. They currently partner with over 800 dentists across the country.
For a more detailed look at Candid, check out our comprehensive Candid review.
SmileDirectClub is the first and best-known home aligner brand. They’ve treated more patients than all of the other home aligner companies combined. They currently have over 100 SmileShop locations nationwide, where you can get your teeth scanned for free, plus they offer financing for every customer and prorated refunds during treatment.
For a more detailed look at SmileDirectClub, check out our comprehensive SmileDirectClub review.
If sticking to a tight budget is your top priority, AlignerCo’s industry-low prices are likely a big draw. Not only do they beat every other company’s prices by several hundred dollars, but they offer flexible financing plans too. And they still deliver quality products thanks to their partnership with Raintree Essix. If you’re looking for the most affordable service out there, go with AlignerCo.
For a more detailed look at AlignerCo, check out our comprehensive AlignerCo review.
In-Office Invisalign Alternatives:
Invisalign Express ($1,500–$4,000)
Invisalign Express is a more limited version of the original treatment, and it’s meant for less complex cases. You’ll only need 5-10 trays, as opposed to the average of 20-30 that come with a full course of treatment. So, Invisalign Express is significantly cheaper. However, dentists are often hesitant to recommend Express treatment due to its limited versatility and typically suggest the standard treatment instead.
For a more detailed look at Invisalign Express, check out our comprehensive Invisalign Express review.
As one of Invsialign’s biggest direct competitors, ClearCorrect offers almost identical treatment. They’re administered by a dentist or orthodontist and can treat the same wide scope of severe conditions. However, they charge dentists less for lab fees, so ClearCorrect could end up being slightly less expensive.
For a more detailed look at ClearCorrect, check out our comprehensive ClearCorrect review.
Another one of Invisalign’s oldest competitors, SureSmile launched its clear aligners in 2007. It can treat the same scope of misalignments as Invisalign, and the company says that their patients are less likely to need refinements after treatment. Despite this, they boast lower prices and, since they don’t have a specific mandatory scanner, providers can save money and pass those savings on to you.
For a more detailed look at SureSmile, check out our comprehensive SureSmile review.
3M Clarity Aligners ($3,000–$8,000)
3M — the company behind Scotch Tape and Post-Its — creates clear aligners with incredible teeth-moving power thanks to their unique attachment placement. Clarity Aligners are only available to orthodontists, who can use two different proprietary materials to deliver a treatment highly customized to your condition. Since 3M also makes Clarity Clear Braces, orthodontists can also design a combination treatment that uses them simultaneously with aligners.
For a more detailed look at 3M Clarity, check out our comprehensive 3M Clarity review.
Six Month Smiles ($3,500–5,000)
Six Month Smiles offers treatment with both clear braces and clear aligners. Most patients complete treatment in about six months. However, it’s best for mild-to-moderate cases of misalignment, so not everyone will be a good fit.
For a more detailed look at Six Month Smiles, check out our comprehensive Six Month Smiles review.
Although other options may be cheaper, Invisalign offers some significant benefits that will likely enhance the quality of your treatment. And, if you have a more severe misalignment, Invisalign is one of the only treatments available that can rival braces in versatility.
If you’ve been considering Invisalign, schedule an appointment with your dentist to evaluate your teeth and discuss your options. They can further explain the benefits of treatment and help you decide whether Invisalign is the right choice for you.