Invisalign is the industry leader in clear aligner treatment, and it’s a very effective way to straighten your teeth. Invisalign was introduced as a less visible and more convenient alternative to braces. And, so far, it’s only continued to gain popularity. Today, most dentists and orthodontists offer Invisalign, so it isn’t difficult to find a provider.
However, Invisalign isn’t perfect, and they’re not the best solution for everyone. For example, Invisalign’s cost and regular office visits can be daunting. Depending on your priorities, there may be a different treatment that would better suit your needs. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of Invisalign’s drawbacks and help you decide whether or not it’s the right option for you.
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The 3 Major Drawbacks of Invisalign
Invisalign completely changed the orthodontic industry and gave people a much more discreet option for straightening their teeth. But, there are some downsides to treatment. So, although Invisalign excels in efficacy and safety, it may not be the right option for you.
1. Invisalign is expensive.
One of the most significant drawbacks to Invisalign is cost. Treatment costs $3,000–$8,000, depending on the severity of your case. And, insurance typically won’t provide full coverage, if any.
Most dentists offer financing or payment plans through their office, which are meant to make treatment more affordable. However, they usually require a credit check or a large down payment. So, if your credit isn’t great, you might not be approved.
Concerned About The Cost of Invisalign?
If you’re worried about Invisalign’s high price tag, you’re not alone. Fortunately, Invisalign isn’t the only clear aligner brand out there, and many of its competitors are more affordable.
If you’re interested in straightening your teeth without breaking the bank, check out our #1-recommended Invisalign alternative, Byte ($1,999), or read our review of the best Invisalign alternatives below.
2. Treatment is somewhat time-consuming.
Invisalign is usually faster than braces, but there are definitely quicker treatments available. The average Invisalign treatment lasts 12-18 months. And, you’ll need to schedule regular appointments with your dentist to monitor your progress.
Monthly office visits may make Invisalign more thorough and customer-friendly, but they take a huge chunk of time from your schedule, so they’re not very convenient.
3. It requires discipline to stay on track.
You’re required to wear your Invisalign aligners for 22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Slacking on your wear time could make your treatment last longer or be less effective. So, your complete cooperation is crucial to ensure you’ll achieve your desired results.
Clear aligners also stain easily, so it’s best to brush and floss regularly and avoid drinks like wine or coffee. Most dentists also recommend cleaning your aligners often and maintaining overall good oral hygiene. Healthy teeth move the most effectively. And, you’ll likely experience a much safer treatment as a result.
Do The Pros Outweigh The Cons? Our Perspective.
Like any dental treatment, Invisalign does have its fair share of drawbacks. But it also has some significant benefits. Invisalign has continued to innovate and thrive. And their treatment has become more popular and more effective. Here are some of Invisalign’s biggest advantages:
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. Their aligners are highly effective, and most people report excellent results. Although the quality of your treatment ultimately depends on the dentist you choose, Invisalign’s treatment plans are consistently successful. And, they’ve spent decades improving their process to become the #1 clear aligner brand.
Invisalign has successfully treated more than 14 million patients since its start in 1997. No other clear aligner brand, either in-office or at-home, has such a long history of success. So, if credibility is important to you, Invisalign may be an excellent choice.
Credibility and experience are important because they show that Invisalign’s aligners are safe and have a long track record of success. And, while other aligner brands are starting to give it some competition, none of them can compete with Invisalign’s well-established brand and history in the industry.
Invisalign is much less noticeable than braces.
Invisalign is best for people who want a less visible option than braces, without sacrificing effectiveness and quality of treatment. Invisalign’s aligners are clear and removable, so they’re very inconspicuous. Most people won’t even be able to tell you’re wearing them. And, if you’re uncomfortable, you can always remove your aligners for special events. Just be sure to meet the required 22 hours of wear time per day.
Even compared to other clear aligners, Invisalign stands out as one of the least noticeable brands available. All of the aligners we review on this site are made from transparent, BPA-free plastic. However, due to variations in the manufacturing process, each brand looks slightly different.
Invisalign’s aligners are frosted and cut in a scalloped fashion to match your gum line. The frosted effect is a better match for our teeth, which are naturally matte. And, although there are benefits of cutting aligners straight across, the scalloped-cut is usually less visible and more comfortable.
It’s just as effective as braces.
Invisalign can treat a wide variety of issues, including most cases of crowding, spacing, and even bite issues. Unlike other clear aligner treatments, Invisalign is capable of correcting even more severe misalignments.
Invisalign owes its versatility to “Smartforce” attachments, small tooth-colored shapes that are placed on specific teeth to make more detailed movements, and enhance treatment. The attachments can only be placed by a dentist, so they aren’t offered with home aligner treatment. This explains why home aligners are only suitable for more moderate misalignments, while Invisalign can typically treat any condition that braces can.
Invisalign’s aligners are also made by the #1 clear aligner manufacturer, Align Technology. Their products are some of the most trusted in the industry, and they created the original Invisalign system. Align Technology’s aligners are backed by years of innovation and revolutionary technology. So, they’re highly effective and capable of treating complex issues.
You’ll get plenty of one-on-one care from your dentist or orthodontist.
Invisalign offers the same one-on-one time with a dentist that you’d expect from treatment with braces. And, like braces, you’ll choose your own dentist or orthodontist for your Invisalign treatment. So, you can be sure that they’re reliable and committed to helping you transform your smile both safely and effectively.
Invisalign requires regular, in-person office visits throughout treatment, which makes it a very hands-on option for your dentist. They can make changes to your aligners or treatment plan, if necessary. And you can ask questions during appointments or let your dentist know if you have any concerns. Your dentist and their team will be your primary contact throughout treatment. So, you can call them if you run into any issues.
Of course, the quality of your treatment will depend on the dentist you choose, and customer service and office hours will vary. However, as we previously discussed, most dentists and orthodontists offer Invisalign. So, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a qualified and trusted provider in your area.
So, do the pros outweigh the cons?
Basically, 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 you’re concerned with the cost of your treatment, Invisalign may not be the best choice. For people with mild cases of misalignment, express or at-home treatment are both viable and affordable Invisalign alternatives. Below are a few alternative clear aligner treatments worth considering:
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 claim can reduce discomfort. Then, after you wrap up treatment, they help you maintain that smile for life with their Byte for Life Guarantee.
Candid ($3,500+)Candid is unique in that it blends elements of in-office and at-home treatment, letting patients get the best of both worlds. You start by seeing a doctor in person for your digital scan and to get your aligners when ready. After that, all your check-ins are remote. You won’t need to schedule another appointment until you start wearing retainers.
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.
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.
ClearCorrect treatment is very similar to Invisalign. It’s administered in-person with a dentist or orthodontist, and can treat the same wide scope of dental conditions. However, they charge dentists lower lab fees, so ClearCorrect often ends up being slightly less expensive than Invisalign.
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.
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.
Invisalign is a popular and highly effective way to straighten your teeth, but it isn’t the perfect treatment for everyone. If you’d prefer a more affordable or convenient treatment option, there are viable alternatives. Both home aligners and Invisalign Express offer compelling benefits, and they may be a better fit for you.
If you’ve been considering Invisalign but aren’t sure if it’s the right choice for your teeth, be sure to visit your dentist to discuss your options and find out which treatment is best for you.