Invisalign’s Express plan is a faster and more affordable alternative to standard Invisalign treatment. However, it isn’t necessarily the fastest or most affordable clear aligner system on the market today.
In this review, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of Invisalign Express, compare it to other clear aligner options, and help you decide whether or not it’s the right fit for your smile (and your budget).
Table of Contents
How Does Invisalign Express Work?
The treatment process for Invisalign Express is nearly the same as the original Invisalign. However, your dentist will have to determine whether your case is minor enough to justify using the Express treatment. Most dentists prefer the versatility of the original Invisalign and recommend it over Invisalign Express for a majority of cases.
If your dentist determines you’re a good fit, they will take impressions of your teeth before sending everything off to Invisalign’s dental lab. Invisalign will collaborate with your dentist to create your customized clear aligners and Express treatment plan. After you confirm the plan, Invisalign will mail the aligners to your dentist.
You’ll make an appointment to pick up your new aligners and try them on before starting treatment. During this appointment, your dentist will also review essential instructions for wearing clear aligners. Like any other Invisalign treatment, you should wear Invisalign Express aligners for 22 hours per day and only remove them to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Your teeth will gradually shift over the next 6 months until they’ve reached the desired position.
Is Invisalign Express a Good Option? Our Perspective.
Invisalign Express is a popular clear aligner option because you can receive the one-on-one treatment time that’s offered with Invisalign, without a lengthy treatment time and high cost. However, Invisalign Express is very limited in the conditions it can treat.
Still, for people who are just seeking small changes to more minor misalignments, Invisalign Express is a highly trusted and widely available treatment option. In this guide, we’ll evaluate Invisalign Express based on five elements: effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support. We’ve provided a lot more detail on how Invisalign stacks up category by category, but here’s a quick summary of the biggest pros and cons:
Invisalign Express Pros
- As the name suggests, Invisalign Express treatment is quite short -- around 6 months on average.
- Invisalign Express is about half the cost of standard Invisalign treatment.
- Just like standard Invisalign treatment, you’ll be able to choose your dentist and receive plenty of one-on-one care.
Invisalign Express Cons
- Invisalign Express is very limited and can only treat minor misalignments. If you have a bite issue or more complicated case, you likely won’t be a good fit.
- Aftercare retainers are not included in the cost of treatment. Retainers usually cost at least $100 and must be purchased separately.
Who is a Good Match for Invisalign Express?
Interested in Invisalign but don’t want to wait 18 months to improve your smile? If you have a minor case of misalignment and prefer to visit your dentist during treatment, Invisalign Express could be the right fit for you.
Although it is more affordable than the original Invisalign, Invisalign Express is still a significant financial investment. So, it’s important to be sure that your dentist will be able to deliver the results you’re looking for.
Invisalign Express was created to address simple misalignment issues. The treatment is not suitable for treating more advanced misalignments or bite issues. Before you begin treatment with Invisalign Express, your dentist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your teeth to determine whether you’re a good candidate.
Very strict criteria are used to determine candidacy for Invisalign Express, so your dentist may recommend a more versatile treatment instead.
Invisalign Express can only be used to correct less than 2mm of spacing or crowding in the teeth. If you don’t fit in that category, you’ll have to receive the standard Invisalign treatment. If you are considered a good candidate for Invisalign Express, your dentist will still be providing the same high-quality care that any other Invisalign treatment offers.
All varieties of Invisalign treatments are very hands-on for your dentist. So, they can change your treatment plan at any time to better suit your needs. Your dentist also has the option of applying Smartforce attachments to your teeth to supplement the aligners and enhance treatment. These supplemental attachments are small, tooth-colored shapes that make it possible for Invisalign to treat more complex issues.
Since they can only be placed by a dentist, attachments are only available with in-office treatments. However, they’re more often used with the original Invisalign since Invisalign Express is not meant for more complex issues.
Given its long history, Invisalign is known to be a trusted and reliable clear aligner brand, and Invisalign Express is no exception.
Align Technology, Invisalign’s manufacturer, makes some of the most effective clear aligners on the market. They are the largest clear aligner manufacturer in the world, so you can rest assured that their aligners are safe and effective. Align Technology’s clear aligners are also considered more comfortable to wear than other brands, so you’ll experience less soreness and irritation.
Looking through Invisalign Express reviews, you’ll notice that a majority of patients are very satisfied with their results. Most people report that, while their treatment was fast, it was still extremely effective and thorough, especially for more minor misalignments.
Although Invisalign Express is limited in versatility, they still work with the #1 clear aligner manufacturer and offer a very hands-on treatment option for your dentist.
Historically, the high price tag for braces and Invisalign has made getting straighter teeth a substantial financial burden. Cosmetic dental procedures are rarely fully covered (if at all) under most dental insurance plans. Some people even resort to purchasing supplemental dental insurance to help cover the cost of treatment.
Invisalign has always been one of the priciest orthodontic treatments on the market. Most people don’t have $5,000 – $6,000 just lying around, so it can be challenging to fit the treatment into your budget. Thankfully, the introduction of Invisalign Express has provided a much more affordable option.
The average Invisalign Express treatment costs around $2,500, about half the price of the standard Invisalign treatment.
Although Invisalign Express is a much cheaper option than Invisalign, it is still more expensive than home aligners, which typically cost about $1,900. The higher cost accounts for your in-person dental visits and the luxury of being able to choose the dentist that will oversee your treatment.
Unfortunately, the treatment price does not include any extra features, like whitening or aftercare retainers. While whitening is more of a nonessential supplement to treatment, aftercare retainers are necessary to preserve your new smile. Retainers usually cost about $100, so you should consider the cost before you decide to get Invisalign Express.
Most dentists offer payment plans or financing for Invisalign Express, but they often require a credit check, and some may not qualify.
Like the original Invisalign, most dentists offer payment plans and financing to break up the cost of treatment for Invisalign Express. However, details of the programs vary, depending on the dentist you choose. Most require a credit check, so you may not be approved if your credit is below average. Even if you are approved, a down payment is usually necessary before starting treatment. Plus, financing programs typically have high interest rates.
Invisalign Express offers a more budget-friendly option that is still thorough and effective. However, the treatment is more expensive than home aligner brands, and financing programs are usually not ideal.
Aside from the cost, one of the most significant barriers to pursuing a more comfortable smile is the time commitment of traditional orthodontics. Braces, for instance, require monthly tightening appointments and an average treatment time of about 18-24 months.
Invisalign Express also requires regular dental visits, which can become a nuisance for people who don’t have a ton of free time. However, Invisalign Express makes up for this by providing a much shorter treatment time than more traditional options.
The average Invisalign Express treatment only takes about 6 months to complete.
Home aligners have a very similar treatment timeline and are generally considered the quickest orthodontic treatment available. However, some people prefer seeing a dentist in person during treatment. So, if that sounds like you, Invisalign Express could be a great option.
Although home aligners provide more convenience by allowing you to complete treatment entirely from home, Invisalign Express is more convenient than home aligners in other ways. We determine our convenience rating by considering not just the treatment timeline, but also startup difficulty and how long it takes to receive your aligners.
Getting started with Invisalign Express is easier than getting started with home aligners because your dentist handles most of the process.
You will need to schedule an appointment with a dentist to begin treatment. However, unlike with home aligners, you won’t need to take any impressions or photos of your teeth yourself. Your dentist and their team of technicians will take your x-rays and impressions in office, ensuring that they are accurate and precise. So, all the hard work is done for you.
The wait time to get your treatment plan prepped and Invisalign Express aligners shipped is about 2-4 weeks.
The wait time for home aligner companies to process your impressions, create a treatment plan, and send out your custom aligners varies. But, it could take up to 6 weeks. With Invisalign Express, you’ll be able to start treatment in just about 3 weeks. So, Invisalign Express has home aligners beat when it comes to waiting time. However, keep in mind that Invisalign Express aligners are shipped to your dentist, not your home. You’ll need to schedule an office visit to pick them up.
Getting started with Invisalign Express is very simple since your doctor will be doing most of the work. The shorter treatment time is also convenient. However, required monthly dental visits can be a major drawback.
Most adults agree that the best looking orthodontic option is the least visible one. A key selling point of all clear aligner products is that they are much less noticeable than braces. For this reason, all clear aligners products tend to score well in terms of Appearance, and Invisalign Express is no exception.
That said, not all clear aligners are created equal in terms of appearance. While they’re all made from transparent, BPA-free plastic, variations in manufacturing processes cause each brand to look slightly different.
Invisalign Express aligners are frosted and trimmed to follow the gumline, so they are less noticeable and tend to match our naturally matte teeth.
Our teeth are porous, which makes their surfaces appear matte. Some home aligner brands use a shiny plastic material, which can look unnatural. Because of this, we prefer frosted, textured aligners. Still, some customers actually like the shininess of other brands, as they feel it gives their smile a gleam. So, it’s an entirely personal preference.
Home aligner providers also tend to cut their aligners straight across, as opposed to cutting them around the gumline. Invisalign’s scalloped look is less noticeable, so it’s often more visually appealing. But, home aligners that cover the gums can use them as an anchor to apply up to 4x the amount of force. So, home aligners can correct more complex issues than Invisalign Express in about the same amount of time.
As we mentioned earlier, your dentist may choose to supplement your Invisalign Express treatment using Smartforce attachments. Although they are tooth-colored, the attachments can make your aligners more noticeable. But, it’s important to keep in mind that no clear aligner brand is entirely invisible.
Like other clear aligner brands, you’ll want to take out your aligners before eating & drinking to avoid staining.
Our current understanding is that Invisalign Express aligners are reasonably stain-resistant, although we certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking coffee, red wine, or other dark liquids while wearing them.
Their frosted appearance and scalloped cut make Invisalign Express aligners less noticeable and more natural-looking than other clear aligner brands.
You already know that Invisalign treatment can give you your ideal smile, but your journey toward that smile is just as important. Policies on customer service, oversight, quality assurance, and satisfaction guarantees can all make the ride smoother or a whole lot bumpier. Fortunately for you, Invisalign’s personalized customer service, office visits, and refinement policy combine to create a satisfactory patient experience.
Like most other in-office clear aligner brands, you’ll receive top-notch customer support with Invisalign Express.
The quality of customer service for Invisalign Express varies, depending on the dentist you choose. So, it’s important to find a dentist who will be attentive and efficient. However, home aligner providers don’t offer in-person dental appointments during treatment. Instead, you have to take questions and concerns to the company via email, phone, or webchat and wait for their response.
Your dentist’s office knows you and your condition, so they can give you personalized guidance when you call with specific questions. This is much more reassuring than talking to a remote customer service representative who may or may not know anything about your condition.
Invisalign’s consistent oversight can help address problems mid-treatment to keep your smile on track.
Since you’ll need to visit your dentist every 4-6 weeks during treatment, they can provide hands-on assistance if you have any concerns. So, if you have questions or if your treatment is not going as planned, you always have the option to call the dental office and schedule an appointment (if necessary).
If your Invisalign Express aligners are uncomfortable or causing excessive pain, your dentist can also make minor adjustments during your monthly appointments. They can even contact Invisalign to order new aligners or modify your treatment plan, if necessary. By comparison, home aligner companies rarely (if ever) allow mid-treatment adjustments to your aligner plan.
If you’re not happy with your end results, Invisalign can provide refinements.
You might reach the end of your Express treatment and think “my smile’s not quite where I want it.” In these cases, your dentist can rescan your teeth and order refinement aligners. Since Invisalign Express is a limited treatment, you might need to pay extra, though, depending on your dentist.
Monthly in-person appointments and hands-on assistance in case of any issues make Invisalign Express an excellent choice in terms of patient experience.
Alternatives to Invisalign Express
Invisalign Express is an effective clear aligner treatment that is also quicker than most traditional options. However, there are other in-office and at-home treatments to consider.
The introduction of at-home clear aligners has made orthodontic treatment more accessible and affordable. Home aligner companies mail you your custom aligners directly and make it possible for you to complete treatment from the comfort of your own home. So, it’s easier to find an option that will suit your budget and lifestyle.
Home aligners can also treat a wider variety of cases than Invisalign Express. While they both take about 6 months to complete treatment, home aligners will likely be a better fit if you have a more moderate case of misalignment. If you’re interested in completing treatment from home, several home aligner options are worth looking into.
#1: byte ($1,895)
Although you won’t get the same hands-on time with a dentist through byte, they are one of the only providers that work exclusively with orthodontists. So, your treatment will be handled by a specialist as opposed to a general dentist. Unfortunately, though, byte does not currently have any retail locations like Candid or SmileDirectClub. Ordering an impression kit is your only option if you want to start treatment.
Perhaps byte’s biggest advantage is their lightning-fast treatment times. Most customers see a transformed smile in just 3 months, compared to the 6-month average for most other home aligner companies.
byte’s sticker price is $1,895, and this includes whitenings and aftercare retainers. byte also offers flexible payment options, including financing without a required credit check. Still, byte has only been available to the public since 2018, so they don’t have nearly as long of a track record or history of success as Invisalign.
Because byte does not disclose the name of their manufacturer, there is no way to verify how reputable it is or if it is the same quality as Invisalign or other home aligner competitors. However, considering their consistent product quality and customer satisfaction, we assume they partner with a reliable producer.
Want a closer look? Read our comparative review of Invisalign vs. byte.
#2: Candid ($2,400)
Like byte, Candid only works with orthodontists to design their treatment plans. So, your treatment will be handled by someone who specializes in moving teeth, even if they won’t be managing your treatment in person. Most other home aligner brands work with general dentists or just “dental technicians,” who are likely not as qualified. Not only that, but Candid also provides regular check-ins with your assigned orthodontist through their unique Remote Monitoring service.
This consistent orthodontist interaction, however, bumps up Candid’s price. At $2,400, Candid is slightly more expensive than most other home aligner brands. However, the cost of treatment includes the Remote Monitoring equipment (a $699 value), whitening, and aftercare retainers.
Candid also provides the option of free 3D scans at their retail locations. Most home aligner providers don’t have any brick-and-mortar locations. So, you’d need to order an impression kit before starting treatment. Although Candid currently only has about 30 retail locations in the US, they are quickly expanding. And, they have plans to open 50 more locations by the end of 2019.
Want a closer look? Read our comparative review of Invisalign vs. Candid.
#3: AlignerCo ($1,145)
If you’re looking for the industry’s most affordable brand, look no further. AlignerCo’s treatment is several hundred dollars less than other home aligner companies and Invisalign Express. Plus, they offer multiple financing options that make this treatment even more accessible.
And this low cost doesn’t mean inferior product quality either. AlignerCo partners with Raintree Essix, a long-standing, reputable dental supplies manufacturer. So, you can be confident that you’re getting reliable treatment at a great price.
Where AlignerCo falls short of byte and Candid is their dental network. They don’t guarantee that an orthodontist will oversee every case. Instead, their team consists of orthodontists and general dentists, which could potentially affect your treatment quality. On top of that, AlignerCo is young. They just started in 2019, so they don’t have extensive experience or a large customer base yet. But we’re excited to see how much they grow in the coming years.
Want a closer look? Read our comparative review of Invisalign vs. AlignerCo.
Invisalign Express was created specifically to provide a quicker and cheaper alternative to Invisalign. However, if you have a more mild-to-moderate case, home aligners may be a better fit. Since home aligners don’t require any dental visits, treatment is also more affordable than Invisalign Express. So, you’ll likely find a brand that fits in your budget.
To get a better idea of which option might be the best fit for you, we encourage you to check out the resources below.