Invisalign is incredibly popular because it can treat many of the same conditions as braces, but much more discreetly. Backed by decades of experience and research, it’s an effective option for treating anything from minor crowding to severe bite issues. Even though it’s pretty expensive, Invisalign is one of the industry’s most reliable, versatile, and powerful clear aligners.
If you’re trying to decide whether Invisalign is worth the price, you’ve come to the right place. In this review, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of Invisalign to help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Table of Contents
Invisalign At a Glance
- Invisalign is the largest and most well-established clear aligner brand, and they’ve treated over 15 million people.
- Invisalign’s aligners can incorporate attachments and elastics, making them capable of complex dental shifts. They can also address some bite issues.
- You can only get Invisalign in-person by visiting a dentist or orthodontist who provides it. You’ll visit this provider every 4–8 weeks for check-ups during treatment.
- Invisalign often takes 12–24 months, but could take as few as six, depending on your condition.
- The cost of Invisalign is $3,000–$8,000 on average, but it depends on your provider and the severity of your misalignment.
Concerned About The Cost of Invisalign?
If you’re worried about Invisalign’s high price tag, you’re not alone. While Invisalign is an incredibly effective option, it isn’t the only clear aligner brand out there, and a few others are significantly more affordable. If you’ve got a mild misalignment and you’re interested in straightening your teeth without breaking the bank, visit our review of the eight best Invisalign alternatives.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Before getting started, your chosen dentist will evaluate your teeth and take a 3D scan to confirm that you’ll be a suitable candidate for Invisalign. If you’re deemed a good fit, your dentist will take scans 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 treatment plan.
Once they’ve confirmed your treatment 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. Most importantly, you should wear the aligners for 22 hours per day and only remove them to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Your teeth will shift gradually over the next 12–24 months until they’ve reached the desired position.
Some dentists also offer Invisalign Express, a shorter version for milder misalignments. The treatment is best suited for much less complex cases and only takes about six months to complete.
Pros & Cons of Invisalign
Although there are dozens of clear aligner brands on the market today, including a variety of at-home treatment options like Byte and SmileDirectClub, Invisalign remains the industry leader. Often recommended for its versatility, Invisalign stands out for its ability to correct nearly the same range of cases as metal braces, even complex bite issues. It’s also widely available, so you’ll likely have no trouble finding a dentist who offers Invisalign treatment.
However, like any orthodontic treatment option, Invisalign isn’t without its downsides. In this guide, we’ll explore Invisalign’s scope of treatment, 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:
- 20+ Years of Experience: Available to the public since 1998, Invisalign is the longest-standing clear aligner brand, so you can be confident that you’re choosing a reliable, time-tested treatment option.
- Very Discreet: Compared to braces, Invisalign is much less visible and more convenient when it comes to eating and maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Easy to Find: It's the most widely available in-office clear aligner brand, so it's easy for most people to find an Invisalign provider (or several) in their area. At-home options like Byte can ship almost anywhere, but if you want in-person care, Invisalign has thousands of providers.
- Regular In-Person Oversight: You’ll get plenty of in-person attention from your chosen dentist throughout the treatment process. This is a major advantage over new at-home clear aligner options like SmileDirectClub, which assign you a dentist at random and don’t offer any facetime with your provider.
- Can Treat Complex Cases: Because your provider can incorporate elastics and dental attachments in your treatment plan, Invisalign can correct almost the same variety of complex conditions as braces. This is another advantage over at-home options like SmileDirectClub, which are only designed to address mild-to-moderate cases of misalignment.
- High Average Prices: Invisalign treatment typically costs between $3,000 to $8,000 (and sometimes even more), making it one of the most expensive clear aligner brands available. By comparison, at-home aligners generally cost $1,200–$2,200.
- Longer Treatment Times: With an average treatment time of 18 months, Invisalign requires a significantly greater time commitment than at-home clear aligner services, which deliver results in six months on average. However, this is largely because Invisalign can treat more complex cases that take longer to correct.
So, Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
In many cases, yes. If you’re looking to correct a complex misalignment and want to avoid the brackets and wires of braces, Invisalign treatment could be the right fit for you.
That said, there are other more affordable clear aligner brands to choose from, especially if your concerns are primarily cosmetic. We encourage you to compare your options before making a final decision!
Scope of Treatment
Orthodontic treatment is a big investment, so you want to make sure the treatment option you choose gives you the results you’re after. Invisalign is the biggest name in clear aligner therapy, and as an in-office treatment, it has a wide scope of treatment, addressing nearly the same range of issues as braces — with a few notable exceptions. Here’s what to know about what Invisalign can and cannot treat.
Invisalign claims it can treat a wide range of cases, documenting its results with complex misalignments on its website.
According to Invisalign, their aligners have “demonstrated success in treating Class I, II, and III malocclusions,” including:
- Crowded Teeth: Invisalign can treat nearly all cases of tooth crowding. The exception is when the teeth overlap in a way that prevents the aligners from achieving a good grip, even with attachments. However, this is rare.
- Teeth Gaps: Invisalign can close most tooth gaps. The system can address gaps that are 6 mm wide or less. Anything larger than this may require braces, at least to bring the gap down to 6mm so the patient can switch to Invisalign.
- Overbite: Invisalign can address most cases of overbite by itself. However, if a case involves severe irregularity in the jaw, it might require surgery instead. When overbite is strictly dental in nature, or the jaws only need milder adjustments, Invisalign is an option.
- Underbite: Typically, Invisalign can address underbites, but it depends on the severity of the case and if you have any skeletal misalignments. If you need jaw adjustments, it may require surgery, headgear, or metal braces.
- Crossbite: Invisalign can address nearly all crossbites that require up to 2 mm of movement. It all depends on the relationships between the teeth and the grip the aligners can achieve.
- Open Bite: Mild-to-moderate open bites can be adjusted using Invisalign. It works best on anterior open bites but can help with some posterior open bites as well.
- Snaggletooth: This is when a tooth is rotated in place. Invisalign can make rotations of 20 degrees or less. This is on par with most in-office aligners.
- Midline Misalignment: Generally speaking, Invisalign can correct midline misalignment — when the middle of the upper front teeth don’t align with the midline of your face as a whole. However, this can depend upon the severity.
Invisalign can move all the teeth, including the molars. It also works when treating individuals who do not have all of their adult teeth yet. Depending on the approach and attachments, it can also make changes to jaw position. Invisalign is among the most powerful clear aligners on the market, though it’s not perfect for every case. If it’s not a great fit for you, you and your dentist may need to explore other options.
- “I was born without my lateral incisors so basically I have two missing teeth which has created large spacing through my smile…Turns out that Invisalign really can fix anything!! I’ve made so much progress in a short amount of time.”
Part of what gives Invisalign a wide scope of treatment is its ability to incorporate attachments.
Versatility is one of Invisalign’s best qualities. Dentists have the option of adding Smartforce attachments that allow their aligners to exert more force. These supplemental attachments are small, tooth-colored shapes that can improve orthodontic dental shifts, making it possible for Invisalign to treat more complex issues.
Plus, they can incorporate standard orthodontic attachments and elastics. Dentists can only place these attachments during in-person visits, so at-home services like Byte can’t achieve the same force and level of detail.
You’ll receive in-person care on a regular basis, allowing your doctor to make adjustments and catch problems before they become severe.
Invisalign is a very hands-on treatment. Their ClinCheck software creates your treatment plan, your dentist tweaks it, and then they can change it at any time to better suit your needs. With office visits every 4–10 weeks (on average), you’ll get intensive in-person oversight, allowing your dentist to keep you on track and head off any issues before they become serious.
Certain at-home services, like SmileDirectClub and AlignerCo, employ remote monitoring systems where you’ll upload photos of your teeth for their teams to review every few weeks. That might provide some peace of mind, but there’s only so much they can do remotely. It’s not quite as robust as regular hands-on care.
Invisalign uses their proprietary SmartTrack plastic to create their aligners.
SmartTrack is a multilayer aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane/copolyester blend. Studies have demonstrated that this plastic is safe and effective for human use. And these results aren’t a one-off or unique to trials funded by Align Technology. Invisalign and its plastic consistently perform well according to reviews of various studies and clinical data.
Invisalign customers have shared their experiences with us, and their reviews back up the company’s claims.
In fact, based on the reviews we’ve received, there is little that Invisalign cannot treat. Users have shown us their results for everything from simple crowding to complex bite issues and midline misalignment. In every category, customers have reported quality results.
The majority of reviews we’ve gotten award the system five stars. In the reviews we’ve received, very few rate it lower than four stars, indicating the company delivers on its scope of treatment promises.
But will Invisalign work for you? The only way to know is to sit down for an evaluation with a provider.
They’ll complete a visual exam and take the necessary diagnostics to determine the nature and severity of your misalignments and select the best treatment method.
Invisalign does offer a brief smile quiz on their website. Just keep in mind that this is not a diagnostic. No matter how you answer, the quiz will suggest that you schedule a consultation with a provider. Think of it as a way to find Invisalign dentists and orthodontists near you, not a screening procedure.
Like most conventional orthodontic treatments, Invisalign can carry a hefty price tag, depending on the complexity of your condition and your dentist’s rates. It’s typically pricier than most other in-office clear aligners and way more expensive than at-home ones.
Of course, that cost gets you a powerful treatment and the reassurance of in-person oversight throughout the process, but it can still be intimidating. Fortunately, insurance might provide some assistance, and you can make the costs more manageable by enrolling in a financing plan.
At around $5,000 on average, Invisalign requires a significant financial investment.
The higher cost of Invisalign treatment results from the added cost for dental visits. Seeing a dentist regularly to monitor your treatment does not come cheap. Home aligners save you this added cost by offering treatment entirely from home — no office visits required. So, if one of your top priorities is choosing your dentist and having them administer your treatment, Invisalign may be worth the price. However, if you don’t mind working with a dentist remotely, home aligners are a much cheaper alternative.
Unfortunately, Invisalign is also often more expensive than other in-office treatments like ClearCorrect and hybrid treatments like Candid. Plus, the cost doesn’t always include aftercare retainers, so you may have to pay an extra fee for them. Retainers typically cost at least $100 and are crucial to prevent your teeth from shifting after treatment is complete.
However, if you have a pretty minor misalignment, you might be eligible for Invisalign Express instead — a shorter Invisalign treatment for mild cases that often costs $1,500–$4,000.
- “It is much pricier than other companies but I can already feel my jaw alignment has changed in a few weeks alone. I can see and feel progress in my jaw especially.”
Your insurance may provide partial coverage, but it depends on your specific plan.
If your insurance plan includes orthodontic benefits, there’s a chance that it might cover part of your Invisalign treatment, making the price much more accessible. If the corrections you’re making are purely cosmetic, coverage is less likely, but if orthodontic treatment is necessary to improve your overall oral health, insurance might cover Invisalign.
Just know that it all depends on your specific plan, and most will only cover 25–50% of the price. Plus, some plans put limits on age or lifetime spending. The only way to know for sure if you’ll receive coverage is to contact your insurance provider.
Most dentists offer payment plans or financing for Invisalign, but they often require a credit check, and some people might not qualify.
To make Invisalign more financially manageable, many dentists offer some sort of payment plan to divide the cost of treatment into monthly payments. However, these plans vary significantly, depending on the dentist. Most require a down payment and a credit check for approval. That’s why it’s nice that some at-home aligner treatments — specifically Byte, AlignerCo, and SmileDirectClub — provide in-house financing plans that don’t require a credit check.
Interest rates for financing programs can also be pretty hefty, especially if your credit is below average. To get a better sense of your options, it’s best to compare dentists and their financing programs to make treatment more budget-friendly.
Invisalign’s regular office visits serve an important purpose. They provide hands-on care that allows your dentist or orthodontist to correct a wide range of severe conditions. But they also require a time commitment. For some, particularly people with complex misalignments, that commitment is totally worth it. For others, it might be less convenient.
Those office visits, plus longer treatment times, make it less convenient than fully remote options like Byte and SmileDirectClub, even though getting started with Invisalign is a whole lot simpler.
Invisalign typically takes at least 12 months to deliver your final results.
So, if you have an important event coming up in the next few months, Invisalign may not fit your timeline. In contrast, home aligners only take about six months. This difference is often because dentists use Invisalign for more severe conditions, which take longer to correct, while at-home aligners are normally only viable for minor misalignments. If you only want to make small, cosmetic changes, your Invisalign timeline might be closer to six months as well.
Plus, Invisalign can be more convenient than home teeth alignment in other ways. We determine our convenience rating by considering overall treatment time, startup difficulty, and how long it takes to receive your aligners.
Getting started with Invisalign is arguably much easier than getting started with most home aligners.
You will need to schedule an appointment with an Invisalign provider 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 dental scans in the office. These scans are more accurate than impressions taken at home — plus, many patients find them quicker and more comfortable.
Your dentist will then send the impressions off to Invisalign’s lab to create your custom treatment plan. All you need to do after that is schedule an appointment to pick up your aligners and begin treatment. You’ll have a chance to try on the aligners before leaving the office, and your dentist can make any necessary changes or request a new set of aligners if you aren’t happy with the fit.
These are fairly standard procedures for in-office clear aligner treatment, so it’s a similar level of convenience to ClearCorrect, SureSmile, 3M Clarity Aligners, and Six Month Smiles.
- “I went through a local orthodontist for my Invisalign – although the price was pretty steep, I recommend it highly. The scan was a little uncomfortable. They take 1,000s of photos of your teeth with a little tool while prying your mouth open. For anyone who’s had to do a dental impression, it’s way more accurate and not as awful as that. No bad tasting goo!”
The wait time to get your treatment plan prepped and aligners shipped is often around four weeks.
It can take up to eight weeks for some home aligner companies to process your impressions, create a treatment plan, and send out your custom aligners. Invisalign can be faster, as some providers say you’ll only wait a few weeks from your first appointment to start treatment. That’s pretty comparable to Invisalign’s in-office competition and Candid’s hybrid model. However, keep in mind that Invisalign aligners are shipped to your dentist, not your home, so you’ll need to go pick them up.
Office visits every 4–10 weeks can clutter your schedule.
Office visits are the backbone of Invisalign’s treatment. They let your doctor evaluate your progress, add or move attachments, provide new aligners, and tweak your treatment plan if necessary. But they’re also pretty time-consuming. Traveling to the office and potentially taking time off work or school every few weeks can be a hassle, which is why at-home aligners — which don’t require a single office visit — are much more convenient.
However, if you value the benefits of in-person care, the time spent traveling to and from appointments might be well worth it.
- “The orthodontist was very knowledgeable and really did a great job explaining the process. I was able to see exactly what to expect at the end. … only having to go in every 8 weeks for the next set makes this very easy for working adults!”
Getting started with Invisalign is very simple since your doctor will be doing most of the work. However, the lengthy treatment time and required monthly dental visits can be major drawbacks.
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 score well in terms of appearance, and Invisalign is no exception.
That said, not every brand looks exactly the same. While they’re all made from transparent, BPA-free plastic, variations in materials and manufacturing processes cause subtle differences in appearance. Which looks best, however, is up to you and your aesthetic preferences.
Invisalign aligners are frosted and trimmed to follow the gum line, so they match your naturally matte teeth.
Our teeth are porous, which makes their surfaces appear matte. Some home aligner brands use a smooth, reflective plastic material, which can look artificially shiny. Still, some customers actually like the shininess of other brands, as they feel it makes their smile gleam. So, it’s an entirely personal preference.
Some companies cut their aligners straight across instead of trimming them to match your gum line. Invisalign’s scalloped look — which matches your gum line — is less noticeable, so it’s often more visually appealing. Clear aligners that cover the gums may be more retentive and apply more force, but Invisalign compensates by incorporating attachments when necessary.
Invisalign’s attachments and elastics can make their aligners more noticeable.
As we mentioned, Invisalign can enhance their aligners’ power and precision by providing more versatility with Smartforce attachments. Although they are tooth-colored, the attachments can make your aligners more noticeable. At-home aligner systems can’t incorporate any attachments, which makes their aligners less powerful, but also more discreet.
- “I have attachments (or buttons) on most of my teeth, which make the aligners a little more noticeable than I would have liked, but the attachments help move the teeth more efficiently. They are still far less noticeable than traditional braces and most people don’t even notice I have them until I mention it.”
As with other clear aligners brands, you’ll want to take out your aligners before eating & drinking to avoid stains.
Invisalign aligners are reasonably stain-resistant, although we recommend removing them to eat or drink anything except water, especially dark beverages like coffee, tea, and red wine.
Your Invisalign journey begins with a trip to the dentist and ends with a beautiful new smile, but what happens in between? That’s where the patient experience takes form, and customer service, oversight, quality assurance, and satisfaction guarantees can all play a role.
Consistent in-person care makes Invisalign’s patient experience a lot more personalized and supportive than most other clear aligner treatments, especially at-home ones that put you in touch with a remote representative instead of a doctor who knows you and your teeth intimately.
Like most other in-office clear aligner brands, Invisalign’s customer support is exceptional.
You’ll have the benefit of regularly visiting a dentist who can provide hands-on assistance if you have any concerns during treatment. 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.
The quality of Invsialign’s customer service can vary, depending on the dentist you choose. However, home aligners don’t even offer 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. Invisalign’s regular appointments might be inconvenient, but they can also be reassuring, especially if you have a dental concern in the middle of treatment.
Invisalign’s consistent oversight can help address problems mid-treatment to keep your smile on track.
With Invisalign and other in-office clear aligners, your dentist can also make minor adjustments to your aligners or wear schedule during your monthly appointments. For example, if your aligners are uncomfortable or causing excessive pain, your dentist may be able to fix them on the spot. At the very least, they can contact Invisalign to request new aligners or revise your treatment plan. This type of on-the-fly adjustment isn’t an option for at-home treatments.
- “Thankfully I never needed Invisalign’s customer service directly, as I met monthly with my dentist to check in. Invisalign was perfect for me since I preferred the option of having a dentist to follow the treatment, versus other companies where you are on your own.”
If you’re not happy with your results, Invisalign can provide refinements for no extra cost.
Your smile might not be exactly where you want it at the end of your initial treatment plan. But don’t worry, your dentist can rescan your teeth and create new aligners to add the finishing touch. And if you have Invisalign’s full treatment, you won’t need to pay anything extra. It will just extend your timeline.
This is pretty standard for comprehensive in-office treatments, but it’s not guaranteed for at-home systems, which sometimes charge an extra fee for refinements.
Best Alternatives to Invisalign
Invisalign is a highly effective and reputable clear aligner brand, but it’s not the only option. From comprehensive in-office clear aligner competitors to at-home options that emphasize convenience, there are a lot of excellent clear aligners out there. In the end, the best fit for you depends on your unique condition and priorities, but here’s a rundown of three of our favorite Invisalign alternatives.
When it comes to comprehensive in-office clear aligner options, ClearCorrect is one of Invisalign’s most prominent direct competitors. Like Invisalign, your dentist will develop and oversee your ClearCorrect treatment, adding attachments when necessary to correct a wide range of conditions, even severe misalignments and bite issues.
Founded in 2006, ClearCorrect isn’t as experienced as Invisalign, but they’ve still been delivering quality results for nearly two decades and offer a comparable experience. Plus, they typically charge dentists and orthodontists less for lab fees, which can make their aligners slightly more affordable.
Unlike Invisalign, Byte treatment doesn’t require a single trip to the dentist’s office, and they advertise average treatment plan lengths of just 4-5 months. They also include a device called the HyperByte, which uses gentle micropulses intended to help reduce aligner discomfort. Additionally, there’s evidence that devices like this might encourage faster teeth movements for some.
Byte’s sticker price is just $1,999, and this includes whitening, aftercare retainers, and the HyperByte device. They also offer flexible payment options and 100% approval on financing. Still, Byte can’t treat severe misalignments like Invisalign, and they’ve only been available to the public since 2018, so they don’t have nearly as long of a track record.
Candid straddles the line between in-office and at-home care. To kick off treatment, you’ll have an in-person consultation and examination with one of Candid’s 200+ in-network dentists. Then, for the remainder of your treatment, you’ll submit photos of your teeth every 14 days via the CandidMonitoring system so your dentist and Candid can evaluate your progress.
At $3,500+, their price point is higher than fully remote services like Byte, but you’re paying for the involvement of a local dentist throughout the entire process, and it’s still often more affordable than Invisalign. Anyone who wants hands-on care from a dentist, combined with the convenience of at-home monitoring, will find a lot to love here.
If you’re looking for the most trusted and comprehensive clear aligner treatment, Invisalign is a great option. However, if you’re working with a limited budget or a tight schedule, an at-home alternative might be a better choice.
To get a better idea of which option might be the best fit for you, check out the resources below.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is Invisalign?
The cost of Invisalign depends on the severity of your condition and your dentist’s rates, but on average, it’s between $3,000 and $8,000.
How long does Invisalign take?
It depends on your misalignment. The more severe your case, the longer your treatment will probably take. Invisalign treatment typically lasts 12–24 months, but mild cases can take just a few months.
How do I get started with Invisalign?
If your regular dentist or orthodontist offers Invisalign, you can get it through them. Otherwise, use Invisalign’s Doctor Locator to find providers near you. We recommend visiting a few different doctors and comparing their prices before deciding.
Does Invisalign have a nighttime-only option?
Invisalign as a company does not have a nighttime aligner system. Research on the safety and effectiveness of nighttime aligners is mixed, although a few at-home aligner brands offer it. Check out our guide to the best nighttime teeth aligners for more information.
Do I need to change my diet for Invisalign treatment?
It won’t change as a mandatory part of treatment. However, many patients find they eat less often during treatment, since you need to take your aligners out before you eat a meal or snack, then brush your teeth before putting them back in.
Will Invisalign aligners break?
Not usually but they aren’t indestructible either. They are designed to stand up to normal biting pressures, but not chewing or severe clenching and grinding of the teeth. It is possible to wear them out or even break them.
Do clear aligners hurt?
Not in the same way that braces do. Braces irritate the soft tissues of the mouth and cause tenderness of the teeth. Aligners can also cause tenderness to bite pressure, but they generally do not hurt the soft tissues unless they are cut wrong.
Are at-home aligners always a good Invisalign alternative?
Only if you are making cosmetic changes to your tooth alignment. If you have larger or complex shifts to make, you must use an in-office treatment. If you are uncertain where your case falls, most remote clear aligner companies will refund the cost of your impression kit if you aren’t a candidate.
Are there cases that even Invisalign cannot handle?
Yes, but these are fairly rare. Conditions that Invisalign cannot correct, at least on its own, include:
- Problems with jaw shape or position that require surgery or headgear
- Irregular tooth shape
- Teeth that are rotated more than 20 degrees out of alignment
- Gaps between the teeth that exceed 6mm
- Teeth that need to be raised or lowered
Is there an age limit for Invisalign?
Invisalign once limited their treatment to patients 16 and older. Then, Invisalign Teen was launched for children as young as 12. Now, Invisalign First is available and able to treat children as young as 6.
When will I notice my teeth shifting?
Most people will notice a visual difference in their tooth alignment by the time they are on their third aligner set. However, you might notice that your bite feels different even sooner.
Are clear aligners safe?
Absolutely! Clear aligners have been transforming smiles for over two decades, and they were tested in clinical trials before that. While some companies may be more reputable than others, clear aligner technology as a whole is safe and healthy to use.