Invisalign is incredibly popular because it can treat almost all of the same conditions as braces, but faster and more discreetly. Backed by decades of experience and research, it’s an effective option for treating anything from minor crowding to severe bite issues. But this industry-leading treatment option comes at a cost — and that cost can be overwhelming.
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.
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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 six 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 12–18 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 evaluate Invisalign 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:
- Available to the public since 2001, Invisalign is the longest-standing clear aligner brand, so you can be confident that you’re choosing a reliable, time-tested treatment option.
- Compared to braces, Invisalign is much less visible and more convenient when it comes to eating and maintaining good oral hygiene.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Orthodontic treatment is a big investment, so you want to make sure the treatment option you choose gives you the results you’re after. And very few other clear aligner treatments deliver results like Invisalign. Thanks to consistent in-person care, top-notch materials, and supplemental attachments, Invisalign provides unrivaled effectiveness, especially when compared to fully at-home aligner options.
It’s more of a financial investment than home aligners, but Invisalign makes up for the high cost by providing superior treatment.
Invisalign has been proven to treat a wide variety of teeth issues, including most cases of crowding and spacing and even some bite issues, like overbite or overjet. However, more severe bite issues or misalignments are better suited for more traditional treatment options, like braces.
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 make 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.
Regular appointments with your dentist will also ensure that your smile transformation is safe and continuously monitored.
Invisalign is a very hands-on treatment — your dentist can change your treatment plan at any time to better suit your needs. This is 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 is the longest-standing clear aligner brand, and they’re backed by the most widely trusted manufacturer in the industry.
Countless reviews are available online, raving about the effectiveness of Invisalign treatment. With more than two decades of experience and research, Invisalign is a trusted and reliable clear aligner brand. 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 be sure their aligners are safe and effective.
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 price of in-office clear aligner treatments 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.
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 Invisalign is necessary to improve your overall oral health, your insurance might help out. It all depends on your specific plan, and the only way to know for sure 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. So, if your credit is an issue, they might not approve you. 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.
That said, 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 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 the office, ensuring that they are accurate and precise. So, they’ll do all the hard work for you.
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.
The wait time to get your treatment plan prepped and aligners shipped is 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 is typically faster, as you’ll likely 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 4–6 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.
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 can use them as an anchor to apply up to 4X the amount of force, but Invisalign makes up the difference by incorporating attachments when necessary.
Invisalign’s attachments and elastics can make their aligners more noticeable.
As we mentioned earlier, 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.
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.
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 over a decade and offer a comparable experience. Plus, they typically charge dentists and orthodontists less for lab fees, which can make their aligners slightly more affordable.
Want To Learn More About ClearCorrect?
If you want a comprehensive in-office treatment that delivers the same effectiveness as Invisalign, yet can be even more affordable, ClearCorrect is worth considering. Visit their website to find a ClearCorrect provider or read our in-depth review to learn more.
Unlike Invisalign, Byte treatment doesn’t require a single trip to the dentist’s office, and they boast shorter average treatment plans than their competitors (just 4-5 months on average). This is thanks in part to the HyperByte, a high-frequency vibration device that uses gentle micropulses to help provide a more comfortable aligner fit and encourage faster dental shifts.
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.