Invisalign is incredibly popular because it can treat almost all of the same conditions as braces, but faster and more discreetly. But this industry-leading treatment option comes at a cost — and usually, that cost is around $5,000.
If you’re trying to decide whether or not 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 and help you decide if it’s the right fit for your smile goals.
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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 good candidate for Invisalign. If you’re considered a good fit, your dentist 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 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.
Invisalign Express, a shorter version Invisalign, is also offered for more minor cases of misalignment. The treatment is best suited for much less complex cases and only takes about 6 months to complete.
Pros & Cons of Invisalign
Although there are several clear aligner brands on the market, including at-home options, Invisalign continues to lead the pack. Often recommended for its versatility, Invisalign stands out because it can treat more complex cases than home aligners. And, it boasts overwhelmingly positive reviews from dentists and patients alike.
Invisalign is also widely available, so you will likely have no trouble finding a dentist who offers the treatment. 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:
- Invisalign is the #1 most popular and most experienced clear aligner treatment. It was founded in 1997 and became available to the public in 2001.
- Invisalign is the most widely available clear aligner brand. Most dentists offer Invisalign treatment through their practice.
- Invisalign also offers Invisalign Express, as an expedited treatment option that only requires about 6 months to complete.
- Unlike home aligners, you won’t be assigned a dentist at random. You’ll choose the dentist who will manage and oversee your treatment.
- Invisalign can treat a wide variety of issues and more complex misalignments than home aligners.
- Invisalign is the priciest clear aligner option. The average treatment can cost anywhere from $3,000 - $8,000.
- Aftercare retainers are not included in the cost of treatment. Retainers usually cost at least $100 and must be purchased separately.
- Invisalign is far from the fastest treatment option available, with an average treatment time of 18 months. For comparison, home teeth alignment can take as little as 3 months to complete.
Who is a Good Match for Invisalign?
If you prefer to receive treatment from a well-established company and don’t want the hassle or visibility of braces, Invisalign may be the perfect fit for you.
Orthodontic treatment is a big investment, so you want to make sure the treatment option you choose gives you the results you’re looking for. In this section, we’ll go over what type of results you can expect from treatment with Invisalign.
It’s more of a financial investment than other options like 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 to Invisalign aligners that enhance treatment. 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 like elastics. Since they can only be placed by a dentist, these attachments are only available with in-office treatments. So, home aligners won’t be able to provide the same 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. Countless reviews are available online, raving about the effectiveness of Invisalign treatment. Given its long history, Invisalign is known to be 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 rest assured that their aligners are safe and effective.
Working with the #1 clear aligner manufacturer and offering added versatility using supplemental attachments makes Invisalign one of the most versatile and effective clear aligner treatments in the industry.
Like most conventional orthodontic treatments, Invisalign comes with a hefty price tag. 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.
At about $5,000 for the average treatment, Invisalign requires a significant financial investment.
The higher price of in-office clear aligner treatments is a result of 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’s treatment cost does not include aftercare retainers. So, you’ll have to pay an extra fee for your retainers, on top of the already high cost of treatment. Retainers typically cost at least $100 and are crucial to prevent your teeth from shifting after treatment is complete.
Most dentists offer payment plans or financing for Invisalign, but they often require a credit check, and some may not qualify.
To make Invisalign more financially accessible, most 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, you may not be approved. 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.
Although Invisalign offers a more versatile treatment, it is one of the most expensive clear aligner brands, by far. And, even though payment plans and financing are available, they often require a credit check or high interest rates.
Aside from the cost, one of the biggest 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.
Unfortunately, Invisalign also requires regular dental visits to deliver new aligners and monitor the treatment process. Monthly office visits can be a nuisance, especially for people who don’t have a ton of free time. Invisalign’s average treatment time isn’t ideal either.
Invisalign typically takes about 12 months before you’ll be able to see noticeable 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 6 months. This drastic reduction in treatment time is often a huge reason why some people choose home aligners over Invisalign.
That said, Invisalign is 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 office, ensuring that they are accurate and precise. So, all the hard work is done 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.
The wait time to get your treatment plan prepped and aligners shipped is about 2-4 weeks.
It can take up to 6 weeks for home aligner companies to process your impressions, create a treatment plan, and send out your custom aligners. When it comes to waiting time for receiving your clear aligners, Invisalign has home aligners beat. With Invisalign, you’ll likely only wait a few weeks from your first appointment to start treatment. However, keep in mind that Invisalign aligners are shipped to your dentist, not your home.
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 tend to score well in terms of Appearance, and Invisalign is no exception.
That said, not all clear aligners are created equal. While they’re all made from transparent, BPA-free plastic, variations in manufacturing processes cause each brand to look slightly different.
Invisalign aligners are frosted and trimmed to follow the gumline, so they are less noticeable and tend to match your 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 aligners are also typically cut straight across instead of trimmed to match your 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.
As we mentioned earlier, Invisalign can match or exceed this treatment power by providing more versatility with 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.
As with other clear aligners brands, you’ll want to take out your aligners before eating & drinking to avoid stains.
Our current understanding is that Invisalign aligners are reasonably stain-resistant, although we certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking coffee, red wine, or other dark liquids while wearing them.
Due to their frosted appearance and the way they’re trimmed, Invisalign aligners are generally less noticeable than some of its competitors.
Your clear aligner 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 is formed, and customer service, oversight, quality assurance, and satisfaction guarantees can all play a role. Fortunately, Invisalign’s office visits and in-person support make for a personalized and rewarding patient experience.
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, if necessary.
Of course, 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, your dentist can also make minor adjustments to your aligners 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 a bit.
Regular in-person appointments and hands-on assistance in case of any issues make Invisalign a superb choice in terms of patient experience.
Alternatives to Invisalign
Invisalign is a highly effective and reputable clear aligner brand. But, it’s not the only option.
If you’d prefer a cheaper and more convenient treatment, at-home clear aligners provide an excellent alternative. Although they’re best suited for people with mild-to-moderate misalignments, at-home aligner providers accept about 70-80% of cases. So, there’s a good chance you’ll be approved.
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. There are several companies on the market that each has its own advantages.
Below is a quick rundown of our top 3 recommendations for at-home treatment:
#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. Plus, this price is still significantly less than Invisalign’s average cost.
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 thousands less than Invisalign. 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.
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.