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.
Table of Contents
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, the next step is for the dentist to take impressions of your teeth before sending everything off to Invisalign’s dental lab. Your dentist will collaborate with Invisalign to create your customized clear aligners and treatment plan.
Once the treatment plan is confirmed, 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 Lite, 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.
Is Invisalign a Good Option? Our Perspective.
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, aesthetics, 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 Lite, 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.
While it does require more of a financial investment than other treatment options like home aligners, Invisalign makes up for the high cost by providing more 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 “attachments” to Invisalign aligners that enhance treatment. These supplemental attachments are small, tooth-colored squares 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. 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 monitored continuously.
Invisalign is a very hands-on treatment for your dentist, so they 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 Tech, 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, the cost of treatment for Invisalign 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 credit check and a down payment to be approved for financing. 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 idea of what your options are, it’s best to compare dentists and find out what programs they offer to make treatment more budget-friendly.
Although Invisalign offers a more versatile treatment option, 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 become a nuisance, especially for people who don’t have a ton of free time. Aside from that, the average treatment time with Invisalign is also not ideal.
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 to work. This drastic reduction in treatment time is often a huge reason why some people choose home aligners over Invisalign.
With all that said, Invisalign is more convenient than home teeth alignment in other ways. We determine our convenience rating by considering how long the overall treatment plan takes, how difficult it is to get started, and how long it takes to receive your aligners in the mail.
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.
When it comes to getting straighter teeth, most adults agree that the best looking 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 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 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 them look matte in appearance. Most brands of home aligners use a shiny plastic material, which can look unnatural. Because of this, frosted aligners are our preferred choice for appearance. Still, some customers actually like the shininess of other brands, as they feel it gives their smile a gleam. So, it’s entirely personal preference.
Home aligners are also typically cut straight across instead of being customized to the gumline. The scalloped look of Invisalign aligners may be more visually appealing. But, home aligners that cover the gums are more effective at moving teeth and can apply up to 4x the amount of force. This is why treatment with home aligners typically takes less than half the time required for Invisalign.
As we mentioned earlier, Invisalign compensates for its longer treatment time by providing more versatility with 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 staining.
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.
Dental treatment is expensive, and you only have one set of teeth. It’s essential that you feel completely confident that the dentist providing your treatment will treat you right. And, have your back if anything goes wrong. With Invisalign, you’ll choose your own dentist. So, you can make sure that they’re qualified and committed to providing reliable customer service.
Like most other in-office clear aligner brands, the customer support that you’ll receive with Invisalign is exceptional.
You’ll have the benefit of seeing a dentist regularly 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 customer service for Invisalign does vary, depending on the dentist you choose. However, home aligners don’t even offer dental appointments during treatment. Instead, you’d have to communicate with your assigned dentist virtually and wait for their response.
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.
Regular in-person appointments and hands-on assistance in case of any issues make Invisalign a superb choice in terms of customer friendliness.
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.
#1: Candid ($1,900)
Although you won’t get the same hands-on time with a dentist through Candid, they are one of the only providers that works exclusively with orthodontists. 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 professionals,” who are likely not as qualified.
Like all home aligner providers, the cost of treatment for Candid is significantly less than Invisalign. At $1,900, Candid is slightly more expensive than most other home aligner brands. However, the cost of treatment includes whitening and aftercare retainers. So, it may be worth spending a few extra bucks.
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.
#2: byte ($1,895)
Like Candid, byte only works with orthodontists to design their treatment plans. 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. Ordering an impression kit is your only option if you want to start treatment.
The cost of treatment for byte is $1,895. Like Candid, they include whitening and aftercare retainers in the price. 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, byte does boast the shortest treatment time currently available, at just 3 months.
#3: SmileDirectClub ($1,895)
Although they’re not as established as Invisalign, SmileDirectClub is the first and leading home aligner company. They’ve treated more patients than all of the other providers combined and are the most well-known home aligner brand.
SmileDirectClub has over 200 SmileShop locations nationwide, so you’ll likely find a store close to home. Like other providers on this list, SmileDirectClub offers free 3D scans at all of their locations as an alternative to using an impression kit. The cost of treatment for SmileDirectClub is $1,895. To make the cost more manageable, they offer payment plans and financing without a credit check. The price also includes whitening, however aftercare retainers are extra and provided for about $100.
Unfortunately, SmileDirectClub seems to be lacking in customer service. Patients often report long wait times and a poor response rate for concerns during treatment. The company is also one of many that do not work solely with orthodontists. Unlike Candid and byte, SmileDirectClub only states that they work with “dental professionals,” so there is no guarantee that an orthodontist will oversee your treatment.
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 Invisalign alternative might be a better choice. To get a better idea of which option might be the best fit for you, we encourage you to check out the resources below.