With all of the hype surrounding at-home aligners, it can be easy to forget that for years, adults have seen incredible results from in-office aligners administered by their dentist. And among all the companies supplying these treatments, two stand above the rest: Invisalign and ClearCorrect.
As the original clear aligner system, Invisalign has firmly rooted itself atop the market. But, ClearCorrect is also highly experienced and respected among dentists and patients alike. As in-office options, Invisalign and ClearCorrect offer very similar treatments, but they’re not exactly the same. If you’re deciding between them, read on for all the differences you should consider.
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The esteem of being the original clear aligner can only go to one company: Invisalign. Over two decades ago, a dental technology company called Align Tech developed the first clear aligner series, Invisalign, which commanded the clear aligner market for nearly ten years. They quickly implemented an ambitious marketing campaign, partnered with dentists and orthodontists across the country, and had transformed 175,000 smiles by 2004.
Today, Invisalign maintains its position atop the clear aligner industry. They partner with 100,000 dentists in 90 countries and have treated over 8 million patients.
Invisalign commanded the market unopposed until 2006 when ClearCorrect stepped onto the scene. Dr. Willis Pumphrey needed a clear aligner option for nearly 400 of his patients, so he created his own. A grassroots network of dentists began to sign on for his treatment, and in just a few years, ClearCorrect was directly competing with Invisalign. They’ve continuously refined their products and processes. And today, they’re the industry’s second-largest aligner producer with tens of thousands of providers around the world.
This is where Invisalign and ClearCorrect both excel, especially compared to home aligner options. Having a dentist directly oversee your treatment allows both brands to effectively treat a wide range of conditions and make mid-treatment adjustments. Both use very similar processes, so to find any notable differences, we have to dig deeper. While each company provides high-quality products, and safe, customized procedures, there are a couple of distinguishing features you should consider.
As the industry leader for over two decades, Invisalign is ahead of the game when it comes to materials, technology, and treatments, making them the most effective option available.
- Can treat almost any condition that braces can by employing supplemental “Smartforce” attachments
- Uses a patented material called SmartTrack, which they’ve specially developed to work with their aligners and make them more effective
- Aligners are customized and trimmed in a scalloped-fashion to fit the gum line
- Can treat almost any condition that braces can by employing supplemental attachments called “Engagers”
- Aligners use plastic from a trusted, experienced dental materials company called Zendura
- Aligners are cut straight across for more power and faster treatment time
For a while, both Invisalign and ClearCorrect aligners used plastic from a trusted, experienced dental materials company called Zendura. More recently, Invisalign has shifted to a patented material called SmartTrack, which they have specially developed to work with their aligners. Invisalign claims that SmartTrack facilitates 50% faster treatment times, 75% more predictable movements, and increased comfort.
Based on these claims and the amount of research Invisalign has done (8 years worth), it appears that SmartTrack is the superior material. But, that doesn’t mean that Zendura is bad. Zendura is reputable, widely-trusted, and has a long track record of success.
Each company uses software to scan your teeth, create 3D models of your dental arches, and simulate your treatment plan. Invisalign uses a proven 3D scanner system called iTero, paired with custom software called ClinCheck, which uses algorithms to model ideal movements for each tooth. iTero scanners and ClinCheck software both have long track records of success and pair specifically with Invisalign’s treatment.
ClearCorrect accepts scans from a number of different in-office scanners, including iTero and several others. They don’t use ClinCheck, but they have a similar software that they call a “treatment setup.” ClearCorrect allows its dentists more flexibility in the technology they use. But, the downside is that a particular technology setup may not be specialized for their aligner treatment.
One of the primary benefits of in-office aligners is the ability to enhance treatment with various orthodontic attachments like elastics and expanders. These appliances allow for larger or more complex teeth movements, and both Invisalign and ClearCorrect can use them. Plus, each company has its own proprietary attachments that can assist in treating severe cases.
Invisalign calls these “Smartforce” attachments. They’re tiny, barely-noticeable shapes affixed to your teeth exteriors that help direct and amplify the force of the aligners, shifting teeth more effectively. ClearCorrect uses very similar attachments that they call “Engagers,” which perform essentially the same job as Smartforce attachments.
There’s no way around it: orthodontic treatment can be expensive, especially for in-office brands like Invisalign and ClearCorrect. That said, the services you receive are high-quality and comprehensive.
But if you’re worried about your budget or wondering how you’ll be able to fit in dental expenses, finding affordable treatment is important. Neither of these companies is especially inexpensive, but both can potentially incorporate insurance coverage and financing to make the costs more manageable. Overall, ClearCorrect is often more affordable, but it depends on your dentist and specific condition.
- No set sticker price, the average cost is $3,000 – $8,000
- Invisalign Express is offered for minor cases, the average cost is $1,500 – $4,000
- Financing varies depending on the dentist, may require a credit check or down payment
- No set sticker price, the average cost is $2,500-5,000
- Offers a Flex plan for minor cases, you pay per retainer so you only pay for the number of aligners you need
- Financing varies depending on the dentist, may require a credit check or down payment
Glance over any at-home aligner company’s website, and you’ll find – usually in large, bold text – their upfront price. Invisalign and ClearCorrect, however, don’t put similar information out there. This is because their costs can vary significantly based on your dentist and the severity of your condition. Think of it this way: severe misalignments take longer to treat, which means more office visits and more aligners. Both of these things cost money, so you’ll end up paying more. Home aligner companies can advertise static prices because they only use a set number of aligners across the board, and they don’t require office visits.
Even so, each company has an average price range, and typically, ClearCorrect is cheaper than Invisalign. They charge dentists less for products and lab fees than Invisalign does, so your dentist may pass these savings on to you. Invisalign usually costs $3,000 – $8,000, while ClearCorrect often runs $2,500 – $5,000. But again, this depends on your condition and dentist. Either one of these treatments can end up falling outside these ranges in certain circumstances.
If those average costs seem intimidating, keep in mind that the full Invisalign or ClearCorrect treatment isn’t your only option. Both companies offer more limited treatment plans at lower costs for more minor cases.
Invisalign, for example, has a shorter treatment plan called Invisalign Express, which consists of 5 or 10 aligner sets rather than the typical 25 or more. You will only need to wear these aligners for around 4-6 months and they typically cost $1,500 – $4,000. However, Invisalign Express only works for mild cases of crowding and spacing, most often in the front six teeth.
Not to be outdone, ClearCorrect also offers shorter, less expensive treatment options. Their Limited 6 and Limited 12 plans are comparable to Invisalign Express, effective for treating very minor cases of crowding and spacing. Plus, they have a more flexible alternative appropriately named “Flex.” This plan allows you to pay per aligner, so if you only need 15 aligners, you won’t pay for anything extra. For anyone with a minor case of crowding or spacing, this can save a bunch of money. There’s no average price for the Flex plan because it depends entirely on how many aligners you end up needing.
By comparison, ClearCorrect’s “Unlimited” plan charges a flat rate for as many aligners as you need for five years and includes post-treatment retainers. This flat rate depends on your dentist’s pricing.
What About Insurance?
If you have orthodontic coverage on your insurance plan, chances are your provider will partially cover your treatment costs. Your dentist’s office can accept payments directly from your insurer, so they can handle everything in-house. You should contact your insurance company to see if they offer coverage before committing to treatment.
At-home aligner companies can’t accept insurance payments directly, so you will need to pay for the treatment, then file for reimbursement. On top of that, some insurers will only cover in-office aligner treatments.
Quite often, you can acquire financing for your aligner treatment and pay over several months instead of all at once. This financing, however, depends on what your dentist or orthodontist offers. You should check with them to see what options are available.
Invisalign doesn’t partner with any specific financing companies, but ClearCorrect offers its providers and their patients financing through a third-party company called beWell. This doesn’t mean, however, that your provider will necessarily use beWell; they might have other options and payment plans.
In-office aligner companies aren’t typically known for their convenience. This is primarily because they require regular office visits, which can eat into your free time. But, it’s also because their treatment times are typically longer than at-home treatments. When it comes to convenience, Invisalign and ClearCorrect are almost identical. The bottom line is that, if your top priority is getting the most convenient treatment, you might be more satisfied with an at-home aligner company.
- An in-person consultation with a dentist is required to get started, including X-rays and photos
- Average treatment time is 12-18 months, Express plan average treatment time is 6 months
- SmartTrack material is slightly thicker and more flexible
- An in-person consultation with a dentist is required to get started, including X-rays and photos
- Average treatment time is 12-18 months, Flex plan could take as little as a few months
- Aligner material is thinner and less flexible
The startup process is the same for both Invisalign and ClearCorrect, and it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is schedule a consultation with your dentist or orthodontist. During the appointment, you will discuss your treatment options, and they can make a recommendation. If you choose a particular clear aligner option, your dentist will take x-rays and impressions of your teeth and use them to develop your treatment plan.
Invisalign states that their treatment typically takes 12-18 months, but your treatment time will ultimately depend on your specific condition. ClearCorrect doesn’t give any specific timelines on their website, but it’s likely fairly similar. This is assuming, of course, that you follow the recommended wear schedule. Both companies say that you should wear your aligners for around 22 hours per day, removing them only to eat and drink.
If you’re a candidate for Invisalign Express or ClearCorrect Limited (or Flex), your treatment time could be significantly shorter, potentially just a few months.
We mentioned earlier that each company uses different materials in their aligner construction. As a result, each aligner feels slightly different in your mouth. Invisalign’s SmartTrack material is slightly thicker and more flexible. The company claims that they’re more comfortable and easier to insert and remove. Based on online reviews, customers seem to agree that Invisalign’s aligners are both comfortable and user-friendly.
ClearCorrect’s material is thinner and less flexible, so they might be less visible. However, some customers also report that they’re not as comfortable and a little bit more brittle.
You will need to wear your aligners everywhere – work, home, social gatherings, dates, etc. So, you likely want the least noticeable aligners available. Even though all clear aligners are less visible than traditional braces, aligner aesthetics can differ from company to company.
Out of all the categories in this guide, appearance is perhaps the most subjective. Each person has his or her own unique tastes and preferences, so different people will like different types of aligners. As you compare, it’s best to consider your own aesthetic preferences.
- Aligners are slightly thicker, making them more comfortable and sturdy but also more visible
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic that better matches your tooth surfaces
- Aligners are customized and trimmed in a scalloped-fashion to fit the gumline
- Uses a thinner plastic, so they may be less noticeable
- Aligners are slightly more opaque and may look more natural
- Aligners are cut straight across to make them more powerful, but they may be more visible
We mentioned briefly that Invisalign’s aligners are slightly thicker than ClearCorrect’s. This might make them more comfortable and sturdy, but it can also mean that they’re more visible. ClearCorrect’s Zendura plastic is a little thinner, so they can be less noticeable.
Both Invisalign and ClearCorrect aligners have a slightly frosted, textured surface. But if you look at them side by side, you’ll notice that ClearCorrect’s aligners are slightly more opaque. Your teeth are porous and have a naturally matte surface, so frosted and textured aligners generally look more natural. Both are great options, and your dentist may have samples for you to examine as you make your decision.
There are two different ways to trim an aligner: straight across the top or scalloped to match your gum line. ClearCorrect uses a straight cut while Invisalign scallops theirs. Without any attachments or engagers, a straight cut can move the teeth more quickly, as it can leverage the gums to exert more force.
But, Invisalign uses attachments to anchor their aligners and apply the same force. Regarding appearance, a straight cut overlaps your gums and can make your aligners slightly more visible.
Patient Experience Comparison
Beginning clear aligner treatment is like starting a new relationship. It takes commitment, but in the end, it’s rewarding. Also like a healthy relationship, it takes effective communication and problem solving. Invisalign and ClearCorrect might have some differences in their experience and prices, but they facilitate a near-identical customer experience.
With either Invisalign or ClearCorrect, you will direct any questions, concerns, etc. to your dentist or orthodontist’s office. This gives you a responsive and always-available point of contact that knows you and your teeth personally. By comparison, the customer support for home aligner companies is entirely remote, and you often won’t have a single representative dedicated to your case.
On top of that, you’ll receive consistent in-person oversight to make sure your treatment stays on track. It might be inconvenient to schedule an office visit every 4-6 weeks, but it gives your dentist the chance to evaluate your progress, address your concerns, and ensure that you have a smooth, comfortable, and effective treatment.
And what if your teeth don’t shift as expected? Both companies will provide additional aligners for no extra cost, provided you’re on Invisalign’s Full plan or ClearCorrect’s Unlimited plan. This way, you can be confident that you’ll end up satisfied with your smile.
Which Should You Choose?
As one dentist put it in his review, “it’s like choosing between a Ford and a Chevy.” Both companies provide very similar services, products, and results. With either one, you will receive dedicated, one-on-one treatment from a dentist and an aligner plan that can treat everything from minor crowding and spacing to severe bite misalignments.
Who Should Choose Invisalign?
If you value experience, reputation, and effectiveness, and don’t mind paying a little more for it, Invisalign is a great option.
Who Should Choose ClearCorrect?
If you’re cost-conscious, but don’t want to sacrifice effectiveness and one-on-one dental care, you might want to check out ClearCorrect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I choose Invisalign or ClearCorrect?
That’s a tough decision because they’re so similar. Both offer the safety and effectiveness of in-office dentist oversight, along with quality products. You can’t go wrong with either one, but we like ClearCorrect just a bit more because their prices are often slightly lower.
That said, if you feel more comfortable going with the largest and most experienced clear aligner producer, Invisalign is a great option too. Check out our full Invisalign review and ClearCorrect review for a closer look at each company.
How do I get started with Invisalign or ClearCorrect?
You’ll need to visit your dentist or orthodontist for a consultation. They will make impressions or take scans of your teeth to create your treatment plan and aligners. After evaluating your condition’s severity, they can give you an estimate for how long your treatment will last and how much it will cost.
What’s the difference between Invisalign and ClearCorrect?
They’re actually pretty similar. Both companies administer clear aligner treatment through regular dentist’s office visits, and both can incorporate supplemental attachments to treat more complex cases. Invisalign has quite a bit more experience and a larger customer base, but ClearCorrect can be cheaper.
How much do Invisalign and ClearCorrect cost?
It depends on a few different factors, like your condition’s severity, your location, insurance coverage, and your dentist’s pricing model. But Invisalign usually costs $3,000-8,000. ClearCorrect, however, usually costs slightly less ($2,500-6,000) because they charge their providers less for lab fees.
How long do Invisalign and ClearCorrect take?
The average timeline for invisalign and ClearCorrect is around 12 months, but this can change based on your condition’s severity and how consistently you wear your aligners. A significant jaw misalignment, for example, will take longer to correct than a minor case of crowding.
What conditions can Invisalign and ClearCorrect treat?
Just about all of them. Both treatments receive consistent in-office oversight, where your dentist or orthodontist has the chance to adjust your aligner plan or add supplemental attachments (like elastics or buttons) to increase their effectiveness. This gives your aligners the power to handle almost anything.
How do Invisalign and ClearCorrect compare to home aligner companies?
The main difference is that at-home aligner treatments don’t require any office visits. You’ll administer the treatment entirely on your own. Invisalign and ClearCorrect require office visits every 4-6 weeks so that your dentist or orthodontist can check in on your progress, employ attachments, and adjust your treatment plan (if necessary).
The lack of office visits makes home aligners cheaper and faster, but it also makes them incapable of correcting certain conditions (like bite misalignments).
What other companies should I consider?
If you’re set on in-office care, you might also take a look at Six Month Smiles. They provide short-term clear aligner and clear braces treatments that are administered by a dentist, effectively blending the timeline of home aligners with the oversight of Invisalign.
If you’re open to at-home options, take a look at byte, Candid, or AlignerCo. byte has a lightning-fast 3-month treatment timeline, Candid offers regular Remote Monitoring, and AlignerCo is the cheapest option out there.
What is the fastest clear aligner company?
byte. Their average treatment takes just 3 months, while most other home aligner companies take around 6. Even byte At-Night takes 4-6 months, right around the industry average. Check out our complete byte review to learn more.
What is the cheapest clear aligner company?
AlignerCo. At just $1,145, their price beats every competitor by a few hundred dollars, and sometimes they run promotions that drop it even lower. And if you can’t pay that up front, you can jump on a financing plan, regardless of your credit score. Check out our complete AlignerCo review for more info, or find other great-value options in our guide to the most affordable home aligners.
Does insurance cover clear aligners?
It might. Some dental insurance plans cover Invisalign the same way they would cover braces. They won’t often cover treatment if it’s considered “cosmetic,” though, so you’ll need to consult your specific dentist and insurance provider to find out.
Are home aligners safe?
Yes! While administering treatment from home might seem daunting, the process is very safe. Home aligner companies use state-licensed dentists and orthodontists to create your treatment plan and design your aligners. Even though you won’t meet with them in-person, each company offers robust customer support services if something doesn’t feel quite right.
Do clear aligners hurt?
When you switch to a new aligner set every two weeks, you might experience some discomfort for the first day or two, but after that, you’ll hardly notice them.