Known for bringing clear aligners to the masses, Invisalign has the most brand recognition of any teeth-straightening treatment in the UK, and their clear aligners can treat just about any condition that braces can. But that expertise and effectiveness require an investment of time and money.
If you are trying to decide if Invisalign is the best choice for you, you’ve come to the right place. In this review, we will dig into the benefits and drawbacks of Invisalign, making it easy for you to decide if it’s ideal for your smile goals.
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Concerned About the Cost of Invisalign?
If you’re thinking Invisalign’s price is more than you can pay out of pocket, you aren’t alone. Luckily, Invisalign isn’t your only option. There are plenty of other, more affordable companies offering clear aligner treatment. To get started, read about the best at-home clear aligners in the UK.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Your Invisalign journey begins with an initial consultation, during which you’ll talk to your doctor about your orthodontic concerns and smile goals. They will complete a visual examination of your dental anatomy, often taking x-rays to check your jaw alignment.
Based on the exam and images, the doctor will decide if you could benefit from teeth-straightening treatment. If so, they’ll lay out your options, including Invisalign.
If you decide on Invisalign, your doctor will take photos of your teeth, gums, and facial features, along with a 3D digital scan using the iTero scanner. They’ll use the photos and digital mapping to develop your treatment plan, consulting Invisalign’s ClinCheck software to determine the best alignment for your dental anatomy and facial balance.
In most cases, your doctor will create your treatment plan after you leave this appointment, then send you the digital preview of your new smile via email. If you like what you see, give them the go-ahead to order the aligners and make your payment.
It takes several days to a few weeks for Invisalign to manufacture your aligners, then send them to your doctor. Once they arrive, you’ll head in to check the fit and take your first sets home with you, along with detailed instructions on wear and care.
Invisalign aligners move your teeth by placing pressure on them. The first aligners in your series will be just slightly different from your natural smile. This variation places pressure against specific teeth, generating the force that encourages them to shift. By the time you are finished with a given aligner, your teeth should match its shape perfectly. Then, you swap it out for the next in the series, changing the pressure once again to keep your teeth moving.
During treatment, you will see your doctor every 4–10 weeks, getting new aligners on some visits and just checking your progress on others. If necessary, your doctor can add special attachments and elastics to make more nuanced shifts. Once you complete your treatment, you’ll switch to wearing retainers to prevent your teeth from migrating back to their original positions.
At a Glance: The Pros & Cons of Invisalign
- It is the #1 most popular clear aligner company.
- As the oldest clear aligner company, it offers the most experience.
- It is the most widely available clear aligner across the globe.
- Those with cosmetic concerns can save money and time with Invisalign Express.
- You get to choose your doctor from a large number of providers in the UK.
- Thanks to its innovative plastics and attachments, it can treat a wide scope of conditions.
- On average, it is the most expensive clear aligner treatment on the market.
- Aftercare retainers are typically not included in the cost of treatment.
- Treatment can take longer than other clear aligner companies.
Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
In some cases, yes. If you have a severe or complex case of misalignment, the hands-on nature of Invisalign treatment could be the right fit for you.
That said, if your concerns are primarily cosmetic, there are several more affordable clear aligners that could deliver the results you’re after. We encourage you to compare your options before making a final decision!
Investing in orthodontic care means investing in yourself, and you want to be assured that this investment is going to pay off. And teeth-straightening treatment doesn’t get much more effective than Invisalign.
Invisalign costs hundreds more than other in-office aligners, and typically thousands more than at-home aligners. However, this cost reflects its effectiveness and superior approaches to treatment.
Invisalign has been wildly popular since 1998, when it launched in the U.S. It came to the UK in 2000, making it the oldest clear aligner therapy in the Commonwealth. Over the decades, its parent company, Align Technology, has greatly improved the Invisalign system, expanding its scope of treatment to include even severe bite issues, such as overbite and overjet.
Part of what allows Invisalign to address such a wide scope of conditions is its ability to incorporate proprietary SmartForce attachments. These small devices are affixed to the teeth, allowing the aligners to gain better leverage. This generates greater force and allows for more nuanced shifts, translating to larger changes without needing to switch to metal braces.
In-person doctor oversight has a significant influence on effectiveness as well. Every 4–10 weeks, you’ll make an office visit, where they can evaluate your progress. If anything seems off, they can order refinement aligners, add elastics, and switch up your wear schedule to ensure you achieve the results you desire.
Invisalign doesn’t come out on top in every category, but when it comes to effectiveness, it continues to reign supreme.
Invisalign may lead in effectiveness, but in most cases, it trails the competition in affordability. How much should you expect to pay for Invisalign? This depends on various factors, such as:
- The fees your doctor builds into treatment.
- The discounts your doctor receives from Invisalign.
- Whether or not you need supplemental attachments.
- How many aligners are required to achieve your desired results.
- How well you follow your treatment plan and if you need revisions.
For those opting for Invisalign’s traditional system, the cost of treatment will usually fall somewhere between £1,500 and £5,500. However, if you choose Invisalign Express, you can pay as little as £1,300.
This elevated cost is because Invisalign is administered in your doctor’s office rather than remotely. Orthodontic practices have overhead costs to pay, and their treatment prices often reflect these expenses. While it is true that at-home aligner companies also have overhead built into their prices, they can treat thousands of patients at a time, allowing them to break those costs up into much smaller chunks.
But Invisalign usually also costs more than other in-office treatments because their lab fees tend to run higher than those of their competition. However, the company ranks providers into tiers — the more patients a doctor treats, the lower their lab fees. So, getting Invisalign from a highly experienced provider could be cheaper than choosing a competitive system. As for the base cost of aligners, this doesn’t change, and it can prevent Invisalign from beating others in price.
Reducing the Financial Burden of Invisalign
Invisalign’s average £4,000 price tag is more than what most people can pay out of pocket. National Insurance will only cover dental and orthodontic treatments if they are considered a medical necessity. Cosmetic corrections are not covered. So, if you just want to close small gaps or eliminate crowding that doesn’t harm your general health, Invisalign won’t be covered.
Even if you can’t get insurance coverage, there are still ways to make Invisalign treatment more affordable. Most doctors offer payment plans or financing options, and if yours does not, you can turn to third-party financiers. Just keep in mind that this means paying interest, raising the total cost of treatment.
Although Invisalign is effective and versatile, it is also a costly form of treatment. While there are ways to make it more affordable, you may find that alternatives will provide the best value.
Cost is easily the biggest barrier standing between most people and the orthodontic treatment they need. The second biggest? Convenience.
Traditional orthodontic treatments require a lot of lifestyle changes. For example, braces require you to significantly restrict your diet to avoid damage and relearn how to brush and floss your teeth. Invisalign, and all other clear aligners, avoid these inconveniences. Since they are removable, you just take them out when eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.
But like braces, Invisalign still requires regular office visits. Over Invisalign’s average 12–18-month treatment time, you’ll need to see your doctor every 4–10 weeks, depending on the schedule their provider sets for you. This means you might need to make 18 visits during treatment, plus your initial consultation and the appointment when you receive your aligners.
Making time in your busy schedule for all these appointments can be stressful, and you might need to take time off from work or school. It is hardly convenient.
However, getting started with Invisalign is easier than with at-home clear aligners, since you don’t need to take your own impressions at home. And unlike the in-office competition, there are a ton of Invisalign providers, so it’s easy to find one.
Getting started with Invisalign is highly convenient. However, incorporating the associated office visits into a busy schedule isn’t quite as easy. While office visits are necessary in some cases, it’s much easier for most people to simply skip them.
Some people might love the bold colors of brackets and elastics, but most adults prefer orthodontic appliances that are as discreet as possible. This is a key selling point for all clear aligner brands; when worn, they are very difficult to see.
But difficult to see does not mean invisible. Depending on the aligner design, people may be able to pick up on them more easily, especially in close quarters.
Invisalign designs their aligners to blend in with your natural teeth as much as possible. Here’s how:
- Their aligners are frosted and appear matte, just like your natural teeth.
- They texture their aligners, mimicking the natural pores in your teeth.
- The upper edge is scalloped to match your gum line.
Other clear aligner companies make different choices. Some use shiny, transparent plastic, which creates a gleaming smile but might also look unnaturally reflective. Others make theirs smooth, which doesn’t match the surfaces of your natural teeth. Yet most companies cut their aligners straight across, allowing them to overlap the gums, making them visible when smiling big.
Invisalign is less noticeable than most of those competitors, but if your treatment requires SmartForce attachments — which slightly jut out from your teeth — it can make the aligners significantly more visible.
No matter which company you choose, your aligners can stain. Be sure to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than plain water.
Invisalign makes some of the best-looking aligners on the market. However, if you want a shiny smile, some alternatives might better suit your needs.
Getting Invisalign starts with a consultation and ends when you move from active treatment into retention. But what about your experience in between?
This may not get as much hype, but the day-to-day patient experience can make or break your treatment. With Invisalign, your patient experience can vary a lot since it relies on your provider.
Invisalign doesn’t offer customer service, oversight, quality assurance, and satisfaction guarantees directly to the patient. They all come from your specific doctor. Overall, this is a good thing; you get a more direct and personalized approach than you would from the customer service department of a large company.
Except, of course, when it isn’t. This isn’t Invisalign’s fault, but sometimes, medical providers just don’t match your expectations. Maybe your appointments are rushed, or maybe they take too long to answer questions and resolve issues. If this happens, you don’t really have much recourse besides voicing your concerns to your doctor.
Still, in-person treatment offers direct oversight and allows for treatment modifications, contributing to Invisalign’s effectiveness. And seeing a doctor in person provides peace of mind as well as consistent reminders that your treatment is on track.
For the best patient experience, research your doctor before signing up for treatment. Since they control everything from oversight to guarantees, you want to choose someone who puts you first.
Alternatives to Invisalign
Invisalign is a highly effective treatment backed by decades of experience and innovation. However, it isn’t your only choice, and other companies may ultimately be a better fit for you.
If you are looking to make cosmetic changes and want maximum convenience and minimal cost, you should consider at-home clear aligners. Here are our top three choices for at-home clear aligners in the UK.
#1: Straight Teeth Direct (£1,550)
Straight Teeth Direct uses innovative technology to transform data about your dental anatomy into a perfect smile. Their planning considers tooth-to-tooth relationships, as well as your facial features and how changing your smile, can improve your overall appearance. They also offer virtual check-ins and a solid satisfaction guarantee.
#2: PlusDent (£1,890–£2,390)
PlusDent started in Berlin and has since expanded to nine other countries. They have partnered with several clinics throughout the UK where you can get your teeth scanned for free to get started. Plus, they have a mobile app to help you stay on schedule and provide support as needed throughout the treatment process.
#3: SmileDirectClub (£1,639)
SmileDirectClub was the first company to offer remote clear aligner treatments. They got their start in the US in 2014, and since then, they’ve served over 1.5 million customers worldwide. They offer many compelling perks, like free scans at their SmileShops, and convenient nighttime-only treatment.
If your priorities are getting in-person treatment and receiving aligners from the most experienced company in the business, Invisalign is going to be the best choice for you. However, if your bank account is the biggest factor in your purchase decision, there are cheaper alternatives that also offer effective treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Invisalign have a nighttime-only option?
Invisalign as a company does not have a nighttime aligner system. However, some doctors are willing to create a nighttime-only wear schedule for their patients. Research on the safety and effectiveness of nighttime aligners is mixed, so if your doctor offers this option, don’t be afraid to do a little independent research to decide if it’s truly right for you.
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.
Are Invisalign aligners delicate?
Not really, 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 are not 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.
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