5 Things to Know About Invisalign

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Invisalign® is a clear orthodontic aligner that straightens your teeth. They're an alternative to traditional braces. For this approach, you wear a series of thin, removable trays formed to fit over your teeth. Braces are glued to your teeth. Braces are still the most widely used, but clear aligners have become more common as technology has improved.

Not everyone is a good candidate for clear aligners. Your orthodontist will determine if they are powerful enough to achieve the correction you need. If you're interested in Invisalign, it’s helpful to know some basic facts about how they work and what to consider before your final decision.

1. Invisalign works best for less severe orthodontic conditions.

Clear aligners are most effective on milder problems, such as:

  • Mild or moderate crowding, which can make teeth hard to clean
  • Minor spacing problems like too much space between teeth

Invisalign can help reposition one tooth or a group of teeth. But, they are not as precise as braces. If you have a serious bite problem, Invisalign may not work well enough. Severe underbites, overbites and crossbites, or major spacing issues may need more advanced orthodontic treatment.

2. Invisalign requires discipline.

Invisalign trays are removable. You take them out to eat, brush and floss. Those are usually the only times you should take them out. In general, you should have them in for about 20 hours each day. This requires some discipline. You have to follow the directions carefully to get the results you want. 

Having to take the trays out every time you eat may be a concern if you’re a person who snacks a lot or eats frequent meals. But it’s important to do so because the tray material can crack and bend with enough pressure from chewing. You may want to adjust your eating habits to make things a little easier and less disruptive. Remember it’s a temporary adjustment to your lifestyle.

3. Invisalign treatment may be faster than metal braces.

All orthodontic treatments take time. How long your treatment will last depends on a few factors, such as:

  • Your age
  • The severity of your condition
  • The type of orthodontic treatment you choose

Treatment with clear aligners like Invisalign usually takes 6 to 18 months. 
Each aligner tray moves teeth just a tiny amount. Generally, you'll wear a set for two weeks before progressing to the next tray. Most people need 20 to 30 sets to complete their treatment. But exactly how many trays you need to wear and how long you wear each one depends on your unique situation.

4. Invisalign may be more comfortable than braces.

Traditional braces are metal, ceramic or plastic brackets glued to your teeth and connected by wires. At first, braces can cause some discomfort. They can also bother your lips or cheeks and limit what you can eat. You'll avoid many of these issues by wearing clear aligners. They're thin, smooth and come out at mealtime.

5. Invisalign may cost more than metal.

The cost of orthodontic treatment varies from person to person. The price depends on:

  • The severity of your bite problem
  • The orthodontist you choose
  • How well your follow your treatment plan

Although individual orthodontists set the price for Invisalign treatment, it may cost more than braces. When talking with your orthodontist about clear aligners, ask for a breakdown of all your costs, including the initial consultation, the trays and retainers, and fees for replacement aligners and retainers. 
Keep in mind if you don't wear your trays correctly, your treatment may need to last longer. If you lose your aligners, your orthodontist will need to make new trays. Both of these situations can raise the overall price of your treatment.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 31
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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  4. Orthodontics at any age. Canadian Dental Association. http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/procedures/orthodontics/

  5. Pravindevaprasad A and Therese BA. Tooth positioners and their effects on treatment outcome. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jul;4(2):298-301.