If you had a choice, would you wear braces on your teeth or clear aligners?
If your answer is clear aligners, you’re not alone. Clear aligners have grown in popularity over the past couple of decades as an option for straightening or realigning your teeth.
Perhaps the oldest and best known clear aligner product is Invisalign, which was introduced to the market in 1998 by Align Technology. Since then, more clear aligners from other brands have come into the market, such as Spark, ClearCorrect, and uLab.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Invisalign can do, how effective it is, and the pros and cons of this product.
Invisalign is the brand name of a type of thin clear aligner used in orthodontic treatment. The aligner is made from a flexible thermoplastic material named SmartTrack.
As the name suggests, this product is designed to make orthodontic treatment “less conspicuous,” as the American Association of Orthodontists puts it.
Although Invisalign aligners may not be completely invisible, these clear coverings fit tightly over your teeth and are much less noticeable than the brackets and wires of traditional braces.
Invisalign can be used for a variety of purposes, including crowding and spacing issues, as well as some mild and moderate bite issues.
The Invisalign website claims that it can be used to treat the following dental issues:
- some types of overbite, underbite, and crossbite issues
- open bite
- gap teeth
- crowded teeth
While still limited, research suggests that Invisalign may be more effective for some issues than others.
For example, a
The first step in the process involves a visit to an orthodontist, who will create a 3-D image of your mouth and jaw. They’ll use this image to put together a plan for moving your teeth into their proper place.
Your orthodontist will then use that plan to create a series of customized plastic aligners. These aligners will apply pressure to your teeth, gradually shifting them and moving them into the desired places.
Depending on your orthodontist’s instructions, you’ll switch out one set of aligners for a new set about once every week or two. Typically, you’ll need to wear the aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day.
You may have friends who’ve had a good experience with Invisalign, but it’s important to go beyond the anecdotal evidence. At the moment, however, there’s not a lot of research that points to its effectiveness.
A 2015 review of 11 studies involving the use of Invisalign aligners notes that research on their effectiveness is limited.
Studies that have been done up until now tend to have small sample sizes, and many studies haven’t included a control group to use as a comparison.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Orthodontics also warns of the lack of clinical research to bolster claims of effectiveness.
However, based on
For Invisalign to work effectively, it’s important to wear the aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day.
The only time you’re supposed to remove the aligners is when you’re:
- eating or drinking
- brushing or flossing your teeth
- cleaning your aligners
You need to be careful when cleaning your aligners. If you use very hot water, it could warp the plastic. This can alter the fit, and affect your progress and the effectiveness of the aligners.
The complexity of your orthodontic issues may also affect how well Invisalign works for you. It may take longer for this treatment to work if you’re dealing with more complex spacing or bite issues.
Other variables that may be at work are your sex and age. A study of 30 volunteers found that tooth movement may be affected by the wearer’s age.
According to the study, the rate of movement of your teeth increases slightly from ages 35 to 50. This means Invisalign may be more effective for this age group.
The same study also found that tooth movement between the ages of 50 to 70 didn’t decline for women in the same way it did for men.
(Video) Pros & Cons of Invisalign Braces
To help you determine whether Invisalign is the right choice for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this treatment option.
Pros of Invisalign
- The aesthetic factor. This is a very commonly cited reason for choosing Invisalign. These clear aligners are much less noticeable than the wires and brackets of braces.
- You can remove them. You can physically remove the aligner from your mouth if you need to.
- Ease of cleaning your teeth. By removing the aligner, you can easily brush and floss your teeth, without having to work around wires and brackets. A
2017 studyalso suggests this can improve your periodontal health by reducing the amount of bacteria lurking around your teeth and gums.
- Fewer potential problems. Many people with traditional braces have stories about a bracket that fell off or a wire that broke, leading to an emergency visit to the orthodontist. You won’t have that potential problem with clear aligners.
Cons of Invisalign
- Less effective for complex issues.
Research, while limited, does seem to suggest that Invisalign is more effective for people whose teeth require only certain kinds of movement. Your doctor may suggest another treatment option for more complex issues. Additionally, if you have bridgework on some of your teeth, Invisalign might not be the right option for you.
- Requires compliance. To get the maximum benefit from Invisalign, you must wear the aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day. If you think you’ll be tempted to slip them out more often, it may not be the best choice for you.
- Removal when eating or drinking. When you’re eating or drinking, you need to take the aligners out. If you don’t, food or drink can get into them. This causes bacteria to grow along your teeth or gumline, which could lead to cavities. Also, liquid can seep down into them and cause staining of the aligners and your teeth.
- Food limitations. You may experience tooth soreness when the aligner is removed, which can limit your food choices. Hard foods, especially, should be avoided.
According to the Invisalign website, the cost of treatment with Invisalign is similar to the cost of traditional braces.
According to the Consumer Guide for Dentistry, the cost will probably range between $3,000 and $5,000. The cost can fluctuate depending on how long you need treatment, the complexity of your tooth alignment issues, and where you live.
You may want to check with the administrator of your dental insurance plan if you have one. Some dental insurance plans do pay for some or all of the cost of Invisalign.
If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you may also be able to use it to pay for some of the costs of Invisalign treatment.
If you don’t have insurance coverage, many dentists and orthodontists offer payment plans for the care they offer. Be sure to ask about this before you agree to the treatment.
If you’re considering Invisalign aligners, ask yourself these questions to help you determine whether this is the best choice for you:
- Do I have a fairly straightforward crowding or bite issue with my teeth?
- Do I feel self-conscious about wearing braces?
- Will I wear the aligners for the appropriate number of hours every day?
- Can I afford them?
- Will I take care of them correctly?
If you have a teenager at home who would rather opt for Invisalign than regular braces, assess whether they’ll wear them and care for them appropriately.
If you know your child is prone to losing things, Invisalign — which can be removed and misplaced — might not be the best choice.
Invisalign can be used for a variety of purposes, including crowding and spacing issues, as well as some mild and moderate bite issues.
It may be a good option for you if you don’t have a complicated bite or crowding issue and you’d prefer a less visible treatment than braces.
Talk with your orthodontist or dentist about your teeth, what type of orthodontic treatment you may need, and whether Invisalign is a good option for you. Then, consider all the pros and cons before making your decision.
Is Invisalign effective or not? ›
Invisalign can address many of the issues corrected by traditional braces. When worn according to the treatment plan, plastic aligners can bring about real transformations. But they are not a universal fix. Many orthodontists suggest that Invisalign be used in only mild to moderate cases.What is the success rate of Invisalign? ›
In general, the success rate of Invisalign is quite high. The overall success rate of Invisalign is around 96%. This means that 96% of patients who complete treatment with Invisalign achieve their desired results and are completely satisfied with the treatment.Are there any downsides to Invisalign? ›
Any orthodontia that shifts your teeth positions may cause discomfort, especially at the beginning of treatment. Though Invisalign generally creates less discomfort than braces, the aligners will likely feel tight at first. Your mouth may also feel heavy and full, leading to potential jaw soreness.
Severe overbite: Though a regular overbite may be addressed, severe overbite may require the use of braces. Tooth shape: Too-short or pegged teeth can prevent Invisalign from working properly. Tooth position: If your teeth are too rotated, Invisalign cannot shift them into proper alignment.
For adults, Invisalign® is often preferred because it's practically invisible, results in fewer emergency appointments, requires fewer visits, and adults often present with compromised teeth and/or gum tissues.What do orthodontists think of Invisalign? ›
Because the Invisalign® system makes life easier for their patients, orthodontists often prefer it over metal braces. However, for patients with severely misaligned teeth, braces are the better option. Sometimes, teeth need to be twisted as part of the straightening process.Does Invisalign fix your teeth forever? ›
You can rest assured that Invisalign treatment is permanent and will give you straighter teeth for a lifetime if you follow the orthodontist's instructions.What is the average age of Invisalign patients? ›
From 12 to 80 years old, countless patients have achieved fantastic results through Invisalign treatment. In fact, the average age of people straightening their smile with Invisalign is 32 years old. Seniors and retirees can remaster their smiles with ease through this more discrete treatment option without any hassle.What is the average time someone has Invisalign? ›
The average time needed for Invisalign to straighten your teeth is about 12 months. You may require more or less time. Your orthodontist will discuss your progress during your regular visits.Who is a bad candidate for Invisalign? ›
This includes instances of gaps in your teeth or crowded teeth, mild overbites or underbites, protruding teeth, and crooked teeth. If you have a major issue that requires your jawbone to be moved, such as a severe overbite or underbite, Invisalign isn't recommended.
Why doesn t everyone use Invisalign? ›
The effectiveness of Invisalign is limited. When compared to traditional braces, Invisalign does not offer your orthodontist a greater control over tooth movements. Invisalign also fails to treat severe cases of malocclusions.What foods are off limits with Invisalign? ›
With this in mind, here are foods to avoid with Invisalign and braces:
- Chewing gum.
- Jawbreakers (best avoided in general)
- Sour candy.
But as it turns out, it is common for teeth to remain crooked after the normal Invisalign treatment program. Re-treatment occurs in half the patients to get the Invisalign results desired.Why do I feel like Invisalign isn't working? ›
You aren't taking proper care of your aligners.
Avoid using hot water to clean your aligners as this can warp and weaken the plastic, which will then alter how the trays fit in your mouth. Clean your aligners as recommended to avoid build-up and ensure your teeth stay healthy.
The biggest risk of missing any period of Invisalign® use is that the teeth may shift back to an incorrect position. Invisalign® aligners are intended to be worn for 22 to 23 hours out of the day. Any less than this, and you risk hurting your progress.What is better than Invisalign? ›
The treatment with braces can be much quicker because unlike Invisalign that depends on the patient's needs, metal braces are irremovable. Braces are very efficient when it comes to fixing complex tooth issues, and they can align teeth and close gaps much faster than Invisalign.Why are so many dentists recommending Invisalign? ›
Invisalign® has become the standard for teeth straightening treatment due to the ease of the process and the many benefits it offers. Unlike traditional approaches such as braces, Invisalign® allows individuals to undergo an easy and flexible treatment process that also allows for discreetness!Is it easier to get cavities with Invisalign? ›
So, the next question we need to answer is, do aligners lead to cavities? In short, no. In fact, whether or not you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, your best defence against tooth decay is regular and proper brushing and flossing.Why don't orthodontists like Invisalign? ›
Invisalign doesn't have the same force and capabilities to move teeth as braces. Therefore, complex orthodontic treatment or cases that require significant movement of teeth need braces, not Invisalign to achieve the desired outcome.Is it better to get Invisalign from a dentist or orthodontist? ›
A dentist can provide initial consultation and evaluation for Invisalign. An orthodontist can treat more complex cases with Invisalign and has additional training in straightening teeth (but they cost a lot more). If you have a highly complex dental problem that, it is best to see an orthodontist.
Why do orthodontists prefer Invisalign? ›
A huge advantage of wearing Invisalign clear aligners over traditional braces is not getting food stuck in your brackets and wires. With traditional braces removing all the food that gets trapped is a huge challenge. This can often lead to plaque buildup and eventually tooth decay.Do teeth relapse after Invisalign? ›
An orthodontic relapse can occur if teeth move positions after the tooth straightening treatment (braces). Our orthodontists have seen many cases where this has happened and now provide treatments to prevent and treat this problem.What happens if I stop wearing my Invisalign? ›
If you forget to wear Invisalign, your teeth will begin to shift back to their original position. The aligners will not fit properly. Do not worry, though. It will not be difficult to get back on track with your treatment.What is the shortest time for Invisalign? ›
The simple answer is: “It depends.” For simple cases, treatment time with Invisalign aligners can be as short as six months. Typically, Invisalign will take 12 months to 18 months to straighten your teeth. For more complex cases such as crowded teeth, the treatment time could be 24 months or slightly longer.What age is too late for Invisalign? ›
There is no upward age limit for Invisalign. Many of the people who seek the cosmetic and oral health benefits of Invisalign are adults who are well into their 40s, 50s, and older. We love seeing our older patients enjoy the benefits of a beautiful smile. Having straight teeth is a benefit at any age.When is it too late to get Invisalign? ›
It's Never Too Late To Get Your Dream Smile
Generally speaking, there is no specific age requirement for Invisalign. You are a candidate no matter your age. As long as you are someone who is serious about wanting to improve your smile and overall oral health, we encourage you to consider clear aligners.
In a word–no. There is no age that is “too old” to take advantage of Invisalign. Many people who are looking for cosmetic and oral health benefits are well into their 50s or older. There isn't an age limit on having and enjoying a beautiful smile.How many hours can Invisalign be off? ›
However, we recommend that you limit the amount of time the aligners are not in your mouth to no more than 2 hours per day. In other words, you need to wear your aligners for around 22 hours every day. Ignoring this advice could delay the date that you finish your Invisalign treatment.Is 20 hours a day enough for Invisalign? ›
In general, wearing Invisalign aligners for 20 hours a day is sufficient to achieve the desired results. However, it's important to note that each patient is different, and the orthodontist may prescribe a different amount of wear time based on the individual needs of the patient.How long will 20 trays of Invisalign take? ›
Depending on the individual undergoing treatment, it takes 4-8 months to complete. The dentist will use Invisalign Go if your teeth are crowded or widely spaced. They may also use them on teeth requiring slight rotations. This package allows 20-26 Invisalign aligner changes during orthodontics.
Why is Invisalign so difficult? ›
There are different reasons why you're not able to remove or take out Invisalign aligners like they are too tight, you have sore gums or teeth, you are starting Invisalign for the first time, or you eat certain drinks or food items that make it difficult to take handle your aligners afterward.What words are hard to say with Invisalign? ›
Most of the patients find it difficult to pronounce words with the sound of 's,' 'sh,' 'z' or 'th'. However, the problem is not noticeable enough, and you can adapt to the speech change once you wear your Invisalign for more than 2 weeks.Has anyone eaten with Invisalign? ›
Maintain Your Invisalign Perks
People love Invisalign because they can eat whatever they want without restrictions. Wearers of traditional metal braces have plenty of limits about the foods that are OK to eat with brackets and wires on their teeth.
Also, in relation to what foods are good to eat when you are getting used to your new Invisalign aligner trays yogurt, eggs, or pasta are good options. This is because the texture and consistency of these foods will help to avoid irritating any discomfort from the trays.Do dentists reshape teeth after Invisalign? ›
After Invisalign treatment, an orthodontist can complete minor reshaping, but if it's more involved, find an advanced cosmetic dentist. It's unlikely that your general dentist has enough experience to reshape your teeth precisely. At times, cosmetic dentists use composite bonding to finish the case.Should my teeth be perfectly straight after Invisalign? ›
Generally speaking, after your aligners are removed, your teeth should look straight. Gaps should appear minimal and there should not be any crowding between your teeth. If you noticed any crooked or twisted teeth before treatment, you should only see straight teeth when you smile.Are teeth perfectly straight after Invisalign? ›
Once a patient goes through all of the aligners, the teeth will most likely be perfectly straight.Should Invisalign always feel tight? ›
It's pretty common for a new set of Invisalign trays to feel very tight. In some cases, it may even seem like they can't fit over your teeth. If you've just switched to a new set of trays and they're not fitting onto your teeth, you can use Invisalign “Chewies” to seat them properly.Does it mean my Invisalign is working if it hurts? ›
Tenderness and slight discomfort are actually a good sign! It means your aligners are working and moving your teeth. It'll all be worth it in the end when you have a beautifully straight smile for the rest of your life.Can I drink with a straw with Invisalign? ›
Tips to Drink With Invisalign
You can drink alcoholic or sugary drinks with a straw. It minimizes the contact of the drink to your aligners and teeth. Earn bonus points by using biodegradable straws instead of plastic straw. Always carry a dedicated case with Invisalign aligners with you.
Do I need to brush my teeth every time I eat with Invisalign? ›
After every meal, try to brush your teeth or, at the very least, rinse them thoroughly with water if a better option isn't available. Invisalign hugs your teeth – you don't want any food or bacteria to fester in there for hours at a time.Can I drink coffee with Invisalign? ›
You Need To Take Your Trays Out While Drinking Anything Except Water. Full stop. You can't drink coffee or any other beverage besides tap or bottled water while wearing Invisalign.Does Invisalign fix teeth permanently? ›
The answer is a resounding yes. Invisalign is designed to be a permanent solution, but there is a small catch. Whether you correct your teeth with braces or Invisalign, there's always the potential that they can shift back after your treatment. So, our rule of thumb is that your results are only as good as your habits.Is Invisalign actually better than braces? ›
Which is better, braces or Invisalign? Braces are better for people with severe crookedness and most kids and teens. Invisalign and other brands of clear aligners are best for adults who want a nearly invisible and more comfortable straightening method, as long as the teeth aren't too crooked.Do you have to wear a retainer forever after Invisalign? ›
Yes, you'll need to wear a retainer after Invisalign treatment. Even though Invisalign moves teeth differently from traditional metal braces, the result is still the same.How long does it take to see results from Invisalign? ›
Although it may take longer for most patients, some may see results from their Invisalign treatment in as little as two weeks. So while some may have to wait three months before their smile improves, others may have to wait at least five months before noticing any changes to their smile.What teeth are hardest to move with Invisalign? ›
Typically, the lateral incisors or the teeth next to your front teeth are the most challenging to move with Invisalign aligners and traditional braces.Why do orthodontists push Invisalign? ›
Unlike with traditional braces that use a wire to push or pull teeth into the most optimal alignment, Invisalign® uses a series of plastic aligners to push the teeth into a better alignment. Thus, they are an ideal invisible choice, especially for adults who've always wanted a winning smile.How do you have a night out with Invisalign? ›
- Bring Your Case. You should be wearing your aligners for 20-22 hours every day. ...
- Stick to Clear Drinks. When you drink liquids with darker pigments like dark beer and red wine, they can stain both your teeth and your aligners. ...
- Rinse with Water. ...
- Bring a Toothbrush. ...
- About the Author.
What Happens If You Only Wear Invisalign at Night? While you technically can wear Invisalign only at night, in general, no orthodontist recommends it. Wearing clear aligners exclusively at night can potentially double the expected treatment time, even if your case is very mild.
What is the lifespan of Invisalign retainers? ›
Vivera® Invisalign retainers typically last around 10 years. However, things like night grinding and poor cleaning will reduce how long they last. If your removable retainer breaks or looks worse for wear, make sure you contact an Invisalign dentist for a new one straight away.Can teeth be too bad for Invisalign? ›
Invisalign can't reshape your teeth, so if you have a few teeth that are very small or misshapen, it may not be possible to get Invisalign treatment. These improperly-shaped teeth can mess up the alignment of your aligners. However, you may be able to have these teeth treated with a dental crown or dental bonding.How long will 14 Invisalign trays take? ›
Treatment with Invisalign Lite requires only 14 aligners. Depending on the individual undergoing treatment, it takes 4-8 months to complete. The dentist will use Invisalign Go if your teeth are crowded or widely spaced. They may also use them on teeth requiring slight rotations.