How long do you have to wear Invisalign?

Invisalign is one of the most popular global aligner brands, providing orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth. Invisalign’s clear aligners, which are almost invisible, can be removed which makes them a popular alternative to traditional braces. 

But many people considering traditional braces or clear aligners are keen to know how long treatment will take to straighten their teeth. The answer is somewhat complex, as it depends on the exact dental issues that any prospective patient may have. 

Generally, for people with moderate teeth alignment issues, Invisalign treatment will last around 12 to 18 months. For more complicated teeth alignment issues, that timeframe may be around 2 years or more. For very simple teeth alignment cases, Invisalign Express is a much faster alternative and treatment times range from 3 to 6 months. 

Invisalign is able to treat more complex alignment cases than many other clear aligner brands, which is partly why treatment with Invisalign is longer and more comparable to traditional braces. But, there are some cases that are too severe for treatment with Invisalign – in which case metal braces and other orthodontics may be the only option.

There are also other factors that can affect treatment duration. This includes how many hours a day a patient wears their aligners for. People are meant to wear them for 20 to 22 hours a day, but if this is not maintained, then the treatment plan may be slowed. Another factor that affects treatment time, is whether patients change aligners timeously. Invisalign doctors will instruct their patients on when to get their next pair of aligners, as part of the treatment plan. But if a patient doesn’t attend their checkups and doesn’t move on to their next set of aligners on time, treatment may be delayed. 

Each clear aligner brand has a slightly different treatment duration for straight teeth. In part this has to do with the complexity of cases that they can treat. For example, some brands only treat very mild alignment cases, and therefore their treatment will typically be much quicker than treatment of a severe alignment or bite issue. 

Many people ask the question: “how long does Invisalign take to straighten teeth?” Below we explore details about the treatment time with Invisalign compared with other well-known aligner brands. We also explain why treatment times can vary quite considerably and we discuss several other frequently asked questions. 

How long does it take to straighten teeth with Invisalign treatment? 

The Invisalign treatment process starts off with a visit to one of their 100,000 globally located dentists and orthodontists for a consultation. The doctor will discuss your goals and treatment plan, the costs and expected duration of treatment.

Once you approve the treatment plan, then you’ll receive your first set of custom-made aligners to wear. The aligners incrementally move your teeth into position, as indicated by your treatment plan. You’ll likely be asked to visit your dentist every 4 to 6 weeks for a checkup, where you’ll also receive your next sets of aligners. 

Invisalign can be used to straighten teeth and correct a range of complex alignment and bite issues. These include overbites, underbites, crossbites, crowded teeth, gap teeth, and open bites. Invisalign can also be used to adjust simple alignment of just one or two crooked teeth. 

Invisalign’s own SmartTrack material which the company has patented, helps to speed up the treatment process using precision teeth movement technology. 

Once your treatment plan has been completed, you’ll be expected to wear retainers – initially every day and then just at night. Retainers help to maintain your new smile and keep your teeth from shifting back to their old alignments. 

Treatment with Invisalign usually takes between 12 to 18 months. However if you have a very mild alignment issue it could take much less time using the Invisalign Express treatment (3 to 6 months) – or if you have very complex teeth alignment and bite issues it could take 2 years or more. 

Why Does Invisalign Treatment Length Vary So Much?

If you imagine the process of fixing a car: the time it takes will vary depending on whether you just need to get a new spark plug or whether you need a whole new engine. Similarly, to treat teeth alignment issues – the duration of treatment is linked with how complex the misalignment and bite issues are. 

Every case will be different and your Invisalign doctor will be able to give you an estimate as to how long your treatment plan will take. Generally, the more complex the alignment or bite issue, the longer the treatment will need to be. 

In addition to the complexity of your case, various other factors also affect the duration of your treatment plan. These include:

  • Whether you manage to wear your aligners for the required 20-22 hours a day: if you don’t manage to maintain this, then you will slow down the progress of your own treatment plan;
  • Some people’s teeth take naturally longer than others to shift into alignment;
  • Whether you manage to visit your doctor every 4 to 6 weeks for checkups and to receive your new set of aligners to wear: if you fail to do so and are late in getting your next pair of aligners to wear, then this will slow down the treatment process.

The duration of orthodontic treatment: Invisalign vs other aligner brands 

It’s useful to compare Invisalign treatment duration with other aligner brands, to give a comprehensive review of alternatives. However, bear in mind that many aligner brands only treat very mild alignment issues, which generally means that their treatment times will be shorter than the moderate to severe cases that can be treated with brands like Invisalign (or with traditional metal braces). 

Also bear in mind that some aligner companies allow patients the option of wearing aligners just at night, which can also lengthen the duration of treatment. 

Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club

Invisalign can treat more complex alignment and bite issues than Smile Direct Club, and this translates into longer average treatment times of around 12 to 18 months. By comparison, aligner treatment with Smile Direct Club averages around 4 to 6 months (or 10 months if you choose the nighttime-only option). 

However, if you have a mild alignment issues, then you may be eligible for Invisalign Express which can take 3 to 6 months. For people with mild alignment issues, Invisalign Express and Smile Direct Club may have similar treatment times – unless you opt for the Smile Direct Club night-only option which takes a little longer. 

Invisalign vs Candid 

Treatment with Candid aligners usually takes around 6 months, which is a similar timeframe to Invisalign Express (3 to 6 months). 

However, if your bite or misalignment is quite complex to treat, then you may not be eligible for treatment with Candid – but you may be with Invisalign. The average Invisalign treatment time for mild to moderate cases is 12 to 18 months. 

Invisalign vs ClearCorrect

ClearCorrect and Invisalign both treat a wider range of more complex alignment and bite issues compared with many other aligner companies. That means that both companies’ treatment times are therefore longer on average than others at around 12 to 18 months for mild to moderate cases – although this can be significantly less when treating a minor alignment issue. 

Invisalign vs Byte

Byte offers one of the fastest treatment times of any aligner company at 3 to 6 months, which in part is due to its HyperByte device. The HyperByte is specially designed to help to speed up treatment and tooth movements. 

Invisalign Express can match this treatment time of 3 to 6 months with its Invisalign Express, which is directed for very mild alignment issues. 

However, for more complex cases, treatment times can range from between 12 and 18 months or even longer. These more complex cases would typically not be treatable with Byte aligners. 

Invisalign also uses its own patented SmartTrack material to speed up treatment and to help make the tooth movements more precise and predictable.

Do you have to wear Invisalign forever? 

The Invisalign aligner treatment duration will depend on the complexity of your alignment issues. While it can take from as little as a few months, to as long as over 2 years, you won’t have to wear Invisalign aligners forever.

However, once you’ve completed Invisalign treatment, you will need to wear a retainer to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original positions and to maintain your new smile. Invisalign have their own brand of Vivera retainers.

How painful is Invisalign? 

Invisalign have spent years on research and development to create and design comfortable, effective, and durable aligners. Their SmartTrack aligner material is also meant to be more accurate in shifting teeth, and also speeds up treatment times. 

Some people do feel discomfort when wearing aligners and this is often when new aligners are worn for the first time – which is every 1 to 2 weeks. The exact degree of pain or discomfort will depend on each persons pain threshold and sensitivity to wearing something in their mouth. 

Why do you have to wear Invisalign aligners for 2 weeks? 

Invisalign (and most aligner brands) work by incrementally shifting teeth into new positions, in line with each patients customized treatment plan. The aligners apply pressure and move the teeth slowly towards their new alignment. 

This is done using a series of aligners – each set is worn for approximately 1 to 2 weeks before moving on to the next set of aligners. Your dentist will direct you according to your own progress towards and in line with your treatment plan. 

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