Invisalign is the most popular solution to straightening your teeth if you are not keen on traditional braces. The aligners are practically invisible and use SmartForce technology to gradually move teeth into place.
This treatment is suitable for both teenagers and adults. Many celebrities are using and endorsing this form of orthodontic work. Read the detailed guide below to find out whether it’s a good idea to join the movement.
Fill out the Smile Assessment
The first thing many patients do when considering Invisalign is to go to their website and fill out a Smile Assessment. This is not required, but it gives you a pretty good idea of whether you are a good candidate for their treatment.
You will have to provide your name, birth date, zip code, email address, and phone. There is also a question about the issues you are experiencing with your teeth. The options include:
- gap teeth,
- open bite, and
- crooked teeth.
Invisalign may accept patients with some problems that may be unacceptable to other aligner brands. This includes baby teeth, wisdom teeth, and implants. While gum disease and cavities are not deal-breakers, it is advised that you target those before starting your Invisalign journey.
The next step is finding an Invisalign dentist near you.
Come in for an initial consultation
During your first meeting with an Invisalign provider, he or she will usually scan your teeth with an iTero Element device. It makes a precise 3D rendition of your teeth. A treatment plan can also be mapped out almost immediately.
Some dentists and orthodontists like to do a mouth impression, but this is not a must with Invisalign. You can, however, expect some X-rays to make sure your teeth, roots, and jawbone are healthy and ready for straightening treatment.
X-rays allow the dental professional to see if there are any dental or periodontal (support structure for teeth) problems. Investing in orthodontic treatment without healthy teeth and gums is not wise.
Photos of your mouth are taken. The lab requires 8, including full-face ones. Bite registration is another element of this consultation. A fast-setting paste is put on the teeth and you gently bite down. When it sets, the dentist has an exact record of how your upper and lower teeth fit together.
Choose your Invisalign package
Below we have described the most commonly chosen Invisalign packages. There are more to pick from. Your provider will be able to advise best which is right for you.
This package is appropriate for even the most complex cases. The Full option provides significant flexibility and control over the treatment: there is an unlimited number of trays. You don’t have to make the best of each step: the process can be gradual.
Additionally, the treatment can continue until you are happy with the result. That’s because refinement is included in this package.
This package is recommended for teenagers and young adults whose teeth are still moving around or haven’t erupted entirely. Shifting can be controlled and the direction of root growth can be guided.
Just as in the Full option, there is an unlimited amount of trays. The treatment can continue until the desired result is achieved.
What’s more, with the hectic life of a teenager, aligners might get broken or lost. Invisalign Teen includes six complementary aligners if this were to happen. Pediatric dentistry also requires some form of parental guidance. These trays have a blue indicator that shows whether aligners were worn enough.
If your issues are slight, you might get away with this (more affordable) option. It is targeted at those who have minor overcrowding or spacing problems. There are only 10 trays included in this package.
More often than not, this is not enough. Many online reviews quote disappointment with the end result. On top of that, there is no refinement. You might be stuck with an unsatisfactory result.
Most offices do offer additional treatment in such cases, but you will have to pay for it. If your issue was not major to begin with, you will probably end up paying out-of-pocket.
Once you discuss which package you would like, your provider will send your Invisalign prescription to Align Technology. Technicians will prepare an animation to show you how your teeth will move.
Try your aligners on for the first time
When your aligners are ready for pickup, your dentist or orthodontist will invite you for a first fitting. He or she will help you put them on and take them out for the first time. You are free to ask any questions you may have.
You’ll find out how long you have to wear each set and for how many hours a day. This is usually 1-2 weeks and an average of 22 hours per day. You will also be informed how many trays you will have altogether as well as the number of buttons and attachments you will need.
The next step is letting you know how to take care of your trays. Correct cleaning techniques will be broken down. You may also get a DVD with instructions to watch at home.
Conduct your treatment from home and visit your provider
After you leave the office, much of the work will be in your hands. It’s time to start the treatment.
Keep your aligners in
A new set will always feel a little tight for the first few days. This period is critical and no reason to keep them out of your mouth. The only times you should be removing your trays is for eating and cleaning your teeth.
Teen aligners have blue indicators that will show parents whether their children are wearing them enough.
Take good care of the trays
If you are eating out, make sure to bring your hygiene supplies with you. Both your teeth and trays should be brushed before they are placed in your mouth. Don’t forget to floss, too. The only thing you may consume when they are in your mouth is water.
Patient's oral hygiene is extremely important to the effectiveness of treatment. Patients who don't clean their mouth properly may develop severe tooth decay or periodontal issues.
Visit your dentist regularly
Invisalign does not hand you all your trays at once. Instead, you will receive a couple sets at a time. This means you’ll have to schedule an appointment every 6-8 weeks. The biggest benefit is that your progress is checked along the way and any necessary adjustment can be made.
It may seem like a hassle, but this is similar to the frequency of visits to an orthodontist when wearing regular braces. And on top of that, emergency visits are eliminated, since you won’t be dealing with any wires or brackets that often break or come loose.
Make sure teeth don’t shift back
Any orthodontic treatment ends with retainers. This is because teeth tend to want to shift back to their original position. The only way to stop that is to wear retainers at night. They are a running cost you have to consider for the rest of your life.
Proper compliance with retainers after treatment is almost as necessary as proper treatment. Relapse of teeth is a common occurrence if you do not replace retainers periodically.
Invisalign offers Vivera retainers. They get great reviews from professionals and users alike. They are, of course, custom made, and claimed to be 30% more durable than other brands.
Clear-cut Invisalign cost breakdown
Invisalign packages cost from $1,800 up to $9,500.
The cost for each package is dependent on several factors, much like in the case of conventional braces. The biggest ones are:
- the severity of your issue,
- the length of the treatment,
- the numbers of aligners necessary,
- the experience of the dentist, and
- your dentist’s specialization (an orthodontist might charge a little more than a regular dentist).
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There may be additional procedures you will have to pay for. Your dentist or orthodontist will let you know which are needed in your case. You can expect one or more of the following:
- initial consultation,
- diagnostic casts,
- dental X-rays,
- refinement, and
- Retainers (included with some packages).
What are some alternatives to Invisalign?
The most popular Invisalign alternatives include traditional braces and at-home teeth straightening kits.
Traditional braces are still very common among patients who want to align their smile. They are made from metal wires and brackets. The latter are cemented onto the teeth for the duration of the treatment. Wires are changed and tightened at regular dental visits scheduled 6-8 weeks apart.
Invisalign, on the other hand, can be removed by the patients for eating and cleaning. This makes oral hygiene a lot more convenient, as opposed to braces. The traditional method of straightening teeth has a huge downside of food getting stuck in the appliance.
The other major benefit of Invisalign over the traditional process is that the treatment is practically invisible. Made from clear plastic, the trays don’t stand out, giving the patient a “brace-face”. The costs are comparable.
- Removable trays
- See-through materials
- Easy oral hygiene
- Some providers are dentists
- Metal wires and brackets
- Mounted permanently
- Oral hygiene is difficult
- Always overseen by an orthodontist
At-home straightening kits
Straightening teeth from home is possible. Some brands allow for the whole process to happen from home. Others offer the option or even require an initial face-to-face assessment. The process is sometimes overseen by dentists, but orthodontists often take part as well, the same as in the case of Invisalign.
Invisalign requires regular visits to a Provider. Most aligner brands allow patients to carry out the treatment by themselves, giving them an option to contact a representative if something were to go wrong.
The biggest difference between at-home straightening kits and Invisalign is the price. The former are a lot more affordable and charge all patients the same price. Invisalign is commonly more expensive with more complex cases.
- Regular visits required
- Trays are given in batches at check-ups
- Mostly or completely remote
- All aligners arrive together
- Can be more affordable
Invisalign near me
Invisalign costs can get quite steep. It all depends on the situation in your mouth and the chosen specialist. It’s never a bad idea to shop around. Spending more time on research could mean keeping more money in your pocket.
We can do this for you. Authority Dental has a huge network of dental professionals, including many Invisalign providers. The find a dentist near me service includes booking an initial consultation with a dentist or orthodontist whenever you’re available.
We will consider your insurance plan and preferred form of payment. Financing options are available for those who can’t pay up-front. Take advantage of our 100% free matching service. We’re available 24/7. Get started here.
Does insurance cover Invisalign?
On the Invisalign website, it is stated that insurance coverage can go up to $3,500. According to our research, however, providers rarely cover more than $2,000. Policies tend to cover more when the issues are more severe, making alignment “medically necessary”.
Insurance policies that cover orthodontic work sometimes do have higher yearly maximums than other plans. Some go up to the aforementioned $3,500, rather than the usual $1,000-$1,500. They tend to be lifetime caps instead.
Dental discount plans are an option we recommend. They work kind of like a membership and offer discounts on all dental work. You can save as much as 60% of the total cost. You won’t need to worry about any paperwork or waiting periods. You can even sign up during treatment. The plan is active from the moment you sign up.
How long does Invisalign treatment take?
Treatments average to 12-18 months. Invisalign claims that mild cases may take as few as half a year. Results are visible after a couple weeks.
Does Invisalign hurt?
In most cases, some pain is present whenever a new set of aligners is put in. This should subside on its own within a few days, but you may take OTC painkillers to manage it.
How to clean Invisalign?
While you are eating, you can simply rinse your trays under warm (never hot) water. At least once a day, though, soak the aligners in warm water with a spoonful of baking soda. You can use a soft-bristled brush to remove any food debris.
How long do Invisalign results last?
Invisalign results are meant to last for as long as you continue to wear your retainer. This could be the rest of your life.
Is Invisalign cheaper than braces?
It depends on the situation in your mouth and which package you purchase from Invisalign, but braces tend to be more expensive on average. This is especially true if your heart is set on porcelain or lingual braces. Overall, the costs are comparable.