How Long Does Invisalign Take? | Our Full Guide to the Time Frame For Straightening Your Teeth

Those who wear Invisalign (or plan to wear Invisalign at some time in the future) will understandably have the same key question in mind:

How long does Invisalign take to get the job done?  How long does it take to straighten teeth with Invisalign, and will you be looking at much less time than with traditional braces?

Truth is, average times for straightening teeth are difficult to pinpoint, as the requirements of all children, teenagers, and adults are unique. This means that while some need to wear braces for just a few months to have the desired effect, others are looking at periods closer to 12 months or 18 months.

Likewise, you may be advised to wear your aligners for a relatively short period of time each day, or for anything up to 20 to 22 hours a day.

All of which will be specified in your individual treatment plan, created from scratch in accordance with the requirements of your teeth and your own objectives. Nevertheless, one of the biggest benefits of Invisalign - see also 'Invisalign Reviews' - is the way in which Invisalign is generally much faster and more comfortable than wearing braces, which for most patients takes longer to achieve adequate teeth straightening. 

a woman wearing invisalign

Why Do I Need To Wear an Aligner or Retainer?

Even if you have an outstanding dental health regime and visit your dentist on a regular basis, this does not mean you will not need to wear braces at some point.  There are issues like crooked teeth, crowding, gaps between teeth, and general problems with tooth positioning that cannot be avoided with good hygiene alone.

In some instances, minor issues may not be considered serious enough for dental tools like braces to be necessary. Nevertheless, this is something you need to know and can only find out by visiting a dentist and undergoing a full assessment.

The three main reasons why a patient may be recommended traditional braces or Invisalign treatment are as follows:

1. Alignment Issues

As the name suggests, this is where a bespoke aligner is needed to correct issues with teeth that are poorly aligned. Failing to do so could lead to problems with biting, chewing, and so on.

2. Crowded Teeth

Crowding is another common issue, which in the case of relatively mild cases can often be corrected within just a few months. The more severe the issue with crowded teeth is, the longer it will take to correct the issue.

3. Gaps in Teeth

This is another common reason why people wear braces or Invisalign, though a gap in the teeth can actually be quite attractive. It isn’t usually a particularly problematic issue in terms of health and wellbeing, though some people with gaps in their teeth find them aesthetically displeasing and prefer to close the gaps.

How Long Does Invisalign Take To Straighten Teeth?

As already touched upon, it is difficult to provide an answer to this question that isn’t at least slightly ambiguous. Invisalign clear aligners are designed to correct several different types of problems and can be effective in all instances.

But just as is the case with all orthodontic tools for teeth straightening, some issues and treatment time take longer to correct than others. Severe cases with crowding teeth take up to 18 months of treatment time to correct, whereas others may show major signs of improvement within a matter of weeks.

In addition, it usually takes longer for orthodontists to correct issues involving the teeth of adults, due to the fact that more pressure is needed to move the teeth where they are no longer growing. Also, remember to check out our 'Best Braces for Adults Reviews'.

a man in blue shirt smiling

Benefits of Invisalign vs. Traditional Braces

Irrespective of how long does it takes for Invisalign treatment to have the desired effect, there are numerous benefits to wearing the Invisalign aligner trays as an alternative to conventional braces. 

Not only are there countless issues with teeth Invisalign is designed to correct effectively, but there are various benefits of Invisalign that make it a preferable approach to treatment for many adults and younger patients alike.

Examples of which include the following:

  • Invisalign is practically invisible - see also 'Best Invisible Braces Reviews' - which means that the trays cannot normally be seen by others without a close-up inspection
  • Invisalign treatment times are often (though not always) faster than they would be with any comparable form of retainer or straightening device
  • It is easy to brush your teeth and keep your Invisalign retainer clean, as it can be removed quickly and comfortably at any time
  • The vast majority of patients who use this system state that it is far less painful than wearing traditional braces
  • Everything you need is included in your bespoke treatment plan, crafted in accordance with your unique requirements and preferences

Even where Invisalign may be slightly more expensive than the conventional alternative, it is still a small price to pay when you consider the benefits of Invisalign.

Invisalign vs. traditional braces

What Does The Treatment Process With Invisalign Look Like?

Most dentists and orthodontists these days actively recommend Invisalign for straightening teeth to be proud of. Dentistry has come a long way over the years, revolutionizing the prosthetics and devices used to quickly and comfortably straighten your teeth.

In any case, the treatment process with most orthodontists follows the same basic pattern, which usually incorporates the following steps.

During a visit with your orthodontist, a detailed assessment of your teeth will be performed and your requirements will be discussed. It is at this point that it will be determined whether or not you are a candidate for Invisalign, or whether traditional braces are more suitable for your requirements.

visiting the orthodontist

If it is determined that Invisalign could work for you, impressions of your teeth will be taken and sent away. These impressions will then be used by a team of technicians to create a detailed 3D model of your teeth, which will be used to create a bespoke straightening device to suit your requirements.

A series of aligner trays will then be created, which you will need to wear consecutively in a specific order. Your dentist will tell you how long you need to wear each of these aligners, and for how many hours each day.

It is usually necessary to wear Invisalign for approximately 20 to 22 hours per day, but there may be differences from one patient to the next - your dentist will tell you everything you need to know.

Subsequent check-ups will then be arranged every few months, during which it will be determined whether or not the treatment is working and whether any further adjustments need to be made.

How Long Does Invisalign Take on Average?

weeks in a calendar

There are various factors that can influence the timeline involved in straightening teeth with Invisalign. Treatment times vary primarily on the basis of the severity of the problem, though the nature of the issue itself will also influence the time it takes.

For example, relatively mild issues with crowded teeth can in some instances be corrected within just six months. By contrast, a relatively large gap between the teeth can take much longer to move the teeth closer together - perhaps as long as two years.

As your dentist will advise, there are things Invisalign patients can do to gain the maximum value from their treatment and ensure things happen as quickly, safely, and comfortably as possible. Examples of which include:

Making sure you wear your Invisalign aligners for the recommended amount of time per day. This means that if you are advised to wear your braces for 22 hours each day, you don’t reduce this to 18 hours or 16 hours.

It's important to follow the prescribed schedule recommended by your dentist, with regard to how long each tray should be worn for and when you should make the switch to the next aligner in the sequence.

Keep your teeth and your retainer clean, practicing good oral health and hygiene to avoid any other potential issues complicating the problem further along the way.

Above all else, it is essential to be as patient as possible.  How long it takes is how long it takes, and there are various facts you have no direct control over.

Give your Invisalign aligners long enough to do their job and the resulting pay-off will be worthwhile, irrespective of how long you have to wear your retainer in the meantime.

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