Invisalign is one of the most popular forms of orthodontic treatment particularly with people looking for a more discreet way to straighten teeth. But what exactly is the treatment and more importantly, how long does Invisalign take?
Firstly what is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a modern orthodontic treatment that utilises a series of custom-designed clear aligners (trays) to straighten teeth.
Each clear aligner is placed over the teeth like an invisible gum shield and is worn for a maximum of two weeks. During this time, teeth are moved fractionally. Once the aligner has done its job, it’s discarded and replaced by the next aligner in the series which moves the teeth to a more advanced position. This carries on throughout the treatment so that by the time the last set of Invisalign aligners have been worn, the teeth should be perfectly straight.
So, why is Invisalign treatment often preferred over traditional braces?
There are several benefits associated with Invisalign, namely:
- Invisalign aligners are made from transparent plastic that doesn’t draw attention to the fact that you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment
- Aligners are more comfortable to wear than traditional metal braces and brackets
- Most orthodontic issues can be corrected with Invisalign
- The aligners are removed to eat, drink, brush and floss, or for a special event.
So, how long does Invisalign take to straighten teeth?
Invisalign claims that treatment time is faster when compared to metal braces. But does this apply to everyone? In a word, no!
Here are some factors that affect Invisalign treatment time.
Invisalign is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment
No one case is the same since everyone’s teeth are different and come with their own set of unique challenges. The length of orthodontic treatment depends heavily on the complexity of the case.
So, what can Invisalign treat?
Invisalign can treat a wide range of issues including:
- Crowded teeth
- An underbite
- Open bite
- Crossbite or,
- Gaps between teeth
That said, while both teens and adults can benefit from Invisalign, treatment for adults will often take longer.
So why is this?
Younger teeth tend to be accompanied by softer bones making them easier to move. Adults, on the other hand, have denser bone making tooth movement more difficult. As a result, in some cases, Invisalign treatment can take up to 24 months or even longer on adult patients with more complex orthodontic issues.
How long does Invisalign take for teens?
For simple orthodontic treatments, Invisalign can sometimes be completed in just 6 months although on average, treatment time takes around 12 months. That is provided, of course, that the teen has worn their trays for the right amount of time each day i.e. a minimum of 22 hours.
It can be easy for teens to forget about wearing their Invisalign aligners which is why teenager trays are made with compliance indicators.
Blue dots on trays will gradually fade and once 336 hours (two weeks) have elapsed, provided the teen has worn them for the correct amount of time, the dots should have disappeared altogether.
Alternatively, teenagers can wear their aligner part-time until the dots have gone but all this does is to extend the duration of treatment.
Other factors that affect treatment time
The fact that Invisalign aligners are removable is one of their greatest attractions but with that comes the temptation for patients to remove them too often.
At Infinity Dental Care, we emphasise to patients that to achieve the best results aligner trays must be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day. Even though they can be removed to drink or eat and for cleaning your teeth, once you’re done, they must immediately be placed back in the mouth.
The aligners must be worn at all other times – yes, even when you’re asleep. Remember If the aligners aren’t in your mouth, then they can’t move teeth.
Patients who haven’t followed these instructions will find that their treatment time is considerably longer (and more expensive) than originally planned.
What, if anything, can aid a shorter treatment time?
If you’re lucky enough to only require minor orthodontic treatment, that in itself will help. It could be that you only have one or two teeth that need moving into alignment, in which case, Invisalign treatment could be completed in just a few months.
Aside from that, the best way to get teeth to move faster is to follow the instructions our dentist gives you. When aligners are worn for 22 hours or more every day, full compliance helps to speed things up.
When Invisalign aligners are first worn, they will feel tight. As a result, your teeth and jaw may feel sore but stick with it. This is just a sign that teeth are on the move so, don’t be tempted to remove them because within a few days, any pressure or discomfort typically eases.
Caring properly for your Invisalign aligners is important as well
Invisalign aligners should be brushed twice daily to remove any particles of food and given a deep clean once a week. This can be carried out by soaking them for 30 minutes in a solution made up of half water and half vinegar. Not only does this help keep your aligners in a good condition but it will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy too.
If one of your aligners gets damaged or cracked, remember that it can take time to receive a custom replacement. This will inevitably add time to your treatment. So do tell your dentist right away, so that they can get a replacement for you soonest. Remember, aligners need to be worn in sequence, so you can’t simply miss an aligner out altogether.
So, how long does Invisalign take to straighten teeth?
As you can see, it depends on your unique situation, whether you can stick to instructions for wear, and whether you look after them.
Typically though, if you have minor cosmetic issues with your teeth then you can expect treatment to be relatively short – usually around 6 months. However, if your teeth have more complex issues, then expect treatment to take two or 3 times longer.
If you’d like to know more about orthodontic treatment and whether Invisalign aligners are right for you, then why not schedule an appointment with the experienced dental team here at Infinity Dental Care or call us at (02) 9159 6237 and take the first step towards a beautiful straight smile.