Whether you’re considering Invisalign for yourself or your teen, you probably have a lot of questions. While you might know how Invisalign works—it uses clear plastic aligners instead of brackets and wires—you probably wonder whether Invisalign is right for you and how long you can expect your treatment to take. The best way to get an answer is to visit our office for a consultation, but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know.
Average Invisalign Treatment Time
According to the Invisalign website, the average treatment time for aligner therapy is 12 to 18 months. Because this is an average, it means there are a lot of people who are able to achieve their results in less than 12 months, and also some who need treatment for more than 18 months, but the vast majority of patients fall into the 12 to 18 month window.
Invisalign treatment times tend to be more predictable than other orthodontic treatment options since each set of aligners is worn for about two weeks. We will determine how many sets of aligners are needed to straighten your teeth and with that number, we can easily estimate the total amount of time you’ll need for treatment. This, of course, is just a rough estimate, but it will give you a good idea of what you can expect.
Understanding Your Orthodontic Needs
The number of Invisalign aligners you'll need to straighten your teeth is determined by the severity of your orthodontic case. As you can imagine, Invisalign takes longer when a patient has complicated orthodontic issues. This is the case for traditional metal braces too!
For example, many adults come to our office for Invisalign because they had braces when they were in their teens, but they weren’t diligent about wearing their retainers and experienced orthodontic relapse. For these patients, Invisalign treatment tends to be shorter because it only needs to correct minor misalignments. In contrast, a teen or adult who has never had braces and has significant bite issues will require a longer Invisalign treatment.
Compliance With Invisalign Treatment
While it’s true that Invisalign is predictable, there’s one thing we can’t predict: your compliance with the Invisalign system. Braces are cemented to your teeth, which means they work all day to straighten them. Invisalign aligners only work when they’re being worn, so compliance is critical.
Invisalign recommends that patients wear their aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day, but we say you should really only take them out when you’re going to eat, drink something other than water, or brush and floss. This way, you can maximize your time in your aligners each day and minimize your overall treatment time. Stay on track with your treatment and you’ll be able to switch to a new set of aligners every two or three weeks.
On the other hand, you'll extend the time it takes to complete your orthodontic treatment if you take your aligners out on a regular basis and leave them out for hours or days at a time. Some patients think that continuing to switch to a new set of aligners every two weeks will keep your treatment on track even if you’re not wearing them consistently, but this can result in serious oral health problems, including damage to the roots of your teeth.