Invisalign® FAQ

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The Invisalign system is a virtually invisible and hygienic orthodontic treatment that uses an innovative approach to effectively straighten teeth. With our proprietary SmartForce Technology, the Invisalign system uses a series of custom-made removable aligners created for you and only you. These aligners are made of a virtually invisible plastic that you wear over your teeth to gradually move them to the ideal position. Most people won’t even notice you’re wearing them, allowing you to keep your lifestyle during treatment. The Invisalign system is available through Invisalign-trained doctors who determine the treatment plan.

Once you and your Invisalign-trained doctor agree that Invisalign treatment is right for you, your doctor will take photos, X-rays, and either impressions or a scan of your teeth. These records will be used to make a 3D treatment plan, referred to as the ClinCheck treatment plan, which will be used to design the custom-made Invisalign aligners. This 3D treatment plan will also show your likely final tooth position at the end of the treatment. Your custom-made Invisalign aligners will be produced and then shipped to your doctor, who will then give you a series of aligners, typically 3 to 4 sets at a time. You will replace each one approximately every 2 weeks until the final position of your teeth is reached. Get the full details of the treatment plan.

More than 5.5 million patients worldwide have now started Invisalign treatment and the number of Invisalign smiles continue to grow.

Invisalign aligners look similar to clear retainers, teeth-whitening trays, or gum shields. A series of Invisalign aligners are custom-made for you and each aligner will contain the patient identification number (PID number) and the Invisalign logo.

Invisalign aligners are designed, manufactured and marketed by Align Technology, Inc. Align Technology was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in San Jose, California with offices worldwide and manufacturing operation unit in Juarez, Mexico. The Invisalign system is offered directly by Align Technology in more than 100 countries.

Invisalign clear aligner technology began as a vision in 1945 with their first treatment. In 1999, Align Technology pioneered the invisible orthodontic market with the introduction of the Invisalign system. By 2001, 1 million clear aligners had been manufactured. By combining digital treatment planning, including 3D technology, and mass-customisation, Invisalign treatment transformed the orthodontic industry. In 2018 over 5.5 million patients have started Invisalign treatment.

Align Technology, the makers of Invisalign aligners, is a global medical device company. They provide industry-leading innovative products such as Invisalign aligners, iTero intraoral scanners, and OrthoCAD digital services that help dental professionals achieve the clinical results they expect, as well as providing effective, leading-edge dental options to patients.

Invisalign aligners are an effective way to straighten teeth. There are also several other specific advantages to Invisalign treatment:

  • Virtually invisible: Invisalign aligners are the clear alternative to braces, giving you a virtually invisible treatment option that lets you keep your confidence, beautiful smile, and lifestyle even when you are in treatment.
  • More Comfortable: Invisalign aligners are comfortable, with no metal brackets to irritate your gums or the inside of your mouth.
  • Maintain oral hygiene: Invisalign aligners are removable, so it’s easier to clean your teeth and maintain your oral health during treatment.
  • Potentially fewer doctor visits: Invisalign treatment typically requires fewer doctor visits than some types of braces.
  • Visualise the progressive movement: Invisalign Treatment allows you to visualise each stage of the treatment process, from the beginning to the end.
    Also, some patients may require additional steps like refinement, to complete the treatment.

Teeth alignment is the straightening and correction of misaligned or crooked teeth, which can be caused by gaps, crowding, overlapping teeth or tooth size discrepancy. Teeth alignment allows for healthier teeth and gums, easier cleaning, overall health benefits, as well as confidence from having a smile with straighter teeth.

Aside from Invisalign aligners, there are traditional braces, ceramic braces and lingual braces.

Factors to consider in choosing the most appropriate treatment include:

  • Primary characteristics of the chosen treatment such as:
    • Effectiveness: How the chosen treatment will make your teeth look once treatment is over.
    • The doctor performing the treatment: Specifically, finding a doctor who is skilled and trained in your preferred treatment approach and whom you’re comfortable with.
    • The cost of the treatment: Including the total cost of the treatment, and also the potential cost of consultations and retention, and the personal cost of having a visible treatment in terms of confidence and lifestyle effects.
  • Other factors to consider include:
    • Duration of treatment and frequency of doctor visits, including that of the initial treatment and any retention.
    • Comfort of treatment, including whether the device can irritate your gums or the inside of your mouth.
    • Convenience,including whether the device can be removed to help you maintain your oral health during treatment.
    • Need for extractions.

Other methods of aligning teeth include traditional braces, ceramic braces, and lingual braces. In comparing these teeth alignment methods, it’s useful to consider aesthetics, efficiency, effect on oral hygiene, comfort during treatment, compliance and removal:

Invisalign aligners Traditional braces Ceramic braces Lingual braces
Description The Invisalign system uses a series of clear, removable plastic trays (aligners) that fit over teeth. Aligners are custom-made and changed every 2 weeks to gradually move teeth into the desired position. Traditional braces are stainless steel brackets and wires that are attached to the outside of the teeth. Wires are adjusted throughout treatment to gradually move teeth into the desired position. Traditional ceramic braces are clear brackets that are attached to the outside of the teeth. Wires can be either tooth-coloured or metal. Wires are adjusted throughout treatment to gradually move teeth into the desired position. Lingual braces are metal brackets and wires that are bonded to the back of teeth. Wires are adjusted throughout treatment in order to gradually move teeth into the desired position.
Aesthetics Virtually invisible. Highly visible. Less visible than traditional braces but more visible than lingual braces and Invisalign aligners. Virtually invisible.
Efficiency Suitable for most cases from mild to moderate complexity. Treatment outcomes are dependent on the experience level of the practitioner. Suitable for nearly all cases. Suitable for most cases from mild to moderate complexity. However, it can be more difficult for doctors to manage lingual brace treatment as compared to traditional braces.
Oral Hygiene Invisalign aligners can be removed for normal brushing and flossing, making it easier to maintain a good level of oral hygiene throughout the course of treatment. Oral hygiene is harder to maintain with fixed braces when brushing and flossing. For these reasons, fixed appliance patients can find they have increased plague accumulation and gingival inflammation during treatment. Because of their position on the back of teeth, it’s more difficult to brush and floss normally during treatment. This increases the chances of plaque retention and possible tooth decay.
Comfort Most people experience temporary, minor discomfort at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This short-term effect is typically described as a feeling of pressure. Speech may be temporarily affected at the beginning of treatment. Mouth sores/ulcers can be caused by the irritation from components of the braces. Broken brackets and wires can also cause discomfort and may require urgent attention from your treating practitioner. Lingual appliances can have an effect on the tongue position and may affect speech throughout treatment. Mouth sores/ulcers can also be caused by the irritation from components of the braces.
Compliance Research show that because aligners are virtually invisible, there is a high level of patient acceptance with Invisalign treatment. However, levels of compliance with elastic wear can vary from patient to patient being treated with aligners. High level of compliance braces are fixed to the teeth for the duration of treatment. However, levels of compliance with elastic wear can vary from patient to patient.
Removable Removable, but aligners should be worn a minimum of 20-22 hours a day for best results. Not removable. Braces are fixed to the teeth for the duration of orthodontic treatment.

Learn more from our detailed treatment comparison.

Specific training is required to provide Invisalign treatment, and both Invisalign-trained dentists and specialist orthodontists have completed this training. The difference is that an orthodontist is a dental specialist who has spent 3 or more additional years in an advanced, intensive educational program and only practices orthodontics. A general dentist performs general dentistry including but not limited to check-ups, cleanings and fillings. Some dentists also practice orthodontics.

You don’t need a referral to go to an orthodontist, but sometimes your dentist may give you one if they think you need specialist orthodontic treatment. Similarly, an orthodontist may refer you to a dentist if you need general dental work or a tooth extraction to complement the orthodontic work.

When a doctor decides to provide Invisalign treatment, they undergo Invisalign training. The Invisalign provider training course is offered to those who have their dental practitioner qualification certificate and want to provide Invisalign treatment. This training is not a certification or warranty of a practitioner’s dental license or an endorsement of a practitioner’s dental or orthodontic skills. Once a practitioner completes the Invisalign provider training course, they can provide Invisalign treatment. However, the practitioner remains fully in control of, and responsible for, their treatment decisions. This includes designing a suitable treatment plan (including the predicted tooth movements) and prescribing a series of customised Invisalign aligners specifically to match a particular patient’s treatment plan.

The Invisalign volume-based tier designations (e.g. Platinum Elite (PE), Platinum (P), Diamond (D) and Black Diamond (BD) are based on the number of historical Invisalign cases that a provider has submitted over a defined period of time. The tier system does not represent a doctor’s clinical experience or clinical skills in orthodontic treatment. The Invisalign provider tier level designations are not recognised as specialty areas by any applicable dental associations and have no relevance to a practitioner’s dental or orthodontic skill, or a particular treatment outcome. An Invisalign provider’s Invisalign volume-based tier designation is simply a tool that a patient can use for considering a practitioner’s experience with Invisalign treatment. You should always make your own judgement in selecting a practice and provider to start your Invisalign treatment. It should also be noted that the clinical outcome from Invisalign treatment to is based on a lot of different factors that can include the condition of your teeth, compliance, the treatment plan, and the doctor’s orthodontic experience.

Since Invisalign treatment is customised to you, pricing and terms are set by each doctor. As you change doctors, you will need to settle your account with your current doctor and let them know you would like to make a change. Be sure to ask the new clinic what to expect when you are in treatment. If you’re about to start treatment, but think it’s likely you may have to switch doctors (for example, if you’re moving homes or in the military), coming to an agreement up front with your doctor regarding costs and payment schedules is a good idea.

Please see here for a list of Invisalign-trained doctors in your area. Invisalign-trained doctors who have completed our training will receive a certificate for the course completion that you can look out for in the clinic. Find Invisalign-trained doctors in your area.

There are many Invisalign-trained doctors available and listed on this website. Find Invisalign-trained doctors in your area

The length of your treatment will depend on your specific needs and will be determined by your Invisalign-trained doctor. The average treatment for an adult is about 12 to 18 months and for teenagers, treatment length may vary depending on each individual case and will need to be determined by the doctor.

You should wear each aligner for 20 to 22 hours a day during your treatment for best results and a timely outcome.

You will visit your Invisalign-trained doctor for a check-up approximately every 6-8 weeks to see how your treatment is progressing. During your check-ups, your Invisalign-trained doctor will check that the aligners are fitting well and make any adjustments if necessary.

You’ll be provided with enough aligners to last between visits to your doctor (usually 3-4 sets at a time). Your doctor will review your progress every 6-8 weeks and new aligners will be given to you at these appointments. It’s best to speak to your doctor about how many aligners you will be provided with between visits.

Two aligner cases are included in your patient starter kit.

You will usually change your aligners every 2 weeks. However, please follow your Invisalign-trained doctor’s specific instructions regarding when you need to change your aligners as this may vary between patients.

Results with the Invisalign System usually start showing a few months after starting treatment.

Costs vary from doctor to doctor and may be dependent on the complexity of your case and your course of treatment. Please speak to an Invisalign-trained doctor to get a more accurate cost estimate of your treatment. For more information about how much Invisalign treatment will cost, try our cost calculator.

Consultation fees vary from doctor to doctor. Some may offer free initial assessment while other may charge a fee. It’s best to check with an Invisalign-trained doctor for further details regarding fees. Find out more information about the cost of Invisalign treatment.

Individual treating doctors may offer differing payment plans that may not require the full amount to be paid up front. Please ask your Invisalign-trained doctor for his or her payment policy. You can find out more information about how much Invisalign treatment might cost you by using our cost calculator.

The cost for Invisalign treatment is based upon the consultation needed, is patient specific and will also depend on the Invisalign treatment needed. Your Invisalign-trained doctor will be able to provide a more accurate price guideline.

If your insurance policy has orthodontic coverage, Invisalign treatment could be covered to a similar extent as conventional braces. However, as medical benefits differ significantly from policy to policy, it’ll be safer to check with your health insurance provider. Find out more information about how much Invisalign treatment will cost.

Costs vary from doctor to doctor and may be dependent on the complexity of your case and your course of treatment. However, the cost of Invisalign treatment may be comparative to that of other alignment procedures. Please speak to your doctor about the comparative cost of treatment. You may also want to consider other treatment-related factors like effectiveness, aesthetics during treatment, duration of treatment, comfort and convenience, to determine the most appropriate treatment for you.

You should wear each aligner for 20 to 22 hours a day during your treatment for best results and a timely outcome.

No, you can usually eat what you want while in treatment because the Invisalign aligners are removed when eating or drinking. Thus, there’s no need to refrain from your favourite foods and drinks unless instructed by your doctor. However, it’s recommended that you floss and brush your teeth after each meal and prior to re-inserting your aligners to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Except for cool water, we recommend that you don’t drink while wearing the aligners. This is to avoid cavities and stains forming on your teeth, or warping your aligners with hot beverages.

You should remove your aligners to consume anything except for water. Leaving aligners on while drinking may stain them and you may risk developing tooth decay while consuming fluids with sugar in them.

We don’t encourage smoking while wearing aligners because it’s possible for them to become discoloured.

You should not chew gum while wearing your aligners as the gum may stick to the aligners. We recommend removing your aligners for all meals and snacks, including chewing gum.

It’s very unlikely that your aligners will ever fall out, no matter what you’re doing at the time (whether it’s sleeping, talking or laughing). Invisalign aligners are designed to fit firmly on the teeth so this should not be a cause for concern.

Similar to other orthodontic treatments, the Invisalign aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any misarticulation or minor speech impediment caused by the aligners should disappear. Please speak to your doctor about ways to help you get used to your aligners more quickly.

It’s important that you follow the treatment plan developed by your doctor to ensure the best outcome. Your doctor will determine the recommended treatment duration for you depending on several considerations, including the spacing between your teeth and the need for retention.

Invisalign treatment is available in more than 100 countries worldwide, and you can transfer your Invisalign treatment to another Invisalign-trained doctor to continue your treatment. Please speak to your current Invisalign-trained doctor about the process.

The aligners are made of non-toxic, medical-grade plastic and can be worn during pregnancy. If you’re concerned, please consult your healthcare professional.

While Invisalign treatment may move your teeth without the pain and anxiety of other straightening methods, some people might experience temporary, minor discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is typically described as a feeling of pressure. It's a sign that the Invisalign aligners are sequentially moving your teeth to their final positions. This discomfort usually goes away a couple of days after you insert the new aligner in the series.

If you notice a sharp pain or have significant discomfort, stop using the aligners and contact your Invisalign-trained doctor.

Invisalign treatment is contraindicated in patients with active periodontal disease. If you have periodontal (gum) disease, you should consult your doctor before undergoing Invisalign treatment.

Warnings with Invisalign treatment include:

In rare instances, some patients may be allergic to the aligner material. If this occurs, discontinue use and speak to a healthcare professional immediately.

In rare instances, patients with hereditary angioedema (HAE), a genetic disorder, may experience rapid local swelling of tissues including the larynx. This may be triggered by mild stimuli including dental procedures. If this occurs, discontinue use and speak to a healthcare professional immediately.

Orthodontic appliances, or parts thereof, may be accidentally swallowed or inhaled, and may be harmful.

It’s recommended to visit your doctor for regular visits to make sure your treatment plan is on track. If you need additional aligners due to travel periods, speak to your doctor as this is dependent on your specific case and treatment plan.

Please speak with your doctor, as he or she may need to fully remove the stained attachments and replace them.

Depending on your specific treatment, some of the movements may require either “attachments” or “ridges” to help the aligner grip the teeth. These bumps or wells are where the aligner grips the attachment the doctor places on your teeth. The attachments are actually small pieces of composite the doctor affixes to your teeth that are then gripped by bumps on your aligners. The ridges are slim indentations in your aligners. Your Invisalign-trained doctor will use one or both of these features to achieved the desired movement.

Aligners are virtually invisible and discreet, so most people will not even notice that you’re wearing them.

Invisalign tips

See our tips on how to care for your Invisalign clear aligners by watching our video.

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