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Updated on September 30, 2022

How Long Does Invisalign Take?

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Key Takeaways

  • Invisalign treatment takes between 6 and 18 months
  • Minor issues can resolve in as little as 6 months, while moderate to severe cases can take up to 18 months
  • Invisalign moves your teeth between 0.25 to 0.3 millimeters every 2 to 3 weeks
  • Seven primary factors contribute to treatment time, including the level of crowding or tooth gaps, your age, treatment compliance, the pace of tooth movement, aligner care, and case complexity
  • Removing Invisalign aligners for extended periods will prolong treatment

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is an orthodontic procedure that straightens teeth. The procedure involves a series of custom-made, clear braces that cover the teeth. Over time, the braces shift the teeth into the correct position.

Invisalign aligners are clear and can easily be removed, making them less noticeable than traditional metal braces.

How Does Invisalign Work?

An orthodontist will examine your teeth and take X-rays to determine if you are a candidate for Invisalign. Then, they will create a 3D model of your teeth to make a personalized treatment plan.

The X-rays, 3D models, and images of your teeth will be sent to a laboratory where your customized Invisalign trays are produced. The 3D model will also show how Invisalign will improve your orthodontic problems during each aligner stage.

Fix your teeth from home for cheaper than Invisalign. Learn about the best Invisalign alternatives.

How Long Does Invisalign Treatment Take? 

On average, Invisalign treatment time is between 12 and 18 months. However, you can expect to see results within weeks. Some patients who only require minor corrections can finish treatment in as little as 6 months.

The length of Invisalign treatment depends on various factors, such as how complex your case is and how often you wear your aligners. Your orthodontist will determine how long your treatment will last based on your specific requirements. 

Below are 7 primary factors contributing to differences in treatment time.

crowded teeth scaled 1

1. Level of Dental Crowding

You may have crowding if you have a small jaw or large teeth. Some minor cases of teeth crowding can be corrected in as little as 6 months. Moderate to severe cases can take 8 to 18 months.

For severe cases of crowding, your orthodontist may suggest interproximal reduction before starting Invisalign. This is performed using a handpiece or “sandpaper strip” to remove enamel between teeth to create more space. It's not painful and is usually quick and simple.

midline diastema scaled 1

2. Large Tooth Gaps

Gaps occurring between the teeth, known as diastema, can result from tissue overgrowth or small teeth compared to the jawbone.

Like overcrowding, minor gaps will take significantly less time to adjust than severe gaps. If you have moderate or severe gaps and crowding, the treatment length may take closer to 18 months, depending on how fast your teeth adjust.

In some situations, the jaw is too large, and the teeth are too small. This makes it more challenging to close the gaps completely. Your orthodontist may suggest other types of treatment following Invisalign, such as bonding or veneers.

3. Age (Adults vs. Teens)

Invisalign works well for both teenagers and adults. However, your age can also affect how quickly it works. As teenagers are still growing, their teeth generally move faster and easier than adults do.

However, some people’s teeth move faster than others, despite their age. Some older adults may even experience faster results than their children. 

4. Treatment Compliance

The Invisalign website advises wearing the aligners for 20 to 22 hours daily. Because they can be removed (to eat, drink, brush, or floss), treatment time depends partly on the wearer.

5. The Pace of Tooth Movement

Some people’s teeth move faster than others. This is due to differences in bone structure, which vary from person to person. 

Age can also play a role: adult teeth typically move slower than children or adolescents. 

6. Loosing Aligners

Because Invisalign aligners are removable, keeping track of them is essential. 

If you misplace your aligners, your dentist or orthodontist can always order new ones. But that means your treatment time will be extended while you wait for them to arrive. 

7. Case Complexity

Having multiple teeth alignment issues at once greatly complicates treatment. For example, if you have both an overbite and crowded teeth, you will need a tooth extraction before the overbite can be corrected. 

Likewise, a large tooth gap and an overbite will increase treatment time.

Why Do You Need to Wear Invisalign for 22 Hours a Day?

Invisalign aligners move your teeth between 0.25 to 0.3 millimeters every 2 weeks. This rate of movement is what your dentist or orthodontist uses to give you an estimate of how long treatment will take.

The aligners will only work if they are in contact with your teeth. The more time they spend outside your mouth, the longer treatment will take. They should only be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, or flossing.

If you don’t wear your aligners as prescribed, the teeth won’t rotate into the correct position. The teeth also won’t track with the next set of aligners, causing delays. 

Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.

Can You Speed Up Invisalign Treatment?

There are several ways to speed up Invisalign treatment.

Wear the Aligners at All Times

It is essential to wear Invisalign aligner trays at all times, aside from eating, brushing, and flossing.

Many patients struggle to be disciplined with their treatment, causing the treatment to take longer than necessary. Wearing the aligners consistently will correct any alignment issues as quickly as possible.

Maintain Good Oral Health

During an Invisalign course of treatment, it is essential to maintain good oral health. If the teeth and gums are not healthy, the treatment is unlikely to work as efficiently.

Poor oral health can result in a delay in the straightening procedure.

Attend Adjustment Appointments

It is crucial to always attend adjustment appointments with your orthodontist. These appointments ensure that the teeth are working well with the aligners.

Skipping or extending these appointments will slow the treatment process. For quick treatment, always visit your dentist when they recommend it.

Avoid Excess Sugar

During Invisalign treatment, avoiding consuming too much sugar or acidic foods and drinks is essential. Soda or candy can damage the teeth, causing decay.

Note Any Abnormalities

If you notice any abnormalities, report them to your orthodontist. While Invisalign is relatively straightforward, irregularities can occur. Treatment time will be a lot quicker if any issues are addressed efficiently.

Is Invisalign Faster Than Traditional Braces?

Treatment time comes down to individual patient needs. However, most of the time, Invisalign treatment is quicker than braces. 

People wear braces 24 hours a day for 6+ months. On the other hand, those with Invisalign wear their aligner trays between 22 and 24 hours a day. Treatment typically lasts anywhere between 6 and 18 months.

5 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 30, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. How does Invisalign® treatment work?, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works 
  2. Frequently asked questions, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/frequently-asked-questions 
  3. Byte vs. invisalign: what are the differences?, Byte, https://www.byte.com/community/resources/article/byte-vs-invisalign-aligners/ 
  4. What’s the difference between Candid and Invisalign?, Candid Co, April 2019, https://blog.candidco.com/whats-the-difference-between-candid-and-invisalign-ffb5205a21d8 
  5. FAQ, SmileDirectClub, https://smiledirectclub.com/faq// 
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