Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on January 30, 2023
6 min read

Invisalign Refinements - Candidates, Process and Cost

NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

Invisalign is a popular brand of in-office clear aligners. The aligners are clear, plastic trays custom-designed to fit your teeth. 

Clear aligners can treat many dental issues, including crooked or crowded teeth, a misaligned bite, and uneven spacing. They are removable for eating, drinking, cleaning, and attending special social events.

Many people choose Invisalign over traditional braces for the esthetics, comfort, and quicker treatment time. People with Invisalign wear their aligners for an average of 4 months less than those with braces. This may be attributed to the fact that Invisalign can’t treat severe malocclusion.1

Risks of Not Wearing Invisalign as Directed

With Invisalign, you’ll wear the clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours daily for 6 to 18 months. Treatment time depends on the severity of your issues. 

You have to wear your Invisalign as directed by your provider for the best results. If you don’t, you can face problems like:

  • Needing refinements after treatment
  • Teeth shifting back into misalignment
  • Prolonged treatment time
  • Trays no longer fitting

What are Invisalign Refinements? 

Invisalign refinements are minor alterations made at the end of treatment. If your initial treatment didn’t achieve your desired goals, you might receive a set of Invisalign refinement trays.

When are Refinements Necessary? 

Invisalign refinements are necessary when your teeth have not made the adjustments you or your dentist wanted. You may need them if:

  • Your teeth remain crowded or crooked
  • Your bite has not adjusted all the way
  • Gaps between your teeth haven’t closed

A need for refinements can result from not wearing your Invisalign for the required 22 hours a day. However, it may also be that your originally planned treatment time wasn’t enough to achieve your cosmetic or oral health goals.

Invisalign refinements aren’t a bad thing. Getting them doesn’t mean your treatment has failed or you did something wrong.

Many orthodontists report between 70 and 80% of their patients require refinements.2

Extending your treatment time can be frustrating, but it’s worth considering. Over 78% of people report an improvement after their first refinement.3

ZocDoc

Find a Local Dentist for an Invisalign Consultation

ZocDoc can help you find a dentist in your area that:

  • Takes your insurance
  • Can schedule an appointment ASAP
  • Is close to your home
  • Is top-rated by actual customers
Local Dentist Insurance

How Do Invisalign Refinements Work?

Your orthodontist will assess your teeth’s progress towards the end of treatment. They may rescan your teeth and bite to evaluate whether you are ready to stop wearing your aligners.

If they determine you need continued treatment, they might recommend refinements. They’ll make you a new tray to wear, similar to your previous aligners. You’ll need to wear them 20 to 22 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You might need one or more refinements to achieve your treatment goals. You’ll continue to visit your orthodontist for check-ups and to receive your new aligner trays. Once you and your dentist are satisfied with the results, you can end the treatment. 

How Long Will it Take?

How long your refinements take depends on how close you are to completing your treatment. Typically, people with Invisalign will add around 3 to 6 months to their treatment time with refinements.

Even with refinements, you will likely wear Invisalign for a shorter time than traditional braces. In addition, studies show Invisalign causes less pain and soreness than fixed appliances like braces.4

What Happens After a Refinement?

Once your refinements are complete, you’ll move to the final stage of the Invisalign process. Your orthodontist will give you an Invisalign retainer to wear. 

You have to wear your retainer for 22 hours a day for the first 6 weeks, just like your aligners. After 6 weeks, you’ll wear them only at night (indefinitely). 

Wearing a retainer may be annoying, but studies show it can effectively maintain the changes you’ve achieved with Invisalign.5 Generally, you’ll want to continue wearing it for the rest of your life. If you don’t, your teeth or bite may shift back into misalignment.

How Much Does an Invisalign Refinement Cost?

Invisalign refinement costs vary based on several factors:

  • The type of Invisalign you have 
  • How many refinements you need
  • Your doctor’s policy
  • Insurance coverage

Some Invisalign doctors will include refinements in the initial treatment cost. Others may consist of one or two free rounds, with extra costs for additional rounds. Consult your orthodontist about their pricing.

The cost of Invisalign also depends on what type of treatment you choose:

  • Comprehensive — $3,000 to $8,000
  • Lite — $3,000 to $4,500
  • Express — $1,800 to $4,000

The treatment you choose will depend on the complexity of the issues you’re treating. Each type may include a certain number of projected refinements in the cost.

Ways to Pay for an Invisalign Refinement

Your Invisalign doctor may take different types of payment for clear aligner treatment. Consult them to determine if they accept the following options:

Insurance Coverage

Some dental insurance plans may cover part of your Invisalign treatment, especially for health purposes. 

Check your plan’s details and speak with your doctor to see if you can use your insurance for Invisalign.

Payment Plans

Many orthodontists accept payment plans for Invisalign treatment. You’ll be able to pay a much lower monthly cost over time rather than paying in full upfront.

Health Saving Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Many employers offer HSAs or FSAs. These two savings accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax money for medical expenses. You may be able to use your HSA or FSA to pay for your Invisalign.

CareCredit

CareCredit is a healthcare credit card you can apply for when you need assistance paying for a medical procedure. It’s beneficial when you’re paying out-of-pocket for an expense not covered by your insurance.

If your dental insurance doesn’t cover Invisalign, CareCredit may be an option.

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

How to Start the Refinement Process

Starting the refinement process is simple. You’ll attend a scheduled appointment with your Invisalign doctor toward the end of treatment. 

Your doctor will evaluate you, possibly taking a scan of your teeth and bite. These procedures will help them determine whether you need a refinement. If so, they will give you a new, adjusted tray to wear.

You may have only one round of refinements, or you may have several. Your doctor will advise you on how many rounds you need. Once finished, you will move on to the retainer stage of treatment.

Tips for Avoiding Invisalign Refinements

While most people who use Invisalign require refinements, you can do your best to prevent the need for them. 

The best way to avoid Invisalign refinements and keep your treatment on schedule is to follow your doctor’s instructions closely. 

Our top tips for avoiding Invisalign refinements include:

  • Wear your aligners 22 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Change your trays in the correct order
  • Always remember to put your Invisalign trays back after eating or drinking
  • Practice excellent oral hygiene
  • Visit your orthodontist for regular check-ups and replacement trays

Following the tips above may decrease your chances of needing Invisalign refinements. Research shows careful planning from your dentist can also make a difference.6

However, refinement aligners are a common part of the Invisalign process. Getting them doesn’t mean you’ve failed to care for your teeth.

Summary

Invisalign refinements are adjustments dentists make to your Invisalign towards the end of treatment. They are additional trays that extend your treatment by an average of 3 to 6 months.

Most people require at least one Invisalign refinement. It can result from not wearing your aligners properly, but it can also happen when your teeth don’t move as predicted. It’s not bad to get a refinement, nor is it your fault.

Many orthodontists include the cost of one or more refinements in the total price of Invisalign treatment. You can use insurance, HSAs and FSAs, payment plans, and CareCredits to pay for your refinements.

Last updated on January 30, 2023
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on January 30, 2023
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. Djeu, G., et al. “Outcome assessment of Invisalign and traditional orthodontic treatment compared with the American Board of Orthodontics objective grading system.” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, National Library of Medicine, 2005.
  2. Oliveira, P. “Perception of Need for Further Refinement in a Clear Aligner Treatment among Orthodontists, Dentists and Laypeople: A Retrospective Study.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, National Library of Medicine, 2022.
  3. Arqub, S., et al. “Association between initial complexity, frequency of refinements, treatment duration, and outcome in Invisalign orthodontic treatment.” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, ResearchGate, 2022.
  4. Baseer, M., et al. “Oral Impacts Experienced by Orthodontic Patients Undergoing Fixed or Removable Appliances Therapy in Saudi Arabia: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Patient Preference and Adherence, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  5. Vaida, L., et al. “The Behavior of Two Types of Upper Removable Retainers–Our Clinical Experience.” Children (Basel), National Library of Medicine, 2020.
  6. Houle, J., et al. “The predictability of transverse changes with Invisalign.” The Angle Orthodontist, National Library of Medicine, 2017.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram