Invisalign is the most established and trusted brand of clear aligners (also called invisible braces or invisible aligners). Aligners are a clear, convenient, and removable alternative to standard braces. The trays are made of medical-grade, BPA-free plastic.
Aligners are a great option for teenagers and adults who want to straighten their teeth comfortably and discreetly. Unlike metal braces, Invisalign can be removed at any time for eating, cleaning, and brushing.
Invisalign aligners are FDA-approved. They are also made of a patented thermoplastic material (called SmartTrack®). Invisalign claims this material is more accurate, comfortable, and discreet.
Invisalign is a brand of in-office aligners. At-home aligners are another option. Here are the main differences between the two types:
Invisalign braces do not touch your gums. They are trimmed to sit along your gum line in a ‘scalloped fashion.’ This design makes the trays more comfortable and less irritating. Most at-home aligners are not cut this precisely, increasing the risk of irritation and discomfort.
Invisalign can fix minor to severe bite issues, including:
You may be a better candidate for standard metal braces, especially if you have severe jaw alignment issues. Braces typically take longer than Invisalign but cost about the same.
If you only have minor to moderate crowding/gapped teeth, at-home aligners like byte or Candid might work for you. These aligners are thousands cheaper than Invisalign and braces. However, not everyone is a candidate.
Invisalign treatment is a straightforward and hands-on process. It consists of the following steps:
Invisalign stands out in the industry for a few reasons.
First, the aligners are made of SmartTrack® material, making them more comfortable and easier to take out. They are also more ‘invisible’ than other leading aligner brands.
The consultation and treatment plan process is also very advanced. Your Invisalign provider will use an iTero Element® scanner to take 6,000 images of your mouth per second. This tool results in fewer impression rejections and better fitting aligners.
In addition, your doctor will use Invisalign’s ClinCheck® software to map out your smile. This technology uses mapping software to help calculate the right amount of force for every tooth. The tool ensures your teeth move in the right order at the right time.
Invisalign also uses SmartForce® Attachments. These are small, tooth-colored handles (or buttons) that are fixed to your teeth. The aligners attach to these buttons to help with precise tooth movements. Invisalign can fix more complex orthodontic issues with the use of attachments.
Lastly, your doctor will assess your progress during routine appointments and make adjustments as necessary. This is why you only receive one set of aligners at a time. With at-home aligners, you’ll receive all of them at once, making it more difficult to request changes.
Invisalign should not hurt (as long as the trays fit properly). You may experience some discomfort during the first few days of starting a new set. However, the pain is typically mild and only noticeable while eating and chewing.
Invisalign will not damage your teeth. But make sure you clean the aligners a few times each day to prevent plaque and bacteria build-up.
Invisalign costs between $3,000 and $8,000. The length of treatment depends on your plan but typically ranges from 6 to 24 months.
Invisalign is often partially covered by insurance (if orthodontics is included in your plan). Check with your provider to determine if you qualify or not.
Another way to pay for Invisalign treatment is with an HSA/FSA. You can also set up a payment plan with your Invisalign doctor, where you’ll pay a downpayment and make monthly payments until treatment is complete.
Some teeth straightening alternatives to Invisalign include at-home aligners (minor cases), other in-office aligners (ClearCorrect), and traditional braces. Read below to compare and determine which treatment is right for you:
Byte is a brand of at-home aligners that costs between $1,895 and $2,295. Treatment is monitored remotely and takes between 3 and 6 months (on average). Invisalign costs up to $5,000 more than byte, and treatment is longer (between 6 and 24 months).
Candid is the most expensive brand of at-home aligners ($2,400). However, the company provides detailed care and has advanced technology for remote monitoring. They also only work with highly qualified orthodontists with 20 years of experience.
Invisalign costs more than Candid and does not offer remote monitoring. In-person visits are necessary throughout treatment.
ALIGNERCO is one of the most affordable remote aligners available. They cost between $1,145 and $1,345. Although cheaper, this brand does not offer extensive remote monitoring, which may affect the quality of care.
Invisalign treatment is more intensive and accurate. However, ALIGNERCO is a great option if you are on a budget and only have minor orthodontic issues.
NewSmile is a newer at-home aligner company that offers the most affordable treatment (under $1,300). Similar to Invisalign, NewSmile aligners are scalloped to rest along your gum line, providing a more comfortable fit.
SmileDirectClub is the most well-known brand of remote aligners, while Invisalign is the most popular in-office aligner. SmileDirect treatment costs under $2,000.
ClearCorrect is an advanced aligner system that uses digital technologies to treat various types of misalignment, ranging from simple to severe. Similar to Invisalign, ClearCorrect is an in-office aligner that requires in-person monitoring. Treatment costs between $1,500 and $8,000.
Traditional metal braces are typically necessary over Invisalign in cases of severe teeth/jaw misalignment. Children and teens may require braces if they need headgear, space maintainers, or palate expanders. These add-on treatments are not possible with Invisalign.
Most dentists and orthodontists recommend in-office aligners over at-home aligners. This is mainly because home aligner treatment is not monitored closely, so there is a higher risk for error. These complications can include poorly fitted trays from impression errors and imperfect results.4
Despite this, current research shows that at-home aligners are safe and effective (87.5% satisfaction rate).6 To prevent unwanted results, follow the impression instructions carefully and wear your aligners for 22+ hours a day.
Invisalign may be worth the money if you need to fix more complex orthodontic issues. However, for many people, Invisalign is too expensive (especially if you only have a few crooked/gapped teeth).
Here are the pros and cons of Invisalign:
(1) “The Invisalign® Difference for:” Braces for Teens | Invisalign Clear Aligners.
(2) “How Does Invisalign® Treatment Work?” How Does Invisalign Work | Invisalign Braces.
(3) “SmartTrack® Material.” Invisalign.
(4) Nguyen, Vicky, and Lauren Dunn. “'Things Didn't Feel Right': Some SmileDirectClub Customers Report Problems.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 18 Feb. 2020.
(5) “How Your Aligners Are Made.” Invisalign.
(6) Wexler, Anna, et al. “Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics: Surveying the User Experience.” The Journal of the American Dental Association.
(7) “Living With Invisalign Clear Aligners.” Invisalign.
(8) “How to Pay for Invisalign.” Invisalign.
(9) “How Much Does Invisalign & Reg Treatment Cost?” The Invisalign Cost | How Much Is Invisalign Treatment?
(10) “Invisalign Phase 1 Treatment.” Invisalign.
(12) Proffit, William R., et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
(13) Candid Co. “Discover the Candid Difference,” candidco.com
(14) SmileDirectClub. “How it works,” smiledirectclub.com
(15) NewSmile. “Pricing,” newsmilelife.com
(16) Verblio, and Alignerco. “Teeth Straightening: Invisible Aligners,” alignerco.com