“How long does Invisalign take to work?” It’s a question we hear a lot at our practice, and it’s one that’s more complicated to answer than you might expect! There are a number of factors at play when it comes to how long you’ll need to wear your Invisalign aligners. Here’s what you need to know.
Average Invisalign Treatment Time
The average treatment time for Invisalign is 12 to 18 months, at least according to the Invisalign website. (In our experience, average treatment time is usually closer to the 12 month mark than 18.) While this is the average treatment length for most patients, there are a number of circumstances that could cause your treatment time to be shorter or longer.
One of the advantages of Invisalign over traditional braces is its predictability. We can give you a fairly accurate timeframe for your treatment when you come in for your consultation, since your treatment is carefully planned and every set of aligners brings you closer to your end result.
Your Orthodontic Case
The severity of your crowding, spacing, and bite issues is the most important determining factor in the length needed for aligner therapy.
As an example, adults who had braces as teenagers and later experienced orthodontic relapse (when teeth shift because retainers aren't worn) may only require a few months of treatment to address their misalignments and crowding. In contrast, a patient with a considerable underbite or overbite, as well as crowded teeth, may require Invisalign treatment for more than 18 months.
These factors are all planned for when we project the length of your Invisalign treatment during your consultation. That said, there are some other factors that we can’t plan for.
Compliance With Invisalign Treatment
Wearing aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day is recommended by Invisalign, but we suggest that you wear them all the time, except while eating, drinking anything other than water, brushing your teeth, or flossing. This is because unlike traditional braces, which are permanently attached to your teeth and work around the clock, clear aligners only work when you wear them. Maximizing the amount of time you have your aligners in each day will go a long way toward keeping your treatment timeline on track.
If you take your aligners out frequently and for long periods of time, your treatment may be delayed. When you come in for progress checks, we might have to ask you to keep your current set of aligners in for longer than the usual two weeks, or even switch to a prior set to make sure your teeth are moving as they should.
Patients who wear their aligners for less than the recommended 20 hours per day will find that their treatment takes longer than anticipated during their initial consultation, but since your aligners are clear and comfortable, there’s really no reason not to wear them all the time!