While it’s important to have your teeth taken care of for the health of your mouth and your entire body, one of the biggest reasons people seek dental care is to straighten their smile. In the past, that often meant braces. Now, people have the option of a nearly invisible appliance called Invisalign. Before beginning the process, one of the most common questions is: how long does Invisalign take?
The short answer is: it depends. But on average, it takes under two years for most people, and some find their teeth straightened in just two months, with most people achieving desired results in between six and 18 months.
The difference between how long it takes depends on what is being addressed and how complex the issue is. How long does Invisalign take is affected in large part by how many individual aligners will need to be worn. And that is determined by how much your teeth need to move to correct alignment and bite. Previous dental restorations, including a crown or bridge, can also affect how long it takes to realign the teeth.
If you aren’t familiar with Invisalign, this aligner uses a plastic insert that goes over the teeth to slowly move the teeth. The liners are worn for between 20 and 22 hours every day. They’re only removed as you eat, drink anything other than water, or when brushing, flossing, or cleaning your teeth. As long as the water’s not too hot, you can drink water with your aligners in place.
While braces were once only available by visiting an orthodontist, Invisalign trays can be fitted and adjusted by specially-trained orthodontists and dentists, making it more convenient.
The process begins by first ensuring you’re a good candidate for treatment. Invisalign offers a free Smile Assessment, which can help you discover whether or not Invisalign may work for you. The assessment takes just a few minutes. That said, it’s also a good idea to confirm with your dentist before deciding to move forward.
If you are a good candidate, your dental team will take 3D images of your mouth or create plaster molds, which are then used to custom design Invisalign trays that fit your teeth. Several sets of aligners are created (with a new one being placed every 10 to 14 days) as your teeth move until they are correctly aligned and your bite has been corrected.
Only one tooth is addressed at a time, so as each tooth is straightened, you’ll get a new tray to address the next tooth. One thing many patients find most satisfying is that they begin to see straighter teeth within a few weeks of starting treatment.
While Invisalign trays may feel tight when a new tray is put in, they tend to come with much less discomfort than traditional braces.
Personalizing an Invisalign Treatment Plan
Like braces, Invisalign can help address overbites, underbites, crowding, gaps, and, of course, help straighten crooked teeth. Invisalign clear aligners have been found to be effective for around 90% of issues. Overbites and underbites tend to be the most complex issues to address with Invisalign and thus can take longer to address—up to 18 to 24 months.
Invisalign tends to work faster for younger people as their teeth tend to be easier to realign. That doesn’t mean adults can’t use them. It just may take a bit longer for the teeth to move.
One of the most important aspects of effective treatment is ensuring you comply with the treatment plan, including wearing the Invisalign most of the day (at least 20 to 22 hours daily) and getting new trays as needed. If you don’t follow the set schedule, it can delay the results you’re looking for, increasing costs along with the time it takes.
It’s also vital to ensure you’re properly keeping your teeth (and the trays) clean to help prevent cavities and keep your gums healthy.
When Not to Use Invisalign
If you only need to leave your Invisalign out for a single day (such as during a big celebration like a wedding), that shouldn’t be an issue. On the other hand, if you’re taking your Invisalign out for several hours regularly, you will delay treatment, and other options may be better for you. For instance, traditional or lingual braces are two other options that may take less time for your specific issues and can’t be removed. However, they can be more noticeable and less comfortable.
No matter which treatment you choose for straightening your teeth, it’s important to follow your usual brushing and flossing routine and continue your regular checkups with your chosen dental provider.
To find out how long does Invisalign take for your specific concerns, check with your dentist. They’ll be able to provide the most accurate estimate. Contact our High Point Cosmetic Dentistry Practice at (366) 841-0000 to make an appointment today and discuss the best way to address your dental concerns and create your most beautiful smile.