Wearing Invisalign® - Details.

Before making a decision in favor of having Invisalign®, there'll no doubt be a number of questions about the aligners and having treatment that you'll need answers to.

Things like what it's like to wear your aligners and how they will affect your daily life. This page answers those types of questions.

What's it like to have Invisalign® treatment?

Related pages:
      What do the aligner look like? »      How "invisible" is Invisalign®? »

How much / how often do you have to wear your aligners?

1) You'll be wearing your aligners pretty much all of the time.

You're expected to wear your Invisalign® aligners around the clock. The only exceptions being when you're eating, drinking beverages, cleaning your teeth or smoking.

For most people, this means that they'll have their aligners in for about 20 to 22 hours per day. And as burdensome as this may seem to some, when compared to the fact that with other types of braces you wear them 24 hours a day, this should really be seen as a major advantage of the Invisalign® system.

More information:
     » Invisalign® and drinking beverages - Details.
     » Invisalign® and eating or chewing gum - Details.

2) You can remove your aligners for special occasions.

You can remove your aligners for any type of special event but you need to understand that your treatment won't progress unless your aligners are being worn.

Your aligners may affect the way you talk.

Wearing Invisalign® aligners can have an effect on your speech. Fortunately, for most people this isn't a lasting issue.

More information:
     » Invisalign® and speaking - Details.

Non-compliance is a big deal.

Failing to wear your aligners as directed will increase your total treatment time, or worse, allow for relapse of previous progress. The latter can seriously compromise your original treatment plan, possibly to the point where a new set of aligners must be made (at new expense).

Treatment considerations -

A) How many days do you wear each set of aligners? / How often are checkups?

You'll usually wear each set of Invisalign® aligners for about two weeks, in some cases more. Since they'll need to monitor your progress to make sure that everything is going as planned, your dentist will schedule you for checkup appointments every four to six weeks.

At each checkup, your dentist will send extra sets of aligners home with you.

Based on the intervals given above, at each appointment your dentist will need to send at least one additional set of aligners home with you. They'll also need to give you specific instructions about when to start wearing them.

What takes place during checkup appointments?

In most cases, checkup appointments are fairly short. They may just involve your dentist looking at your teeth and making notes. Sometimes, however, it will need to include some type of minor dental procedure.

For example, if your case involves the use of Invisalign® "buttons" or "attachments," they may be added or removed. Or your dentist may need to "strip" your teeth. In this context, "stripping" means to narrow your teeth just slightly. (Use this link for more information and an animation showing how this technique is used: Orthodontic techniques: Tooth stripping.)

The set of Invisalign® tooth aligners used to treat one patient's case.

B) How many sets of aligners will you end up wearing?

The exact number of aligners needed for a patient's treatment will vary case by case. This number is, however, something that's determined when treatment is initially planned (the treatment-simulation stage). So, if you're interested, just ask your dentist. They'll know precisely how many sets will be involved.

Here's how many the "average" case takes.

On average, the typical Invisalign® case might require between twenty and thirty sets of aligners. At the extremes, the actual number might be as few as ten or up towards fifty.

"Sets" really may not be the correct term.

On our pages, we usually refer to Invisalign® aligners as being used in "sets." The idea being that one aligner is worn on the upper teeth and another on the bottom, and then these aligners are replaced by new aligners at the same time.

In reality there may be a different number of aligners for each jaw, with each being worn for a different number of weeks.

Invisalign® aligners should never be thrown away without consulting with your dentist first.

Even though your aligners are usually just worn for a few weeks, you shouldn't throw any of them away without getting permission from your dentist first.

If a situation develops where your treatment begins to deviate from the expected, your dentist may have your stop wearing your current set of aligners and ask you to re-wearing some previous sets.

Besides just your teeth, you'll need to clean your aligners too.

You can't expect your aligners to be stay "invisible" unless you keep them clean.

More information:
     » Cleaning Invisalign® aligners - Details.

C) How long will your Invisalign® treatment take?

You can expect that treatment with Invisalign® will take about as long as if traditional braces had been used. Some published reports suggest that Invisalign® may take less time. You'll simply have to ask your orthodontist what their experience has been with cases like yours.

Most Invisalign® cases take about a year.

Align Technology, Inc. (the people who make Invisalign®) suggests that, on average, cases are completed in about 12 months. Since the treatment time frame for traditional braces is usually between twelve to twenty four months, our conclusion would be that this number confirms that Invisalign® is typically best suited for treating relatively less involved orthodontic cases.

Want to know how long your treatment will take? - Just do the math.

Choosing the best type of orthodontic retainer for you.

It's easy to calculate how many months your case should take. All of the aligners needed for your treatment are fabricated before it's begun. Since each set of aligners is typically worn for two weeks, simply multiply the number of sets by two and then divide by four.

D) Will you have to wear retainers after your Invisalign® treatment is finished?

When making a decision to go ahead and have your teeth straightened, don't overlook the fact that you will need to wear dental retainers after your treatment has been completed.

The chance of alignment relapse after Invisalign®, or any other type of orthodontic treatment, is substantial, and even likely, unless retainers are worn as directed by your dentist.

More information:
     » Types of orthodontic retainers.

Invisalign® Braces
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