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How Long for Invisalign® to Work?

Updated: May 14

Wondering how long Clear Aligner like Invisalign® take to work? Here’s everything you need to know:


Does the idea of metal braces put you off? Braces are certainly effective, but they’re quite the commitment. And they’re not always ideal, depending on the individual. If you’ve been considering clear aligners (nearly invisible treatment), you might be wondering how long aligners like Invisalign® take to work.


Invisalign® is just one of many tools available to your orthodontic provider. An initial assessment or consultation will help determine the best course of treatment for you. There are also several different brands available. Invisalign® just happens to be one of the best known. By far the most important choice to make is finding a skilled and experienced specialist orthodontist to diagnose and treat your unique case.


If right for you, clear aligners like Invisalign® are an attractive alternative to metal braces and the solution can be just as effective. In many cases the aligners are able to address overcrowded, misaligned and crooked teeth. The aligner mouthpiece looks similar to a teeth-whitening tray, and you wear the aligners for 22 hours a day. It has a similar straightening effect to braces, but to the casual observer, it’s almost impossible to tell you’re wearing the trays. Studies show that clear aligners can be more beneficial than metal braces in some cases.



The Treatment Procedure

Now, we need to understand how aligners like Invisalign® work. The procedure involves a series of plastic, removable aligners that you wear in incremental sequence. You’ll start with your orthodontist creating a customised treatment plan and profile, which involves:

  • Photographs of your face, smile, profile and teeth

  • A 3D scan of your teeth

  • Examination of your X-ray and teeth

  • Determining if you’re a candidate for clear aligners such as Invisalign®

  • Writing up a recommendation

If you’re a good fit for the treatment, your orthodontist will create a 3D computerised model in order to plan the aligners. This helps your orthodontist figure out where your teeth should to move to. Each misaligned tooth moves in stages. The amount of stages needed is very case-specific. Depending on your unique situation, you may need anything from around 6 - 50 aligners for your treatment to be effective. This important difference will affect how long the aligners take to work for you.


Each of the aligners will move your teeth up to .33 millimetres before you pop in the next aligner. In short, you should expect to change aligners every week or two. If you would like to ensure your teeth are moving as fast as possible, you may be interested in using an iOS and Android app which scans your teeth, and allows you to progress to the next aligner if your teeth have already moved.


Computer-aided design keeps aligner treatment to a minimum
Computer-aided design keeps aligner treatment to a minimum

Your Role in the Process


Of course, your treatment requires supervision by an orthodontist. But, once it is underway you have a certain amount of responsibility too. For optimal results, it’s up to you to fully commit to the customised plan and wear your aligners the way your orthodontist suggests.


The duration of aligner treatment will vary from one person to the next, but you will need to wear your aligners for about 22 hours each day throughout the process.


You can remove the aligners for short periods, usually to eat and drink, or to brush and floss. Failure to comply with your orthodontist’s directions can negatively affect how long aligners such as Invisalign® take to work, including the overall time you will need to wear the aligners.


How Long Does It Take for Treatment in Aligners like Invisalign® to Work? How Long is the Treatment Time?


Now that you know what’s involved in clear aligner treatment, let’s look at how long it all takes to work.


As for estimating the length of treatment, the timing comes down to complexity, as well as treatment goals. If your case isn’t complicated, you can expect treatment to take around six months. Those patients who have more complicated orthodontic needs could undergo up to around two years of treatment.


One good rule of thumb to follow is that the average treatment time is about 12 months. But, here’s one of the great things about clear aligner treatment – you’ll begin noticing the difference within just a few weeks of treatment. Sure, the results may seem minimal to begin with, but you can usually expect noticeable changes within 4 to 6 weeks of starting your treatment. Just remember, though, that each and every patient is different. You might see your changes a lot quicker than your friends who are undergoing treatment in aligners like Invisalign®, or you may feel as though it’s taking longer to see a difference in the alignment of your teeth.


Clear aligners are usually easier and more comfortable than braces – minimal lifestyle changes are required.
Clear aligners are usually easier and more comfortable than braces – minimal lifestyle changes are required.

How Long Should You Wear Your Aligners for Each Day?


We’ve already mentioned that the ideal amount of time to wear your aligners for each day is 22 hours. Remember, though, that you can (and should) take them out to eat and brush your teeth, as well as while playing sport and swimming. Other than that, you should be prepared to commit to consistently wearing your aligners. Otherwise, you’re likely to prolong how long the aligners take to work and you won’t achieve your desired outcome as quickly.


When you first receive your aligners, your teeth and jaws might feel tender. That’s entirely normal and is usually mild. Wearing the plastic trays is sure to feel unnatural at first, and it’s tempting to take the aligner out. But, don’t. Make that commitment to wearing your trays for the required amount of time each day. After a few days, the soreness does subside, and you get used to wearing the aligners.


How Can You Shorten Your Treatment Period?


Here’s another big benefit of clear aligner treatment – there are a few things you can do to ensure your treatment time is as short as possible.

  • Always follow the instructions that your orthodontist gives you. If you’re told to wear the aligners for a minimum of 22 hours each day, make sure you do it. Your teeth and jaws may feel a little bit tender at first, but that’s all part of the process of realigning your smile.

  • Secondly, take proper care of your aligners. If an aligner gets cracked, do tell your orthodontist so that they can prepare a replacement tray for you.

  • Thirdly, brush out any food particles and plaque that could hang onto the aligners. You should give your aligners a deep clean at least once or twice a week to keep your trays working properly and your teeth in good health.

  • Remember to change the aligners on the right date and take them with you if you are planning on travelling.

  • Finally, remember that there is a monitoring app available which allows you to scan your teeth at home. The scan will feed back information to your orthodontist and you may be able to progress through aligners faster if your teeth are moving quickly.

While clear aligner treatment like Invisalign® isn’t nearly as intrusive as treatment with metal braces, overall, the shorter the treatment is, the closer you are to that shining new smile.


Start Clear Aligner Treatment Today


The average amount of time it takes for clear aligners like Invisalign® to work is around 12 months, but there are a few things you can do to help shorten that period. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions to the letter, and you’ll be smiling a straight and beautiful smile in no time at all.


To learn more, book a free* orthodontic assessment to find out your personal suitability, and an estimate of how long clear aligners like Invisalign® will take to work for you.


*If orthodontic X-rays are required, a fee of $180 applies. See Terms and Conditions. Treatment may not be suitable for you.


These products are not available for purchase by the general public. They are however available to Fine Orthodontics patients. Always read the label and follow the instructions for use.


 

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Specialist Orthodontist Input by Dr Martin Fine BDS, MSc, MSc

Dr Martin Fine

Dr Martin Fine

Specialist Orthodontist Dr Martin Fine, BDS, MSc (Orthodontics), is based in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. With over 30 years' experience in private practice, Dr Fine has expertise working with a wide variety of orthodontic appliances, including braces and Invisalign. He has presented at orthodontic conferences globally, and has taught postgraduate orthodontic students at the University of Sydney. Dr Fine is a member of both the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) and the ASO (Australian Society of Orthodontists), and is a former president of the Alpha-Omega Dental Society's Sydney Chapter.  In the past, Dr Fine's research has been featured in the Angle Orthodontist journal. Dr Fine is committed to providing outstanding patient care using the latest and most effective techniques. Most recently, Dr Fine has developed and introduced the innovative FineLine clear aligner system, which has been specifically developed to meet the needs of patients at Fine Orthodontics.

Written by Danielle Long, writer

Danielle Long

Danielle Long.png

Danielle Long is a writer at Fine Orthodontics. She holds graduate qualifications in English and Education and is an integral part of the team at Fine Orthodontics. Danielle Long has been assisting in the orthodontic care process at Fine Orthodontics for over fifteen years, working closely with the team to provide exceptional patient support, communication and coordination of treatment plans. As a writer and an orthodontic treatment coordinator, Danielle Long's primary responsibilities include facilitating exceptional patient education and communication, ensuring seamless coordination of treatment plans, and providing support to the clinical orthodontic team at Fine Orthodontics.

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