If you want to straighten your teeth with clear aligners while you sleep, then you may be considering nighttime clear aligners. You only need to wear these types of aligners at night, but do they really work?
Just as the name suggests, nighttime braces, or aligners, are clear aligners that require only 10 hours of wear per day. That means you can spend most of those hours sleeping. Talk about getting your beauty sleep!
The question is, can you really get straight teeth by wearing your aligners for just 10 hours per day? Surely you need to wear them full time to get real results? This article will discuss everything you need to know about nighttime clear aligners and answer the following questions:
- What are nighttime aligners?
- How do they work?
- Is this method safe and effective?
- How much do nighttime clear aligners cost?
- What kinds are available?
Let's start with finding out what these aligners are, and we'll take a closer look at the adult braces brands that are currently offering them.
Table of contents
- 1 What are clear aligners?
- 2 What are nighttime clear aligners?
- 3 What are the different nighttime clear aligners available?
- 4 Comparison of nighttime aligners
- 5 Pros and cons of nighttime aligners
- 6 Why don't all clear aligner companies offer nighttime aligners?
- 7 Nighttime aligner reviews
- 8 Should you get nighttime aligners?
- 9 FAQs
What are clear aligners?
To better understand nighttime aligners, let's have a quick refresher about clear aligners in general.
Clear aligners are an alternative to traditional fixed braces when it comes to straightening teeth. They are custom made, removable, clear plastic trays that are designed to fit snugly to your teeth and align them gradually over time.
These aligners are increasingly popular among adults and older teens who don't want the ‘brace face' aesthetic. You may have heard of the most popular, and well-known brand of clear aligners, the Invisalign system.
Invisalign aligners are the gold standard when it comes to this treatment, having straightened over 11 million smiles since they began operating. Most clear aligner options can only treat mild, and some moderate orthodontic cases, but the Invisalign system can treat up to 90% of cases including some that need complex tooth movements and overbites.
However, they do not fall into the nighttime aligner category as they require 20-22 hours of wear per day. This doesn't mean you should dismiss them for your treatment though. Clear aligners are very discreet and almost invisible, so you should feel confident wearing them any time of day.
If you want to know more about Invisalign treatment and how much it costs, you can read our full article on this topic.
What are nighttime clear aligners?
These aligners only need to be worn for 10 hours per day so you can wear them while you sleep, with potentially an hour or two of wear before or after sleeping.
Unlike aligners that you wear around the clock, nighttime aligners require you to wear them continuously, meaning you can't take them out to eat or drink. Once they're in, they must stay in until the prescribed time is up.
Nighttime aligners generally require a longer treatment time than standard aligners, and with some companies, they are more expensive. But, how do they work with just 10 hours of wear per day?
In some cases, it's the longer treatment time that helps achieve results. In other cases, night teeth braces can be made with a thicker plastic that allows more force to be applied to the teeth. It's this gentle but continuous force that gradually guides teeth into proper alignment.
Nighttime vs standard clear aligners
There are three main differences between nighttime and standard aligners:
- Hours of wear: Normal aligners need to be worn between 20 and 22 hours per day, and night aligners usually require 10 hours of wear per day.
- Material: With some brands, nighttime aligners are made of a thicker plastic than normal aligners, applying greater force to teeth.
- Treatment time: Nighttime aligners usually take longer than normal aligners to complete treatment.
There are a lot of brands offering clear aligners, both standard and nighttime, but not all provide the same level of care and service to their customers.
For instance, nighttime aligners typically come from at-home aligner companies which rely on remote monitoring technology rather than hands-on patient care. Although this technology is improving all the time, it is not the same as having a dentist check your treatment progress in-person.
Before opting for night aligners, we'd recommend you consider treatment with a company that offers in-office treatment. Once you fully understand the different options, and how much they cost, you can make a more informed decision. This is especially important if you have a more complex alignment problem which can only be treated with in-office care.
If you want to know if you're eligible for Invisalign treatment, take their free Smile Assessment now to find out. Then, it's easy to find a provider near you and book a consultation for a detailed quotation.
If you only require mild treatment and you want to know more about your nighttime braces options, keep reading.
What are the different nighttime clear aligners available?
Not all clear aligner brands offer the nighttime only option and the ones that do often offer them at a slightly more expensive price than their standard options. Let's have a look at a few of the different ones on the market.
Straight My Teeth NightOnly Clear Aligners
Straight My Teeth is a company that offers nighttime aligners in the UK and it also has some of the most affordable aligners available on the market. Their at-home aligner treatment is remotely monitored by orthodontists and dental technicians.
Straight My Teeth does have one Smile Studio in London where you can go for your initial consultation and 3D scan. But, it's not necessary for you to attend, since you can always order a DIY impression kit online and never see a dentist in person.
Their standard aligners cost just £999, but if you want the convenience of not having to wear your aligners during the day, they have the NightOnly option. This option is a little bit more expensive at £1,149, but payment plans are available if you are concerned about the cost.
Their nighttime option is relatively new and comes with the following features:
- Aligners must be worn for 8-10 hours per day, usually at night
- Average treatment time is 8-12 months
- Can treat mild cases
If you are interested in learning more about Straight My Teeth aligners, you can read our full review of both the Day Time and NightOnly options here.
Smile Direct Club Nighttime Aligners
Smile Direct Club is an at-home aligner brand that is based in the US. They are completely remote, so there's no need to ever visit a dentist throughout your treatment. To find out if you are eligible for these aligners, you order a home impression kit, and send back impressions of your teeth and bite so a dentist can assess your eligibility.
They do have nine physical locations, called ‘SmileShops' across the UK in London, Manchester and Birmingham. So, if you want to do a 3D scan of your teeth in person, it's possible if you are near one of these locations or are prepared to travel there. However, this will be with a representative and not a dentist, and you will never get to meet your dentist or orthodontist.
To be eligible for these aligners, your orthodontic case must be mild, and sometimes moderate depending on how severe it is. If you are eligible for these aligners, they will send your aligner sets to you, and you will have online check-ups every 90 days.
The Nighttime Aligners work in a similar fashion, except you only need to wear these aligners for 10 hours a day. Your treatment should last 10 months or more, unlike their standard aligners that take between four and six months.
Nighttime aligners cost exactly the same amount as their standard daytime option at £1,539. Either route has the option of the SmilePay payment plan which is a monthly payment of £70.09 and a total price of £1,682.17. This price doesn't include the cost of your impression kit at £39, or your retainers at £80 per set every six months once you have finished treatment.
If you want to learn more about Smile Direct Club, you can check out our full review here.
Comparison of nighttime aligners
There are a couple of other brands, like Wondersmile nighttime aligners, that you may want to look at as well. But, in general, the concept of nighttime clear aligners is the same from company to company.
Only people with mild orthodontic issues are eligible and the aligners must be worn continuously for around 10 hours per night. The overall treatment time is also longer than it is for standard daytime options.
There are some differences that you should consider if you do choose the nighttime aligner route. Have a look at the table below for a summary of the similarities and differences:
Straight My Teeth NightOnly Clear Aligners
Smile Direct Club Nighttime Aligners
Wondersmile NightClear Aligners
Average treatment length
8 - 12 months
10 hours a day
10 hours a day
10 hours a day
Pros and cons of nighttime aligners
Nighttime clear aligners may sound like a great idea; you get straighter teeth but only have to wear your aligners at night for half the amount of time as standard aligners! If that sounds almost too good to be true to you, then you're probably right. But, before we address the disadvantages, let's recap the advantages of these aligners.
- They only require nighttime wear
- Most of that time can be when you are sleeping
Wearing aligners only at night is a huge perk to many patients who find the idea of daytime wear to be an inconvenience. The main reason is that your aligner trays need to be removed in order to eat and to drink darker beverages like coffee or tea.
Clear aligners are already designed to be much more convenient and discreet than traditional metal braces. Unfortunately, some patients may find that they feel self-conscious wearing clear aligners during the day. If you think this sounds like you then you may be a good candidate for nighttime aligners.
So, the upsides of nighttime treatment are even greater invisibility (due to the fact that you don't wear them during the day), and the convenience of not having to take them out every time you go back for another doughnut from the break room.
- Treatment with nighttime aligners takes longer than treatment with standard aligners
- Nighttime aligners are only meant for patients with very mild misalignment
- Teeth may shift back without continuous pressure from aligners
Not everyone will be eligible because nighttime aligners can only resolve very mild orthodontic cases. But, an even bigger problem is that there could be more chance of your teeth moving back into their original position with nighttime aligners since teeth aren't under continual pressure.
Why don't all clear aligner companies offer nighttime aligners?
Big-name companies like Invisalign, Clearcorrect and Inman all offer a comprehensive range of aligner treatment options, and yet none of them offer a nighttime only option.
This raises the question: why not? If they believed this kind of treatment was effective and safe, surely they would be offering it to the growing number of people showing an interest in night-only orthodontia?
One company in the US, Candid, has actually gone as far as to release a statement explaining why they don't offer nighttime treatment. You can read Candid's Chief Dental Officer, Dr C. Lynn Hurst's full statement here.
Basically, Hurst said that they don't offer nighttime aligners because there is no peer-reviewed evidence that they work. He also mentioned the concerns he has about potential problems that could result from aligners being worn for a shorter daily duration.
The reasoning for this is that due to such limited wear, Hurst is concerned that patients won't experience the continuous pressure that is necessary for effective and healthy tooth movement.
He argues that teeth and gums could be left in a state of constant inflammation and that teeth could require a much longer healing phase. Kind of like only wearing a cast at night to heal a broken arm.
Hurst states his commitment and responsibility to his patients to do no harm and the lack of evidence that nighttime aligners are safe and effective as the principal reason why Candid doesn't offer nighttime aligner treatment.
Nighttime aligner reviews
While it's not entirely clear just how effective this type of treatment is, there are patient reviews that can give us a bit more insight into the nighttime option. Let's have a look at what some patients are saying:
Straight My Teeth NightOnly reviews
The following review is from Jessica, a Straight My Teeth NightOnly customer. Jessica writes a very long review, going into detail about the ups and downs of her treatment, but also how pleased she was with her final results. She says that her self-confidence has grown massively when it comes to her appearance and smile.
Jessica decided to get clear aligners because she didn't get braces as a teenager, simply because she didn't want them. However, she began to dislike her crooked bottom teeth as she grew older.
She decided to go with Straight My Teeth after researching a few companies that did nighttime aligners. After having a 3D scan, Jessica decided to go through with the treatment.
There were some issues along the way, but the support team helped to resolve the issues and overall she is pleased with the final results.
I am on my last set of aligners and wanted to write a review. I left it this long to really complete the process and write an honest review to anyone that might need reassurance. It was one of the best things I did and it has given me so much more confidence in my appearance and smile.Jessica – TrustPilot review
Smile Direct Nighttime Aligners reviews
The next review is a video from Shelby about her Smile Direct Club Nighttime Aligners. Right from the start Shelby is extremely honest about her experience and even goes as far as to say she didn't quite get along with the person who scanned her teeth.
Shelby talks us through her whole experience and what prompted her to try the nighttime aligner option. She also talks us through unboxing her aligners and shows everything that comes with them.
Unfortunately, this is the beginning of Shelby's teeth straightening journey, so we don't get to see her final results.
Should you get nighttime aligners?
Nighttime aligners seem like the perfect solution since you don't have to wear your aligners during the day, you don't have to deal with taking them out every time you want to eat or drink, and your coworkers will never know you are having orthodontic treatment. That is unless they notice that your teeth are slowly getting straighter every day!
However, most nighttime aligner treatment is only monitored remotely and is not suitable for moderate or complex cases. It also takes longer than standard all-day-wear aligners.
You may be interested in a nighttime aligner option if you:
- Only need mild teeth straightening
- Don't want the hassle of taking your aligners out every time you eat or drink anything besides water
- Really don't want anyone to notice you're wearing them
- Don't mind your treatment taking a bit longer
In this case, you can check your eligibility for Straight My Teeth Night Only aligners here.
Some aligner brands don't offer a nighttime option. It is possible that this is because of the lack of peer-reviewed evidence available that shows that they are safe and effective. Conventional aligners require 20-22 hours of wear for best results.
You are more likely to get better and quicker results from standard aligners and from a company that also does face-to-face consults with a dentist or orthodontist. But, if you are still not sure, why not speak to an Invisalign provider to discuss your orthodontic case and needs further.
Ultimately, you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons of nighttime aligners to decide what's best for you. The company you get treatment with should let you know which treatment options are suitable for you.
Can you wear Invisalign only at night?
Unfortunately, for those that are looking for night teeth braces in the UK, Invisalign aligners need to be worn for 20 to 22 hours per day, and they don't offer a nighttime option. This is partly because the Invisalign system is designed to treat more complex orthodontic cases, which require full-time wear.
Why don't all brands offer nighttime aligners?
Some brands don't offer a nighttime option. The US brand Candid states that the primary reason they don't is that there isn't enough peer-reviewed evidence that shows they are safe and effective.
There is also the concern that continuous wear is necessary to successfully and permanently move teeth. If during most of the day you aren't wearing aligners, there is a greater risk for relapse, or teeth moving back to their original position.
Are nighttime aligners safe?
The companies that offer nighttime aligners assert their safety and efficacy. Other brands, on the other hand, are wary of the lack of evidence currently available. Chances are that if you need anything more than a slight cosmetic fix, you aren't a good candidate for nighttime treatment.
Does a night guard help straighten teeth?
A night guard cannot help to straighten teeth as its function is to keep your teeth safe if you grind them. Likewise, a night retainer is only designed to keep your teeth in place after treatment.
Nytimes.com: No More Brace Face? Teens Increasingly Use Clear Aligners. Consulted 9th September 2020.
European Journal of Orthodontics: Teeth movement 12 years after orthodontic treatment with and without retainer: relapse or usual changes? Consulted 9th September 2020.