What are Invisalign Invisible Braces? And what do invisible braces cost? Invisible braces like Invisalign are becoming ever more popular, especially among adults. They are a great option for people who want to straighten their teeth while avoiding a ‘metal mouth' smile.
That's why, in this guide, we will answer the following questions so you can make an informed decision about the right orthodontic treatment for you:
- How much does Invisalign cost?
- Does Invisalign work?
- What are the best teeth aligners?
- Is Invisalign worth it?
- What about mail-order alternatives?
- What are the be
You can read about some of the most popular brands of clear aligner brace in the US, plus find out how much invisible braces cost.
Candid clear aligners are similar to Invisalign in that they straighten your teeth discreetly with ‘invisible braces'. But the similarities stop there because:
- Affordability: Candid can literally cost thousands less than Invisalign.
- Convenience: Candid treatment can be completed from home.
- Care: Candid works exclusively with orthodontists, ensuring the best results.
- Tech: Candid offers AI remote monitoring for better results and faster treatment.
Read more about Candid in our review or take their free online assessment to check if you're a suitable candidate.
Table of contents
- 1 What is Invisalign?
- 2 How much does Invisalign cost?
- 3 The different types of Invisalign aligners
- 4 Invisalign: Before and after
- 5 Other brands of invisible aligner brace offered by dentists
- 6 At-home clear aligners (mail-order braces)
- 7 Which is better, Invisalign or braces?
- 8 Conclusion
- 9 FAQs
What is Invisalign?
The term ‘invisible braces‘ refers to a way of straightening teeth that uses a series of clear plastic aligners (also known as ‘trays') to gradually move teeth into alignment. You may also hear them called ‘removable braces', although the correct term is ‘clear aligners'.
Although they aren't completely invisible, they use advanced technology which makes them barely detectable. Most people can't spot that someone is wearing clear aligners until they are told.
The best-known type of invisible brace in the US is the Invisalign system, but other similar brands are also available. If you're wondering how to choose between the different types of invisible brace, we'll cover these later in more detail.
Teeth aligners can be used to treat a range of mild and moderate tooth alignment problems, including:
They may also be a good choice for people whose teeth have started to move back to their original position following previous orthodontic treatment.
How does Invisalign work?
Your dentist will begin your treatment either by taking a mold of your teeth which can be used to create a digital scan, or by scanning your teeth directly using the latest imaging technology. This scan is used to plan your treatment step by step with the help of a computer program. From this, your clear aligners are created.
The 3D plan allows you to see ‘before and after’ views of your teeth before the treatment has even begun. This allows you and your dentist or orthodontist to visualize the predicted outcome of your treatment and discuss different treatment options you may want to consider.
It may be necessary for you to have your teeth filed along some sides as part of your treatment. This painless process creates tiny gaps between teeth to give them space to move, and it can also even out cosmetic imperfections.
Each invisible teeth aligner is customized to fit your teeth and shaped to apply pressure in exactly the right places to slowly shift them into alignment.
You'll need to switch to a new clear aligner every one to two weeks, depending on your dentist's recommendation, but this doesn't mean having checkups that often. Your dentist or orthodontist will only need to check the progress of your treatment every four to six weeks or so before providing you with new sets of teeth aligners.
How long does Invisalign take?
Treatment can take anywhere from nine months to 18 months or more but typically lasts just over a year. Longer treatment requires more trays to be made, increasing the cost. The invisible braces or Invisalign price increases considerably for longer treatment durations.
With Invisalign treatment it may be necessary to add “Invisalign buttons or attachments” to certain teeth to help the aligners work more effectively, especially if gentle force is needed for tooth rotation or a more complex movement is necessary. In the video below you can see how this happens as part of the fitting process:
How painful is Invisalign?
The process of moving teeth usually causes a bit of pain, no matter what kind of braces or aligners you have. It's no different for Invisalign, the most pain at the start of each new set of aligners. Invisalign does help eliminate some sources of traditional braces pain—since the metal brackets can catch on the insides of cheeks and cause sores, the fact that Invisalign has no brackets means that this won't be a problem.
After treatment with Invisalign
After treatment with clear aligners, you'll need to wear a retainer at night to keep your teeth in place. Your orthodontist or dentist may recommend wearing it during the day at first, too.
Invisalign retainers, branded as Vivera retainers, are designed to be almost unnoticeable. Other types of retainer use metal wires to keep your teeth in place but are still removable.
It's possible that you'll need to wear a retainer after Invisalign for the rest of your life to stop your teeth from moving out of alignment (known as relapse).
You should wear them 24 hours a day (taking them out to eat and drink) for the first two weeks and after that only at night, but you are encouraged to order a new set every six months. Just like with Invisalign retainers, these retainers are meant to be worn for the rest of your life.
Straightening your teeth not only improves your appearance, but it also improves your oral health. Invisalign is a good option for those who want to straighten their smiles without having bulky metal braces in their mouths. Considering Invisalign’s retainers are removable, they come with a number of benefits, including:
- You can eat what you want. With clunky metal braces, it’s tough to eat certain foods that can get caught easily in the brackets. These removable retainers are taken out each time you eat, which means you can eat your favorite foods.
- The ability to engage in regular activities. Unlike with traditional braces, Invisalign users don’t have to worry about damaging the orthodontics in their mouths because they can be removed at a moment’s notice.
- Your teeth stay clean. Since you can remove Invisalign retainers so easily, you can still brush and floss like normal without obstruction or inconvenience.
Dr. Brandon Murri, Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies
How much does Invisalign cost?
Invisalign costs around $3,500 – $8,500 in the US (for Full) because of all the variables involved. To get an accurate quotation, you'll need to visit an Invisalign orthodontist for a consultation.
In most cases, invisible braces like Invisalign cost more than the traditional metal ‘train track' alternative. However, the price of Invisalign is one that most people are willing to pay for the benefits of having their teeth straightened discreetly.
The price that orthodontists charge for each type of brace is up to them, so you'll find that charges differ from one location to another. The cost of Invisalign and other transparent braces will also depend on the complexity of your treatment and the expected duration. If you are a suitable candidate for Invisalign Express, for instance, the cost of invisible braces will be lower than if you needed Invisalign Full.
Check out this table that compares Invisalign prices for Full, Express and Teen:
As you can see from the table below, the average cost of Invisalign is similar to or less than other discreet alternatives such as ceramic braces and lingual braces (more about these options further down).
You can find more information about the different types of braces in our full guide to braces for adults and teens.
Paying for your treatment
If you're putting off treatment because of the cost of invisible braces, your dentist may be able to help you spread the payments out. Many dentists offer dental payment plans that will allow you to pay a deposit up-front and then pay off the remaining amount during your treatment.
If you're considering using financing for dental treatment, it's worth shopping around for a dental practice that offers 0% finance. This can make a big difference to the total cost of invisible braces.
In the US, Invisalign gives certain dentists a coveted ‘Top 1% Provider' status. This ranks a practitioner's experience with Invisalign compared to all others around the world.
As a consumer, it should give you peace of mind that the dentist is competent with the treatment, but there may be an added cost benefit too. Top 1% Providers receive preferential Invisalign prices which they often pass on to customers. So this is something you should look out for when selecting a clinic for your treatment.
How much does Invisalign cost with insurance?
Your dental insurance may well provide partial coverage for orthodontic work for children under 18. More providers are starting to expand their dental insurance offering to include adult orthodontics.
Check your policy for details, and take note of the percentage covered and the lifetime maximum per person insured. Be wary of switching providers halfway through orthodontic treatment, as the new policy may not cover work that has already begun. Also, keep in mind that even if you have insurance for orthodontic work, the Invisalign cost with insurance will most likely not be completely covered.
Additionally, check out our article on Medicaid to find out more about if your state-funded insurance will cover the invisible braces cost.
What's the cost of clear Invisalign retainers after teeth straightening treatment?
When your orthodontic treatment has finished, you'll need to keep your teeth in place with retainers. Invisalign retainers are available under the brand name Vivera. These can last anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on how well you look after them.
The average cost of Invisalign retainers will vary from one dentist to another, but you can expect to pay between $300 and $750 annually (for one set every three months).
A similar style of retainer, called an Essix retainer, is available from most dentists at a more affordable price. Hawley retainers, which use acrylic and wires, are another option.
Whichever type of retainer you choose, you'll need to factor in the lifetime cost of using one when budgeting for your orthodontic treatment. If you stop using a retainer, your Invisalign results will recede.
How much does Invisalign cost for top teeth only?
Invisalign for top teeth only costs anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 approximately. That's because for minor straightening, you can probably opt for the Invisalign Express system.
The different types of Invisalign aligners
This is the original and most common Invisalign treatment, used to correct more complicated problems with tooth alignment. Full treatment usually takes 12-18 months but will continue until the desired result is achieved.
During your treatment time, you'll need to visit your dentist every four to eight weeks to check how your teeth are responding and to order your next sets of aligners. Your dentist may fit small Invisalign attachments to some of your teeth as part of your treatment. These help the braces adjust your teeth faster and more efficiently. For some people, the Invisalign attachments are the most noticeable part of the braces.
The video below shows one patient's experience and her Invisalign results with her Invisalign Full treatment, which she has now completed. She talks about the discomfort she experienced and shares some tips for keeping trays clean.
For minor to moderate cases which don't need Full treatment, Invisalign Express offers mild correction. There are two lengths of Express treatment: one uses up to five aligners and takes three months, and the other uses up to 10 aligners and takes around six months.
One thing to consider if you opt for the Invisalign Express treatment, is that the number of aligners you get is set, so five with Express 5 and 10 with Express 10. That means that if you don't get the results you want in time, you are out of luck. Whereas with Invisalign Full, your dentist can extend your treatment to order more aligners if your teeth don't respond exactly as planned.
The reduced treatment time for Invisalign Express means that the braces can treat a limited range of problems. These include:
- Slight overcrowding or spacing (up to 2mm per arch)
- Mild crookedness of front teeth
- Early relapse from previous orthodontic work
The obvious benefit is that the Invisalign Express cost is less than Invisalign Full, as long as you only need the number of aligners provided.
Because teeth and jaws are still developing during teenage years, it's a great time to fix any alignment problems. However, some brands of invisible aligner braces are not designed to accommodate the growing jaw of a teenager.
With removable braces there is also the risk that the patient will be tempted to remove them for longer than the recommended time each day.
Invisalign Teen is specially designed to help teenagers straighten their teeth while the dentition and jaws are still evolving. This aligner system comes with special features including:
- Up to six free replacement aligners to replace lost or damaged ones
- Tooth eruption tabs to allow space for growing teeth
- Compliance indicators which show parents and dentists whether the wearer is keeping their aligners in for the required 22 hours a day
- Special aligners to encourage lower jaw advancement and enable treatment without elastics
Invisible braces cost more than traditional metal braces, but some parents may say it's a small price to pay for their child to have a straighter smile without the risk of bullying and name-calling that often comes with wearing braces. This system is also a good option if their child plays a contact sport or a wind instrument.
In this video, one mom explains why this was the right choice for her daughter:
Vivera retainers by Invisalign are designed to be worn after orthodontic procedures like braces have been removed. You are fitted for this clear retainer, and Invisalign provides you with easy instructions for care and use.
Invisalign: Before and after
These Invisalign before and after photos show Invisalign results and how effective these invisible aligners can be at correcting the position of teeth.
|Before Invisalign||After invisalign|
So, the most important question: Does Invisalign work?
If you want to know what other people think of using Invisalign, there are plenty of sites with Invisalign reviews where you can get an honest opinion of the process and view Invisalign ‘before and after photos. If you're short on time, check out our Invisalign reviews article which summarizes honest reviews from real users.
Some Invisalign reviews mention mouth sores, ulcers, and bleeding gums in the first few days while their mouths adjust to the trays. Others say they have difficulty removing them at first, but most people soon get used to them and have a positive experience.
“Anyone who has had braces knows the pain of having your teeth pushed around your mouth. It is no different with Invisalign. I would say that the first 4 days were the worst, with the worst pain being the night after starting a new tray. I usually just took a bit of Tylenol the first night, and it was fine, but you definitely notice the uncomfortableness the first few days. By the end of the two weeks, it was so easy to take the trays in and out – it was actually pretty encouraging because you could see that your teeth were actually straightening!” said one user.
She also comments that the inconvenience of having to remove the teeth aligners every time you eat or drink anything except water can be annoying, but on the other hand, you don't have the fiddly cleaning of metal braces to deal with.
“It does limit you though when it comes to eating – you can't eat with the trays in, so you have to take them out any time you want to eat anything. I really do think it probably forced me to eat less since I didn't want to deal with taking my braces out every single time I wanted something to eat.”
Another Invisalign review says:
“Orthodontists have a much easier time making some tooth movements with traditional braces. While Invisalign moved most of my teeth it could not move one of them as quickly as braces. One of my back molars was severely rotated and Invisalign was unable to rotate it properly into the correct position. Even though I wore my aligners twenty-two hours a day one of my teeth failed to track properly.”
Invisible aligner braces won't be the right choice for everyone, so it's a good idea to read some Invisalign reviews for yourself before making a choice.
Other brands of invisible aligner brace offered by dentists
Invisalign has arguably the best reputation in the US and brings 20 years of expertise to the market. However, your local dentist may also offer other aligner braces solutions including those mentioned below. Keep in mind that some companies, particularly newer ones, may not have invested as much in their research and technology, so you should consider this when making your choice.
ClearCorrect is probably the next biggest name in aligner orthodontics, and released its first product in 2006.
All ClearCorrect braces are manufactured in Texas and shipped out to dentists in the US, the UK, and Australia. A dentist uses impressions or a scanner to capture the current position of the patient's teeth before creating a treatment plan.
Patients must wear their aligners for at least 22 hours every day. Treatment may take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the tooth straightening required.
Some users prefer Clearcorrect over Invisalign because the trays are all sent at once and they seem to be thinner and therefore less noticeable than Invisalign. Read more about the ClearCorrect vs Invisalign in our separate article, or check out some real ClearCorrect reviews.
Another brand, British Croydon-based company ClearSmile, offers a variety of adult braces, including ClearSmile Brace and ClearSmile Aligner. The ClearSmile Aligner focuses on straightening the front eight to 10 teeth.
Treatment with ClearSmile aligners begins by taking impressions of the teeth. These are then analyzed using Archwize software which produces a diagnostic report. This report allows patients to see ‘before and after' views of their teeth on 3D animated models before treatment commences.
The ClearSmile production method combines 3D printing and molding to ensure a close and comfortable fit for the patient. Further impressions may be taken every six aligners to ensure that the teeth are moving into place as intended.
Inman Aligner braces
This treatment is widely available in the US and has recently been introduced to the UK market.
The Inman Aligner is another clear option and offers a slightly different take on the clear aligner brace. Using patented technology, the spring-loaded system applies pressure to the front and back of the teeth simultaneously to bring them into line. Treatment usually takes 6-18 weeks to complete.
This treatment only works on the front teeth, so unlike Invisalign, it's not a full orthodontic solution. Patients are often people who wore braces when they were younger but now have crooked teeth again because they stopped wearing a retainer.
Inman aligners only have to be worn for 16-20 hours a day, which is less than other styles of aligner brace.
On the downside, Inman aligner braces aren’t really invisible. Although the ‘bow’ which spans the front teeth is made from clear plastic, it usually has a wire running through it. The metal springs and clasps which attach to the rear teeth are also quite visible when you smile.
Other invisible brace brands
There are other brands of clear aligners available as well, such as ClearPath and Eon. Each manufacturer has its own unique selling points. ClearPath, for example, does not use any attachments while Eon claims to use a stronger, more stain-resistant material than many of its competitors.
Some orthodontists offer more than one brand of invisible brace, so you can ask which one they recommend for your treatment, and why. It's worth noting that some Invisalign reviews suggest people experience greater comfort from this brand because of the material and the way it fits around their gums.
Uniform Teeth is another invisible braces brand, that offers a sort of hybrid option between mail-order and in-office aligners. You have some in-person visits with your dentist, but fewer than with Invisalign, thus keeping prices down. You can read more about it in our Uniform Teeth reviews article.
At-home clear aligners (mail-order braces)
One type of clear braces that we haven't mentioned are those that don't require in-office visits with your dentist. They are sometimes referred to as “teledentistry braces,” “mail-order braces” and “at-home braces.” Many people opt for at-home braces because you can save 50–70% on them compared to invisible braces that require in-office visits, and they are also more convenient since you don't have to take time off work to go the orthodontist.
At-home braces are an affordable and effective option for many patients, however, if you have very severely crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, you may not be eligible for this type of aligner.
Byte is one of our top picks for a number of reasons:
- Shorter treatment time
- Work with orthodontists
- Socially conscious company
They also have great customer service with live video chat options and are supported by Kerry Washington. If you want to know more about Byte, you can read our full Byte reviews article.
And NewSmile is great because they use Raintree Essix plastic, the clearest available on the market for aligners, starting at just $1,195. Find out more about NewSmile in our full guide here.
Then there's also ALIGNERCO which you also may want to consider. ALIGNERCO is the most affordable brand on the market, at just $1,145. Find out more about this brand in our ALIGNERCO review. SnapCorrect is also very similar to ALIGNERCO, so you may want to check out our SnapCorrect reviews.
We like Candid aligners vs Invisalign also because while still being more affordable than Invisalign, they offer a very high quality of care. That's because with Candid, you work exclusively with orthodontists to plan and monitor your treatment. Orthodontists are dentists who, after getting their degree, went on to specialize in teeth straightening. Invisalign works with both general dentists and orthodontists.
Candid also has advanced AI technology that combines with an app on your smartphone through which you can virtually check in with your orthodontist every 10 days. This makes treatment more effective and can also shorten treatment time.
Additionally, if you decide to do treatment with Candid, but you'd prefer to have an in-person consultation and get free 3D scans of your teeth instead of taking your impressions at home, you can check to see where your nearest Candid Studio is located. If there isn't a Studio near you, you can order your impression kit to take the molds of your teeth.
Another brand of clear aligners you've probably heard of is Smile Direct Club.
Smile Direct braces are another cheaper option than Invisalign, but we don't recommend them as highly as the brands we mention above, since they don't work exclusively with orthodontists. This brand also isn't suitable for cases that require significant correction. If you want to know more about the differences between them and Invisalign, our Smile Direct Club vs. Invisalign article should shed some light on things, and you can read some real Smile Direct reviews also.
Which is better, Invisalign or braces?
Both Invisalign and traditional braces are an effective way to straighten teeth. However, some people may have to go with metal braces if they have a more severe case.
Use of Invisalign vs braces has a lot of benefits, including :
- Aligners are virtually invisible so the wearer feels less self-conscious
- They can be removed for up to four hours a day for eating, cleaning, and any special occasions or events where the wearer wants to be brace-free
- There are no restrictions on what the user can eat during treatment (as long as aligners are removed first)
- They are a more hygienic option as food can't get stuck in them
- Trays are easy to clean, and teeth can be cleaned as normal
- Visits to the orthodontist may not be needed as often
Naturally, there are some downsides to Invisalign vs braces too:
- Treatment can take longer than with fixed braces
- Teeth aligners can be lost and are expensive to replace
- They are not suitable for the most severe cases that require more complicated treatment, for example rotating teeth or moving them vertically.
- Aligners must be removed before eating or drinking anything except water
- The wearer must brush their teeth before replacing aligners after eating
- In general, costs are higher for Invisalign vs braces
- Self-discipline is needed for the wearer to keep aligners in for at least 20–22 hours a day
That final point is very important; people who may be tempted to skip a day or keep their aligners out for more than four hours a day might be better off wearing fixed braces that can't be removed at all. Failing to follow these guidelines means treatment will be less effective or will take longer.
Wearers of any kind of braces need to be meticulous with their oral hygiene to minimize the chances of tooth decay, gum disease or staining during treatment.
Check out this table for a summary of braces vs Invisalign pros and cons:
Which is most effective?
Although the Invisalign vs braces debate rages on, over the past 20 years, more than seven million patients have now used Invisalign for better smiles in 90+ countries. Celebrities who have corrected their smiles inconspicuously include Oprah Winfrey, Keira Knightley, Kate Middleton, Tom Cruise and Justin Bieber.
Over the past 20 years, Invisalign has invested a lot in research and development so its aligners can now be used to treat 90% of orthodontic cases. This includes some severe misalignment problems which, in the past, could only have been treated with traditional metal braces.
What's more, the American Association of Orthodontics has also weighed in on this debate. According to them, the skill of your orthodontist is more important in deciding the effectiveness of treatment than whether you choose invisible braces or traditional braces.
What can Invisalign not fix?
While as we mentioned above, Invisalign can treat around 90% of orthodontic cases, the most severe problems may need to be treated with traditional braces, and maybe even accompanied by jaw surgery. This may include severe bite alignment problems like overbites, underbites and crossbites. Your dentist will let you know if your case should be treated with Invisalign or braces.
Other types of clear braces
If you like the idea of less noticeable braces but decide against Invisalign for some reason, there are other options you may want to consider.
Ceramic braces and clear braces, such as Damon braces and the ClearSmile Brace, use the same system of brackets and wires as metal braces. The key difference is that the brackets (and sometimes the wires) are made from a material that is tooth-colored or white. This helps make the braces less obvious, particularly from a distance, but the problem with discomfort remains.
Clear braces can be a good alternative for people who are not eligible for aligner brace treatment but still want a straighter smile the subtle way. Another option to consider is lingual braces, which are hardly noticeable as they are fixed behind the teeth. Lingual braces are typically the most expensive type though, and some users find them uncomfortable.
If you're considering dental braces for yourself or your teen, it's best to visit a dentist or orthodontist who is experienced with using several different types of braces. They will be able to give you a professional opinion on the best type of orthodontic treatment for you.
Many adults and teens choose to straighten their teeth with invisible braces because they don't want people to notice they are wearing braces at all (despite the emerging fake braces trend). They also like the convenience of being able to remove their aligners to eat as normal.
Of all the in-office brands available, Invisalign is the best known, and for good reason. With over 20 years of expertise, Invisalign has proven its effectiveness and can now be used to treat 90% of orthodontic cases, even severe malocclusion which you might think requires metal braces.
The main disadvantages with Invisalign are that treatment can be really expensive and dentist appointments can be inconvenient. Another problem is that Invisalign works with both general dentists and orthodontists; general dentists don't have specialized training in teeth-straightening, so orthodontists are preferred.
If those aspects of Invisalign concern you, we recommend Candid instead. They work exclusively with orthodontists, you can still complete treatment from the comfort of your home and they are way cheaper than Invisalign—nearly 75% cheaper.
If that sounds good to you, book an appointment at your Candid Studio to get started. No Studio location near you? Then you can order your impression kit to take molds of your teeth at home. Make sure to take advantage of any promotions offered on the website to save even more on your clear aligners.
How much is Invisalign braces?
The average cost of Invisalign is usually more than traditional metal braces. Invisalign costs, for Full, are anywhere between $3,500 and $8,500 in the US, but this will depend on each case.
What are some other alternatives to Invisalign?
Invisalign might be the biggest name out there, but there are plenty of in-office and at-home alternatives to consider. Read our article about Invisalign competitors to learn more.
Where can I find Invisalign near me?
Ask your dentist if their office offers treatment with Invisalign. You can also go to the website of the brand you're are interested in and they will help you find a dentist in your area.
How do you clean Invisalign retainers?
If you're wondering how to clean Invisalign, the aligners or retainers, you're in luck because there are a variety of products available to clean your clear aligners. Perhaps the most popular Invisalign cleaner are Invisalign cleaning crystals. They remove plaque and odors from your clear aligners in about 15 minutes.
Can Invisalign fix overbite?
Invisalign can be used to fix overbite in mild to moderate cases. Invisalign overbite treatment will probably require Invisalign Full instead of Express, except for very mild cases.
What happens if I don't wear my Invisalign for 22 hours a day?
If you don't wear your Invisalign aligners for 22 hours a day, your treatment time will take longer, and you might not succeed in straightening your teeth at all. Your teeth are only being moved into the correct position while you're wearing your aligners. That means that when you don't have your aligners in, your teeth are working to get back to their original alignment. If you forget to wear your Invisalign frequently for 22 hours a day, you may have to begin treatment from the beginning and pay again for a whole new set of aligners.