If you want a straighter smile, but you only need Invisalign for your bottom or top teeth, can you get aligners for a single arch?
Commonly, Invisalign treatment involves wearing aligners on both your top and bottom teeth. The aligners work individually to straighten your teeth, and together to align your bite. However, there are some occasions where single arch treatment may be possible.
This article will delve a little deeper into single arch treatment, and answer the following questions:
- How does Invisalign treatment work?
- Is it possible to get Invisalign only for top teeth or Invisalign on bottom teeth only?
- Who is eligible for Invisalign treatment on their bottom or top teeth only?
- How much does single arch treatment cost?
- Are there any risks to just straightening one arch?
We want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision on your orthodontic care. So, if you are interested in straightening just your top or bottom teeth and want to know if Invisalign treatment is right for you, keep reading.
Table of contents
- 1 How does Invisalign treatment work?
- 2 Can you do Invisalign on the bottom teeth only (or top teeth)?
- 3 How does single-arch Invisalign treatment work?
- 4 What are the risks of getting Invisalign single arch treatment?
- 5 Who is eligible for Invisalign single arch treatment?
- 6 How much does Invisalign cost for top teeth only?
- 7 Conclusion
How does Invisalign treatment work?
Before we get into whether or not Invisalign clear aligners work for just your top or bottom teeth, it's important to know what it is and how it works.
Invisalign treatment consists of a series of custom-made removable clear aligners that fit snugly to your teeth and gradually straighten them and align your bite. The aligners are made from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack material and fit comfortably on your teeth.
They work by applying pressure on certain areas of your teeth and mouth to straighten teeth, and close gaps. Roughly every two weeks you will change aligners to maintain that pressure and continue your treatment.
Sometimes you will have attachments or buttons and elastics on your aligners to help treat more complex orthodontic issues. If you need buttons and elastics to help align your bite, then aligners on both your top and bottom teeth are likely needed.
If you don't already know how to get Invisalign, the first step is to make an appointment with an Invisalign provider. During your first consultation, you will receive a 3D scan from the iTero scanner. You will be shown your full digital treatment plan, and what your teeth will look like at the end of treatment.
Each step of your program is digitally planned out, so you will be able to see each stage and how the aligners work to straighten your teeth. Once you agree to this plan your treatment can begin and you will receive your first set of aligners.
You can get Invisalign on bottom teeth only or your top teeth only, and you can get Invisalign clear aligners for one crooked tooth. It depends on the case and how treatment affects your overall bite. However, now that you know how these aligners work, you have probably realised that they are designed to work together to help align your teeth and bite.
In many cases, it is best to get aligners on both arches so that the tooth movements of one arch don’t affect the other. If that happens you can end up with a very uncomfortable bite that can lead to headaches, enamel damage, and other problems.
How does single-arch Invisalign treatment work?
Single arch Invisalign works much the same as Invisalign treatment for both arches, but with just one clear aligner on your teeth, either your top or bottom arch, instead of a full set. You would initially receive a scan and assessment by an Invisalign doctor who would determine your eligibility and plan out your treatment.
Not everyone eligible for Invisalign treatments will be eligible for single arch treatment. It will very much depend on the alignment and occlusion of your teeth and on your individual case. If an Invisalign doctor finds that you are a suitable candidate then the process is similar.
If you do proceed with Invisalign treatment for just your top or bottom teeth, but at some point in your treatment you feel that the alignment of your teeth or bite is uncomfortable, you should let your dentist or orthodontist know right away.
What are the risks of getting Invisalign single arch treatment?
The occlusion of your bite can be very precise, so Invisalign for a single tooth can have an effect on your overall bite, so your dentist will need to ensure treatment won't have a negative impact.
When your teeth don’t fit together quite right, it can cause the following issues:
- Worn teeth or enamel
- Tooth sensitivity
- Pain and discomfort
However, there are cases where Invisalign single arch treatment is possible and it's unlikely to cause these issues.
Who is eligible for Invisalign single arch treatment?
Generally, the cases which can be treated with Invisalign for top teeth only or bottom teeth only are those with just a few crooked teeth, and who need a few aesthetic corrections.
Moderate to complex cases that require treatment with Invisalign Comprehensive are usually not eligible, especially those with crossbites, overbites, or underbites. Orthodontic cases that might be treatable with just an aligner on the top or bottom teeth include:
- Spacing issues (crowded teeth or gaps)
- Mildly crooked front teeth
- A single-tooth misalignment
You are more likely to be eligible for single arch treatment if it is just the front visible teeth in your smile that need to be treated, such as Invisalign for crowded bottom teeth. If you had orthodontic treatment in the past and your teeth have moved slightly from failing to wear a retainer you may also be a candidate.
Treatment does very much depend on the individual's case, so if you are wondering if you would be eligible for single arch treatment it’s best to consult your nearest Invisalign dentist or orthodontist.
How much does Invisalign cost for top teeth only?
The price of Invisalign single arch treatment, if you are eligible, will not be 50% less than regular treatment. At most, you might save 15-20% on dual-arch treatment prices. This is because even though you won't use as many aligners, the amount of time required with your dentist or orthodontist is exactly the same.
Very mild cases are usually candidates for the Invisalign Express package which costs on average between $1,500 – $3,000, or the Lite option which costs roughly between $2,500 – $5,000. The following table shows how all of the Invisalign options compare and the prices for each one.
Type of Invisalign treatment
Possiblity of single arch treatment?
No - most moderate to complex cases are generally not eligible for single-arch treatment
Yes - depending on your case
Yes - depending on your case
Mild to complex cases
Mild and aesthetic cases
Mild and moderate cases
Since prices vary between dentists and from one area to another, the best way to know how much your Invisalign treatment will cost (whether you get one arch or two) is to have a consultation. You can search for nearby providers online.
Invisalign only on bottom teeth, for top teeth only, or even just a single tooth is possible. However, it is very much a case-by-case situation as to whether you will be eligible for treatment. Only an Invisalign doctor can determine if you are a candidate for single arch treatment by assessing your teeth and bite first.
Many people find that they need a full set of Invisalign aligners to make sure their teeth are not only straightened but also to ensure their bite is aligned.
Even if you think that you only need Invisalign for one arch, your dentist may find that it would cause your bite to be uncomfortable. This is one of the many risks of single-arch treatment, so your dentist may recommend a full set of aligners to avoid any issues.
You may be eligible for treatment if you only have very superficial corrections to be made. This includes a single crooked tooth or very mild spacing issues. Generally, the visible front teeth are able to be fixed with a single arch treatment if your dentist assesses your bite and makes sure no alignment issues will result after treatment.
If you want to find out if you are a candidate for single arch treatment, book a consultation with your nearest Invisalign provider to find out more.
NCBI. Efficient Design of a Clear Aligner Attachment to Induce Bodily Tooth Movement in Orthodontic Treatment Using Finite Element Analysis. Consulted 21st January 2020.
Prices stated are indicative only and are based on publicised treatment prices at dental clinics across the UK.