These days, many patients know a lot about Invisalign® even before their consultations—they see ads for it, they likely know people who have had it, and most answers to their questions only take a quick Google search to answer. One question that’s a little harder to tackle is, “How long does Invisalign® take?” You might expect an easy, straight-forward answer, but there are a few different variables involved. Here’s what you need to know.
Average Invisalign® Treatment Time
If you visit the Invisalign® website, you’ll see that the average treatment time for most patients is 12 to 18 months. Of course, since this is an average, it means that there are patients who achieve their results sooner than 12 months and even some who might need longer than 18 months. Still, most patients finish Invisalign® somewhere in this timeframe.
One of the advantages of Invisalign® treatment is its predictability; every single movement of every single tooth is carefully planned by your dentist. This means we’ll know how many sets of aligners you’ll need and roughly how long you’ll need to wear them before your treatment even starts. We’ll go over this information with you during your consultation.
Understanding Your Orthodontic Needs
The most significant factor in estimating how long you’ll need Invisalign® treatment is the severity of your orthodontic case.
Some patients who get Invisalign® are doing so as adults, after having braces when they were younger; their teeth may have shifted back a bit because they didn’t wear their retainers as directed. These patients might achieve results in under a year. In contrast, someone who has never had braces before and who has significant misalignments and bite issues will need to have Invisalign® for a longer period of time, possibly even more than 18 months.
These are all factors that are taken into consideration during your consultation.
Compliance With Invisalign® Treatment
While there’s a lot that we can predict with Invisalign®, there’s one thing that we can’t—your compliance with the program. When you get your aligners, we’ll give you instructions on how to use them. In order for Invisalign® to work as we’ve planned, you’ll have to wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day and switch to new sets every two weeks (or as instructed). In short, you should only be removing your aligners to eat, drink, brush, and floss.
Unlike traditional braces, which work to straighten your teeth all day long, Invisalign® only works when you wear your aligners. Patients who remove them often and keep them out for long periods of time end up extending the length of their treatment.
Some patients think they can skip wearing their aligners as they should and still switch to the next set every two weeks and achieve results in the same amount of time, but we’ll notice during your appointments that your teeth aren’t moving as they should. It’s also important to note that continuing to move to the next set of aligners if you haven’t been wearing them for 20 to 22 hours a day can cause serious damage to your teeth.