Almost everyone has heard of Invisalign these days. They've seen commercials on television and ads on websites, and they're familiar with how aligners look and work because they have friends or family members who have used Invisalign to straighten their teeth. What you might not know is how long it takes Invisalign to straighten teeth—and the answer is a little more complicated than you might think!
Average Invisalign Treatment Time
The average treatment time for aligner therapy is 12 to 18 months, according to the Invisalign website. Of course, this is an average, so there are outliers too. Some patients may need Invisalign for less than a year, while others could require more than 18 months of treatment. Despite these exceptions, the vast majority of Invisalign patients complete their treatment within the 1 to 1 1/2 year timeframe.
When compared to more traditional orthodontic treatments, Invisalign offers much more predictability in terms of treatment time. Once your treatment has been planned, we know exactly how many sets of aligners you'll need to straighten your teeth. We can then predict the amount of time you'll need for Invisalign based on the number of aligners you need since each set is worn for about two weeks. This estimation isn’t perfect, but it’s a good ballpark figure.
Understanding Your Orthodontic Needs
The number of Invisalign aligners needed to straighten your teeth is determined by the severity of your orthodontic case. Aligner therapy, just like traditional braces, takes longer when a patient has complicated orthodontic issues.
You'll likely need a shorter treatment time if you're an adult who wants to use Invisalign to fix minor orthodontic relapse caused by not using a retainer after orthodontic treatment as a teen. If you've never had orthodontic treatment and need to address major bite issues or misalignments, you may need to wear aligners for a full 18 months, or perhaps even longer.
Compliance With Invisalign Treatment
Invisalign is predictable when compared to other orthodontic treatments, but one thing we can't predict is your compliance with the instructions we give you. Because braces are cemented to your teeth, they’re working all day long to correct your smile, whereas Invisalign aligners only work while you are wearing them.
Wearing your aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day is recommended by Invisalign, but we recommend that you only take them out to eat, drink anything other than water, brush, and floss to maximize your time in aligners. Every two weeks, or as directed, you'll switch to a new pair of aligners.
You'll lengthen the time it takes to complete your orthodontic treatment if you take your aligners out regularly and keep them out for hours or days at a time. You may believe that switching to a new set of aligners every two weeks will allow you to get the same results regardless of how often you wear your aligners, but this can lead to serious oral health problems, including damage to your teeth's roots.