Braces used to be a one-size-fits-all treatment where patients had to endure generic, uncomfortable metal braces no matter their individual treatment needs. Thankfully, those days are long gone. Not only have metal braces come a long way in terms of durability, versatility, customization, and comfort but there are also other treatment options available. One of these new treatments is Invisalign.
Invisalign provides numerous benefits in comfort, but many patients wonder how long the treatment takes compared to conventional braces. Continue reading to learn about Invisalign treatments, including why you should consider them as a viable treatment option and how long the treatment should take.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What is Invisalign?
For over 20 years, Invisalign has offered patients a way out of the conventional experience of wearing metal braces. Using aligners made of medical-grade plastic, orthodontists can treat most of the alignment issues addressed by braces with Invisalign.
Depending on each patient’s needs, these aligners are replaced every few weeks until the treatment is done.
Factors that Affect Treatment Time
Each patient’s unique situation requires different treatment times. Therefore, it is difficult to estimate the total treatment time of Invisalign without taking a few factors into account. These include:
Crowding and Gaps
Crowding can have many causes, including a jaw that is too small, trauma to the mouth during tooth development, or genetics. When teeth are crowded, they take up too much or too little space and become misaligned as a result.
Gaps can also be caused by teeth that are too small for a patient’s jaw. These gaps can be corrected using Invisalign, but the larger the gap, the longer the treatment will take.
A patient’s age affects how long Invisalign treatment will take. In your teenage years when your teeth and jaw are still growing, muscles and ligaments are more pliable. This allows teeth to move more easily and shortens the average treatment time for younger patients.
Even though a patient’s age and the severity of their issues can affect treatment time, individual differences also have an impact. For some people, teeth simply move more easily. An older patient may have a shorter treatment time than a younger one simply due to their unique oral structures.
Additionally, successful Invisalign treatment involves a certain amount of individual choice. Since patients can remove their aligners, they might not be wearing them for the recommended amount of time.
Orthodontists recommend wearing Invisalign appliances for 22 hours a day or more to optimize treatment time.
Average Invisalign Treatment Time
Knowing all these factors, the average Invisalign treatment time can vary depending on the patient. However, most minor crowding issues are resolved in around 6 months. For more severe crowding issues, treatment may take a full year. Severe gaps may take even longer to treat, up to 18 months in many cases.
Though treatment takes 6-12 months on average, many patients begin seeing results from their Invisalign treatment within a few weeks.
Invisalign vs Braces
The above estimates indicate that Invisalign provides an alternative treatment that takes the same amount of time or less compared to metal braces. However, individual differences in patients’ oral structures can account for a lot of the difference in the average treatment time.
Therefore, the main differences between Invisalign and braces are cost, visibility, and comfort.
Braces and Invisalign cost around the same on average, with treatments generally being around $3,000-$4,000. However, braces for minor issues may not cost as much, with some treatments starting at $1,800. By contrast, Invisalign treatment rarely costs less than $3,000.
Additionally, medical insurance benefits more commonly cover braces treatments. Since Invisalign is newer and viewed as more luxurious, some insurance companies offer less or no coverage for Invisalign.
The main draw to Invisalign is that the clear plastic aligners are less visible than braces. Particularly for people in professional jobs that require person-to-person communication, Invisalign offers a way to receive treatment without showing it off.
Since Invisalign appliances can be removed to eat, brush, and floss, they offer comfort that braces cannot. The tradeoff is the individual choice we mentioned. Since Invisalign aligners can be removed, patients must self-regulate their treatment time to make it as efficient as possible.
Additionally, foods that are hard, sticky, or chewy can cause the wires and brackets of metal braces to bend and break, causing discomfort and extra office visits. Invisalign does not come with this restriction since it can be removed to eat and drink.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering Invisalign or braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.