Invisalign vs. Braces: Which Takes Longer?

8 Jun 2018 by  admin in Invisalign

invisalign clear alignersTreatment time is an important consideration for patients who are choosing between Invisalign and traditional metal braces. Of course, every case is unique. The more complex a person’s malocclusion is, the longer it will take to straighten the teeth. This applies to both Invisalign and conventional orthodontic treatment. The best way to find out how long it will take you to achieve beautifully straight teeth is to talk to an Invisalign provider. You’ll receive a customized treatment plan.

Average treatment time for Invisalign

Most Invisalign patients achieve a straight smile in about 12 months, although more complex cases can take up to 18 months. Your total treatment time will be primarily determined by the amount of movement required to treat the “lead tooth.” In dentist lingo, the lead tooth is the most crooked tooth in any given mouth. It’s the one that requires the greatest movement to correct.

This is significant for your treatment time because each Invisalign aligner is capable of generating up to .25 mm of movement. This is equivalent to two degrees of rotation, or about 1/100th of an inch. Once the tooth that requires the greatest degree of movement has finished shifting, then the rest of the teeth will be done, too.

It’s always possible for a patient’s treatment time to take a little longer than expected if that person failed to wear the aligners as directed. To complete your treatment in the shortest time possible, you’ll need to wear your aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours per day (your dentist will probably prefer 22 hours). Most patients will move on to the next set of aligners in the series at two-week intervals.

Average treatment time for metal braces

Like Invisalign, there are a few factors that go into determining the length of treatment time for metal braces. One is the age of the patient. On average, adults need more time with metal braces than children. A typical adult will wear them for 18 months to three years. Note that the average minimum time for braces is the average maximum time for Invisalign. A typical child getting braces between the ages of 11 and 14 might also need up to three years of treatment, but could be done in as few as 12 months.

However, it should also be noted that metal braces are highly susceptible to damage. There are many small components that can sustain damage, including the arch wire and the brackets. A person’s treatment time may need to be extended if repairs are necessary.

Here’s what you should know about wearing a retainer

Whether you choose Invisalign or metal braces, you can expect to wear a retainer afterward. A retainer doesn’t actively move the teeth. Rather, it prevents the teeth from moving out of their ideal positions. If you’ve chosen Invisalign, the Vivera retainer is recommended. It’s virtually invisible, just like your aligners were. Each patient’s retainer schedule is customized, but yours might look something like this:

  • Wear 12 to 22 hours/day for first 3 – 6 months
  • Wear only at night between months 6 and 12
  • Nighttime wear 3 – 5 nights per week beyond one year

After metal braces, retainers are generally worn for at least one full year, or for as long as the metal braces were worn. After that, they may be worn at night indefinitely.

Are you ready to start your Invisalign treatment?

Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot are the go-to Invisalign providers for Suffolk County, Long Island. Get started on your path toward a beautiful, straight smile today! Call Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry at 631.296.0549.

Additional resources for Invisalign patients:

  1. Invisalign, FAQ, https://www.invisalign.com/frequently-asked-questions
  2. Invisalign, Vivera Retainers, https://www.invisalign.com/the-invisalign-difference/vivera-retainers
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