Most people dream of having a perfect smile. Not only can problems with your teeth damage your self-esteem, but they can also cause long-lasting health issues that interfere with eating and speaking. However, the thought of wearing metal braces for years can put people off from seeing an orthodontist and getting corrective treatment to straighten their teeth.
Luckily, newer developments in teeth-straightening technology mean that this is no longer the primary option. Teenagers and adults alike can benefit from straightening their teeth with an alternative treatment that uses clear aligners – the most popular of which is Invisalign.
These practically invisible aligners move your teeth gradually without relying on brackets and wires. Instead, you’ll wear a series of custom-fit transparent plastic trays, which are completely removable for eating and drinking, wearing each for 2 weeks until your teeth have reached the right position.
The number of Invisalign trays you’ll need to use, and the length of the treatment depends on the starting position of your teeth and how you want them to look at the end. This could take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, though the average is 1–1.5 years.
Wondering why there’s no definitive answer for how long Invisalign takes? This blog explains the factors that can affect Invisalign treatment time, and how Finsbury Dental Care can help you receive the most efficient treatment for Invisalign London.
How long does Invisalign take to close gaps in teeth?
Diastemata, or gaps in teeth, have a variety of causes. Spaces between teeth can happen due to an overgrowth of gum tissue, teeth being too small compared to the jaw, or even remaining teeth shifting after tooth loss.
Invisalign can fix minor tooth gaps by gently pressuring the teeth to gradually move closer together. The larger the gap, the longer it will take to close – and the less effective this treatment will be. It can take 6 months to close a small gap, or up to 24 months to close a bigger gap.
For this reason, there is typically a 6mm maximum for gaps. This means that if a gap is larger than 6mm, or multiple gaps that need closing are more than 6mm combined, you may not be able to use Invisalign. Your orthodontist may recommend other treatments such as traditional braces or veneers to close large or multiple gaps between teeth.
If you do use Invisalign to close a gap successfully, it’s important to keep wearing your retainer following the initial treatment, as the gap can open up again if you don’t.
How long does Invisalign take for crowded teeth?
Crowding is a type of malocclusion, or misalignment, where there is not enough space for all of the teeth to sit evenly spaced as they should. When the jaw is too small, or the teeth are too big, then teeth have to push up against each other to fight for space, resulting in twisted or overlapping teeth.
In milder to moderate cases, Invisalign can correct overcrowded teeth in as little as 6–12 months. The more crowded the teeth are, the more movement will be required to correct their spacing, so the longer the treatment will take to complete.
If the crowding is severe, and there really isn’t enough room for all the teeth, your orthodontist may recommend extracting one or more teeth to create the required space – so you can then use Invisalign to move the remaining teeth more easily.
As with tooth gaps, if the overcrowding is too severe and affects too many teeth, Invisalign may not be the most effective option. In this case, you may have to wear braces at least temporarily until your teeth are in a better position for Invisalign.
How long does Invisalign take to correct bite problems?
When it comes to more intensive straightening, such as correcting misalignments between the upper and lower jaws to allow the teeth to bite together properly in two straight rows, it can take between 1 year and 3 years to align the upper and lower teeth.
Examples of more complicated cases of malocclusion that Invisalign can treat include:
- Overbite (overjet) – upper teeth sticking out too far past the lower teeth
- Underbite– lower jaw jutting out past the upper teeth
- Open bite – a gap in the centre where teeth don’t meet when the mouth is closed
- Crossbite – teeth not lining up properly/overlapping when the mouth is closed
Since Invisalign doesn’t apply as much force as traditional braces, it may only be suitable for correcting mild to moderate bite problems. The more movement required, the more likely it is that other treatment may be necessary first – whether that’s braces or surgery.
Does Invisalign take longer for adult teeth?
Invisalign treatments are available for both teenagers and adults who want to straighten their teeth in a more discreet way than classic braces. Many people who seek teeth-straightening treatment later in life worry that it will take longer to fix their teeth than if they’d had braces as a child, but this isn’t necessarily true.
While it does tend to be easier and therefore faster for teeth to move in a jaw that’s still growing, teenagers can be irresponsible when it comes to compliance and maintenance, which can slow down and extend their treatment schedule.
Adults can straighten their teeth with Invisalign just as quickly as teenagers if they stick to their recommended treatment plan. Additionally, some people’s teeth move more easily than others, regardless of age, so it simply depends on the person.
You don’t have to worry about being too old for Invisalign, in any case, because your orthodontist wouldn’t consider you eligible for Invisalign if the condition of your teeth and your dental history were incompatible with standard treatment schedules.
How long do you have to wear Invisalign aligners?
Invisalign aligners are designed to gently move teeth one at a time using a series of changing trays. To achieve your desired results on schedule, you must wear the aligner tray for at least 20–22 hours a day, and only remove it to eat, drink, and brush your teeth. If you don’t have the self-discipline to wear the aligners as instructed, this can hinder the treatment.
Similarly, you must stick to your schedule of swapping aligner trays when it’s time to move onto the next one. If you don’t change aligners on time, or follow the sequence of trays in the right order, this can delay and even alter the planned movement of your teeth.
If you want to complete your treatment on schedule, or even shorten the treatment time a little, you should be very organised about wearing and changing your Invisalign aligners according to your orthodontist’s instructions – including cleaning and maintaining the trays themselves.
If you don’t, your teeth could start to shift back to their original positions, or even shift differently in a way that invalidates your treatment plan – which could cost you financially as well as timewise.
How soon can you see results from Invisalign?
When designing your customised Invisalign treatment plan, your orthodontist will use digital modelling to create 3D images that show how your teeth should look at the end, and a time-lapse showing the expected changes at each stage of the scheduled timeline.
The speed of movement depends on many factors, from the condition of your teeth to genetics and diet, so there isn’t a single point where every Invisalign patient can expect to notice a visible change in their smile. Some people see a difference in as little as several weeks, while others don’t until the six-month mark or later.
It’s important to remember that the aligners move your teeth gradually in small increments, so you won’t suddenly see dramatic results one day. You have to be patient and keep following the treatment plan, including attending regular check-ups to track your progress.
If you’ve made it to the halfway point of your treatment timetable and feel that there hasn’t been any change, you should discuss this with your orthodontist, who can compare the current position of your teeth to where they should be according to the 3D modelling.
Which Invisalign treatment is the fastest?
The basic timeline of Invisalign is the same for most patients – requiring the wearing of aligners for 20–22 hours a day, and switching to a new aligner every 2 weeks, typically for a minimum of 3–4 months. The number of aligners needed and the overall length of the treatment plan depends on what they’re trying to fix.
There are several versions of Invisalign available, which treat different types and degrees of misalignment with varying timescales and prices. Here’s a basic rundown of the different Invisalign plans and how long they take on average:
|Number of aligners:
|Mild crowding (front 8 teeth)
|Crooked front teeth
|Most dentition types
|Most dentition types
As you can see, the fastest treatments can take as little as 3 months, but again, this depends on your teeth and how much they’ll need to move to reach the new position. The faster options may not be suitable for your dental condition.
When it comes to the effectiveness of Invisalign, the quality of the treatment is much more important than making it as fast as possible. This is why you’ll have an initial consultation with your orthodontist, who will assess your teeth and determine the most appropriate route for straightening your teeth safely.
Contact us for a personalised Invisalign plan
To summarise, how long Invisalign takes to straighten teeth is calculated on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the Invisalign treatment plan that’s recommended to you, which in turn depends on a range of factors, including your dentition type, age, and budget.
The more complex your case, the longer Invisalign will take, and the more minor the issue, the faster Invisalign treatment will be. To find out how long it would take you to achieve the results you want with Invisalign, you’ll need to attend a consultation with an Invisalign-qualified orthodontist.
To get started on your Invisalign journey – the sooner you begin, the faster you’ll see results! – you can contact our outstanding team at Finsbury Dental Care to discuss Invisalign orthodontics in London. Call 020 7638 6556 or email [email protected] to book your Invisalign consultation.