How Long Does Invisalign Take?

Invisalign is the innovative orthodontic system that allows you to straighten your teeth almost invisibly!  As with any type of orthodontics, the length of time required to give you a beautiful, straight smile with Invisalign varies widely.  Some patients achieve their smile goals in as little as ten weeks, while others need years of orthodontic treatment.

Factors Influencing the Length of Treatment

Amount of Tooth Movement Needed

When considering the length of time it will take to straighten your teeth, your dentist will first assess the initial tooth position.  Patients with severe crowding (or crookedness) or very large spacing will require longer treatment simply due to the amount of tooth movement necessary to put the teeth in the desired final position.

In order to preserve the health of the teeth, gums and bone, tooth movement can only proceed in very small increments (fractions of a millimeter).  There is a limit to the amount of movement you can apply to a tooth while maintaining a healthy status.  Therefore, the further a tooth needs to move, the longer it will take.

Types of Tooth Movement Needed

There are also different types of tooth movement involved in orthodontics.  Dentists use Invisalign to perform various movements such as rotation, tipping, movement of the entire tooth front-to-back or left-to-right.

Teeth move and maintain their new position within the jawbone by actually changing the shape of the jawbone.  The more bony changes required by a certain movement, the more time it will take.

Which Teeth Need Movement

Certain teeth in the mouth are much easier to move than others are.  In general, the larger a tooth, the more difficult it is to move.  By “larger”, we really mean the structure of the tooth’s roots since they are the portion of the tooth that has to make changes in the jawbone.  A large molar with multiple roots is much more difficult to move than a small front tooth with a single, short root.

Need for Changes in Bite

Invisalign is capable of making changes in someone’s bite.  We can address large overbites or underbites with clear aligner therapy.  Typically, this type of movement involves moving all of the teeth, including the large, hard-to-move molars.  This means changing the bite will increase the length of Invisalign treatment.

Age

Because of the changes in the way our cells overturn and reproduce as we age, tooth movement takes longer the older we are.  This is one reason not to put off your own orthodontics.  Treatment with Invisalign is faster, easier and more predictable the younger you are.

Older teeth will move.  It just takes a little longer.

Compliance

This is the BIG one for Invisalign patients.  The aligners can only do their job when they are in your mouth.  Because Invisalign is removable, you are able to “pause” your tooth movement.

This is one of the biggest perks of Invisalign.  It allows you to take the aligners out for important events like weddings, speeches, or photo sessions.  However, being able to remove the aligners is also a negative aspect of Invisalign treatment.

Not wearing your aligners for at least 22 hours per day makes your treatment take longer.

How YOU Can Affect the Length of Treatment

Some of these factors are things over which you have no control.  You cannot change your initial tooth position, the types of movement needed, or your age.

You can affect the length of your Invisalign treatment, though, by following these steps.

  1. Never miss an Invisalign Check appointment with your dentist. These visits are vital to making sure you are on track with the correct tooth movement.  Not only does missing a visit slow down your treatment; it almost may allow precious time to pass during which the teeth are not moving properly.  Your dentist evaluates all of the teeth and the way they are moving at each Invisalign Check appointment.
  2. Wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, every single day of your treatment. You can take a break from your Invisalign treatment, but that makes it take longer.  Sometimes taking a break can even allow your teeth to relapse, taking unnecessary steps backward in your treatment.  Don’t “pause” your treatment unless you have a really great reason.
  3. Watch the fit of your aligners closely. The aligners should be almost invisible.  If you see that they are not fitting against the teeth as closely as possible or that you have developed an air gap between the edge of your teeth and the aligner, make an appointment to see your dentist now.  Don’t wait until your next scheduled Invisalign Check.  If a tooth or several teeth are not moving with the aligners, the aligners will not fit perfectly against the teeth.  This can sometimes cause the aligner to feel like it does not lay flush against your gums.  If you feel that the aligner is leaning away from your gums, this could be an indication that the teeth are not “tracking” with the aligner.
  4. Follow your dentist’s instructions to the letter. Some patients have extra tasks involved in their Invisalign treatment, like regularly biting on rubbery chewies to press the aligners into place or wearing rubber bands to create a pulling force on a specific tooth.  These “extras” are mandatory parts of your treatment.  If you ignore them, your treatment will take longer.

Wondering How Long Invisalign Would Take to Straighten YOUR Teeth?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule a consultation with our Invisalign Experts!  We will assess all of these factors in order to give you an idea of how long it will take for you to achieve your dream smile with Invisalign.