Crowded and malaligned teeth can have a psychological impact on your self-esteem. [1] Luckily, they can be corrected with the help of clear aligners — the most famous of which is Invisalign.

Keep reading if you are curious about the process of Invisalign treatment, the different products available, cost, and other alternatives.

All these questions are answered in this in-depth guide to Invisalign.

Watch on YouTube: “Invisalign 3D Animation”
Invisalign 3D Animation. Video Courtesy: Digimax Dental
You have a 56% — regardless of gender — chance of suffering from malocclusions. That percentage increases if you’re from Africa (81%) or Europe (72%) and is close enough if you’re from the Americas (53%) or Asia (48%). [2]

If it weren’t for dental braces, Invisalign — which falls under the clear aligners category — would have been the most famous solution for those dental issues.

Clear aligners are an umbrella term for removable teeth trays made of plastic to move teeth to an esthetic and healthy position.

Clear Aligners
Benefits of Clear Aligners

Invisalign is made of a thermoplastic material called SmartTrack. It offers three different products (Full, Teen, and Express).

SmartTrack is a material especially engineered for Invisalign with proven results. The process is relatively easy and pain-free.

So, let’s talk about the Invisalign treatment; is it worth it?

What Are the Types of Invisalign

Invisalign Full

Invisalign Full is recommended for moderate to complicated cases. The average treatment period is between 12 to 18 months. [3]

This option provides you with unlimited trays fabricated with SmartTrack material. The treatment can go on until you reach the preferred outcome.

Invisalign Teen

As the name suggests, Invisalign Teen is best suited for teens and young adults with still-shifting teeth. It differs from Invisalign Full by having:

✅ Blue wear indicators — A coloring system that changes from blue to clear to gauge wear time compliance.

The way it works is when you don’t wear your clear aligners for the recommended time — 20 to 22 hours a day, [4] the blue color won’t fade.

Residual blue color tells the orthodontist that optimal treatment instructions have not been followed.

Invisalign Teen

This information ensures better outcomes but can prolong treatment time and increase the cost.

✅ Six free tray replacements in case of loss/misplacement.

Invisalign Express

Invisalign Express is a shorter treatment than regular Invisalign. It is prescribed for individuals with mild cases that can be fixed rapidly.

Due to its shorter treatment duration, Invisalign Express’s cost is between $1,800 and $3,500.

The US national average cost is $2,500, [5] which is significantly lower than the previous treatment types mentioned above.

Steps of the Treatment

What to Expect during Your First Appointment

Your first appointment starts after you’ve been deemed qualified for the treatment.

The first step to learning if you qualify or not is by taking the Smart Assessment Test present on the Invisalign website.

Then, you book an appointment with your orthodontist, who will do a thorough examination and take X-rays of your mouth.

It helps decide the best treatment for your specific condition.

Teeth X-rays

Teeth X-rays

If your bite problems are severe, for instance, clear aligners may not be suitable for you, and braces would be prescribed.

Once you’ve been approved, the process will go as follows:

1️⃣ Teeth scans using an iTero Element scanner device

2️⃣ Teeth photos will be taken. (Typically eight images)

3️⃣ Molds of your teeth will be taken to determine your bite alignment

4️⃣ The orthodontist will prepare a video of how your teeth will reshape — using software called ClinCheck — during the entirety of the Invisalign process with the collected scans.

What Happens during Your First Trial

After your first appointment, your doctor would have prepared your initial set of trays, and his office would have contacted you to come to pick them up.

During this appointment, your orthodontist will make sure your aligners are well-fitting, tell you what to expect during your treatment, and answer all of your questions.

You’ll be changing each tray after two weeks of use.

Typically, you’ll have to go back to your orthodontist to pick your next batch of trays in around eight weeks. [6]


Fitting Invisible Retainer

Fitting Invisible Retainer

At the end of your treatment, you will be recommended to get retainers.

These appliances help hold your teeth in place since a process called resorption (softening/disappearance of the jawbone) may have occurred. [7]

How Much Does Invisalign Cost?

The US Consumer Guide for Dentistry rates the national Invisalign average cost at $3,000-$5,000, on the same par as traditional braces. [8]

The Invisalign website states that their clear aligners price ranges between $3,000 and $7,000.

The final cost depends on the complexity of the treatment and your age.

Your insurance company will most likely pay for up to 50% of your treatment cost.

Some dentists offer discounts if you pay for the entire cost of the treatment in full, and some may offer monthly installments.

So, be sure to check with them and your insurance company to figure out the optimal payment option for you.

If you’re looking for an affordable cost for Invisalign, contact us, and we’ll recommend the best destination abroad for treatment.

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Pros and Cons

Advantages and Disadvantages of Invisalign Treatment
Pros Cons
Next-to-invisible, Comfortable, Removable (9) Expensive if you lack insurance coverage
Fewer orthodontic visits than braces (9) Trays to be worn 20-22 hours a day
Easy to clean teeth since they are removable (9) May become discolored, failing to clean teeth after every meal (11)
Does not require any repairs (9) Experience speech difficulties (10)
Do not affect daily activities like playing sports & eating certain foods (10) Not effective for all malocclusions and bite problems (12)

Sources: [9] , [10] , [11] , [12]

Clear Aligners Vs. Braces

Differences Between Clear Aligners and Braces
Feature Clear Aligners Traditional Braces
Visibility Appear invisible (13) Visible (13)
Removability Removable (13) Non-removable (13)
Diet Eat all foods (13) Avoid hard & sticky food (13)
Treatment time 12 -18 months (14) 1-3 years (15)

Sources: [13] , [14] , [15]


Invisalign is not the only option available to fix your crooked teeth or realign your bites.

Your options would be either other clear aligner brands, braces, or at-home straightening kits.

Traditional dental braces are metal brackets and wires that force crooked teeth to repossess their initial shape.

They’re usually considered uncomfortable.

Metal Braces

Metal Braces

With dental technology advancements, the brackets can also be made of ceramic, plastic, or a combination of these materials, [16] with fewer discomforts. [17]

The wires are adjusted every 6 to 8 weeks by your dentist, [18 ] which means you will need multiple visits for the entirety of the treatment.

Braces treatment tends to be longer than Invisalign as well. [19]

One of the main reasons people shy away from getting braces is psychological; their self-esteem plummets, becoming more anxious about their smile.

Straightening kits are notoriously called “Do-It-Yourself orthodontics.”

They’ve gained fame for their insanely cheap cost — around 60% in savings — compared to regular orthodontic treatments (i.e., braces and aligners).

They also allow individuals to bypass a dentist visit, saving them not only time but further expenses.

While that sounds like a bargain, skimping on cost has its downfalls:

  • No supervision from a specialist
  • Your treatment is not optimally customized to your case
  • You can do irreparable damage to your teeth [20]

How to Clean Invisalign?

The most important information is that you need to clean your aligners daily.

Otherwise, you risk allowing bacteria to grow, which will cause discoloration.

The unsightly discoloration negates the purpose of getting invisible aligners.


Clear aligners should be taken out when consuming any beverage besides water. As they may contain dyes, sugars, or acids.

The residue of the liquid can get trapped in the tray and cause discoloration and potentially damage the teeth. The mouth should be rinsed before reinserting the tray.

~Dr. Erin N Erickson, DDS

So, what do you do? Rinsing your Invisalign alone is a sub-optimal practice.

While they may look cleaner, bacteria is still present.

Here’s the best daily routine to ensure your aligners stay clean: [21]

  • At night, rinse aligners with water
  • Soak with sodium carbonate & sulfate tablets
  • Brush them gently with toothpaste
  • Brush and floss after meals
  • Thoroughly rinse your aligners
  • Store them in their protective case while eating

Cleaning clear aligners with a tooth brush

Cleaning clear aligners

Additional Information to Keep in Mind:

  • Using hot water may damage your aligners.
  • Lukewarm water is preferred. Brush your teeth after every meal before putting your aligners back. If you don’t do that, you risk staining them.
  • In the unfortunate event of dropping/placing your aligners in an unsanitary place, sterilize them immediately.

Watch on YouTube: “How to Clean a Clear Retainer “
Video Courtesy: Premier Orthodontics
Store your aligners in their protective case whenever you’re not using them.

It’s bad practice to put them in your pocket or anywhere else.

You risk contaminating them with more bacteria, and you can easily lose them.


Looking at all the presented information, Invisalign is an excellent option for correcting malocclusions.

It is considered better and more comfortable in many cases than dental braces and is a safer option than unsupervised at-home teeth straightening kits.

Its cost might be relatively high, but that would depend on the country you live in and whether your insurance covers it or not.

All in all, clear aligners are a great choice if your case qualifies for treatment.


Invisalign’s average cost out of pocket in the US — without insurance — ranges from $3,000 and $5,000. [22]

However, that is only an average estimate. The actual cost will mainly depend on:

  • The extent of your dental needs
  • Length of treatment
  • Where you live

Typically, insurance companies categorize Invisalign as an orthodontic treatment, which means they should cover it — unlike cosmetic treatments.

The amount they cover can vary between 25% and 50% of the total cost, [23] with some patients reporting coverage of up to $3,000. [24]

That depends. The US consumer guide to dentistry classifies both Invisalign and braces in the same price category. [25]

However traditional metal braces can be less expensive. [26] To determine which option is best for you, consult with your orthodontist.

They are well-equipped to recommend the better-suited solution for your specific case.

Absolutely. That’s what it’s made for.

Invisalign treats crooked/gapped/crowded teeth and bite problems by realigning the upper and lower teeth together.

No, Invisalign is less painful than braces. [27] Once you put on your first tray, you may feel slight discomfort and pressure on your arch, but it should stop in a week.

Over-the-counter pain medications can be taken if necessary.

Even braces hurt less (sometimes not at all) thanks to the advancements in dental technology.

It depends on what type of insurance you have. Usually, dental insurance companies will partially cover the cost of Invisalign.

Make sure to contact your health insurance company to discuss your health plan with them.

It’s case-dependent. The average time is between 12 and 18 months. [28]  However, some people may see results as short as six months or as long as a couple of years.

So, what are the determining factors for the length of the treatment?

  • How compliant are you with the dentist’s instructions
  • The complexity of your case
  • Your age; the older you are, the longer your treatment may take

Remember that your aligners are meant to be worn between 20 to 22 hours per day. You should only take them out while you’re eating, brushing your teeth, or cleaning them.

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