How Long Does Invisalign Take? Answers From an Orthodontist

July 29, 2022

Invisalign clear aligners are designed to straighten teeth gradually, comfortably, and discreetly. But how long does it take to see the results of Invisalign treatment?

This article explains the Invisalign results timeline and what you can do to speed up your treatment. Additionally, we briefly touch on aftercare retainers to ensure that your results last a lifetime.

When Do Invisalign Patients Start Noticing Results?

On average, Invisalign patients will notice a difference in their smile within the first 3 months of treatment. While some patients may see a slight difference in the first 2 weeks, others may wait 5 months before noticing any changes.

Keep in mind that clear aligners use gentle pressure to deliver gradual and precise results. While it may take Invisalign a few months to deliver any noticeable results, this does not necessarily mean that your treatment is delayed. In most cases, patients who stay patient and trust the alignment process will eventually see their teeth beginning to shift.

If you do not notice any improvements in your smile after the first 5 months of Invisalign trays, schedule a follow-up appointment with your orthodontist. They will examine your progress to find out if something is delaying it.

How Long Does Invisalign Take To Work?

On average, Invisalign patients will wear aligners for 12 to 18 months before their teeth are fully straightened. However, results will vary depending on your individual case. A severe case of misalignment might take 18 to 24 months to fix, while patients with mild issues may complete treatment in as little as 6 months.

As we mentioned above, the Invisalign results timeline depends on your unique treatment needs. Other factors play a role as well, including the experience level of your treatment provider, and how committed you are to your treatment plan. Since no two orthodontic cases are exactly alike, there is no uniform timeline for Invisalign results.

How To Shorten Invisalign’s Treatment Time

While many Invisalign treatment factors are outside your control as a patient, there are some actions that you can take to ensure that your treatment progresses as quickly as possible.

Follow these guidelines to shorten your Invisalign results timeline:

  • Search for an experienced orthodontist to carry out your Invisalign treatment. While general dentists are approved to offer Invisalign, an orthodontist specializes in tooth movement and will likely provide treatment that is more efficient.
  • Following the same logic, look for an orthodontist that not only offers Invisalign, but one that has treated a large number of Invisalign patients successfully. Invisalign has developed a “tier“ system and a doctor location tool to help patients with this task. For example, Dr. Arjun Patel is a Diamond-level Invisalign provider, making him one of the most experienced Invisalign Doctors in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Wear your removable aligners for a minimum of 20-22 hours per day, per your orthodontist’s instructions. The alignment process ”pauses” when you take off your aligners, and your progress will begin to reverse if they are out for too long.
  • If you plan to travel during treatment, do not forget to take your aligners with you.
  • Remember to remove your Invisalign trays before you eat anything.
  • After eating, brushing and flossing your teeth, clean your aligners with a soft toothbrush and lukewarm tap water.
  • To avoid warping or damaging your clear aligners, do not expose them to extreme temperatures or harsh chemicals.
  • If one of your clear aligners gets damaged or lost, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible so that they can prepare a replacement.
  • Listen closely to your orthodontist’s instructions, and follow them diligently. Do not progress to the next set of clear aligners until your orthodontist instructs you to do so.

Failure to follow the guidelines above will result in delays in your treatment progress. Even worse, your progress could actually reverse in some circumstances.

This is why we offer a tool called Remote Monitoring at our orthodontic practice. Tools such as this one allow us to virtually track your progress and catch any issues before they cause delays in your treatment timeline.

How Long Do Invisalign Results Last?

If you successfully follow your post-treatment plan, your new and improved smile will last for your entire life. However, most patients will have to wear an orthodontic retainer for the rest of their life to maintain their results.

Whether you’ve worn braces, Invisalign, or another orthodontic tool, the final step of your treatment is called retention. During the retention phase, you must support your new smile with a retainer to keep your smile from reverting to its old position.

While it may be tempting to “skip” the retention phase, your Invisalign results will quickly deteriorate if you do not follow your orthodontist’s instructions regarding your retainer. One study has found that if an orthodontic patient does not wear a post-treatment retainer, their results will reverse in as little as four weeks.

Luckily, orthodontic retention is relatively simple; and we offer a wide variety of retainers to make it easier for our patients. While we recommended wearing a retainer 24 hours a day, most patients only have to wear a retainer for 8 to 10 hours at night after the first year.

Each person's situation is different, so it's up to you to follow your orthodontist's personalized instructions. If you have any questions about retainers and the post-treatment process, contact your orthodontist for more information.

Ready To Learn More About Invisalign Results?

As we've discussed above, it can take some time to see results from Invisalign. But as long as you follow your orthodontist’s instructions and trust the alignment process, your beautiful new smile will be worth the wait.

If you’d like a personalized estimate regarding how long Invisalign will take to correct your smile, reach out to an experienced orthodontist and schedule a consultation appointment.

Are you located near Atlanta, Georgia? Contact Quest Orthodontics to schedule a complimentary smile assessment and determine whether Invisalign is the right choice for you or your child.

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