Experts estimated the value of the US orthodontics market to be $1.97 billion in 2019. They further project it to more than double to reach $4.21 billion by 2027.
Clear aligners, especially Invisalign, are some of the primary drivers of that growth.
One reason is that the Invisalign system can benefit both young and old patients. You read that right: even adults can now enjoy perfect teeth! In fact, about one in three orthodontic patients in the US are adults, some of whom use Invisalign.
So, how long does Invisalign take to treat adult misalignment issues? What role does your age even have to play in your treatment duration? What other factors can affect the length of time you need to wear these orthodontic devices?
We’ll answer all those questions about Invisalign in this comprehensive guide, so be sure to keep reading!
What is Invisalign and How Does It Work Anyway?
Invisalign is a portmanteau of the words “invisible” and “align.” The plastic trays aren’t exactly invisible, but they consist of see-through material. That’s why they’re inconspicuous, so they’re hardly noticeable even while you’re wearing them.
Invisalign works by exerting pressure on misaligned or crowded teeth. When you wear the trays, you’ll notice that they fit snugly. This snug fit is what allows the aligners to move and straighten the teeth little by little.
One of the main benefits of Invisalign is that its trays are removable. This means you can take them out when you eat, drink, brush, and floss your teeth.
However, the trays are also impermanent because you need to replace them every two weeks or so. The fit of each new tray accounts for the movement supposedly made by the previous aligners. As such, each new aligner must provide a snug fit; otherwise, it may not exert enough pressure to move the teeth.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
How long Invisalign takes depends on the extent and severity of the misalignment. It may only take only half a year or less for minor crookedness, overbite, underbite, or crossbite. More severe cases warrant longer treatment times, usually one to two years or longer.
For example, one review found that it took a little more than five months to treat minor crowding. The same analysis found treatment for correcting moderate crowding took 13 months. In other cases, the average Invisalign treatment time was 21.6 months.
With that said, one of the primary questions to ask an Invisalign provider is how minor or severe your case is. Ask the dentist to explain to you in layman’s terms how misaligned your teeth and bite are. This way, you’ll learn not only your treatment’s duration but also why you need to use the aligners for that long.
How does Age Affect Invisalign Treatment Times?
Most oral health experts recommend orthodontic treatment at the age of 12 to 13 years. For one, it’s usually at this age range wherein most adult teeth have already erupted. The teeth and jaws are also extremely malleable at this time, so they’re easier to manipulate.
As people get older, their jawbones get harder, so they also become less malleable. However, the teeth and bones will still move under constant pressure. That’s why orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign, can still work on older patients.
All that means your treatment may take a bit longer depending on how old you are.
What are Other Factors That Can Affect Treatment Duration?
Gum disease, which affects almost half of US adults aged 30 and older, can prolong the treatment. Another factor that can extend the treatment duration is patient adherence.
Let’s take a closer look at how these two factors can affect how long you’d need to use your Invisalign trays.
Having Gum Disease
Researchers say that Invisalign is a viable treatment for patients with gum disease. After all, the trays’ removability allows for better brushing and flossing. Proper oral hygiene, in turn, is imperative for treating gum disease.
However, getting Invisalign with gum disease usually requires pre-treatment of the disease. For starters, gum disease can make both the teeth and the gums unstable. So, wearing Invisalign without treating the problem first can make it worse.
The instability of the teeth and gums can also result in unpredictable movement. If this happens, the teeth may move in the wrong direction. This can then lead to problems that may extend the treatment’s duration.
So, if you have gum disease, your Invisalign dentist would likely need to treat it first. Once your gums are stable enough, you can start wearing your aligners. Make sure to let your dentist know right away if you develop gum disease during the treatment.
How compliant you are with your treatment plan may also affect how long you need to use Invisalign. Again, Invisalign trays provide a custom fit based on a scheduled phase of the treatment. You can think of it this way: set A is for weeks one to two, set B for weeks three to four, and so on.
If you wear the aligners from set A longer than necessary, you can expect them to lose their proper fit. That’s because your teeth have already moved. Since they no longer fit into the trays properly, they may start moving in the wrong direction again.
That’s why it’s vital to adhere to your Invisalign treatment plan. Always make it a point to get your old trays replaced with the new ones on time. This way, you can make sure the aligners fit right and work the way they should.
Getting Invisalign for Healthier and Straighter Teeth
There you have it, the guide answering your question, “how long does Invisalign take?” Now, you know that it can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. However, since your smile is unique, your treatment can be shorter or longer.
So, to get an accurate answer based on the state of your bite, consult an Invisalign provider. This way, the dentist can run tests to give you a clearer idea of your potential treatment duration.
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