How long does Invisalign take? Understanding treatment duration

by | Jun 3, 2023


Most adults and older teens opt for Invisalign treatment because it means they can achieve straighter teeth without needing to wear visible braces or the need for metal hardware. Invisalign is popular because it provides a way to straighten your teeth in a discreet manner without unnecessary alterations to your appearance during the procedure. If you are interested in Invisalign treatment and want to know more about what is involved in the entire procedure then this article will help you understand what to expect during the treatment process and how long Invisalign takes to straighten your teeth.

What is Invisalign?

It is a clear aligner procedure that is a welcome alternative to traditional braces when it comes to straightening teeth because it is discreet. These aligners are removable making eating and brushing your teeth easier and more comfortable. They are popular with adults because they do not require metal or ceramic brackets to be fixed onto the teeth. Instead, it adjusts the teeth through a series of clear aligner trays that are switched frequently to add the required gentle pressure to move the teeth. The number of trays needed depends on each individual person’s situation. 

Benefits of Invisalign

One of the main benefits of wearing Invisalign is that it has minimum impact on your appearance being see-through and so practically invisible, especially when you compare this to wearing metal braces. 

Traditional braces can be a hassle to maintain because the brackets are stuck onto your teeth making it difficult to clean after you eat. They do require a lot more effort when compared to Invisalign aligners.

Brushing your teeth and maintaining oral health is so much easier with Invisalign aligners because they are removable. Keeping them clean too is easy with warm water rinsing for immediate cleaning and a gentle brushing with toothpaste for an extra clean.

Similarly, you can eat and drink as you please unlike with traditional braces because again they can be removed. Once done all you have to do is rinse or brush your teeth before putting your aligners back on.

They are comfortable especially when compared to traditional braces because they do not have brackets and wires that can cause soreness. Aligners do put pressure on your teeth to adjust them, but the discomfort is less than the brackets and wires of regular braces. There is less pain as they do not scrape against your gums, cheeks or tongue.

Factors affecting Invisalign treatment duration:

A common question is how long does invisalign take to straighten the teeth? The answer to this does depend on each individual case. If your teeth need only slight adjustments then the process will be quicker. For more complex cases the treatment plan will obviously be longer with more trays needed to coax the teeth into the desired positions. The duration can last from 12 months to 18 months and in some cases for slightly longer.

The complexity of the case – There is a common belief that invisalign aligners cannot treat complex cases such as open bites, overbites or underbites. In fact, invisalign is an orthodontic treatment that can address complex dental issues when handled by a skilled dental expert.

Patient compliance – This is an important aspect of the treatment process. It determines how successful the treatment is because it is important to wear the aligners as directed for the duration recommended. Not following the recommended directions will severely impact the effectiveness of the treatment and the duration of the entire treatment process. Being responsible with the follow-up appointments is also important for the same reasons.

Invisalign treatment timeline

Initial consultation – This is the process where you and your dentist will determine your suitability for Invisalign treatment and how best to approach your dental requirements. Your mouth will be thoroughly examined, and your teeth scanned. Based on these findings your dentist will be able to provide you with an overview of your treatment plan and roughly how long you will need to wear your invisalign aligners. Based on that you can discuss the cost and payment plans.

Developing a customised treatment plan – Each Invisalign treatment plan is customised for each patient based on the individual cases of crowding and other dental issues. You will be advised on how many hours you need to wear your retainers, usually close to 22 hours a day for the treatment to be effective. 

Receiving the aligners – The aligners are custom-made based and from your very first fitting they start the gentle process of shifting your teeth into position. It is a slow process and while some may see immediate changes others may take a few weeks to notice a subtle difference. 

Checkups and follow-up appointments – These are very important because it allows your dentist to assess your progress properly and make any necessary adjustments. It will also help your dentist determine how long the treatment plan will actually take.

Readjustments based on progress – As the treatment progresses you will be given new trays to suit the changes in the position of your teeth and continue the needed pressure to help the teeth continue adjusting until you reach your desired look.

Successful treatment completion – Once your teeth have moved to their new positions with the last aligner tray you will be recommended to wear retainers to help your teeth maintain those positions. How often and for how long you need to continue with the retainers will be determined by your dentist.

Tips for successful and efficient Invisalign treatment

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your Invisalign treatment is successful. If you are making the commitment to straighten your teeth and achieve your desired beautiful smile then you owe it to yourself to follow these tips to ensure its success.

Adhering to the treatment plan – Your dental expert will guide you and take the necessary action for an effective treatment process, but it is up to you at the end of the day to adhere to the treatment plan and follow advice to ensure its effectiveness.

Maintaining oral hygiene – Maintaining strong and healthy teeth is important and for that, you have to maintain good oral hygiene habits so that your teeth will look and feel their best. Especially during Invisalign treatment if teeth are not cleaned properly food and germs can accumulate in your aligners and potentially increase your chances of developing cavities and experiencing tooth discolourations. 

Not skipping dental appointments – Your dentist needs to monitor the progress of your treatment, check your oral health and take the next step in the treatment plan. Dental appointments are important and if you skip any you will hinder the progress of your treatment. This will not only affect the duration of your treatment but could add to the overall cost. Never skip dental appointments and keep your treatment on track.


Invisalign is a convenient and aesthetically pleasing way to gain straighter teeth. It generally takes about 12 months to complete but will depend on your dental requirements. If you are interested in this orthodontic treatment speak to your dentist today and see how best to proceed with Invisalign treatment for straighter teeth.