Most clear aligners need to be worn throughout the whole day for at least 22 hours, only being removed for eating and brushing your teeth. But some aligner providers have an alternative option in the form of night-time aligners.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about aligners you only wear at night, who offers them, and whether they’re just as effective as the all-day option.
What are night-time aligners?
Night-time aligners are those that you only wear at night – simple enough. It’s important to clarify though that this doesn’t mean you only wear them while you sleep. With night-time aligners, the time you have to wear them is reduced from 22 hours per day to a minimum of 10.
That’s still a lot more than the average night’s sleep for adults, so you’ll have to get used to putting your aligners onto your teeth at least a couple of hours before you head to bed, and plan your teeth brushing around that.
However, most of the time you’re wearing them you will be asleep, and so they’re usually considered less of an inconvenience. They aren’t for everyone, especially if you’ve ever had any problems with grinding your teeth during your sleep – but these are the same problems that can impact all-day aligners too.
Who offers night-time aligners?
Not every aligner provider offers a night-time only aligner option. Some like to keep costs down by only having a simple one-option-for-everyone approach. But you do still have some choice on who to go with if you want to only wear aligners at night.
SmileDirectClub are one of the largest providers of clear aligners in the world, and they have the option of choosing night-time or all-day treatment. The night-time aligners are the same as the all-day ones, which means treatment times are longer – an average of 10 months vs. just 4-6 months for all-day aligners. But because the aligners are the same, the costs are too.
UpSmiles have four different aligner options. You can choose all-day or at-night aligners, and then whether to use OrthoPulse or not. OrthoPulse is a tool that’s provided if you choose one of those plans that uses infra-red light to accelerate your treatment.
The at-night aligners cost more and take longer than the all-day aligners in both cases. Standard all-day treatment costs $1,399 and takes 6-8 months, while at-night aligners take 10-12 months and costs $1,799.
With OrthoPulse, add $499 to each package but the times are halved: 3-4 months for all-day or 5-6 months for at-night aligners.
NewSmile are a little vaguer on how long their night-time treatment lasts. It is more expensive than their all-day option but not by much. You’ll pay $1,095 for all-day aligners and just $100 more for night-time aligners.
Byte were one of the pioneers of the at-night aligner options, and they’re still one of the best, although you will pay a premium for the privilege. Byte’s regular aligners cost $1,895 with treatment lasting around 3-4 months, while Byte-At-Night will cost you £2,295 with an estimated treatment time of 5-6 months.
While it’s longer than their all-day plan time, it’s much faster than many other at-night providers. That’s in part because of the design of the aligners, which are thicker and therefore move your teeth more. Combined with the HyperByte tool provided, you’ll get a new smile faster.
AlignerCo offers NightOnly Clear Aligners for a slightly higher price of $1095 for the NightAdvantage plan where you pay upfront, compared to $895 for the all-day aligners. Treatment time is slightly increased too, at 6-8 months compared to 4-6 months for all-day aligners.
Are they made differently from regular aligners?
Whether night-time aligners are made differently from regular aligners depends on the provider. Some aligner providers will give you exactly the same aligners as you would get if you had all-day aligners, but spaced out more – so while you’d be swapping aligners every 2 weeks with all-day, you might increase that to 4 weeks for night-time only aligners, as an example.
Other aligner manufacturers will give you thicker aligners instead. Because they’re thicker they can be used to move your teeth more than regular aligners would. They don’t need to be as thin, because you’re not trying to conceal them during the day. As such, your teeth can be pushed further into a new position.
The risk with this is that your teeth are more likely to shift back during the day. Thicker aligners won’t halve your treatment time because you still need to give your teeth time to settle in their new position, but it will mean you can make bigger leaps between each set of aligners, which does bring the overall treatment time down.
How long is treatment time for night-time aligners?
Night-time aligner treatment will always be longer than if you use them all-day, for the reasons mentioned above – you’ve not got as much time where the teeth are being pushed into their new position (or held there), meaning there’s more time for them to gradually slip back into their ‘default’ place.
It’s like pushing a ball up a gentle hill. If you’re constantly pushing it, you’re going to get it to the top eventually. If you do bigger pushes but take long breaks in between, it’s going to roll back slightly. Two steps forward, one step back. Over time you’ll succeed and have that new smile but it’s just done in a different way.
Are night-time aligners just as effective?
Overall, night-time aligners will be just as effective as all-day ones, providing you stick to the treatment plan. The longer you can wear your aligners the better, but you absolutely must stick to the minimum wear time of 10 hours a night, and not get tempted to cut corners and only wear them while you sleep.
Providing you stick to the treatment time then you should get the same results, but you will need to wait longer before you move onto your retainer. And you will have to wear that retainer too, in order to keep your new smile in place.
Can anyone use night-time aligners?
When you first decide to undertake clear aligner treatment, you’ll be assessed using either a 3D scan or an impression kit, which tells the experts at the aligner provider what your current smile looks like and what success you will likely achieve.
It’ll also tell them whether you’re suited to aligner treatment at all – not everyone is. Aligners can only solve some problems, with more intense treatments sometimes required.
As for night-time aligners specifically, it will depend on the aligner provider but it should be an option for anyone who is suited to aligner treatment. There may be a small number of people who are suited to all-day aligners but whose teeth won’t respond to the slower movement of at-night aligners, but you’ll be told this at the initial stages, and can decide whether you want to continue with all-day treatment instead.
Do night-time aligners cost more?
With almost every provider of at-night aligners, this option does cost more. Sometimes it’s a small amount, especially with those providers who don’t charge a lot for their all-day option in the first place. Other times it can add a few hundred dollars onto your total, which increases if you then decide to spread the cost monthly because you’re also incurring extra interest.
So usually, you need to make a decision – do you want a smile that’s resolved quickly, achieved with all-day aligners, or do you want to pay a little extra and wait a little longer in order to avoid having to wear aligners at almost every hour of the day?
Why would you choose night-time aligners?
There are a number of reasons why people might choose to wear night-time aligners instead of the all-day option.
The first is often cosmetic, and related to confidence. All-day aligners are almost invisible, and certainly a lot harder to see than traditional wired braces. But that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be seen, and some people just don’t want their friends or colleagues to know they’re undergoing alignment treatment. At-night aligners therefore make it much more private, since you’re only wearing the aligners at home overnight where only your family may see them.
The second reason is convenience. All-day aligners can’t be worn while you’re eating or when you’re drinking anything other than water. If you’re the kind of person who has a few coffees through the day, or you like to snack and enjoy smaller meals, then constantly removing them and putting them back in could get tedious. With night-time aligners you could just brush your teeth early, put them in a couple of hours before bed, and then forget about them until morning.
And one more reason that people choose aligners is if they have a profession or hobby that would make all-day aligners an inconvenience. Wearing all-day aligners shouldn’t affect your speech too much but you do need to get used to them – if you work anywhere where clarity of speech is important, then you might struggle at first. Or if you play contact sports, then you might want to avoid wearing aligners that may not fit properly in a gum shield, and it could undo their work or damage them.
If you fall into any of these camps, you might prefer to choose a provider that offers night-time aligners.
Night-time aligners aren’t going to be for everyone. They’re usually more expensive and take longer, but they are useful if you’re worried about wearing them all day for any reason, and will ultimately get you the same results.