If you’d like straighter teeth and are considering clear aligners, then you’ll probably have seen that there are dozens of providers available. One of these providers is Invisalign – arguably the most well-known name in the world of clear aligner treatment.
The path to straighter teeth isn’t always as clear as it seems. How can you be sure that you’re making the right choice? Here, we compare Invisalign (read our review) with other clear aligner providers (compare providers).
Introduction to Invisalign
If you’re new to Invisalign, knowing a little about their history might be a good place to start.
The Invisalign brand, part of Align Technology, is the brainchild of Zia Chishti. Chishti, who developed Invisalign, wanted to create an alternative to traditional braces that would work for a wider range of people.
Today, Invisalign treatment is available in upwards of 90 countries.
With more than 100,000 dentists trained to offer Invisalign aligners, most people can find several providers within easy reach of their home. In fact, more than 8 million people have already undergone their treatment.
Why not read on for more information about Invisalign, and how their treatment compares to your other options?
Invisalign vs. Others – Minimum Age
Treatment with Invisalign is an option for adults, and also for a majority of teenagers. To be an Invisalign patient, you must have all of your permanent teeth aside from your second set of molars.
Though everyone’s different, most teenagers are candidates for Invisalign. Sometimes, this treatment can be offered to even younger patients.
Most other providers will not offer treatments for teens. They will usually set a minimum age of 18 years old. A smaller number of providers will offer treatment for over 16s.
There are a few providers that will treat younger patients. WonderSmile, SmikeKit and SmileDirectClub will offer treatment to anyone 12 and over while StraightMyTeeth’s treatments start at age 14. You’ll need a parent or guardian’s consent for any of these options.
A child’s dental health is incredibly important. Their mouth is still growing, and any mistake could cause lifelong issues with your teeth. Understandably, this is a risk that many companies don’t want to take. By placing a blanket ban on treatment for teens, they’re avoiding taking their chances.
Companies like Invisalign can treat younger patients because they offer such regular checkups. They’ll consider individual cases, and you’ll work with qualified dental professionals. If you have a teenager with self-confidence issues, starting early with their treatment may be necessary for their mental health. Of course, the longer you can wait for treatment the more likely it is to be a long-term success.
Invisalign vs. Others – Availability
You can get clear aligners from more than 100,000 registered professional dentists. Most people can find an Invisalign dentist within easy reach of their home.
Your existing dentist may be able to offer Invisalign treatment. If not, you can search online and find another dentist to visit. As clear aligners are a private treatment, you won’t need to switch your NHS dentist in order to get your teeth straightened.
There are huge variations in availability of treatment through other clear aligner providers. Some have just a few clinics throughout the UK, in the largest and busiest of cities, whilst others don’t have clinics at all and monitor your progress online.
Whilst some providers have spread their clinics throughout the UK, bear in mind that many companies are very London-centric. Straight Teeth Direct has just one London clinic, whilst WonderSmile has eight clinics in total but with five of these in the capital.
Where companies offer aligners at home, they’re available wherever you live. Your aligners are delivered in the mail so that you can go through treatment on your own.
If you’re looking for in-person treatment, Invisalign is surely the winner. Almost anyone can get treatment in a clinic that is just a short drive from their house.
If you’re happy not to have regular checkups, it can be even more convenient to choose a home treatment.
Invisalign vs. Others – Safety
With Invisalign, you can be confident that your treatment is being overseen. You’ll visit a qualified and registered dentist, who will provide you with regular checkups. If anything isn’t going to plan, you’ll find out very quickly.
Your dentist won’t just check how your straightening treatment is progressing. They’ll also keep an eye on your overall dental health.
Many providers of clear aligners don’t offer professional check-ups. In most cases, you’ll check-in online and will need to provide your own photographs. Some providers won’t even ask for this, leaving you completely on your own.
Another company that’s more like Invisalign is Six Month Smiles. Just like with Invisalign, you’ll get treatment through your dentist with monthly visits to your dentist. Again, this supervision comes at a financial cost.
When you’re going through dental treament, it’s incredibly important to maintain good overall dental health. The top priority is to continue checkups with your usual dentist.
If you want to be monitored by a qualified professional that you can speak to in person, then there are very few providers of clear aligners that offer this level of treatment. Invisalign is one of these, and many people choose to pay more for the security these checkups provide.
The alternative isn’t unsafe. As long as you’re happy to check in as required, there’s no harm in doing things online. You’ll just need a little more self-motivation, a good camera and your everyday dentist.
Invisalign vs. Others – Cost
Invisalign treatment typically costs between £2,500 and £5,500. That’s a fairly high price for a teeth straightening treatment, though you may be able to pay in instalments through a payment plan.
The price of your treatment will depend on your circumstances, and may also vary depending on your choice of dentist. Whilst most will offer payment plans, there are some dentists that won’t. What Invisalign braces cost isn’t completely clear until you’ve spoken to a dentist.
Many other providers of clear aligners will ofter treatment at much lower prices. One of the most affordable, Straight My Teeth, charges less than £1,000.
Usually, you should expect to pay between £1,300 and £1,500.
Most other providers will also offer the option to pay by instalment.
Invisalign treatment is comparatively very expensive. There’s no avoiding that fact. You could straighten your teeth at a much lower price by choosing almost any other company. That said, you might want to pay more for the assurance of physical checkups. With Invisalign, you know that your overall dental health is being monitored.
Invisalign vs. Others – Peace of Mind
You’ll get Invisalign treatment through your chosen dentist or orthodontist. This means that Invisalign themselves won’t be overseeing your treatment.
Dealing directly with the dentist can give great peace of mind, as they’ll monitor your treatment’s progression. But, if you find that you’re unhappy with your dentist, your complaint will have to be with them.
You won’t be a patient of Invisalign, so your experience will depend on who you’ve chosen to provide your clear aligners.
Each dentist will have their own complaints process. You should be confident that you’re happy with this before you agree to their treatment. When Invisalign does not work, you must be prepared to make a formal complaint against your dentist.
Most providers of clear aligners offer direct customer service. You’ll deal with the aligner company, not a separate dentist. Again, peace of mind can vary enormously depending on which company you choose.
Some providers of clear aligners will offer a success guarantee. If your results don’t match what they predicted, they’ll continue your treatment free of charge. Others don’t offer a similar promise, instead opting to charge extra for further adjustments until you’re happy with your teeth.
With most providers of clear aligners, you know exactly what you’re getting. Before you sign up for treatment, you’ll be given a picture of the expected results and told what will happen if you don’t get there. You’ll know if you’re covered by a guarantee, or how much extra you’ll pay if you’re not. Though peace of mind might come at an extra cost, it is at least good to know how much you’ll need to set aside.
With Invisalign, things are slightly different. Your peace of mind depends on your chosen dental surgery, rather than on a central company. If you’re choosing this route, you must be sure that you’re happy with the options that your dentist provides. Each will have their own rules, and each will offer different assurances. You’ll need to ask if they provide a guarantee, or what they can do if you’re not happy.
Invisalign vs. Others – Speed of Progression
With Invisalign when to switch trays isn’t something to worry about. Your chosen dentist or orthodontist will help you to keep on track.
Invisalign did research into the optimal speed of progressing their treatment. Whilst they used to recommend a switch every two weeks, they’ve now said that things can go even faster. Following the guidance change in 2017, many dentists will advise you to change your trays at the end of each week. You may start on fortnightly changes but move to weekly as your treatment progresses.
If you need a little more time with each tray, your dentist will make sure this happens.
Invisalign suggests that treatment for most people will take between 6 and 18 months. In rare cases, you may be a patient for up to two years in total.
The speed of progression will vary from one provider to another, though most will recommend switching to new trays roughly every two weeks. In some cases, you’ll be left on your own to keep track of the dates for each switch. With other providers, you’ll get updates through an app to tell you when it’s time to move on.
Most providers will estimate treatment taking from 6-12 months. For particularly simple cases, this can drop to as little as 4 months. If your teeth are very overcrowded or crooked, you might wear aligners for up to two years.
Thanks to their research, Invisalign is happy for patients to progress at double speed. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to reduce the length of treatment overall. That said, these smaller progressions may it seem like your teeth are moving faster. It can also allow for more dramatic changes, or help your teeth to move in smaller increments.
A faster treatment speed can’t be guaranteed by Invisalign. They still suggest a broad window of 6-18 months for completion.
Most people are happy to let their treatment progress fairly slowly. Adjustments happen almost as soon as you begin, and you’ll see changes in your smile over time. For many people, these small changes are enough to provide motivation.
If it’s very important to fast track your treatment, this may be a check in the right box for Invisalign. However, with their estimates so broad, you may not get results any quicker. Competitor PlusDent suggests that most people will finish their treatment in 10 months, which means that it may be quicker to use an Invisalign alternative.
Final Thoughts: Why Invisalign is Better
If you choose Invisalign, you’re choosing a company that offers a wealth of experience. With more than 3 million previous customers, this isn’t a risky startup. Invisalign has carried out extensive research to hone their teeth straightening techniques.
You might be able to get treatment even from 11 years old. You’ll be supervised by dental professionals, with regular checkups in person. This is a safe and reliable option if you’re looking for clear aligners.
Final Thoughts: Why Invisalign is Not Better
Invisalign treatment isn’t necessarily faster than treatment elsewhere. It’s also a lot more expensive. If you’re self-motivated and will stay on-track alone, in-home treatment could save you a small fortune.
If you believe that yours is a simple case, then it may be better to choose an Invisalign alternative. These are often widely available, with the option to make your own dental impressions at home.