So you started with Invisalign? Congratulations! You are on your way to straighter teeth and a better smile. All that said, it’s natural to ask the question: “How long will it be before my Invisalign starts showing results?”
(If you have not started yet, we recommend reading Invisalign Reviews: Is Invisalign Really Worth It? and How Do I Get Invisalign? Making That First Appointment.)
Here are a few things to expect when it comes to the timing of Invisalign and your results:
Remember, everyone is different. The rate at which teeth move into alignment depends on many factors, including the shape of your jaw, the condition of your gums, your genetics, and even your diet. There is no one single timetable that everyone can use for Invisalign.
However, there are averages. When we look at the population at large, we see that most people fall into a window of time when they begin seeing results:
On average, it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months for your teeth to move into the correct position with Invisalign.
Most people start noticing some movement, however, within the first two months after getting their first set of aligner trays.
Again, these are averages. Your own case might be different. For example, some people notice a difference in as little as 2 weeks. For others, it might take as long as 3 months, or even slightly longer.
Want to Know Exactly When You’ll See Results? Ask for the Preview
One of the beautiful things about Invisalign is that treatment is planned out using 3-D models of your mouth. This allows a specialist to create a time-lapse series of images showing exactly how your teeth will move.
So, ask your dentist to show you an animated preview of your teeth movements. This way, you can actually see what changes you can expect, and the order in which they will happen.
I’m Not Seeing *Any* Results—What Do I Do?
Invisalign can sometimes work slowly. The most crooked or out-of-place teeth are commonly moved last, so it might take time for you to notice dramatic results.
That said, you should notice movement by the time you are halfway through your treatment, or in five months, whichever is longer. If you don’t notice a difference, you should bring this issue up with your dentist or orthodontist. There can be any number of reasons why your Invisalign treatment is not on track. (If he or she does not seem to think there is a problem, it might be wise to get a second opinion. Our dentist finder tool can help.)
How Does Invisalign Timing Compare to Braces?
Patients tend to see results faster with with braces, because all of their teeth are moving in a more or less random fashion during the whole course of treatment.
With traditional braces, the wires and brackets apply force to all teeth at the same time. This means that even straight teeth will move a little, then fall into correct alignment later. This is what orthodontists call “round tripping”: The straighter teeth literally take a round trip from their positions out and back again.
With Invisalign, each tooth movement is planned out. Small adjustments are made, and then larger ones. Straight teeth do not need to be moved, since the clear trays can work on individual teeth.
What all this means is that people often see “movement” with traditional braces sooner than they do with Invisalign. But, due to the inefficiency of metal braces, the Invisalign treatment actually takes less time overall. It just might take a little while to start seeing the results!
For Invisalign to Work Quickly, Do These 3 Things
You can help the Invisalign process along by remembering to do these three things:
- Wear your trays for the time required. You will need to wear your trays a total of 20-22 hours a day to make timely progress.
- Remember to change trays on schedule. Changing trays is like tightening braces: It needs to be done to make sure your Invisalign keeps on working to move your teeth. Don’t let a change-over go by you, and certainly don’t skip a tray!
- Be patient. Resist the impulse to give up halfway through! Again, some results might take time. To see what the final result should look like, ask to see the time lapse of those 3-D images.
***This article was originally published 6/25/2018 and updated 5/28/2019