Invisalign aligners have given more than 8 million people, including 1.4 million teenagers, a straighter smile. They’ve become so popular because of their innovative approach to straightening teeth. Unlike traditional braces, they use a series of clear plastic aligner trays that are nearly invisible and removable. Once a patient determines if they are a good candidate for the treatment, their next question is “Who offers Invisalign?”
The convenience of Invisalign extends beyond the fact that it is removable for eating and cleaning. It is offered by both dentists and orthodontists. This makes it easy to find a provider but also gives more points to consider when looking for the best option.
First, Decide If Invisalign Will Work
As much as a patient might want to use Invisalign, it isn’t for everyone. There are some problems that are so severe that traditional braces will work better. The alignment issues that get the best results from Invisalign are moderately crooked teeth, crowding, and gaps. They also work well for people who once wore braces and whose teeth have shifted slightly over the years. Patients with serious overbites, underbites, or crossbites (called malocclusions) do better with braces.
Even if a patient’s teeth make them a good candidate for Invisalign, there are other considerations to determine if it is the best investment. Invisalign is typically more expensive than metal braces. To get the best results, users must also commit to wearing them for 20 to 22 hours every day. For many people, those things are a fair tradeoff for the luxury of a discreet, removable, and comfortable appliance.
Who Provides Invisalign?
Invisalign trains both dentists and orthodontists to use the product. Patients can go to either one for treatment.
Dentists. For some, it makes sense to see a dentist who offers Invisalign. They have the advantage of seeing one dental professional for all of their needs—regular checkups, cleaning, treatment for cavities if they occur, and straightening. When a person likes and trusts their regular dentist, and he or she is an Invisalign provider, it is the most convenient option.
Orthodontists. Many orthodontists use Invisalign as one of several options for teeth straightening, along with regular metal braces, or possibly lingual braces. Some patients may prefer to entrust their straightening to an orthodontist rather than a dentist. Orthodontists’ focus is on the movement of teeth, and an experienced one will have seen just about any imaginable alignment problem. They may be better equipped to judge if a case can be helped with Invisalign. They will also be able to offer an alternative treatment in the event that Invisalign does not get the desired results.
Alternative Treatments. There are alternative treatments that are similar to Invisalign. Companies like Smile Direct Club also make clear aligners, and they are much cheaper. The main difference is that Smile Direct Club skips the step of the patient going to a dentist or an orthodontist. Instead, it relies on a DIY approach. Patients can visit a boutique-style storefront called a Smile Store for a 3D impression of their teeth. Alternatively, the impressions are done at home by the patients themselves. After a staff dental professional creates a treatment plan, aligner trays are sent to the patient through the mail.
While Smile Direct is cheaper and may seem more convenient to some, dentists and orthodontists are quick to point out the disadvantages of the process. They express concern about the chance of human error and the lack of checkups and supervision throughout treatment. For patients who are tempted to try an at-home straightening option, the best advice is to do sufficient research and remember: Buyer beware.
Provider Training and Designations
What does it mean to be an Invisalign “Gold” or “Platinum” provider? What about “Gold Plus” and “Platinum Plus”?
There is some confusion on the market as to what the various kinds or levels of providers mean. The difference boils down mainly to the amount of experience of the provider.
Dentists and orthodontists who decide to include Invisalign as one of their treatment options can become a Certified Invisalign Provider once they receive training from the aligner company. In addition, Invisalign assigns designations or tiers to its providers based on their experience.
Invisalign uses a point system, assigning 1,000 points for each patient treatment a dentist or orthodontist has completed. When searching for a provider who offers Invisalign, the provider’s designation is prominently displayed on the Invisalign website. The tiers or designations are as follows:
- Bronze 0
- Silver 5,000
- Gold 24,000
- Gold Plus 30,000
- Platinum 60,000
- Platinum Plus 100,000
- Diamond 140,000
- Diamond Plus 200,000
The designation of VIP (Valued Invisalign Provider) is attached to these tiers to indicate additional experience within any given level. When choosing a provider, patients can determine the level of experience that each dentist or orthodontist has with the product.
Choosing an Invisalign Provider
When looking for an Invisalign provider, a good place to start is your regular dentist. If he or she offers Invisalign, it makes sense to go to someone who knows your dental history and who you feel comfortable with. You can also use our online search tool, which lists dental professionals by zip code. Armed with that list, a patient can start to research those who offer Invisalign.
Patients find the Invisalign tier system helps to gauge a provider’s level of experience with the treatment. That doesn’t mean that someone new to Invisalign is any less capable, though, because all providers are required to go through training to learn about the process.
Some people find it helpful to check online reviews. It should be noted that these can be biased, so we wouldn’t recommend them as the only deciding factor. Often the best indicator is a positive recommendation from a friend or family member.
Once you make a choice of who to see for Invisalign, make an appointment for a consultation. The dentist or orthodontist will assess Invisalign’s suitability for the alignment issue. They will also be able to give an indication of cost and how long the treatment will take before results are noticeable.
With 8 million users, Invisalign has proven to be a reliable way for many people to straighten their teeth. Find out who offers Invisalign, and schedule a visit to see if it will work for you.