Are your teeth crooked? Does your bite seem slightly off? Are your gums receding? Let me guess, you want to fix a few teeth-related issues, but you aren’t sure about plunking down thousands of dollars for Invisalign.
Well I’m here to help. I’ll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Invisalign, but were too afraid to ask.
This is my honest and unbiased Invisalign review. It includes the details of my year long Invisalign journey. Invisalign can work. Learn important Invisalign facts from user reviews including my own.
Bad Invisalign Experience
Before starting Invisalign I wanted to learn as much as I could about the process. I knew I needed a solution for my slightly crooked teeth and misaligned bite, but I felt incredibly nervous about using invisible aligners to fix them.
To ease my mind I searched the Internet for information that could help me. Most dental websites present positive Invisalign reviews, but I wanted to read honest, unbiased reviews from real patients too.
I looked for negative Invisalign reviews full of problems and mistakes. What could I learn from each bad experience with Invisalign? Why did some patients fail to achieve perfect smiles and what could those negative Invisalign reviews teach me? The start of my Invisalign journey lead me to the answers.
The Start of My Invisalign Journey
Before I signed up for Invisalign I created a list of questions. Here are a few of them:
- How does Invisalign work?
- Does Invisalign hurt?
- Will my teeth look perfect after Invisalign?
- What can go wrong with Invisalign?
- Can Invisalign cause gum recession or black triangles?
- Does Invisalign cause cavities?
- How long does Invisalign take?
I can now answer these questions and many more including: is Invisalign worth it? I’ve been an Invisalign patient for over one year now. I just finished the process and can now provide the details from my Invisalign journey. I started wearing Invisalign in September of 2018 and wore them through 2019.
This is my honest Invisalign review. It includes the details I wish I had known when I was just beginning.
Choosing an Invisalign Provider
Where’s the best place to start? Well right from the beginning of course. Before we dive too deep into the nitty-gritty details of Invisalign let’s talk about how the whole process works.
First, you will visit your dentist or orthodontist for an evaluation. If you don’t have a trusted relationship with your practitioner now is the time to scour your area for a new one.
Choosing an Invisalign provider you trust is the most important part of this process. You want to feel comfortable asking questions and raising concerns. The reddit Invisalign subgroup is full of patients who aren’t sure about their provider’s choices. It’s okay to ask the Internet for a second opinion, but you need to feel confident talking about treatment options with your provider too.
I visited two dentists and an orthodontist prior to making my decision. In fact, my dentist turned me away for treatment. She said, “If you need extensive tooth movements or bite improvements you may want to seek out an orthodontist.”
Fortunately, my teeth were relatively straight prior to Invisalign. Unfortunately, I needed treatment to fix bite problems that were leading to bone loss and gum recession.
Negative Invisalign Reviews: Invisalign Gone Wrong
My dentist’s words echo all across the Internet. Most negative Invisalign feedback comes from patients who are unhappy with their final results. Why would a patient have a bad experience with Invisalign?
Most negative Invisalign reviews blame bad dentists who fail to properly move teeth. What can go wrong if your Invisalign journey doesn’t work out? You can end up with gum disease, jaw pain, a misaligned bite and crooked teeth. In other words you can spend a ridiculous amount of money and time and end up with more dental issues than you started with.
To avoid bad Invisalign results you need to be aware of your provider’s role in the Invisalign process. Contrary to popular belief Invisalign treatment is more than a series of plastic trays.
Throughout your treatment your provider will make adjustments to the computer generated Invisalign plan. When things get off track your provider can tweak the refinement plans and force stubborn teeth to move.
Keep in mind that dentists and orthodontists both attend dental school, but orthodontists undergo additional years of training to learn how to align teeth and improve patient’s bites.
This doesn’t mean orthodontists will perform the work perfectly. It also doesn’t mean you need to choose an orthodontist over a dentist. It just means you should investigate the options thoroughly before choosing a provider.
Having gone through the Invisalign experience myself I would never chose a dentist over an orthodontist, but of course that’s just my personal opinion.
When the work is performed correctly Invisalign is definitely worth it. The key is to find an experienced, well trained provider to perform your work.
This is especially true for Invisalign go and Invisalign express, which have shorter durations and less room for errors.
Invisalign Reviews & Ratings
Before you make your final decision remember that a quick Google search can reveal a wealth of information from prior patients. Invisalign ratings depend on the success of each patient’s Invisalign journey. Simply type in your provider’s name and search for his or her ratings and reviews. Read each Invisalign review carefully.
Pay special attention to any Invisalign reviews for the provider you are considering. Look closely at before and after images of previous Invisalign patients. Check to see if the patients teeth are straight and well aligned.
Remember that each patient is unique, (so you may or may not encounter the same problems), but you do want to be well aware of issues before paying for Invisalign.
A provider’s expertise is also important. Invisalign categorizes providers by the number of cases they handle.
Here are the current categories and the associated number of cases per year.
- General Provider – 10 Invisalign cases per year
- Elite Provider – 300 cases including a minimum of 50 every 6 months
- Top 1% – 800 cases including 200 cases per year
A more experienced provider will be more familiar with complex cases than one who has treated fewer cases. Again, this is just one of many important criteria to consider.
Many negative Invisalign reviews are written about providers with less knowledge and experience. Providers with more expertise may cost more, but this is one of those instances where you don’t want to choose the cheapest option. Speaking of cost…
Average Cost of Invisalign?
Before you choose an Invisalign provider there is one more thing to consider: How expensive is Invisalign? Believe it or not each provider sets his or her own prices. There isn’t a standard or set price for all patients.
The average cost of Invisalign is between $3000 and $8000 with more experienced providers cost a whole lot more.
My local dentist gave me a price quote of just over $4000. A Top 1% provider in a swanky part of town handed me a quote for $7900.
If you are price conscious definitely ask around. There are huge differences between provider prices, especially between dentists and orthodontists. Just be aware that you may trade quality and expertise when you pay less.
Does Insurance Cover Invisalign?
As you stare at those price tags you might begin to wonder, “Does insurance cover Invisalign?” Well, it depends. Some companies provide coverage and some do not. The only way to know for certain is to call your dental insurance program to ask.
Most dental insurance companies have a orthodontic lifetime maximum. Unfortunately, once you exhaust that amount you will be left to pay the rest of the bill.
My lifetime limit was $1500. My insurance provider breaks down reimbursements into quarterly payments received over a twenty-four month period.
I currently receive a $150 check every three months. That’s a whole lot different than getting a check for $1500 up front.
Paying for Invisalign
You can typically pay for Invisalign in one of two ways. You can pay the entire amount up front before treatment begins or you can sign up for a payment plan that will charge you monthly.
When you pay upfront you will typically receive a discount somewhere between 3% and 6%. If you can pay in cash you might receive an additional discount.
If you can wait for Invisalign treatments it might make sense to start saving now. Upfront savings can be as high as $500 to $600.
Most Invisalign providers offer a free consultation. That means you don’t have to use the first provider you meet. Instead you can visit a number of dentists and orthodontists until you find one you are comfortable with.
During that initial visit the orthodontist or dentist will look at your teeth, the shape of your mouth, your bite, (underbite, overbite, open bite, etc), and determine if you are a candidate for Invisalign.
While Invisalign can correct many issues it cannot correct all of them. In extreme cases your provider may recommend jaw surgery or traditional braces as alternatives.
Once you choose a provider and determine that you are a candidate for Invisalign the real fun can begin. During your initial consultation your provider will take photographs of your teeth and face along with a series x-rays.
At this point some providers will take a mold of your teeth while others will use a scanning machine to create a three-dimensional, digital image of your teeth.
Here is another place where negative Invisalign reviews swayed my purchasing decision. My Invisalign provider uses 3-D digital imaging equipment, which provides an extremely accurate picture of my teeth.
Apparently molds aren’t quite as accurate. Plus they are unbelievably messy and not very comfortable to produce. The orthodontist fills a mold with goo, presses it into your mouth and waits until it hardens a bit before she removes it. Some people won’t be bothered by this process, but I hate it. I had it done as a teenager eons ago and I still haven’t forgotten it.
The digital scanner is painless, super quick and unbelievably accurate. I decided to use a provider that avoided that whole messy process and I’m super thankful I did. A friend of mine chose a provider who used molds and had a really bad experience with it.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign will use that information to create a step-by-step computer model showing exactly how each aligner will move the teeth over the course of your treatment.
Your provider will review Invisalign’s proposal and make any necessary tweaks before finalizing the plan. Then Invisalign will create the series of aligners that will straighten your teeth. As part of the treatment plan you will receive a ClinCheck image and video that depict the movement of your teeth in each and every tray.
Now you are probably wondering how does Invisalign work and will Invisalign work for you? How do those clear aligners actually move your teeth?
Invisalign captures a three-dimensional image of your teeth and creates a plan to subtly move each tooth over the course of your treatment. Each tray moves one, two or many teeth ever so slightly. The first tray is usually the exception to this rule. The first tray typically doesn’t do anything to help move your teeth. It’s there to help get you used to the Invisalign process.
The subsequent clear aligners will slowly shift teeth into their projected places. After a week or two you will switch to the next tray, which will subtly move your teeth again. Your teeth will continue to move ever so slightly with each new tray. Treatment will end when you don’t need any further movements.
In order to get your teeth to move you must be a vigilant Invisalign patient and keep your trays in for roughly twenty-two hours each day. The trays will not work if you don’t keep them in your mouth. Also, your teeth will try to slide back into their old positions if you don’t wear your trays often enough.
To avoid an extra long Invisalign experience you must wear your Invisalign trays for twenty to twenty-two hours a day. If you don’t your teeth won’t move as expected and you’ll have to extend the timeline for your treatment.
Invisalign can definitely improve your bite and smile, but you have to be a disciplined patient. You must keep your trays in twenty-two hours a day. When you reach the end of your Invisalign journey all those hours will be well worth it.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
I’ve spoken to a lot of Invisalign patients over the past twelve months. Their initial Invisalign estimates ranged between nine months and 1.5 years. Though in reality no one I met finished in the projected amount of time.
In fact, everyone I know spent an additional six to nine months wearing them. Invisalign says this occurs when your teeth don’t move as projected.
During the consultation my orthodontist provided a ten month estimate. I wore the first set of trays for slightly less than one year.
Then I moved to a second set of aligners, because one of my teeth did not move as expected. That resulted in another two months of Invisalign.
I think each case is completely unique, but for the most part the timeline for Invisalign seems to move forward and not back. I’ve never met anyone who finished treatment earlier than expected. Those people may exist I just haven’t met any of them.
To avoid a bad Invisalign experience make certain to pay attention to how well your trays fit. If you notice a problem schedule an appointment to see your Invisalign provider. If your teeth stop tracking you will need further refinements, which will lengthen your overall treatment time.
How Do I Know If Invisalign Is Working?
If your teeth continue to track and your trays are snug and form fitting then the Invisalign system is working. If you begin to notice gaps between the bottom of your teeth and the tray it means some of your teeth aren’t moving as expected.
These tiny pockets of space will grow larger and larger as you continue to switch to future trays. Sometimes your provider will ask you to wear a previous tray until your tooth catches up. Other times they will move on and address the issue with refinement trays.
This typically happens for one of two reasons. Either you didn’t wear your trays the projected twenty-two hours per day or you have a stubborn tooth that is difficult to move.
The majority of negative Invisalign reviews mention the unexpected length of time it takes to complete the Invisalign journey. If your teeth don’t track as expected you will continue to wear trays for much longer than originally projected.
This is another reason to choose an orthodontist rather than a dentist. A dentist will order more Invisalign trays and hope that your teeth eventually move. This can quickly turn a patient’s one year Invisalign journey into two or three.
On the other hand an orthodontist has many different tooth moving options available to them. If a back tooth doesn’t move the orthodontist can give up on Invisalign and move on to metal braces that can quickly move that stubborn tooth for you.
I know, I know, you are trying to avoid metal braces, right? But would you rather stay in Invisalign for twice as long or where braces for a few short months. I’d choose metal braces anytime.
Invisalign Pain: Does Invisalign Hurt?
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of Invisalign. The stuff that dentists and orthodontists don’t seem to mention when you sit down for that initial consultation. First, does Invisalign hurt? It sure did for me.
My Invisalign pain was pretty severe for the first few months. The pain wasn’t intense when the trays were on my teeth, but pulling them off was incredibly painful. Chewing for the first few weeks made me cry.
As the months wore on I adjusted to the pain. Either that or the movements were more subtle so the pain was less severe. It does get better with time. I’m now in my second set of trays and my teeth haven’t hurt much at all.
In fact, I can pull my trays off and eat something hard and crunchy without giving it another thought.
If you don’t have a lot of movements or attachments than you might not experience much pain.
If you are considering Invisalign check out the Invisalign thread on Reddit. Invisalign reviews vary by patient. Some experience a lot of Invisalign pain throughout the process while others only have issues with specific trays.
Unfortunately, there is really no way to know what you will feel until you get them. Just know that pain is a real possibility. A lot of patients didn’t know that they would be in pain. I personally didn’t realize how bad the Invisalign pain would be either.
It helps to go into your treatment plan knowing what to expect. Yes, you might experience severe pain for a few weeks, but it does get better.
Is Invisalign Noticeable?
Okay, let’s talk about the visibility of Invisalign. If you are choosing Invisalign over standard braces it’s because you don’t want people to see those bright and shiny metal brackets and wires in your mouth, right? You are searching for a subtle tooth moving solution to straighten your smile.
Is Invisalign noticeable? Yes. Invisalign is not invisible, especially if you need a lot of attachments, (often referred to as buttons), on your teeth. People will definitely see and notice them.
Think about it this way. In close up photographs they will be visible, but in group shots you can’t really see them.
This isn’t a problem as long as you aren’t under the impression that no one will notice your desire for straighter teeth. If you think they won’t be visible you will be disappointed. They can definitely be seen.
Eating with Invisalign?
Okay, here is another thing you don’t realize about Invisalign until you get them. Eating becomes a real pain. It takes five minutes to brush and floss your teeth after every meal. You will brush your teeth three times a day. That means you will spend at least fifteen minutes in the bathroom each day.
If you spend fifteen minutes going to the bathroom and brushing your teeth you have less than two hours to eat per day. That may seem like a decent amount of time, but think about how long it takes to receive two courses in a restaurant or to wait a few minutes after dinner to eat dessert.
You know what’s really hard about Invisalign? You can’t taste your food while you cook it. Imagine cooking a really delicious meal and not being able to season it appropriately. You can’t figure out if you need more salt because you can’t take your Invisalign out for just a second to taste it and then pop them back in.
You can’t do that because every time you take your aligners out you have to brush your teeth again. And if you taste while you cook you will have to rush to eat to meet the twenty-two hour rule.
Snacking is out of the question. It’s just not worth it to brush and floss for a tiny meal, so in the beginning I only ate two meals a day. My teeth hurt so much in the beginning that it was easier to turn away food, but I was constantly hungry.
Invisalign will radically change the way you eat. You will find yourself hungry at parties, but unwilling to eat. It’s a lot of effort to brush after every meal. When you do eat you will spend the whole time watching the clock so you know exactly how many minutes you can spare before popping them back in.
Eating With Invisalign: The Invisalign Diet
That brings me to the Invisalign Diet. If you’ve ever wanted to lose weight and have your teeth look straight than Invisalign might be a good choice for you. I’m only half kidding.
As I mentioned above you will not snack if you have Invisalign. You will not even want to eat three meals a day. When you eat you will eat quickly so you can put your aligners back in. In other words eating with Invisalign is an absolute pain.
If you are prone to getting cavities you will most likely get cavities with Invisalign even though you brush and floss rigorously.
I find myself limiting sugar a lot. Two bites of chocolate cake aren’t worth three new fillings!
How to Clean Invisalign?
Having Invisalign is like a glimpse into old age. I can now picture myself taking out my dentures and popping them into a cup of bubbly, green cleaner.
I keep a mug on the counter specifically for my Invisalign trays. Along with an extra large box of Polident three minute cleaner. Any time I eat I drop the clear aligners into that mug and throw in half a Polident.
It helps to keep my Invisalign clean and clear, though it’s important to note that I never drink anything other than clean, pure water when they are in.
I know some folks drink beer or other beverages but I a too prone to cavities to risk that stuff sitting on my teeth while my aligners are on.
If I’m out somewhere I place my aligners in the case and brush them with a soft tooth brush and toothpaste before putting them back in.
Invisalign makes me avoid eating away from home. It’s another reason why I feel like I’m on the Invisalign diet. It’s not particularly pleasant to brush your teeth in a public rest room. I don’t want to use the sink water to clean my brush and I don’t want any part of my toothbrush to touch the sink. If I can avoid eating out I do.
Invisalign Black Triangles
Invisalign brochures typically show bright white, perfectly aligned teeth surrounded by pink gums. Unfortunately, this is not always the end result.
More often than not gums can’t form between overlapping teeth. When those crowded teeth are straightened black triangles form between the newly straightened teeth.
If your teeth are triangular in shape black triangles are more likely to form. When teeth are rectangular in shape they can touch each other and sit side-by-side in your mouth without showing any unwanted space. Unfortunately, triangle teeth only touch at the tips. As you traverse to the gum line the teeth no longer touch and black triangles appear. These gaps appear between teeth and between the tooth and the gum.
Treatment may include interproximal reduction (IPR), which involves shaving the sides of your teeth so the teeth can touch again. Dental bonding and papilla injections can also be used to fill in the missing space.
While I realized this was a small possibility I wasn’t aware of the extra work or maintenance involved in maintaining these ‘fixes’ over the course of my lifetime.
For the time being I’ve decided not to fix the small black triangles that have formed between my lower teeth. My retainers are still pushing my teeth together ever so slightly so I’ll see how things look when I receive my permanent ones.
I would encourage you to ask your provider about black triangles. Some don’t like to perform IPR, so this is something you should discuss in advance. It’s perfectly understandable to feel unhappy about Invisalign if black triangles form. No one wants perfectly straight teeth with dark triangles between them.
Your provider can’t guarantee that these won’t show up, but they can tell you how how likely they are and how they prefer to deal with them when and if they do.
Invisalign Retainer – The Fun Never Ends
In a perfect world when you finish all of your trays your Invisalign journey will be over, right? Well, kind of. When your treatment plan is complete the orthodontist will make an Invisalign retainer for you. You will wear it for roughly twenty-two hours a day for a few weeks or months. Then you switch to wearing it only at night.
The retainer is important. It ensures that your teeth don’t revert to their original places in your mouth. And after all of the pain and not eating you will never want to go through this experience again.
So you will be more than happy to wear that retainer for the rest of your life!
Is Invisalign Worth It?
When former Invisalign users saw my aligners they often shared their stories. They told me how long they had to wear them and how difficult it was to avoid snacking for months and sometimes years on end.
Their stories are all different. Some had gum issues, some had bite issues and most had crooked teeth. As we talked I ask them all the same question: “Is Invisalign worth it?” While I wore aligners they all told me it definitely was.
My Invisalign journey is now over and I agree! Invisalign is worth it. My teeth are straighter and my bite feels perfect!
Did Invisalign Work For You?
Since this is an honest review I wanted to include a few extra details about my Invisalign experience. Invisalign is an alternative to braces, but before signing up I wondered if it would really work. Could those clear aligners really move all of my teeth the way the ClinCheck video projected?
The answer is not exactly. Orthodontists have a much easier time making some tooth movements with traditional braces. While Invisalign moved most of my teeth it could not move one of them as quickly as braces.
One of my back molars was severely rotated and Invisalign was unable to rotate it properly into the correct position. Even though I wore my aligners twenty-two hours a day one of my teeth failed to track properly.
Invisalign Versus Braces
My orthodontist said we could try another round of refinements or simply place three metal braces on my teeth to move that one stubborn tooth more quickly.
I opted for braces, because they couldn’t be seen when I smiled. The tooth moved in just three weeks. Invisalign may have worked, but it would have taken months compared to traditional braces. In this case Invisalign was inferior to braces.
Invisalign works for many patients, but in the case of this one tooth metal braces were needed and preferred.
Some patients believe Invisalign is a scam, but it can work for you. It depends on what adjustments need to be made to your teeth. In some cases braces are simply better than Invisalign. The right orthodontist can help you decide what’s right for you.
Have you used Invisalign? If so, how was your experience? Was the time and money worth it to you?