Deciding on whether you’ll try Invisalign instead of braces? We’ve gathered five honest Invisalign reviews from regular people around the web who’ve tried this increasingly popular system for correcting their teeth.
Invisalign has become an incredibly popular alternative to braces, mainly due to the less noticeable, clear retainers you get as opposed to a face full of metal.
Traditional braces use metal wires and brackets to straighten your teeth. Invisalign uses a series of custom-made aligners (the initial trays that align your teeth, and later on the harder retainers you receive) made from clear plastic. Depending on the severity of misaligned teeth, you may receive between 20 – 50 different trays that slowly adjust your teeth over several months into the bright, beautiful smile you want.
After the initial process of moving and straightening your teeth, you’ll most likely be given retainers to wear at night over a set period of time determined by your dentist or orthodontist. This can be anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on how long it takes for your teeth to stay in their new place.
Invisalign moves teeth just as efficiently, and in some cases MORE efficiently, than traditional braces do. However, some people may still have to go with regular ‘ol braces because of jaw misalignment (like a severe overbite), so it’s important to have a chat with your regular dentist, as well as an orthodontist, to decide if Invisalign will do what you want it to do.
You may have heard all about the benefits of Invisalign, but we’re here to present a complete overview of five honest reviews to help you decide for yourself. As our reviewers below know well enough, there are plenty of Pros and Cons to using Invisalign (did we mention the average Invisalign cost comes out to $3,500 – $8,000 USD?) which need to be considered side-by-side.
At the end of this article, we’ll go into more detail about the differences between Invisalign vs. braces — so hold onto your toothbrush, let’s dive in and talk teeth!
Review 1: Vikthestick, 45, from the United Kingdom
Our first review comes from user Vikthestick from RealSelf, which contains an extensive online review forum of Invisalign and other dental treatments. She writes that after having a misaligned bite for over 40 years, she wishes she’d corrected her teeth a long time ago.
“V” says initially she was given 33 trays over 15 months. Below is her before and after photo on tray 23, where she was happy with the good initial results.
“I have around 12 attachments and although tray change days are a bit uncomfortable for a couple of days, the process has been pretty easy! One of my front teeth has a veneer which will get replaced at the end of the treatment and some whitening. Anyone thinking about straightening their teeth, just do it! I wish I’d done this years ago!”
Later, V describes going through the refinement period with Invisalign, which basically includes more trays with smaller adjustments and wear times than the initial process. In other words, needing a “refinement” means you’ll be going through several more plastic trays that adjust your teeth very slightly over a shorter period of time (once your regular retainers have done most of the work). Not everyone’s treatment plan includes a refinement period, but it’s fairly common for most Invisalign users, especially older patients.
Dr. Steven Bowman writes about the process,
“[…] it is probably best for patients to understand that Invisalign may be a “multi-stage” treatment from the onset as more than one series of aligners may be required.” If your orthodontist mentions needing an alignment, you can proactively ask about the process and how many trays you’ll approximately need.
In V’s case, after finishing the initial 33 trays and 15 months of treatment, she had to continue the treatment further with another 20 refinement trays. She writes, “[…] on the upside the trays are changed weekly rather than fortnightly and the plastic (not sure what Invisalign have done?) feels much nicer! My Invisalign journey continues….. photo is now vs a year ago”
Overall, V was very happy with her results after using Invisalign and would recommend the process to other patients wanting to try it.
- Great results
- Trays are smooth, not bothersome
- Refinement trays are changed weekly
- Long process
- Over 50 separate trays
- Changing trays is uncomfortable
FINAL THOUGHTS: WORTH IT
Review 2: Rachel MacDonald, 34, from Queensland Australia
Our next review comes from Rachel, a professional blogger and coach from Australia who decided to try Invisalign in her early thirties after her wisdom teeth began to cause problems.
“I didn’t have braces as a teen as I was lucky to have straight teeth… that is, until my wisdom teeth came down about 5 years ago in my mid-twenties and things started really moving. Overcrowding became a big issue, and I noticed that one of my front teeth was starting to cross over the other, along with some noticeable movement with the teeth on each side and my middle bottom teeth.”
With her own wedding coming up quickly she wanted to finally deal with the issue and straighten her teeth. She describes being fitted at the Orthodontist for her “Vizzy’s.”
“Impressions, X-rays and photos are taken of your teeth and are then turned into a 3-D image so you can see the kind of results you’ll get. At this point, you pay a deposit, which for me was around $3000. The Invisalign cost me $8000 in total which I paid in monthly installments.”
Many Invisalign patients are surprised at how much the procedure costs (traditional braces are less expensive with an average cost between $3,500 – $5,000 USD). Many dental insurance plans cover Invisalign treatment just as they would other orthodontic treatments like conventional braces. Some insurance plans may even cover up to $3,000 of Invisalign treatment, so it’s important to research whether these costs can be minimized beforehand. Paying in monthly installments is another way to reduce the financial stress from the high cost of treatment.
Rachel was prescribed a 12-month plan and describes being quite happy with the results. But as part of her completely honest review, Rachel talks about the inconveniences that also go along with wearing Invisalign. Wearing Invisalign for 20-22 hours each day (as recommended) is difficult when you have to take them out to eat and drink. Even with regular cleaning, the trays would sometimes become mildly discolored after prolonged use.
But overall, Rachel was glad she decided to take the plunge and pay for Invisalign.
“I love food and was stoked that I didn’t have to cut anything out of my diet like you do with regular braces (well except chewing gum, but it’s no good for you anyway). I also have to admit that the fact I could pretend I wasn’t in the middle of a teeth straightening adventure if I needed to (like at my birthday soiree, for instance) was a pretty big win, and something that you can’t say about our friend Mr Metal.”
- No altering diet/avoiding foods
- Completely invisible in photos
- Being able to see quick progress
- Cleaning the trays
- High cost
- Dull ache when first adjusting to new trays
FINAL THOUGHTS: WORTH IT
Review 3: Almerr1, from Kansas City, Missouri
Our third review comes from user Almerr1 (we’ll call her A), also from RealSelf, who wanted to give Invisalign a try after reading great reviews about it. Her review is completely honest about her initial excitement and results with Invisalign. Over a period of several months, she writes about her excitement over having Invisalign turning into frustration.
“I finally started the process on June 16th with a new orthodontist who is a top 1% Invisalign provider. I am now on tray 9 of 24 (unlike most treatments, I change trays every week and not bi-weekly). Was there pain? YES! After the first time I slept in them, when I woke up my mouth was on fire (not literally of course!). I learned to change my trays at night and pop an Ibuprofen and normally when I wake up the next morning, I’m fine. […] Other than that my journey has been fairly smooth and painless thankfully.”
She goes on to say that she noticed improvements as early as tray 5 in her treatment. Her front teeth were beginning to straighten and were getting pushed back in line with the rest of her top row. She still wanted to correct a misaligned bite that her orthodontist assured her would be fixed by Invisalign. Originally, she was set to complete her initial treatment in December, with possible refinements in the future.
Unfortunately, problems started to arise after tray 20, with only 3 trays left. A describes extremely sore gums and bleeding, and her initial excitement had worn off because the left side of her bite was still crooked and unresponsive to the retainers.
“My provider is in the Top 1% so honestly, I did expect pretty good results with round 1 although I realize refinement is practically inevitable. Hopefully Invisalign can give me the results I’m looking for, otherwise I am strongly considering switching to traditional metal braces.”
After completing her initial Invisalign treatment, she was dismayed to hear she had another 30 refinement trays to get through before finally being done. But A continued to use the refinement trays diligently without much improvement.
“[…] my teeth have not moved or improved at all during this entire refinement process. FRUSTRATED is not the word!!!! I plan to just switch to traditional braces at my next appointment. At least I know metal braces will move my teeth and get me results. I don’t think I want to waste another 6 months on a second refinement that may or may not work.”
She still finished her refinement process, but then immediately switched to traditional braces, and describes much better results going forward.
“I got clear braces and I actually like them so far. It’s only been 4 days and so far they are not as painful as I thought they would be. My teeth were only sore for the first 48 hours. They didn’t give me an estimate but I’m hoping to be done within 6-9 months. I still wish I would have originally just started with traditional braces. I honestly think I would have been done by now.”
Overall, even though A was excited at the beginning after seeing improvement from Invisalign, it quickly turned into frustration after months went by with little to no improvement on her left side. She switched to conventional braces and was much happier with the results. She doesn’t recommend Invisalign based on her experiences.
- Initially helped
- Very Expensive
- Stopped Working even with 22 hrs daily use
- Didn’t correct misaligned bite
- Long Process
FINAL THOUGHTS: NOT WORTH IT
Review 4: Mark, 31, user from Reddit.com
The first and only male review on our list comes from Mark, a Reddit user who wanted to share his experience with the community.
“Hi Reddit! My name is Mark, and I just finished my Invisalign procedure. Like the title says, it may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but I always get friends, family, and coworkers that are thinking about getting it ask me questions. If you want to know anything about price, time, how it works (from a user perspective; I’m not a dentist), ask away!”
Another Redditor asks about the procedure and if Invisalign works in the same way as normal braces. Here’s Marks detailed response about getting Invisalign:
“Yes, it pretty much straightens out your teeth, but there are some other steps involved, too. Of course, everyone’s teeth are different, but here is an overview of what I went through:
First, the dentist had to send Xrays off to Invisalign to make sure I was a good candidate for it. I had that one tooth that stuck out so far, that she wasn’t sure Invisalign was going to be able to handle it. Luckily it came back affirmative, so we got underway in about a week.
They first take a very precise mold of your teeth by having you bite down in a gummy gel that actually feels pretty cool. The dentist has to make sure there is absolutely no gaps or anything, so she was literally using her thumbs to smash it down on me bottom teeth while pushing with her other fingers on my chin. It was pretty intense. Repeat for the top teeth.
Then about two weeks later, you go back and get your first sets of trays, but also, your dentist may have to make some adjustments to your teeth based on how [long] your procure will [be] for. For me, she had to “make room,” which meant using a rough, sandpapery little strip between my teeth and shave them down a little to create room for the tooth that’s going to me moving in. That was definitely the worst part. She had to do it a few times throughout the whole procedure. It was never fun.”
After the initial molds were taken, Mark describes going back to his dentist to swap out old trays for new ones every six weeks. Getting multiple trays at a time saved a lot of driving time for him because his dentist was almost an hour’s drive away. After finishing the first round of Invisalign trays, he was given harder versions to wear as retainers for 2-3 years to keep his teeth in place.
Mark also describes how uncomfortable new trays were. “When you put on a new set, they’re super tight. So, once a new set went on, I wouldn’t want to take it off for at least 8 hours. I had a lot of Jamba lunches on new tray day.”
So, how much did Mark have to pay to get his perfect teeth?
“In total, I invested $3300 in my Invisalign, which is actually pretty cheap because I got mine through a Groupon offer. The Groupon was for the total treatment for $2799, but that didn’t include the final retainers, which were $500. I have seen other Groupon offers that include the retainers, and they were usually right about $3000. A typical full-priced procedure runs about $6000.”
Overall, Mark is very glad he went with Invisalign and has the straight teeth to prove it worked well for him. He’s determined to stay consistent with his retainer regimen too:
“The first year I wear them all the time, the second year is just while I sleep, and the third year is about 6 hours a day.”
“I’m 31, and I’m not against having to wear them at night forever. I hated my teeth so much before I got Invisalign that I’ll do what it takes to not go back.”
- Less noticeable compared to braces
- Great results
- Some pain/discomfort with new trays
FINAL THOUGHTS: WORTH IT
Review 5: Anna Monette Roberts, 26, Blogger for Health.com
Our final review comes from Anna Roberts, who blogged about her Invisalign experience for Health.com.
At 26 years old, Anna had been through her fair share of dental procedures already.
“Even after braces, my teeth have never been flawless. I’m plagued with an open bite. This means 20 out of 24 of my teeth have significant space between them, even when I bite down. A decade ago, orthodontists told me I would have to get a second round of braces and jaw surgery to fully correct the situation. I put it off for years, because worse than crooked teeth was the thought of having surgery and braces (again)!”
Which is why Anna was excited to find that her current orthodontist recommended that she get Invisalign instead of surgery and braces to correct her bite. She was more than happy to jump in and start the treatment.
“Though I’m only a month into my Invisalign program — [I] am really happy with the results so far!”
Anna goes on to describe the potential downsides of Invisalign that some providers don’t discuss, that will help future users know what to expect when starting the treatment.
“Invisalign is presented as an easy alternative to traditional braces, but getting started isn’t as seamless as you might hope.”
“Recent Invisalign procedures may include attachments, or enamel-colored ridges that stick to your teeth like braces brackets. These attachments click into the Invisalign aligners to help the teeth move more effectively. […] with the aligners in, it looks like you have clear braces. My orthodontist warned me that I would have two attachments, but I ended up with 20. So, most of the day, I look like I’m wearing braces.”
“Plaque and food particles can get in the way of the teeth moving plus can lead to some seriously stanky breath and cavities. As a result, it’s best to brush your teeth after eating anything. I use three different types of toothpaste and toothbrushes, since I have to stash them at home, at work, and in my purse.”
She also discusses the day-to-day care of her Invisalign trays. The attachments she was given along with her Invisalign tended to stain really easily after a coffee or occasional glass of wine.
“I have seen it so many times — my coffee- and tea-drinking friends who didn’t stick to a regimented tooth brushing habit ended up staining their attachments. The practically invisible composite begins to look like orange corn kernel pieces stuck all over their teeth. Yuck! As a result, every cup of coffee or tea must be immediately followed by a teeth brushing.”
But, despite the inconveniences, she’s committed to seeing it through with Invisalign and finally enjoying the teeth she’s always wanted.
“I’ve already noticed a difference in my bite (I can chew with six molars now! Woo!), and my teeth have definitely started to straighten. I’ve gotten over being self-conscious about my Invisalign, and I smile bigger than ever, even with the aligners in. At the end of the day, I know I’m taking action toward having the perfect teeth I’ve always envied, and that feels like it’s worth the sacrifices.”
- Works quickly
- Started to correct her misaligned bite
- Able to take them out when needed, unlike braces
- Attachments make Invisalign “not so discreet’
- Constantly cleaning trays and attachments
- No wearing lipstick/lip gloss when trays are in
FINAL THOUGHTS: WORTH IT
Invisalign vs. Braces
Since Invisalign first became widely available in the early 2000’s, many people see it as an obvious choice over traditional metal braces. Invisalign trays can be used to treat widely spaced teeth, overly crowded teeth, overbite, crossbite, and simple bite irregularities.
However, traditional braces are still superior to Invisalign for a variety of dental issues, such as irregular spacing, protrusions, alignment issues, or crookedness. As a rule of thumb, braces are intended as a catch-all solution for more serious cases.
Nowadays, you can also get ceramic braces (also called clear braces) which are much more discrete than a face of metal (or if you want to go wild you can get them in color to make a fashion statement with your mouth!). Ceramic braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, and some even use tooth-colored wires to be even less noticeable.
HeyWarline, a popular vlogger from Youtube, goes into detail about the differences between Invisalign vs. braces (she’s had both). Her Invisalign treatment cost was a whopping $5,000, but she clearly has gorgeous teeth. An important point she mentions is that the “refinement” period for Invisalign also includes the option of using regular braces.
Cleaning your Invisalign trays, as we’ve mentioned earlier, is very important if you don’t want them to stain or cause bad breath. Warline goes over the process of using half part water to half part hydrogen peroxide to clean them once they get “cloudy.” With regular braces, daily vigorous brushing will do (along with a floss pick).
“I would say, go with Invisalign if you have a minor case, but, definitely go with braces if your case is …more on the severe side. Because you wanna make sure that it’s going to work …”
Here’s a handy chart with the final breakdown of Invisalign vs. Braces:
|Braces (irremovable)||vs||Invisalign (removable)|
|Metal-typically silver; can pay extra for color or enamel color||Color||Clear/invisible|
|24/7 for an average of 2 years, depending on patient needs||Treatment time||22-24 hrs/day for 6 to 18 months, depending on patient needs|
|Average Braces Treatment Cost: $3,500-$5,000||Cost||Average Invisalign Cost: $3,500 – $8,000|
|Brush brackets and wires regularly while brushing teeth; water pick may be helpful.||Maintenance||Invisalign Cleaning system, or brushing and rinsing trays in lukewarm water|
|About every month||Follow up visits||Change aligner trays every 2 weeks; visits every 4 to 6 weeks|
|Positioner or retainer likely needed ongoing, maybe only at night||Follow up to treatment||Positioner or retainer likely needed ongoing, maybe only at night|
|Patients playing rough contact sports regularly||NOT ideal for||Patients with:
There are lots of reasons why you may want to choose Invisalign over traditional braces. But, across all the reviews we found, there were a few key drawbacks to getting and wearing Invisalign that are important to consider before seeing your orthodontist.
Overall, the biggest benefits of Invisalign seemed to outweigh the downsides. These benefits were:
- Clear, discreet appearance
- Quick Progress/ Noticeable Movement
- Removable when needed
The downsides of Invisalign, however, have discouraged some from trying or completing the treatment. The major ‘Cons” of Invisalign are:
- Cost: Averaging between $3,500 – $8,000 USD
- Long process of Refinement after initial results
- Pain: ranging from a dull ache to severe gum/tooth pain for some
Everyone is different, as HeyWarline notes on her Youtube channel. It’s important to know about the problems you want to correct, and if they are better suited to Invisalign (generally for milder problems) or braces (for moderate to severe corrections). If you fall into the latter category, you may decide braces are a better option if the process is significantly shorter or more effective.
Hopefully, these honest Invisalign reviews and before & after photos have helped inform you before making your own best decision for your pearly whites!