Nighttime Aligners: Everything You Need to Know

Clinical Content Reviewed by Byte Licensed DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Do they actually work?
  2. Benefits
  3. Potential risks
  4. How to wear
  5. Are they right for me?
  6. How aligners work
  7. Smart risk-prevention strategies
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. All-day vs. nighttime aligners

Nighttime aligners are customized clear trays that fit over the teeth and are worn only at night to correct tooth and bite alignment problems. Like regular clear aligners, they are removable and use gentle continuous pressure to move teeth into their optimal positions.

Like regular all-day aligners, night aligners are worn in a progressive series. Each tray will be worn for about two weeks before moving to the next one. After the last tray, the bite is corrected.

While they work, standard aligners worn for 22 hours daily will generally give faster and more effective results. Night-only aligners work best for mild correction issues.

How aligners work

Orthodontic therapies like aligners work by applying gentle pressure to the top—or the visible—part of your tooth. Three phases of tooth movement follow:

Initial phase

Force is applied to the tooth. The ligament that holds the tooth to the jaw is stretched. Inflammation begins, and the body releases chemicals that can break down bone (osteoclasts) and chemicals that can create bone (osteoblasts).

Lag phase

Tissue that’s damaged by the compressed bone and moving ligaments is removed by macrophages and osteoclast cells. In other words, these cells scoop out anything that’s been harmed as the tooth moves in one direction, and space is left behind.

Post lag phase

The tooth moves, and the osteoblasts create new bone to replace any gaps left behind. The tooth becomes rooted in this new position, and the ligaments adjust accordingly.

Keep reading to learn more about how aligners work.

DID YOU KNOW Byte aligners may be covered by your insurance–but cost as little as $89 a month even without coverage.

All-day vs. nighttime aligners

Choose nighttime aligners, and you'll wear your trays for at least 10 consecutive hours, most passing while you're asleep. Opt for all-day aligners, and you'll wear them at least 22 hours a day, taking them out only to eat, drink, or clean your teeth.






Daily wear time

22 hours or more

10 hours

Average treatment length

6 months

10 months

Treatable conditions

Mild to severe



Aligners are significantly less expensive than all-day braces. You'll spend less on costly materials (like glue and metal brackets), and you'll have fewer (or no) in-person visits that require expensive office space. But if you choose nighttime aligners, you'll pay more. 

A typical all-day aligner treatment plan costs $2,099. Nighttime aligners typically cost $2,499.

Nighttime aligners require longer treatment times. An all-day treatment plan is done in about 6 months, compared to a 10-month nighttime treatment plan. That extended time in care will cost you more. 

Other costs that could be associated with nighttime aligners include the following:

  • Replacement trays: If you’re careless and lose your trays, you can’t skip ahead in treatment. You’ll need a replacement version, and those costs aren’t always covered. Expect to pay $50 to $100 for replacement trays, depending on your manufacturer.

  • Treatment extension time frames: Some aligner plans offer support for a set time frame (like 10 months). If you don’t follow the treatment program as it was designed, you may need an extension for an additional fee. These costs can vary dramatically.

  • Retainers: When your nighttime aligner treatment program is through, you may need retainers to ensure your teeth don’t shift. Those costs aren’t always covered.

Wear time

The recommended wear protocol for standard teeth straightening aligners is at least 22 hours daily. You should replace each set of custom aligners every one to two weeks.

Night-only aligners are for wearing at night, and you have them in for at least 10 consecutive hours. Less wear time overall may work better for you if you find 22 hours of aligner wear too disruptive.

Length of treatment

Aligners work by applying gentle pressure to your teeth. The longer you wear them every day, the quicker they work. 

An all-day aligner treatment plan lasts for about 6 months. Nighttime aligners require 10 months. Since you wear them for fewer hours each day, your time in treatment is extended. 

Treatable conditions 

All-day aligners push on your teeth for 22 hours per day, and they can address mild, moderate, and even some severe issues. Whether your smile is simply crooked or deeply dysfunctional, aligners could be a good option.

Nighttime aligners press your teeth for less than 50% of your day. While they’re effective, they’re made for mild smile problems. Conditions that could be treated with nighttime aligners include the following:

  • Mild gaps between front teeth

  • Mild overcrowding

  • Very mild overjet issues

  • One crooked tooth in an otherwise beautiful smile

Slightly crooked or displaced teeth can be addressed with nighttime aligners, but significant issues need more help than these trays can provide.

Do night aligners actually work?

Any type of teeth straightening therapy works best if used virtually full-time. While night-only aligners work, they are less effective than all-day aligners.

Compression and tension cause your teeth to shift when you wear aligners. They’re responsible for alternating bone loss and formation during treatment. In one study, whole-day aligner users experienced 50% faster tooth movement than night-only users

Part-time aligners can work for some patients with mild issues, but treatment takes longer.

Byte night aligners allow you to straighten your teeth while you sleep. Just put them in at night and take them out in the morning before you head out to tackle your day. Find out if this treatment type is right for your smile.

Benefits of nighttime aligners

Nighttime aligners come with plenty of advantages, and they can be a great option for people who want to try something a little different to improve their smile.

Known benefits of nighttime aligners include the following:

  • Privacy: Your coworkers, family members, and neighbors will never know you're improving your smile. 

  • Accessibility: No need to take out your aligners while you drink your morning coffee or eat your lunchtime sandwich. Since you only wear them at night, you're not required to adjust your eating and drinking routines. 

  • Conversation: All-day aligners can make talking a little tough, and the added friction can make you leery of public speaking. Nighttime aligners will only interfere if you talk in your sleep. 

  • Time: You'll wear your aligners for fewer hours daily.

Risks of nighttime aligners

While the benefits of night aligners are appealing, risks exist. These include the following:

  • They may be less effective. No studies published in peer-reviewed journals recommend a 10-hour-a-day clear aligner therapy (CAT) over the 22-hour treatment. 

  • Less wear time may expose you to orthodontic relapse, in which the lack of optimal, continuous orthodontic pressure causes your teeth to move back to their pre-correction positions. Experts say aligners have an 80% to 90% success rate in people with mild to moderate tooth issues, but they should be worn for at least 22 hours per day to be most effective. Shorter wear time frames may not be as effective over the long term as longer time frames are. People with severe orthodontic issues may also need more help than aligners can provide.

  • Studies suggest that about 8% of adults grind their teeth. Some people may be unaware that they grind their teeth at night, and if they do so, they could push their teeth out of alignment.

  • Poor compliance is a risk. If you don’t wear your aligners all night, every night, your teeth won’t move as directed. Similarly, if you don’t wear your retainers after treatment, your teeth can move back to their original spots.

Smart risk-prevention strategies

Orthodontic relapse refers to teeth shifting back to their original positions after treatment. It’s a disappointing outcome for people who spent months on aligner treatment, but it’s not inevitable. You can take smart steps to protect your investment in your smile.

Take these steps to keep your teeth in place:

  • Address tooth grinding (bruxism). Pressing your teeth together with force can push them apart. Many cases of bruxism stem from stress. Get regular exercise, listen to soothing music, and do breathing exercises to keep tension under control.

  • Wear retainers (if advised). If your treatment team tells you to wear a retainer after you’ve used nighttime aligners, listen to them. Wear these devices to surround your teeth with added support, so they stay put.

  • Know how treatment should work. The best way to ensure success with nighttime aligners is to ensure you’re a good candidate for this type of care. If you have mild problems and a strong commitment to wearing your trays, you’re much more likely to get the smile you want. If you have severe issues or are unsure if you’ll wear your trays, a different method might be best.

How to wear nighttime aligners to see proper results

Nighttime aligners are medical appliances that work best when used as directed by medical professionals. Here’s how to use them:

  • Take impressions of your teeth at home and mail those to your nighttime aligner provider. A team of orthodontists will formulate custom aligners based on your dental impressions.

  • You may receive your custom-fit aligner trays in four to six weeks. Your orthodontic treatment can begin right away.

  • Wear your night-only aligners for at least 10 straight hours each day.

  • Wear each aligner for a week or two, with every subsequent aligner set shifting your teeth further. 

  • Unless you experience dental complications during treatment, you should achieve the smile you’ve always wanted in about 10 months.

Are nighttime aligners right for me?

You can get the smile you always wanted with nighttime aligners. These convenient, private treatment trays could be right for people with the following characteristics:

  • Mild issues: Nighttime aligners work best for people with problems like slightly crooked or overlapping teeth. 

  • Need for privacy: Some people don’t want to wear aligners while they work or spend time with friends. 

  • Poor compliance: If you know you won’t put your aligners back in when you take them out to eat, nighttime aligners might be a better choice.

Byte’s At-Night Aligners are the most convenient way to straighten teeth. A dental professional supervises every step of your treatment plan, and our outcomes are outstanding. With our HyperByte tool, used for just 5 minutes daily, your trays are seated comfortably, and your teeth move faster. Find out more.

Nighttime Aligners FAQs

Wearing overnight aligners can slow your orthodontic treatment, but they are an effective option for mild alignment issues.

If you have a traditional aligner treatment plan, you must wear your aligners 22 hours daily. They won’t work as well if you only wear them at night. If you’re only wearing aligners at night, that should be a feature of the specific plan rather than something you decide to do on your own.

No, you cannot. There is no Invisalign night-only version. For best treatment results with Invisalign, you should wear the aligners for 20 to 22 hours daily. You’ll be replacing each aligner set every seven days.

However, Byte offers At-Night Aligner plans that fit your schedule and budget.

Yes, they are. Wearing traditional aligners for 22 hours daily is more effective than wearing night-only aligners for just 10 hours daily. Your teeth need near-constant pressure to move to new positions.

All-day aligners are often less expensive than nighttime clear aligners. Nighttime teeth straightening takes longer and requires more trays, so it comes with a higher cost.

For the flexibility to achieve a great smile without compromising your daily routine, you may need up to 10 months of treatment. However, some nighttime aligner companies promise results in as few as 6 months, similar to all-day wear aligners.

Ask your aligner provider what they think is a realistic treatment timeline for your specific case.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.