Can You Wear Aligners at Night Only?

Can You Wear Aligners at Night Only?
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Can You Wear Aligners at Night Only?Clinical Content Reviewed by Licensed DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Intro
  2. Do They Work?
  3. Risks
  4. Treatment Time
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. References

Teeth aligner manufacturers do make night-only aligners, which call for 10 hours of consecutive wear. However, no significant studies have proved them to be as effective as traditional aligners.

Users must wear traditional aligners for 22 hours a day. The extra 12 hours of use produce more movement in patients’ teeth than the shorter-wear aligners.

Intro

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

However, there are night-only aligners for wearing at night, and the instructions are that you have them in for at least 10 consecutive hours. Less wear time overall may work better for you if find 22 hours of aligner-wear too disruptive for your daily routine.

Could the 12 or so fewer hours of treatment each day impact aligner safety and outcomes? This concern merits discussion with your orthodontist if you’re considering at-night aligners.

Traditional alignersNight-only aligners
Costs$1,200-$2,000$2,000+
Wear timeAt least 22 hours a day10 hours a day
Avg. length of treatment6 months10 months
Treatable conditionsMild to severeMild cases

Do Night Aligners Actually Work? 

Night-only aligners can work, but they are less effective than traditional aligners. Any type of teeth straightening therapy works best if used virtually full-time, such as braces.

Traditional clear aligners shift teeth by applying light, continuous pressure. You should wear these appliances at least 20 hours a day to move your teeth into their intended positions before your next set of aligners.

But this isn’t how night-only aligners work. When you remove them after you wake up, they may not have generated sufficient force to effect significant teeth movement.

Generally, compression and tension forces cause your teeth to shift when you wear aligners. They’re responsible for the alternating bone loss and formation during treatment.

According to one study, whole-day aligner users experienced more breakdown and generation of new bone than night-only users. Their tooth movement was nearly twice that of nighttime users.

In short, part-time aligners can work for some patients with very mild issues, but it will take them longer to produce desired outcomes. It is important to consult your provider or orthodontist before accepting these appliances to treat severe teeth misalignment problems.

Make sure to discuss the cost-effectiveness of buying night-only aligners. Sometimes, this treatment requires more sets of appliances than you would need with traditional aligners.

Risks of Night Aligners

The obvious risk of night aligners is that they do not work for the user. No studies published in peer-reviewed journals recommend a 10-hours-a-day clear aligner therapy (CAT) over the 22-hour therapy. Despite the availability of many brands of nighttime aligners, no scientific research — so far — backs their effectiveness.

Also, less wear time exposes you to orthodontic relapse, which delays your pursuit of a brighter smile and better oral health. The lack of optimal, continuous orthodontic pressure causes your teeth to move back to their pre-correction position in this case.

As with any clear aligner therapy, wearing nighttime appliances can trigger responses like gum tissue inflammation and root/bone resorption. These effects are natural to tooth movement, but they are largely unpredictable for any CAT system whose safety is questionable.

How Long Does Night Aligner Treatment Take?

If traditional aligners do not suit your job or lifestyle, nighttime options might enable you to straighten your smile.

You would be wearing your night-only aligners for at least 10 straight hours each day until you have 100-percent alignment of your teeth. For the flexibility to achieve a great smile without compromising your daily routine, you may need up to 10 months of CAT.

However, some nighttime aligner companies promise results in as few as six months, similar to all-day wear aligners. The treatment process usually begins after you order and receive your impression kit from a direct-to-consumer aligner company.

Next, you will 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.

If you mail back the models of your teeth promptly, you may receive your custom-fit aligner trays in four to six weeks. Your orthodontic treatment can begin right away.

You will wear each aligner for a week, with every subsequent aligner set shifting your teeth further toward your alignment goal.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you only wear aligners at night?

Wearing night-only aligners can slow your orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists recommend all-day wear (at least 20 hours a day) to apply light, continuous force on your teeth.

Traditional aligners that you only remove when eating or brushing your teeth produce results much faster.

Can I just wear Invisalign at night?

No, you cannot. There are no nighttime-only versions of Invisalign aligners. For best treatment results with Invisalign, you should wear the aligners 20-22 hours every day. You’ll be replacing each aligner set every seven days.

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

References

Living with Invisalign: Orthodontic Treatment Amidst the Pandemic. (2021). Annals and Essences of Dentistry.

Byte Aligners: Review. (August 2021). Forbes.

Teeth Aligner Cost Comparison: What's Affordable? (March 2022). Byte.

Biological Mechanisms in Orthodontic Tooth Movement. (2015). Esthetics and Biomechanics in Orthodontics (Second Edition).

Effect of Clear Aligner Wear Protocol on the Efficacy of Tooth Movement. (March 2021). The Angle Orthodontist.

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.

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