Are Aligners & Invisalign the Same?

Are Aligners & Invisalign the Same?
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Are Aligners & Invisalign the Same?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. What People Think
  2. Science Behind Aligners
  3. Invisalign vs. Other Aligners
  4. Alternatives
  5. Things to Consider
  6. Which to Choose?
  7. References

Invisalign is a brand of aligners.

The terms aligners and Invisalign do not mean the exact same thing since there are many brands of aligners that are not Invisalign. The brand Invisalign is simply one type of aligner.

Why Do People Think Aligners & Invisalign are the Same?

Invisalign was the first aligner provider on the scene, which is why most people think of it when they hear the term aligners.

It was approved by the FDA in 1998, and it went to market shortly thereafter. Like most brands that are first in their field, their brand name became largely synonymous with the product. This is similar to how many people refer to facial tissues as Kleenex or hot tubs as Jacuzzis.

Today, there are many companies that provide clear, at-home aligners. And many of them offer teeth straightening via aligners for a lower price and with faster results than Invisalign.

The Science Behind Aligners

All aligners, including Invisalign and at-home aligner options, move teeth by applying consistent pressure to them.1 This is similar to how braces and other orthodontic treatments straighten teeth.

While aligners can correct most mild to moderate alignment issues in a short timeframe, they aren’t as effective at addressing severe issues.2 As a result, severe cases generally require treatment with traditional braces and other orthodontic devices.

Invisalign uses similar technology as at-home aligners, including for the impressions that are used to form the aligner trays and the treatment plan.

Difference Between Invisalign & Other Aligners

While both Invisalign and other aligner companies use aligners to move your teeth, there are key differences between these options.

In-person vs. Remote

The biggest difference between Invisalign and other aligners is that Invisalign is offered by dentists and orthodontists, whereas at-home aligners often offer fully remote services.

Starting Treatment

With Invisalign, you’ll start your treatment with a dental visit where the dentist or orthodontist will take impressions of your teeth to see if you’re a candidate for Invisalign. These are traditional impressions with putty.

They may also use an intraoral scanner to take a digital scan of your teeth along with x-rays. A 3-D image may be created, showing the movement to expect during your Invisalign treatment regime.

With at-home aligners, you’ll often complete this impression process on your own. The company will send you an impression kit with detailed instructions and often a video that guides you through the process. You’ll ship your impressions to them, and a dentist or orthodontist will assess whether you’re a good candidate for aligners.

Ongoing Care

With Invisalign, you’ll have to visit your dentist or orthodontist every four to six weeks to get your new sets of trays. Since you’ll replace your Invisalign trays every two weeks or so, you’ll get two to three new sets of trays at every visit.

With at-home aligners, your entire tray series is mailed directly to you. You don’t have to visit a physical location for checkups. You will check in with the clinical team to monitor your progress during the treatment.

Cost

Invisalign is much more expensive than most at-home aligner companies. Generally, you can expect to pay around $5,000 for Invisalign treatment, whereas many at-home aligner companies cost around $2,000.

Part of the reason Invisalign is so much more expensive is due to the many in-person visits you’ll have throughout your treatment plan.

Treatment Timeline

The treatment timeline for at-home aligner companies is generally much shorter than it is for Invisalign.

Alternatives to Invisalign

With the surge in popularity of aligner treatment, there are many alternatives to Invisalign on the market today.

Both Byte and ALIGNERCO offer completely remote treatment. You can complete the entire process from the comfort of your home.

Both companies are much cheaper than Invisalign. In addition, Byte offers its science-back HyperByte device with its plan, helping to move teeth more quickly.

Candid and SmileDirectClub offer the option of in-person appointments. With Candid, you’ll need an initial consultation with a CandidPro doctor to get started. Follow-up appointments can be virtual.

SmileDirectClub gives patients the option of an in-person or virtual initial appointment.

Things to Consider when Choosing an Aligner Company

When choosing an aligner company to straighten your teeth, your primary considerations will be cost, treatment time, service, and any treatment guarantee.

Across the board, at-home aligners will be less expensive than Invisalign, and they usually offer a faster treatment timeline.

Some aligner companies include additional accessories with their aligners, such as teeth whitening products or tools that improve treatment efficacy. Assess what is included in the total treatment package before committing to a particular company.

The customer service experience is very important, so take some time to read reviews. These will give you an idea of what to expect with each aligner company.

Some companies offer a guarantee with their product. For example, Byte guarantees your smile for life with the Byte for Life promise. If your teeth move out of alignment, you’ll receive new impression kits, treatment plans, and aligners to address the movement for no additional cost.

Which to Choose?

All these factors will come into play when choosing which aligner company will work best for you. Many people opt for at-home aligners over Invisalign due to the shorter treatment timeline, the cost savings, and the convenience of completing the entire treatment regime at home.

General References

FAQ. Invisalign. Date Fetched: May 31, 2022.

How Kleenex, Jacuzzi, and Other Big Brands Became Generic Names. (October 2016). Business Insider. Date Fetched: May 31, 2022.

Medical References

1 Orthodontic Treatment With Clear Aligners and the Scientific Reality Behind Their Marketing: A Literature Review. (December 2019). Turkish Journal of Orthodontics. Date Fetched: May 31, 2022.

2 A Comparison of Treatment Effectiveness Between Clear Aligner and Fixed Appliance Therapies. (January 2019). BMC Oral Health. Date Fetched: May 31, 2022.

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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