Understanding Treatment Timelines for Braces vs. Invisalign

Understanding Treatment Timelines for Braces vs. Invisalign

Pinterest Hidden Image

A beautiful smile can be a real confidence booster, whether in your professional or personal life. Still, it’s important to recognize that attention to your smile is about more than just aesthetics – orthodontic treatment can also improve your oral health. For example, crooked and misaligned teeth are more likely to contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, and jaw alignment issues; crooked teeth are harder to clean, which can lead to cavities and other oral health problems. For that reason, addressing your smile, whether it’s with traditional braces or newer technology like Invisalign, is a crucial way of staying healthy.

If you are considering undergoing orthodontic treatment using Invisalign or traditional orthodontics, it’s important to learn more about what’s involved, including how long each treatment will take. Many factors unique to each treatment will determine your treatment timeline.

Invisalign Treatment Timeline

Teens and adults now have a more discreet orthodontic option via the Invisalign system. In fact, around 15 million people have used Invisalign to complete their orthodontic treatment. Invisalign uses clear aligners that fit snugly over teeth and gently move teeth into better alignment. Our patients wear them throughout the day and night and remove them when eating. Periodically, the aligners are replaced with new ones as the teeth move toward their optimal position.

Invisalign Treatment Timeline

Rather than returning for regular orthodontist appointments to tighten braces, Invisalign is a gentle treatment option that can still deliver drastic orthodontic results on a timeline that can be similar to traditional metal braces. In addition, some of the main benefits of undergoing orthodontic treatment through Invisalign are the discreet nature of the treatment and the convenience of completing the treatments from home.

While you are wearing your aligners, few people will be able to tell that they are in place since the advanced material used by Invisalign is transparent. Invisalign aligners are also very convenient to use and keep clean. That’s why this treatment option generally requires fewer visits to the orthodontist than metal braces. Once the treatment is complete, you will be given a set of retainers to wear nightly.

How Long Does Invisalign Take?

The treatment timeline for Invisalign can vary between several weeks and a few years. Each case is different, and the treatment timeline is generally determined by the complexity of your alignment issues.

Common alignment problems that can lead to Invisalign and potentially extend your Invisalign treatment timeline could include:

  • Crowding – This common type of dental alignment problem occurs when there is not sufficient space in the mouth for the teeth to fit properly. Twisting and overlapping commonly result from crowding, making it difficult to keep teeth clean and avoid cavities.
  • Spacing – Invisalign is often used to address space between teeth. Missing teeth or small teeth can lead to spacing issues that can be addressed through orthodontic treatment.
  • Overbite – An overbite occurs when the upper teeth excessively overlap the lower teeth. Genetics, jaw development issues, and adolescent thumbsucking can all lead to overbite.
  • Underbite – An underbite poses the opposite problem: the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth. This can impede proper chewing function.
  • Crossbite – Crossbite is a more complex alignment issue that results when some of the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth.

If you are wondering if you are a candidate for Invisalign instead of traditional braces, Robison Orthodontics can advise you regarding the benefits of both options. If you opt for Invisalign, your orthodontist will take digital images of your teeth, which will be sent to a special aligner fabrication lab. Once your clear aligners arrive back at our office, you will be notified and given directions on how to use them.

You’ll get a clearer picture of your treatment timeline at this point, as it is based on the number of aligners that are sent. The greater the number of aligners, the longer the treatment timeline. This is because Invisalign’s aligners are replaced at regular intervals. At certain points during your treatment, you will visit Robison Orthodontics for checkups so your orthodontist can track your progress.

Tips for Maintaining Your Invisalign

Tips for Maintaining Your Invisalign

While the number of aligners you receive will give you an idea of your total treatment timeline, it’s important to remember that this assumes that you maintain your aligners, avoid losing them, and comply with the directions for undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign.

If you lose your aligners, your orthodontist will have to order new ones, which can both delay your treatment timeline and risk your teeth beginning to move back into their original location. Do not delay letting Robison Orthodontics know that you have lost a set of aligners so they can be ordered as soon as possible. Accidents happen, but there are steps that can help prevent the loss or damage of your aligners, as well as ensure your treatment progresses as expected.

Use an Aligner Holder

These devices are the ideal size for holding aligners and often brightly colored. This serves as a reminder to prevent you from losing your aligners or forgetting to replace them after removing them to eat. They also protect your aligners from collecting debris or getting damaged by pets, children, or drops.

Wear Aligners As Directed

Be sure to wear your aligners as directed. Invisalign aligners can only straighten teeth when worn for at least 22 hours per day. This leaves time for removing them when eating, engaging in public speaking, or taking portraits.  In addition, try not to get in the habit of removing the aligners for longer periods of time. Doing so could delay your treatment timeline.

Care for Your Aligners Properly

Take care not to damage your aligners when cleaning them. Do not place them in hot water because they can warp and do not use toothpaste to clean the aligners. Simply brush them with cool or warm water to remove food particles.

Traditional Braces Timeline

While Invisalign is a popular treatment option, metal braces remain an effective orthodontic solution. Complex alignment problems may require one of our orthodontists to recommend traditional braces because braces allow our orthodontist to customize your treatment and make alterations along the way. This ability to hone treatment and correct more severe alignment issues can make traditional braces a better option than Invisalign for some patients.

Does Invisalign Take Longer Than Braces?

In general, while treatment timelines are unique to the individual, Invisalign’s average treatment duration typically lasts anywhere from six to eighteen months, while the average treatment length for braces is one to three years. However, that doesn’t mean Invisalign treatment is faster – or even appropriate – for everyone. The main factor that will determine your treatment timeline is the severity and complexity of your dental alignment problems.

More complex treatments that necessitate the use of traditional braces often take a bit longer, but the final results will be even more dramatic. In addition, it’s important to remember that traditional braces require appointments to be attached at the beginning of your treatment and removed at the end. There are also regularly scheduled checkups where your orthodontist will examine the braces, fix any damaged portions of the braces, and make adjustments as needed. That’s why the treatment timeline is an estimate, and the exact final day of your treatment will be known closer to the end of the treatment process.

Another factor that could affect the treatment timeline is the type of braces you chose. We understand that people are often eager to wrap up their orthodontic treatment so they can enjoy the benefits of a new smile without the hassle of cleaning and maintaining braces. That is why our office offers advanced self-ligating braces that deliver drastic results 40% faster than traditional braces.

How Self-Ligating Braces Reduce Treatment Timelines

Self-ligating braces are reshaping the perception of braces by offering a more comfortable and efficient experience than traditional braces. They employ a special clip that interacts with the braces wire. This enables a sliding effect that minimizes friction, allowing teeth to move more freely. The benefits are reduced discomfort and a quicker treatment timeline compared to traditional braces.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces allow teeth to move more swiftly, easily, and comfortably, reducing the need for frequent adjustments at the orthodontist’s office.

Tips for Staying on Your Braces Treatment Timeline

There are several steps you can take to prevent unnecessary delays in your treatment timeline. While some accidents are unavoidable, adopting basic precautions can significantly reduce the frequency of trips to our office for repairs.

Address Damage ASAP

One crucial aspect of braces care is promptly addressing any damage to your braces. Any damage should be fixed as soon as possible to avoid complications. In addition, skipping visits to our office can result in setbacks to your progress, so make sure to attend all scheduled appointments. Contact Robison Orthodontics to schedule your regular appointments or as soon as you notice an issue with your braces.

Wear a Mouthguard

Consider wearing a mouthguard if you’re engaged in sports or any other activity that could potentially result in an impact on the face. Mouthguards provide an additional layer of protection for your teeth and braces during activities like sports or vigorous exercise.

Brush and Floss Regularly

Brush and Floss Regularly

Pay extra attention to your daily oral hygiene routine. Flossing is essential, but it’s important to do it gently, especially when you have braces. Using a floss threader can help navigate around wires and brackets without causing damage. Maintaining proper oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment can prevent tooth decay and ensure that the braces maintain a snug fit.

Watch What You Eat

Be mindful of what you eat. Avoid biting hard foods or candies that can potentially damage your braces. Sticky or chewy foods should also be consumed with caution. They can get stuck in your braces and be difficult to clean.

By following these guidelines and being proactive in your care, you can help ensure that your orthodontic treatment progresses smoothly and efficiently, ultimately leading to a beautiful and healthy smile.

Which Option Is Right for Me?

Now that you understand some of the basics about the treatment timelines for Invisalign clear aligners and traditional braces, it’s time to take the next step and schedule a consultation to decide which treatment option works best for you. Your orthodontist may recommend one over the other, but many of our patients are candidates for both options. During your orthodontist consultation at Robison Orthodontics, your orthodontist will discuss your potential treatment timelines for both options and provide you with information about your unique alignment issues so you can make an informed decision together.

Orthodontic Treatment FAQs

At Robison Orthodontics, we care about educating our patients on oral health matters so they are empowered to make healthy decisions based on reliable guidance from our team.

What Happens If I Lose My Clear Aligners?

What Happens If I Lose My Clear Aligners?

It is not uncommon for people to lose or damage their Invisalign aligners. The most important step you can take is to notify our office immediately so we can have a new replacement pair mailed as soon as possible.

Should I Worry About My Teenager Complying With the 22-Hour Rule?

Should I Worry About My Teenager Complying With the 22-Hour Rule?

Some teenagers have trouble complying with the strict Invisalign treatment schedule. If you have concerns about your teenager keeping clear aligners in for 22 hours, braces may be a better option. In addition, Invisalign does make aligners specifically for teenagers that alert parents when they are not worn for the required 22 hours per day.

Can Invisalign Correct Large Gaps in Teeth?

Can Invisalign Correct Large Gaps in Teeth?

Invisalign can address a wide range of tooth alignment issues. However, for very complex dental problems, including large gaps, your orthodontist may recommend traditional braces for more customized treatment.

Schedule Your Robison Orthodontics Consultation Today

So, does Invisalign take longer than braces? The answer will depend on your unique bite, your ability to follow your orthodontist’s recommendations, and how malleable your supportive tissue is. In general, traditional braces often take a little longer than Invisalign to transform smiles, but they may be the better option for more severe alignment issues.

While compliance and orthodontic issues determine the treatment timeline for braces and Invisalign, both treatments can deliver drastic results in relatively short timeframes. By maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits and protecting your aligners or metal braces appliances, you can proactively work toward an optimal treatment timeline that delivers something to really smile about.

Appointment at Robison Orthodontics

Once the process starts, it goes by faster than you may think. Dr. Blake Robison and Dr. Tyler Robison have a passion for delivering beautiful smiles on timelines that work with your schedule and goals. To schedule your orthodontic treatment, please contact our office today.



  1. Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, October). Braces aren’t just for teens. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/braces-arent-just-for-teens
  2. Schwartz, N. (2023, April 20). 25 years later, the company that modernized straight teeth is revolutionizing dentistry. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/sc/25-years-later-the-company-that-modernized-straight-teeth-is-revolutionizing-dentistry