Invisalign® aligners are virtually invisible, comfortable and removable. Most of our Alaska, Monroe, Bothell and Mill Creek Invisalign patients love these benefits. However, for some, remembering to put the aligners back in after removing them, taking them in and out in public, and keeping track of them is a struggle. This is why we’re occasionally asked: Can I just wear my Invisalign overnight? Will my aligners still work if I don’t wear them for the prescribed amount of time every day? At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we have answers!
How Does Invisalign Work?
Before we get into the reasoning behind whether or not you can just wear your Invisalign at night, it’s important to first understand how Invisalign works. The aligners rely on the same principles as braces, which means they exert gentle, continuous force to shift the teeth into place.
But, when comparing braces vs. Invisalign, it’s the timing of this force that differs. Dr. Richard Chan designs the aligners at the start of your Invisalign or Invisalign Teen treatment. A series of aligners is then printed just for you based on his specifications.
Each set of aligners is pre-programmed to achieve specific tooth movements, so at each stage, only certain teeth are allowed to move. As you make your way through the series of aligners, your smile changes incrementally until your teeth reach ideal alignment.
Is it Okay if I Only Wear My Invisalign at Night?
How long do you have to wear Invisalign? The recommendation is 22 hours per day. Technically, you can just wear Invisalign overnight, but you shouldn’t.
Dr. Chan uses a 3D model of your mouth to map out when and where each individual tooth should move, so your smile will complement your unique facial features and you’ll get a stable, healthy bite. All of those tooth movements need to occur in order to achieve that final smile.
Additionally, since your treatment plan was made based on a 22 hour daily wear schedule and a certain schedule for switching to a new set of aligners (usually every one or two weeks), this is the basis for the projected length of your Invisalign treatment.
If you only wear Invisalign at night, the 22 hours a day is cut down to 8 to 10 hours. Since, as we said, the specific, predetermined tooth movements programmed into your current Invisalign tray need to happen before you move on to your next set of aligners, progress will be significantly slower. A treatment projected to be 12 months could take 24 months or longer.
In fact, nighttime aligners may never be able to move your teeth to a satisfactory result. When you wear your Invisalign trays 22 hours per day, the teeth only have 2 hours per day to shift backwards. Since this is programmed into your trays, Dr. Chan’s treatment plan plans and prepares for this.
However, when you wear the trays only 8-10 hours per day, your teeth have 14-16 hours per day to relapse back to their original positions, and this will happen to a much greater extent.
It is simple to think of tooth movement this way: the teeth are constantly moving, and they are never holding still. With Invisalign or aligner treatment, the teeth are moving forward when the aligners are in, and backward when they are out. Wearing the aligners only at night will cause the teeth to constantly yo-yo back and forth, with no resulting improvement in their position!
What About Those Nighttime Aligners You Can Order Online?
While you may have seen mail-order, nighttime aligners, this option is meant for very mild cosmetic cases, and even in these cases nighttime aligners do not work well. Treatment also isn’t usually planned and overseen by a certified specialist in orthodontics.
As fellow orthodontist Dr. Jeff Kwong of Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics said in a post about DIY orthodontics, “Orthodontic treatment isn’t static and it’s important to have someone checking your progress to keep it on track, ideally the person who prescribed the tooth movements in the first place. Only they know where your teeth are supposed to go and that’s determined by a mouth and x-ray evaluation.”
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, without orthodontist oversight, direct-to-consumer treatment like the mail-order nighttime aligners could lead to damage to the teeth and gums, including tooth loss and/or a misaligned bite. At the very least, it likely won’t give you the results you want.
Even if it were safe and effective, fixing an orthodontic problem that would take 6 months with a typical Invisalign treatment plan will now take a year with nighttime aligners, and even then the results are likely to be less than satisfactory!
What are My Options If I Don’t Want to Wear Invisalign All Day?
Hey, no one treatment is right for everyone. If the idea of wearing Invisalign all day and night, keeping tabs on your aligners or taking your aligners in and out in public doesn’t fit your lifestyle, there are other options!
Invisible Braces in Mill Creek, Bothell, Monroe and Alaska
Our clear ceramic braces are stain-resistant, durable and made from a translucent material. When paired with our thin, lightweight archwires, the streamlined, clear brackets blend in with your smile. If you’re interested in invisible braces in Mill Creek, Bothell, Monroe or Alaska, these could be a good option. The clear braces are much less noticeable than their metal counterparts.
Once you get used to having your clear braces, you’ll barely notice they’re there. Since they’re bonded to your teeth and stay put throughout your entire treatment, you don’t have to change them or take them in and out of your mouth.
If you have a mild case of misalignment, such as a tiny gap between the teeth or slight crowding, but an otherwise healthy bite, maybe you don’t want comprehensive Invisalign treatment.
If that’s the reason you’ve been wondering if you can wear your Invisalign only at night, you’ll be happy to hear that limited treatment might also be a possibility. Since your treatment would be planned and monitored by Dr. Chan, you’d get outstanding results in a way that was healthy and safe.
With a limited approach, you’d still have to wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, but treatment would only be targeting specific tooth movements and you’d finish much more quickly.
How Long Should I Wear My Retainer a Day?
Now that you know the drawbacks of just wearing Invisalign overnight, you might be asking: Does the same hold true for a clear retainer? How long should I wear my retainer a day? When you finish your Invisalign treatment, Dr. Chan will design and print a custom clear retainer, sometimes referred to as an Invisalign retainer by patients, using our 3D printer.
When you receive your appliance, we’ll give you retainer instructions that include how long you should wear your retainer a day. Depending on your needs, you may wear it full-time at first, keeping it in for 20 to 22 hours per day similar to your Invisalign aligners.
However, you’ll quickly transition to wearing your retainer just at night, once your teeth have had a chance to stabilize in their new positions. Eventually, you’ll only need to wear your retainer a few nights per week to maintain your Invisalign results for life.
- Only wearing your Invisalign overnight is not recommended. Keep your aligners in for 22 hours per day for the best results.
- Your treatment plan is based on the 22 hour per day wear schedule and each set of aligners is pre-programmed to achieve specific tooth movements. These movements need to occur before you move on to your next tray. Cutting your wear time from 20+ hours a day to 8 to 10 hours will mean a treatment plan projected to last 12 months will now last 24 months or more, with less than satisfactory results likely to be seen.
- The nighttime aligners you can order online are risky and only meant for extremely mild cases. Not only will treatment take twice as long or more, but, most of the time, it’s not designed or directed by a certified specialist in orthodontics. This can put you at risk for painful, costly problems, including issues with the bite and even tooth loss. Finally, since the aligners are in and out for extended periods, your teeth will be constantly moving back and forth, with little to no change in the final positions of your teeth.
- If you don’t want to wear Invisalign all day, there are other options!
Connect With Dr. Chan Today!
While we don’t recommend that you just wear Invisalign overnight, that doesn’t mean straightening your teeth can’t fit your lifestyle. At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we always aim to make braces and Invisalign affordable, convenient and efficient for every patient. To learn more about your options for getting a smile you love, schedule a complimentary consultation at our Juneau, Bothell, Monroe or Mill Creek orthodontic office today!