The most well-known clear aligners on the market is Invisalign, but there are a lot more options available to the educated patient (i.e. Invisalign vs Clear Correct) And there are different products within Invisalign itself that can significantly affect your treatment cost. Keep in mind, however, that these are only tools in the hands of your ortho – and you are paying for their time, their expertise, and the cost of running a dental office. The aligners are simply the tool. Hence, while lab fees for your ortho may be from $600-$1600, treatment generally costs between $3000-$6000 depending on where you live and how crooked your teeth are. But for patients (who like me) like to know what tools are “under the hood”, here’s a breakdown of the different clear aligner systems on the market and what they mean for you.
Personally speaking, if I were to undergo treatment again, I would choose Invisalign if I had significant issues with the teeth because they have the longest time investing in R&D to treat more challenging cases, and if I only had minor misalignment, I would pick a reputable orthodontist and let him choose whichever aligner system ended up being cheapest for me.
Invisalign Aligners – Invisalign Teen vs. Invisalign vs. Invisalign Express
Align Technologies is the market leader and offers a wide array of clear aligners. The advantage of Invisalign is their experience – more years of R&D have gone into the creation of new aligner materials and other scientific enhancements “Power Ridges” which can fix problems with your teeth that were very difficult to achieve without fixed braces. The disadvantage compared to other clear aligners is that they can be more expensive, and also they have small ridges. I did notice that they weren’t perfectly smooth, but it didn’t bother me or make them any less noticeable. They offer:
- Invisalign Assist: With this treatment, your dentist will periodically take impressions of your teeth and send them to Invisalign. Invisalign will make sure your teeth are moving per the plan, and if not, they’ll adjust the next set of aligners to get you back on track. Aimed at dentists and orthos who are less comfortable using Invisalign.$1699
- Invisalign Teen: This is the product that your dentist will order if your premolars are still coming in. Normally this would present a problem for clear aligner treatment, but with Invisalign teen, space is left to accommodate the teeth as they erupt. It also has blue dots which fade the more you wear the aligners. That way your ortho can tell if you’ve been slacking and not wearing them as much as you should. And they offer your ortho a limited number of free replacements (in case you lose your aligner, being a stereotypical irresponsible teenager afterall…) $1649
- Invisalign Full: This was the first product launched by Invisalign, used to treat normal orthodontic cases. $1649
- Invisalign Express 10: This is a cheaper product for your ortho, aimed to treat less severe cases, and is limited in the number of aligners (maximum 10 sets). Since this is cheaper for your ortho, it is likely to be cheaper for you as well. $899
- Invisalign Express 5: This is the cheaper product. Applicable if your teeth can be fixed in 5 sets of aligners or less. $549
- Realign: This is a 5-aligner treatment manufactured by Invisalign but distributed under a different name by a different company in the US (Henry Schein). $575.
Invisalign vs. Insignia vs. Simpli5 vs. Red White Blue (Ormco Aligners)
Ormco is a huge dental supply company. The biggest difference you will notice is that the aligners are smoother – they do not have the ridges that Invisalign aligners have. The other big difference is who is actually creating the digital treatment plan (a technician based on your ortho’s instructions, or your orthodontist him or herself). While Invisalign has hands-down the most experience in clear aligners, Ormco has significant treatment planning with digital treatment planning with braces and wires that isn’t to be discounted either.
- Insignia Clearguide Express. This is their most comprehensive treatment, although it still only allows for a maximum of 10 sets of aligners (similar to Invisalign Express 10). Whereas for Invisalign, a trained Invisalign technician tweaks the digital model to plan where your teeth are in the final position (according to instructions from your ortho), in Insignia your ortho does it himself using software provided by Ormco. Similar to Invisalign, this allows you can see the digital plan in advance.
- Simpli5 – 5 sets of aligners, Unlike with Insignia, a technician at Ormco creates the plan for the final position of your teeth, and you can’t see the digital plan in advance.
- Red White Blue – 3 sets of aligners. A technician at Ormco creates the plan for the final position of your teeth.
Invisalign vs. ClearCorrect Clear Aligners
Clearcorrect was started by Dr. Pumphrey (who also founded Invisalign, and later jumped ship to now-defunct competitor Orthoclear). Dr. Pumphrey’s previous clear aligner company agreed to stop production of aligners in response to a lawsuit with Invisalign. ClearCorrect offers similar aligners, although they are a newer company. They claim to be more clear than competitors (although I find this of dubitable value as a former Invisalign patient where absolutely no one noticed I was in treatment). They also only manufacture 4 sets of aligners at a time, so that treatment can be adjusted during the middle (similar to Invisalign Assist)
- ClearCorrect Full: For comprehensive treatment, without limits on the number of aligners. Costs your ortho $995
- ClearCorrect Limited: When no more than 2 mm of movement is needed, ClearCorrect is less expensive. Costs your ortho $595
Invisalign vs Dentsply MTM Clear Aligners
Dentsply is another huge dental supply company. They currently have a clear aligner product MTM (Minor Tooth Movement Aligner) which is currently only approved in Canada.