Teeth crowding, or crowded teeth, is an extremely common dental issue in all ages, and for a lot of people, it lasts all the way into adulthood.
Essentially, the teeth are jammed together, causing odd angles and positions within the smile. In an ideal smile, the teeth fall neatly into place, side by side. But for any number of reasons—a stubborn baby tooth doesn’t fall out, the wisdom teeth aren’t removed, or the teeth are too big to all fit within the jawbone—teeth crowding can appear.
Thankfully, crowded teeth rarely cause any serious issues if you decide not to treat them. That said, crowded teeth can contribute to teeth misalignments, worn enamel (due to grinding your teeth at night), and in rare cases, bacteria build-up. Some people don’t like how their teeth crowding makes their smile look, either.
With today’s advanced dentistry, there are lots of different ways to fix a crooked smile. Invisalign is one of the most well-known ones. But can Invisalign fix teeth crowding? In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Invisalign and teeth crowding.
How Does Invisalign Work to Fix Crowded Teeth?
Can Invisalign fix teeth crowding? The short answer is, yes! Invisalign is arguably the industry standard for correcting crowded teeth—second only to braces. Invisalign can tackle virtually any case of teeth crowding, no matter how severe. In fact, crowded teeth is one of the most common issues seen by Invisalign providers.
In our honest opinion, Invisalign is such a robust treatment option that it’s probably not the most cost-effective choice if teeth crowding is your only issue. It’s a bit like using a drill when a screwdriver will do the job. After all, most cases of teeth crowding are pretty minor; your treatment will simply require pulling the teeth into an uncrowded position.
That said, if you have both crowded teeth and a bite issue like underbite or overjet, then Invisalign may be a great choice for you. Many bite issues are complicated by the position or shape of the jaw. Understandably, a jawbone is much harder to move than teeth. But Invisalign can handle those tougher cases.
Technically speaking, Invisalign and braces are both equally effective methods to treat teeth crowding plus any bite issues because they accomplish the same thing. But instead of using brackets and wires, Invisalign uses clear trays that are molded to match your teeth, and by wearing your aligners, you gradually move your teeth into new, aligned positions.
But Invisalign actually takes it a step further: they offer elastics and their proprietary tooth-colored add-ons called SmartForce attachments. These can be fixed directly to your teeth, exerting more force on your teeth than clear aligners alone. That extra “oomph” allows Invisalign to move both your teeth and, if needed, your jaw itself. That’s why Invisalign can fix most bite issues.
Of course, your new perfect smile comes with a price: you’ll have to endure a little discomfort and wear your aligners religiously. If you don’t, your treatment won’t be effective. A lot of people like the convenience of removing their aligners to eat, drink, and clean their teeth. But if you’d be tempted to take them out in order to reduce your discomfort, then you may want to choose a more permanent method like traditional or clear braces.
How Long Will Invisalign Take To Correct My Teeth Crowding?
That’s a good question, and it’s a little tough to answer. Your treatment length largely depends on the severity of your case. If just a few of your teeth are crowded together, it won’t take too long to move them. But if you have severely crowded teeth, or there’s a bite issue that also needs to be corrected, then your treatment will last much longer.
That said, in general, most people can expect to wear their Invisalign aligners for 12 to 18 months. That’s the time it typically takes to move your teeth as needed (plus your jaw, if necessary). Many cases of teeth crowding are relatively straightforward, so you can probably expect your treatment to fall more within that 12-month range. For some cases of crowded teeth, there may also be another option: Invisalign Express (essentially a smaller, cheaper version of Invisalign). The average treatment with Express lasts just 6 months. That said, most dentists and orthodontists are more likely to offer Invisalign Full over Express.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix Crowded Teeth With Invisalign?
Let’s be clear: whatever method you use to correct your smile, you’ll be making a significant investment. A perfect smile doesn’t come cheap, and Invisalign is no exception.
Since Invisalign is administered in person by individual orthodontists, it’s tough to nail down an exact price for Invisalign treatment. Of course, your orthodontist will charge you for the aligners themselves, but they will also add on the labor costs of preparing your aligners, your check-up appointments, and so on. Those fees vary from one orthodontist to another. On average, though, most people spend between $3,000 to $8,000 for Invisalign.
The estimates here are similar to the treatment time estimates: someone with a milder case will spend less time and money than someone with a tougher one. For one thing, a mild case of teeth crowding requires fewer aligners, cutting your costs. In contrast, a tough case that requires elastics, Smartforce attachments, and a lot of aligners is going to cost more in both material and labor costs.
Provided your teeth crowding is minor, you can probably expect to pay closer to the $3,000 mark. But in the end, your price ultimately depends on your case and your orthodontist’s fees.
Can I Use an At-Home Clear Aligner Like Smile Direct Instead?
Ultimately, it depends on your specific case. Compared to home-based clear aligners like Byte and Smile Direct Club, Invisalign is a more powerful method that can correct nearly any dental issue, crowded teeth included. At-home clear aligner products can correct most cases of teeth crowding, but not all.
Why? Because crowded teeth are caused by two primary issues: the teeth themselves don’t line up, or the jawbone is too small to fit all the teeth. Moving and expanding the jaw so it’s a better fit is possible, but it (understandably) requires more force. Home teeth aligners can only exert force on the teeth themselves, not the jaw. Invisalign—with the help of attachments added by your dentist—can do both. So, Invisalign is more effective at correcting moderate-to-severe bite issues than home teeth aligners.
That said, home-based clear aligners are much more convenient and affordable than Invisalign. They’re usually a great option for crowded teeth, especially if that’s your only dental issue.
The Best Home-Based Clear Aligners For Teeth Crowding
Smile Direct may be the most well-known home-based aligner company, but they’re honestly not our first pick. Our two favorite home-based clear aligners are Byte and Candid. Both are younger than Smile Direct and Invisalign, but they’ve already proved themselves as effective treatment methods for minor cosmetic cases of malocclusion and crowded teeth.
Our all-time favorite home aligner is Byte. They’re an all-around good option. And if you’re eager to see your perfect smile, Byte boasts the shortest treatment lengths on the market; most treatments last just 4 months. In contrast, most other home aligner companies last 6 months.
These short treatment lengths are largely thanks to Byte’s HyperByte device. Some orthodontists will offer a similar contraption at extra charge, but Byte includes it as a complimentary part of your treatment. Here’s how it works: you use the HyperByte for approximately five minutes a day. The HyperByte sends gentle, microscopic vibrations through your teeth and up to your roots. Not only does this help shift your teeth, but it also stimulates blood flow and helps reduce your treatment discomfort.
The HyperByte system is one of the main reasons Byte is our favorite treatment for mild cases of teeth crowding. The high frequency vibration therapy keeps things quick and (relatively) painless.
Candid began as a fully remote clear aligner provider, but has recently shifted to “CanidPro,” a hybrid at-home/in-office treatment option. Your treatment will be administered by a local dentist in the Candid network, and overseen remotely thanks to the sophisticated CandidMonitoring system.
Using your smartphone and a special imaging device included in your treatment bundle, you can upload progress photos to the Candid app every 10-14 days. The Candid team and/or your dentist will review these images, and make any necessary tweaks to your treatment. In some cases, you may be given the go-ahead to switch a near aligner early. This high level of oversight has the potential to shorten your treatment length a bit.
If you’re interested in the convenience of home aligners, but want the robust oversight of in-office care, look no further than Candid for correcting mild cases of teeth crowding.
Candid and Byte are our favorite home aligner companies, but they aren’t the only options, either. If you’re considering home aligners to treat your teeth crowding, check out our comparison of the top 4 online clear aligners.
When it comes to choosing a treatment method, we urge you to carefully consider all your options, and why you feel the need to correct your teeth crowding to begin with.
Crowded teeth might make your smile look a little different, but odds are most people don’t even notice. So remember, whether you correct your teeth crowding or leave it be, your future is still bright!
Thankfully, you have time on your side (since crowded teeth rarely cause medical issues, you don’t have to rush to fix it). Since you have that time, our recommendation is to chat with your dentist about the best options for treating your teeth crowding. And if you’re interested in at-home treatment, consider ordering an impression kit from one of the providers above to see if you’re a candidate!