Discount teeth straightening: Cheaper isn’t better.



When should kids get braces?

The Invisalign system has been the pioneer in the clear aligner category, founded over 25 years ago, it is the #1 doctor-recommended clear aligner brand globally.1  
With advancements in digital dentistry, teeth can now be straightened without the need for metal brackets and wires.  

Low-cost clear aligner brands introduced in recent years promise a cheaper alternative to Invisalign treatment by leaving the management of treatment in the hands of the users themselves. ​​The direct-to-consumer model means that other clear aligner brands ask users to create impressions of their own teeth at home, or they get scanned with an intra-oral scanner in a scan shop. Without regular check ins, in person with a trained doctor, users could be at risk due to poor fit and discomfort arising from that. Its side effects might include unwanted tooth movement which can potentially worsen your bite, damage your gums, or cause exposed roots that can lead to tooth loss.

That promise of a lower cost combined with the convenience of limited in-clinic follow-ups will undoubtedly appeal to some budget-conscious customers — but why are these discount options so cheap? 

Let's look at cheaper teeth-straightening options, how they manage to get their costs down, and how that compares to Invisalign treatment. 

Teeth-straightening technology 

When should kids get braces?

Let's start by looking at the technology you benefit from with Invisalign treatment versus what you get with discount brands. 

To start with, your first Invisalign consultation can involve having your teeth and mouth scanned with an intraoral scanner such as the advanced ​iTero scanner. This gives your orthodontist or dentist a 3D model of your mouth (teeth and oral health), allowing for highly detailed treatment planning and visualization of your potential treatment outcome, even before you begin treatment. 

From this 3D model, your doctor can virtually plan your entire Invisalign treatment journey — mapping out each tooth movement that needs to happen to give you the smile you're looking for. 

From there, you’ll receive your custom Invisalign clear aligners that are made with a patented SmartTrack material. SmartTrack material has been designed to be more comfortable and predictable3 in moving teeth. 

When should kids get braces?

In contrast, many discount teeth straightening brands will not offer a similar holistic approach to teeth straightening. In fact, some discount brands may not use any 3D scanning at all. Invisalign offers dentists and users a fully integrated, digital system. While still compatible with Invisalign treatment, 3D scanning removes the need to take dental impressions the old-fashioned way: with a tray of putty in your mouth. 

Lastly, Invisalign clear aligners are also precisely made to fit your unique gumline with precision trimming.  

When should kids get braces?

Additionally, SmartTrack material helps deliver just the right amount the force to straighten your teeth with more predictability and comfort.4 These areas of different technology help the discount brands cut down on their costs, so let's look at some other areas that can lead to cost savings. 

Treatment support 

When should kids get braces?

As we mentioned before, discount brands may mention less frequent visits to a dentist or orthodontist for follow-up appointments as their selling point.5 

While this might be more convenient for some people, it's important to remember that teeth straightening is often classified as a medical procedure. To ensure the best outcome during and after treatment, you can rely on the many years of experience and expertise of your Invisalign-trained dentist. It’s important to understand however, that Invisalign-trained dentists are not employed by Invisalign. Rather they are independent practitioners who choose to straighten the teeth of their patients using the Invisalign system.  

When should kids get braces?

Your Invisalign-trained doctor will be with you every step of the way before, during, and after your Invisalign treatment journey to ensure that you're getting the best possible results. Not only will they ensure that your teeth straightening journey goes as planned, but also that your oral health, from your gums to your roots, is taken care of! They'll be on hand to answer any questions or concerns you might have — either in the My Invisalign app, over the phone, or crucially, in person. 

Additionally, if you do have any problems with your aligners or need to make any adjustments to your treatment plan, your Invisalign-trained dentist will be able to help quickly and easily. 

On the other hand, low-cost brands may refer you to a virtual doctor support, or their own customer service team, effectively minimising contact with a doctor, who might only become involved when more complex issues arise.  

Remember, we are dealing with the movement of teeth through bone, impacting your entire oral health — so it's super important that you have an experienced dentist or orthodontist who can give you in-person support and advice whenever you need it. 

Treatment time and complexity 

When should kids get braces?

Another factor that can affect the price of teeth straightening is the complexity of your treatment. 

While Invisalign treatment can be used to treat a variety of teeth straightening concerns, some cases are more complex than others. If you need to have bite corrections or require other forms of initial work before your aligners can be fitted, this could take a long time, and can be more expensive. 

Some discount or direct to consumer brands, on the other hand, might not be able to treat as wide a range of cases, so if you have a more complex case, you might not even be eligible for treatment with a discount brand. 

Additionally, the time it takes to complete your treatment can also affect the price. Invisalign treatment is generally completed within 6-18 months, depending on the complexity of your case. 

The Invisalign difference 

When should kids get braces?

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that you get what you pay for. 

Invisalign is one of the most advanced teeth-straightening system in the world6 for a reason — it's trusted by doctors7 and can be used to treat a wide range of dental concerns.  

You might be tempted to go for a cheap discount brand because the initial price tag is lower, but remember that you could end up paying more in the long run if you have to have your treatment redone or if you experience complications. 

Not to mention, Invisalign clear aligners are the #1 doctor-recommended clear aligner treatment for teeth straightening, globally.8 From start to finish, you'll be in good hands with an experienced orthodontist or dentist who is dedicated to giving you the best possible smile. 

That all adds up to better value — and a more confident smile in the long run. 

So, if you're considering teeth straightening, make sure you do your research and choose a brand that you can trust. Your smile is worth it!  

If you're considering Invisalign treatment, we recommend that you book a consultation with an experienced orthodontist or dentist through our Find a Doctor page. They'll be able to assess your individual case and give you an accurate quote for treatment. 


1   Based on a global survey of 1,786 doctors (dentists and orthodontists) in USA (n=675), Mexico (n=134), Brazil (n=141), Canada (n=109), UK (n=141), Italy (n=113), Spain (n=96), Germany (n=99), Japan (n=56) China (n=148), Australia/New Zealand (n=74). Data on File at Align Technology, as of June 30, 2022.
2   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10378056/#:~:text=The%20use%20of%20DTC%20 sequential%20aligners%20without%20supervision%20by%20a,%2C%20sensitivity%2C%20and%20 periodontal%20disease. 

3   Compared to Invisalign aligners previously made from single-layer (EX30) material.
4   Compared to Invisalign aligners previously made from single-layer (EX30) material. 
5   In a study by Miller et al, with adults measuring pain in the first week of treatment.  Kevin Miller et al.  “A comparison of treatment impacts between Invisalign aligner and fixed appliance therapy during the first week of treatment.”  American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.  Volume 131, Issue 3, pp. 302. e1-302.e9, March 2007.
6   Data on file at Align Technology, as of September 23, 2020
7   Based on a survey in March 2021 by iQVIA. If a dentist (n=911) or orthodontist (n=53) has performed 1+ teeth straightening treatment in the past week, they were asked, “which brand of clear aligner do you trust the most for teeth straightening?” From the list, Invisalign was chosen the most often at the 99% confidence interval. Data on file at Align Technology, as of May 4, 2021.
8   Based on a global survey of 1,786 doctors (dentists and orthodontists who use clear aligners) by IQVIA in NA, EMEA, LATAM, and APAC. Data on File at Align Technology, as of June 30, 2022.https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/crooked-teeth#causes

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