Nighttime Clear Aligners vs. Invisalign: Which is Right for Me?

orthodontic aligner at night on moonlit sky

I’m trying to figure out how Nighttime Clear Aligners differ from Invisalign. Obviously, there’s the whole you only wear them at night element, but would it somehow be different than if I just wore Invisalign at night only?

I’m 28 and have pretty good teeth, but they’ve never been straight, and I want to fix it. However, my job requires me to be on the phone several hours per day and I’m afraid wearing aligners will interfere with speech, so I never stated any kind of orthodontic treatment. Honestly, I considered “cheating,” and going with the aligners from my dentist, but only wearing them at night, but I was afraid they wouldn’t work.

Anyway, the two types of aligners seem to be the same thing, so I was a little surprised when I heard that nighttime-only was a choice now. Are they really the same thing or is the new kind somehow better?



Dear Kayla,

Unfortunately, they’re not the same at all. On the surface, sure, you’re getting clear aligners, but the process isn’t the same and they don’t work the same.

Nighttime Clear Aligners are from Smile Direct Club

To be blunt, the five-year-old company has a bit of a sordid past and now has over 1,300 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Some of the most common complaints involve people simply not getting the results they expected, but a particularly worrisome number had damage that required additional treatment to correct or needed to go through traditional orthodontics after anyway. The NY Post recently did an expose on the company too, citing issues like improper bite as major culprits. The problem is, these mail order systems are typically purely cosmetic. Sure, they can sometimes make your teeth straighter, but they don’t address your bite. Think of it this way, if you bite your teeth together now, do they all come together neatly and at roughly the same time? They should. If not, the teeth that hit first can become traumatized, resulting in the need for a root canal. Fractures, chips, and sore jaws occur too. It gets worse from there if left unchecked. That in mind, you really do need to address your bite with ortho.

Nighttime Wear ≠ Full-Day Wear Results

But, now, you’re adding another layer on top of it by only wearing them at night. Let’s go straight to the source on this one. Their own video that addresses whether teeth move more slowly with Nighttime Clear Aligners gives the answer, “It depends. Each aligner set is custom made to safely move your teeth within the prescribed time…” That’s probably the best non-answer you will hear in your life and there’s a reason for that. It’s impossible for teeth to move at the same rate. By their estimates, nighttime-only options take an extra four months. The problem is, in order for your teeth to move, they need to become mobile. That may not be earth-shattering news, but basically, what you’re doing is taking away the apparatus that keeps your mobile teeth where they need to be when you take out your aligner. If it’s out for an hour, that’s not a huge deal. You take it out for most of the day and, not surprisingly, your teeth start to move back to where they were or wherever it is they feel they need to be… and then you try to nudge them back to where you want them for a few hours at night.

Go with Invisalign

Guess how many BBB complaints Align Technology, parent of Invisalign, has accumulated within its 22 years in business. The answer: five, and only one in the past year. In all fairness, the company does not treat patients and those five complaints were from people who had issues; one whose practice closed and still wanted treatment, another who was deployed overseas and couldn’t finish. There are no dentists complaining about a faulty product either. The BBB pages are like night and day… literally.

True, you may have some trouble speaking when you first get Invisalign. You will get used to wearing the aligners and they won’t be an issue. The more you wear them and practice, the easier it will become. If, in the early days, you really can’t do phone calls with them in, talk to your dentist about popping them out them. Best of luck to you.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, an Elgin Invisalign provider.

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