If you’re an older adult who gaps, crooked teeth, or other misalignments, you may be wondering what your options are. Orthodontia has made strides in the past decade, with Invisalign taking center stage.

According to the Invisalign website, over 17 million people have used Invisalign to achieve better alignment. The vast majority of these patients have been adults, although the company doesn’t provide a more thorough breakdown of patients’ ages. 

Is Invisalign a good choice for you? Read on as we discuss the Invisalign pros and cons for older adults. 

What Does Invisalign Do?

Invisalign is an increasingly popular orthodontic treatment option involving a series of clear aligner trays. Patients wear their clear aligners for at least 20 hours per day, removing them to eat, drink, and practice dental hygiene. Each aligner tray is custom-made to shift the teeth over time, and most patients will go through a minimum of 14 trays before the treatment is complete.

Invisalign can address a variety of orthodontic concerns, including:

  • Crowding
  • Gaps
  • Mild over or underbites
  • Mild crossbites

If you find yourself hiding your smile or struggling with your oral hygiene because of tooth alignment issues, Invisalign may help. 

What Can Invisalign Not Fix?

Some orthodontic patients aren’t good candidates for Invisalign because they have misalignment issues that aligner trays can’t address. For example, Invisalign can’t fix:

  • Teeth rotated more than 20 degrees out of alignment
  • Gaps wider than six millimeters 
  • Large midline discrepancies (front teeth that don’t align with the middle of the face)
  • Intrusions or extrusions (improper positioning of teeth in the jawbone)
  • Major issues with molars

Traditional braces are stronger and better suited to target serious orthodontic problems than aligner trays. 

What Happens After Invisalign?

Invisalign aftercare is fairly similar to braces aftercare. Most patients can expect to wear a retainer, which may look a lot like Invisalign trays. Unlike Invisalign, retainers keep newly aligned teeth in place, rather than shifting them, so they shouldn’t cause any soreness or discomfort.

Retainer wear may decrease with time. For example, you may need to wear your retainer as often as possible for three to six months, followed by overnight wear only. 

Invisalign Pros and Cons for Older Adults

The best way to find out if Invisalign is a viable option for you is to talk to an Invisalign-certified orthodontist. In the meantime, here are the general pros and cons of Invisalign for older adults.

Pro: Discretion and Comfort

When you think of orthodontia, you may imagine a mouth full of metal. Braces are a medical marvel, but a lot of adult patients don’t want to spend a year or more with an altered profile or a drastically different smile.

Invisalign is a near-invisible alternative that won’t change the shape of your face. When you keep your aligners clean, most people won’t notice you’re wearing them. Plus, they’re smooth and contour to your teeth, so they won’t cause any rubbing or scratching. 

Pro: Fewer Trips to the Orthodontist’s Office

With traditional braces, you may need to visit your orthodontist as often as once a month for adjustments. Whether you have a busy schedule or limited transportation options, you’re looking for a solution that doesn’t require micromanaging. 

Unlike braces, Invisalign doesn’t require manual adjustments. Instead, you’ll receive a series of trays to wear in a specific order. Many patients only need to visit their orthodontist every six to eight weeks to make sure the realignment is going well.

Pro: Improved Alignment and Appearance

Dental health doesn’t become less important with age. In fact, research shows that your oral health can have an impact on both your physical health and your psychological state. To that end, Invisalign may be a great option for you as an older adult. 

Straight teeth can increase your confidence and encourage you to smile openly and often. Straight teeth are also easier to care for. Without crowding and other issues, it’s easier to remove plaque with daily methods like brushing and flossing.

Con: Long Wear-Time

One thing every patient needs to know before they sign on for Invisalign is that you get out what you put in. To complete your treatment, you need to follow every Invisalign guideline. This includes wearing your clear aligners 20 to 22 hours every single day.

If you feel that you may forget to wear your aligners or neglect to put them back in after a meal, braces may be the better choice. (Note that Invisalign care also includes rinsing and cleaning your trays and staying diligent about your dental hygiene routine.)

Con: Limited Insurance Coverage

The cost of Invisalign may be a deterrent for some patients. Exact treatment costs vary, but the low end is around $3,000.

Health insurance doesn’t often cover orthodontic care for patients over 18, so most older adults will need to pay for Invisalign out of pocket. However, many orthodontists will work with patients to establish a payment plan that makes orthodontia affordable. 

Con: Not Suitable Treatment for Everyone

As we mentioned earlier, Invisalign can’t address all alignment concerns. In addition, Invisalign isn’t suitable for all patients based on the state of their overall dental health. Things like tooth decay or gum disease, which impacts 70% of adults 65 and older, can impede Invisalign treatment.

If you do have oral health concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your orthodontist. It’s possible that after getting restorative dental work done, you’ll make a great candidate for Invisalign. 

Call Zirbel Orthodontics to Discuss Invisalign 

Today, adult patients looking for orthodontic treatment tend to gravitate toward discrete options like Invisalign. As you can see, there are Invisalign pros and cons for older adults to take into account. The best way to find out if you’re a good candidate is to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist.

Whether you want to learn more about Invisalign or alternatives to Invisalign, Zirbel Orthodontics is here to help. Dr. Cassandra Zirbel and our team take a patient-first approach to orthodontia, striving to give every patient a comfortable experience. Take a look at our new patient information to learn more.