What Is Invisalign Express and How Does It Differ from Invisalign and SPARK Aligners?

by | Nov 22, 2022 | General Orthodontics, Invisalign, Orthodontic Treatments | 0 comments

7 min reading time

You just came from an appointment with an orthodontist after experiencing a slight rotation in a couple of teeth and a little crowding. 

It’s not an extensive situation, but braces are the best way to fix it. 

You’re 35 years old, and your first thought is, Am I really going to have to run around with a mouth full of metal braces for a couple of years?

Fortunately, there is a much more aesthetically appealing alternative to metal braces. 

Furthermore, because your condition is relatively mild, there is a ‘lite’ version of that alternative—we’re talking about the Invisalign® system and its Invisalign® Express option! 

Let’s see what Invisalign Express can do and when it can be more fruitful for a patient’s orthodontic needs than the complete Invisalign system.

Invisalign retainers

What Is Invisalign?

Instead of visible metal wires and brackets, the Invisalign system uses hard plastic, transparent trays to gradually push your teeth into healthier, more aesthetically pleasing positions. 

The trays are almost invisible, so someone would have to look really closely to see that you’re wearing them at all—certainly better than wire braces when you have to make an important presentation at work!

You will receive a set of trays with your Invisalign system, each custom molded to your upper and lower teeth. 

In some cases, various attachments are added to give the aligner trays a little extra power to coax teeth into the correct positions. 

Generally, patients wear them for 22 hours per day. 

Unlike braces, the aligners are removable, so you can remove the trays for the remaining two hours for eating and cleaning purposes.

Every week or two, depending on your orthodontist’s instructions, you will switch to the next set of aligners, which are adjusted for the progress made in moving your teeth up to that point. 

It’s like a relay race—the first set is designed to move your teeth from A to B, the second set from B to C, and so on until you reach the finish line of having your teeth in their ideal places!

Depending on the severity of your teeth’s original condition, you’ll wear the aligners for 12 to 18 months. 

Once you’ve worn the last set, your teeth will be where they need to be, and you’ll be able to smile with greater confidence! 

What Is the Invisalign Express Treatment?

Invisalign is designed to correct complicated dental problems. But what if your teeth’s condition is pretty mild? In this case, your orthodontist may recommend Invisalign Express. 

Invisalign Express involves the same process and appliances as the complete Invisalign treatment but with fewer aligners to move your teeth. 

Here, the runners in the relay race are short-distance sprinters instead of the complete system’s middle- or long-distance runners.  

What Is Invisalign Express Used For? 

Invisalign Express aligners are not for heavy-duty teeth correction. 

Instead, it’s used only when a few teeth need to be moved, they don’t need to move too far, or a tooth needs to be rotated just by a few degrees. 

Sometimes, Invisalign Express is used when a patient doesn’t use their post-braces retainer consistently, and the teeth have tried to sneak back to their original spots (orthodontic relapse). 

There are three options available for Invisalign Express. 

You can get 5, 7, or 10 sets of aligners depending on the condition of your teeth. 

And because movement with Invisalign Express is so small, it is imperative to follow treatment with a retainer to keep your teeth in their new positions.

What Are the Advantages of Invisalign Express?

Invisalign Express shares many of the advantages of using Invisalign’s complete treatment. 

Compared to traditional braces, they are aesthetically pleasing (almost unnoticeable), custom-designed for each patient, and removable for cleaning and eating (which makes brushing and flossing easier). 

There are no sharp metal pieces to irritate the inside of your mouth’s soft tissues, and they are overall more comfortable. 

When you only need minor corrections, Invisalign Express works in less time and with fewer aligner sets! 

Invisalign retainers

How Long Does Invisalign Express Take?

You can expect Invisalign Express to take a few months to complete your treatment. 

The exact amount of time depends on the original condition of your teeth. 

Your orthodontist can give you a more precise estimate of the time needed, but it’s typically between 10 and 20 weeks.

Am I the Right Candidate for Invisalign Express?

How much correction do you need? 

Invisalign Express works best to correct mild crowding, spacing, or other issues that you can completely treat with no more than 10 aligners, including: 

  • Slight rotation 
  • Less than 2 millimeters of spacing
  • Crowding 
  • Midline correction 
  • Less than 1.5 millimeters of expansion 

In some cases, you may need a tooth extraction or other additional treatment before using the aligners.

Invisalign Express might not be the best option for children. 

It requires dealing with removable aligners that can be damaged, accidentally lost or thrown out, or not worn long enough each day. 

In addition, a treatment that lasts just a few months may not work well on a child’s still-developing teeth. 

How Does Invisalign Express Differ from a Full Invisalign Treatment?

There are two primary differences between Invisalign Express and the full version of Invisalign: the number of aligners and the time it takes to complete treatment.

A typical Invisalign treatment requires between 20 and 30 aligners to produce the corrections your teeth need, with more aligners required in more severe cases. 

The treatment often lasts 12 to 18 months, though some can last as long as three years. 

If the necessary orthodontic work is more complicated, your orthodontist may use a variety of Invisalign attachments to provide the aligners with additional pressure to get your teeth moving. 

Throughout the treatment, you will have periodic office visits to ensure everything is working as planned. 

The cost of treatment, discussed in the next section, reflects the extent of the work needed to get your smile in place.

With Invisalign Express, you can expect to use between 5 and 10 aligner sets, depending on what corrections are needed. 

The average treatment lasts about six months, and your orthodontist will use few or no attachments, as extra pressure is not likely to be needed. 

And because the treatment is shorter, you will need fewer office visits. 

As a result, Invisalign Express is a much less expensive treatment.

Differences between Invisalign Express and Full Invisalign

How Much Does Invisalign Express Cost?

Like most dental treatments, the cost of Invisalign depends on several variables. 

In general, Invisalign Express costs significantly less than the traditional Invisalign treatment because there is less work to be done. 

As shown in the chart above, you can expect to invest between $1,800 and $3,500 in your Invisalign Express system.

Costs usually include: 

Several variables influence the cost of Invisalign Express treatment, such as: 

  • Geographic location: Getting your treatment in New York City, for example, will probably cost more than service in a small Midwestern town.
  • The orthodontist: Costs can vary based on the doctor’s reputation and expertise.
  • Your condition: The more complex and extensive the corrections needed, the more the treatment will cost.
  • Adjustments: Adjustments may be needed if your treatment is not progressing as planned. 
  • Retainer: After the treatment is done, you will need a retainer to keep everything in place. There are several types of retainers to choose from—here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we often use the Vivera retainer after Invisalign treatments.
  • The treatment time: A longer treatment means more aligners and office visits. 

Can I Cover the Costs with Dental Insurance?

Check your policy, or ask your provider. 

If your insurance covers orthodontics, at least part of your Invisalign treatment may be covered as well. 

In some policies, however, clear aligners may be considered cosmetic if the treatment is not extensive. 

They may describe Invisalign as an alternative or specialty and, therefore, not medically necessary, which is why they will probably not cover the entire cost. 

Other financing options may be available through your orthodontist’s office. 

You can ask the office staff if they have any payment plans to offer or recommend.

Invisalign retainers

Ready to Start Your Orthodontic Treatment? Try Loudoun Orthodontics!

Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if Invisalign retainers are the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic care or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary orthodontic consultation! 

Our office—located at 19465 Deerfield Ave. Suite 304 Lansdowne, VA 20176—proudly serves the Lansdowne, VA area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Sterling, or Leesburg and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! 

We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining your perfect smile, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!