Invisalign, the popular clear aligner system for straightening teeth, generally requires wearing the aligners for 20-22 hours per day for the best results. While the exact recommended wear time can vary depending on your specific treatment plan, most orthodontists advise wearing Invisalign trays for 20-22 hours daily, only removing them for eating, drinking, brushing and flossing.
Invisalign Wear Time Guidelines
Here are the typical wear time guidelines for Invisalign:
- 20-22 hours per day
- Only remove for eating, drinking, brushing and flossing
- Put aligners back in as soon as you’re done with meals
- You can remove aligners for special occasions for up to 2 hours maximum
- Track your wear time with the Invisalign app or by maintaining a log
- Your orthodontist will monitor your wear time at checkup appointments
Following the 20-22 hour per day wear time is crucial for allowing the Invisalign trays to gradually move your teeth into proper alignment. Less than 20 hours of daily wear time can significantly slow down treatment progress and delay your results.
Why 20-22 Hours is Recommended
Invisalign requires 20-22 hours of daily wear time for several important reasons:
- Allows constant gentle pressure on teeth – This pressure is what enables the incremental tooth movements.
- Avoids “rebound effect” – Teeth tend to drift slightly back towards their original position if aligners are out for too long.
- Prevents trays from fitting poorly – Aligners may not fit properly if they are not worn consistently.
- Reduces overall treatment time – Shorter wear time means treatment will take longer to complete.
While you sleep and go about your day, the specialized medical-grade plastic exerts calibrated forces against your teeth. This constant pressure is transmitted to the root level, which stimulates the bone remodeling process that gradually shifts the teeth into improved alignment.
What if You Don’t Hit 20 Hours?
What happens if you can’t get at least 20 hours of daily Invisalign tray wear time?
- Treatment progress will slow down significantly
- Your aligners are less likely to fit properly
- You may experience a temporary “rebound” effect after removing aligners
- You may develop “tracking” issues where teeth shift off plan
- Total Invisalign treatment time will increase
- You may need additional aligners or mid-course corrections
- Your final results may be compromised
For best outcomes, it’s critical to strive for 20-22 hours of wear time per day. Anything significantly less than 20 hours daily increases your risk of problems. Notify your orthodontist immediately if you are having consistent difficulties wearing aligners for enough time.
Tips for Achieving Proper Invisalign Wear Time
Here are some helpful tips for successfully hitting the recommended Invisalign wear time of 20-22 hours per day:
- Track your wear time with the Invisalign app or a manual log
- Stay diligent about putting aligners back in after eating or drinking
- Remove aligners only for the minimum time needed for meals and oral hygiene
- Set reminders on your phone to help build the habit
- Schedule aligner removal around your normal daily activities and routines
- Inform friends, family, coworkers that you are undergoing Invisalign treatment
- Keep aligners clean – brush and rinse them when you remove them
- Rinse your mouth out after meals and snacks before re-inserting aligners
- Keep multiple aligner cases on hand (home, work, car, purse, etc)
With diligence and establishing a consistent daily routine, hitting the recommended 20-22 hour Invisalign wear time is very achievable for most patients. Be sure to communicate any wear time difficulties to your orthodontist before they become bigger issues.
The First Week of Invisalign Wear
During the first week of wearing your initial set of Invisalign aligners, your orthodontist may recommend slightly reduced wear time as you adjust to having the trays in your mouth. Initial wear times can range from:
- 12 to 14 hours on the first day
- 16 to 18 hours on days 2 and 3
- 20+ hours daily by day 5 or 6
This more gradual acclimation to the aligners lessens discomfort and allows your teeth, cheeks and gums to adapt at a more comfortable pace. After the first week, aim for consistent wear of 20-22 hours moving forward.
Occasional Short Breaks Are Okay
It’s perfectly fine to briefly remove your Invisalign aligners for important social occasions or speaking engagements. The general guideline is:
- You can remove aligners for a maximum of 2 hours at a time
- No more than 2 removal periods per day
- Maintain 20-22 hours of total wear time daily
As long as you closely follow the 20-22 hour protocol the rest of the time, an occasional short aligner break is acceptable. Just be sure to track removal times and plan accordingly. Extended periods without aligners on increases the likelihood of tracking errors.
Invisalign for Teens
Adolescents undergoing Invisalign treatment also need to wear their aligners for 20-22 hours per day. In fact, teens may need to be near the higher end of the range (21-22 hours daily) due to having more active teeth repositioning. Here are some tips for teens to improve compliance:
- Explain the reasons clearly for proper wear time
- Have parents actively monitor and encourage wear
- Use the Invisalign app to monitor wear
- Offer rewards for achieving daily wear goals
- Schedule periodic encouragement calls from the orthodontist
While teens can be challenged to stick to the protocol, taking these extra steps helps promote the needed compliance. Frequent orthodontist check-ins are also recommended for teens undergoing Invisalign.
Invisalign With Attachments
Some Invisalign treatments involve using small tooth-colored “attachment” bumps to improve traction on specific teeth. The presence of these attachments does not change the required wear time. You still need to aim for 20-22 hours of daily aligner wear even if attachments are placed on your teeth.
Invisalign Express and Other Shortened Treatments
Invisalign Express and other abbreviated orthodontic treatments using Invisalign typically involve:
- Treatment lasting 9-15 months
- Aligners changed every 1-2 weeks
- Faster tooth movement
- 20-22 hours of daily wear time remains essential
Because accelerated Invisalign treatments move teeth more rapidly into corrected positions, maintaining the proper daily wear time is especially crucial. Tracking errors and lagging tooth movements are more likely if aligners are not worn for an adequate duration each day.
Invisalign With Teeth Extractions
If your Invisalign treatment plan involves extracting teeth, you will need to take a brief break from wearing aligners as the extraction sites heal. The typical aligner break after extractions is:
- 5 to 7 days off after extractions
- 10 to 14 days if multiple teeth extracted
- Then resume 20-22 hours daily wear
This recovery period allows the bone and gums to mend properly after extractions. Once healed, it’s important to resume normal Invisalign aligner wear to proceed with treatment progress. Your orthodontist will advise you on when to start wearing aligners again.
Invisalign With Missing Teeth
If you are missing teeth when starting Invisalign treatment, this does not change the 20-22 hours of daily wear time needed. The aligners may have slight indentations where teeth are missing to compensate. But you still need to aim for maximum daily Invisalign wear for optimal results.
Invisalign Retainers After Treatment
Once your prescribed Invisalign treatment is complete, you will switch to wearing clear retainer aligners. Retainer wear guidelines are slightly different:
- Full-time wear for the first 6 months
- Then just nighttime wear after the first 6 months
- Typically wear retainers at night indefinitely
This extended retainer phase helps ensure your teeth stay in their new positions permanently. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s specific retainer wear recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you wear Invisalign only at night?
No, Invisalign must be worn for around 20-22 hours per day to be effective. Nighttime-only wear is insufficient and will not produce the desired treatment results.
Can Invisalign work if you wear them less than 20 hours per day?
Invisalign can still work if worn for slightly less than the ideal 20 hours per day, but treatment progress will be much slower. Anything less than 16-18 hours daily risks compromised results.
How long can Invisalign be out during the day?
Aim to keep Invisalign out no longer than necessary for meals and dental hygiene. You can allow brief 2 hour maximum breaks on special occasions. Daily wear time should still total 20-22 hours.
Do you have to hit exactly 22 hours every day?
No. A daily wear time of 20-22 hours is ideal, understanding that some days may be a little below or above that range. Strive to average at least 20 hours as consistently as possible.
Can Invisalign work if only worn at night?
No, just nighttime wear is inadequate and will likely result in very poor and slow treatment progress. Ensure you accumulate 20-22 total hours daily for best Invisalign results.
Do you have to wear retainers 22 hours a day too?
No, retainer phase guidelines are different. You’ll wear retainers full-time for the first 6 months, then transition to nighttime only wear indefinitely.
|Recommended Daily Wear Time
|20-22 hours per day
|20-22 hours per day
|20-22 hours per day
|Retainers after treatment
|Full-time for first 6 months, then nighttime only
To keep your Invisalign treatment progressing on track and achieve your best smile results, aim to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours per day in total. This constant yet gentle pressure guides your teeth into proper alignment incrementally. Be diligent about wearing your Invisalign trays for the recommended duration each day. With some organization and establishing a daily routine, hitting an average wear time of 20-22 hours is very doable.