More than 3 million dental patients have been helped by Invisalign since its introduction in 1999. As more people have heard from their friends and family how easy it is to straighten teeth without metal wires, more people have been wondering if Invisalign could benefit them, too.

Invisalign is a widely applicable treatment, but it’s more suitable for some patients than others.

Only a consultation with a dental professional can tell you for sure if it’s right for you.

But read on to get an idea of what criteria make for the best Invisalign candidates in Houston and around the world.


Invisalign Candidacy Summary

Candidacy Issue Ideal Invisalign Candidate
Motivation and Discipline Motivated and willing to wear aligners for 22 hours per day and retainers thereafter
Discreet Treatment Prefers near-invisible aligners
Adult Teeth Permanent incisors and first molars have erupted
Misalignment Complexity Mild to moderate cases of:

  • crooked teeth
  • gap teeth
  • crowded teeth
  • protruding teeth
  • overlapping teeth
  • open bite
  • some instances of crossbite, underbite, and overbite
Oral Health Good oral health with no urgent treatment needed
Previous Dental Work No extensive previous work (fillings, crowns, and veneers are usually fine)
Lifestyle Active lifestyle (i.e. sports) or in the public eye
Personality Prefers a regimented and structured treatment plan


#1: You’re Motivated and Disciplined

Determination is the most crucial quality for a candidate because inconsistent wear is the most common reason Invisalign treatments fail.

As we will explain below, adults and older teenagers are better candidates for Invisalign than children, and part of the reason for that is the willpower required to carry out the treatment, primarily self-directed, correctly. Most children don’t have the capacity for delayed gratification to see the process through to the end.

Aligners must be worn 22 hours every day, with the two hours of rest allotted for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. Moreover, once the aligners are finished, you’ll have to wear a retainer…for 22 hours per day, at least at first. After about six months, this requirement will go down until you’ll eventually only need to wear the retainer while sleeping, every other night.

There’s also the discipline needed to care for, maintain, and not lose (!) either your aligners or retainer throughout the treatment.


#2: You’re Interested in Being Discreet

In certain (youthful) circles, traditional metal braces are a fashion statement, even a status symbol. But for most people with teeth in need of straightening, they are perfectly happy for their fix to be invisible.

Typically only someone with a trained eye can spot when someone is wearing Invisalign aligners, so anyone who feels self-conscious about this aspect of straightening their teeth can put their mind at ease.


#3: You (and Your Teeth) Are Old Enough

We’ve mentioned how adults and mature teenagers are better equipped to handle the responsibilities of undergoing Invisalign treatment. But there’s another, more biological reason younger patients need to wait: as baby teeth are lost, the mouth’s shape changes and teeth change position.

So trying to adjust them before at least the permanent incisors and first molars have erupted would be a futile undertaking. Since children lose teeth at different ages, there is no set age when Invisalign becomes an option.


However, there’s no upper age limit on getting Invisalign. In fact, getting teeth straightened can help reduce the amount of restorative work needed in older adults.


#4: You Need Mild to Moderate Correction

Invisalign is not designed to treat complex alignment issues such as severe under- or overbites. The treatment corrects primarily your teeth’s position and placement, while major orthodontic problems typically require work on the jaw itself.

For patients who need correction on their back teeth to improve their bite, who need their teeth moved up or down, or who have had bridgework done in the past, traditional braces may be a more appropriate solution.

But for cases of misalignment such as:

  • crooked teeth
  • gap teeth
  • crowded teeth
  • protruding teeth
  • overlapping teeth
  • open bite
  • some instances of crossbite, underbite, and overbite


…Invisalign can work wonders.


#5: You’re in Good Oral Health

If you’re experiencing certain dental problems currently, or you’ve needed major dental interventions in the past, Invisalign may not be a good fit for you, at least right now.

For example, if you have unfilled cavities, it would be far too risky to let them progress until after your Invisalign treatment is over, so you’ll need to have them treated first. This would just mean a short delay in starting Invisalign.

On the other hand, dental bridges or dental implants could prevent your aligners from fitting securely, and could be a disqualifier for the treatment (more on this below).

Still, we can work around many prior teeth corrections in many cases, and in some cases–such as a missing tooth–it’s actually beneficial to undergo Invisalign before attempting to resolve them.


#6: You Haven’t Had Extensive Previous Dental Work

Americans have three dental fillings on average, so Invisalign wouldn’t be nearly as popular if fillings were a deal-breaker! Previous dental work such as crowns and veneers are usually not a problem either.

However, dental implants can’t be moved; they’re embedded in the jawbone. It may be possible, depending on the implant’s location in the mouth, to move the adjacent teeth to achieve the desired result. But someone with more than one implant may not be a good candidate for Invisalign.

The same goes for bridged teeth; neither Invisalign nor traditional braces can move bridges. At your consultation, we may be able to develop a strategy for working around bridgework, but it may be necessary to lower your Invisalign expectations.


#7: You Have an Active Lifestyle

If you have a busy day-to-day schedule or demanding job, Invisalign is not going to stand in your way.

They require fewer trips to the dentist than traditional braces. You can leave them in for any sport that doesn’t require a mouthguard, such as soccer, basketball, tennis, and volleyball.

Even public speakers overwhelmingly find that after they’ve quickly gotten used to the first tray, they can speak perfectly naturally without needing to remove the aligners.

One habit that doesn’t mix well with Invisalign (or a healthy lifestyle, for that matter), is smoking: tobacco can stain the aligners, rendering your previously invisible trays not just visible, but unsightly.


#8: You’re Type A

If you’re a born planner who loves when things are regimented, you’re going to love Invisalign.

Before you start treatment, you’ll have a good idea of how many aligners you’ll be wearing, when you’ll be changing trays, and when treatment will be done.

This can help you chart out big events such as weddings or graduation photos, when you’ll be enjoying your brand new smile and showing it off to the world.


What If You’re Not a Good Candidate for Invisalign?

Every patient is different, and even if it sounds like you might not be a good candidate for Invisalign, it ultimately depends on your unique circumstances.

It may just be a situation where we need to resolve another dental issue first before we can get you started on Invisalign. For some issues, braces or surgery may be your only options.

It’s even possible to combine the approaches, such as starting with traditional braces then transitioning to Invisalign as your teeth’s alignment improves.

In short, as we’ve said, don’t despair of being a candidate for this amazing treatment method until the dentist has had a chance to evaluate you himself.