Invisalign is the most discreet and unintrusive form of orthodontics available to patients today. Since they are removable and invisible, it wouldn't be overly optimistic to say you could straighten your teeth without anyone even realizing. However, just because Invisalign aligners can be removed, that doesn't mean you can pick and choose the times that you wear them.
If you wish to achieve desirable results within the planned treatment timeline, you should wear your Invisalign aligners for at least 20 hours a day. Restricting your aligners to nights only will leave you disappointed.
Progress by Night Will Be Reversed by Day
Whatever form of orthodontics you opt for, it pays to do exactly what your dentist tells you to do. For example, patients undergoing treatment with traditional braces need to ensure they keep their braces and teeth as clean as possible. For patients of Invisalign, the most important responsibility, aside from hygiene, is to ensure they wear their aligners 20-22 hours per day.
Although the odd hour lost here and there won't be too detrimental, choosing to wear your aligners at night only will greatly reduce Invisalign's effectiveness. Invisalign moves teeth slowly and in small increments. Therefore, the progress made during the night will be lost throughout the day. Teeth remember where they were and so will gradually return to their former position.
As a result, night-wear alone will have little to no effect. It is, however, possible to make minor adjustments to wear time—with the supervision of your orthodontist.
Lost Time Results in Added Days
Nighttime wear alone is inadvisable. However, orthodontists are aware that patients might not always be able to stick to the 22-hour recommendation. When this happens, they advise their patients to add an extra day or two to the duration of their current aligner.
For instance, if a patient wears their aligner for 15 hours rather than the recommended 22 hours for a day or two, they should wear that aligner for an extra 1-2 days. The usual duration of wear for each aligner is two weeks. Thus, 15 or 16 days instead of the usual 14, will help that particular aligner to achieve the results it was designed for.
Communication Is Important
Obviously, this is only feasible if you are completely honest with your dentist. Remember, each aligner is programmed to move teeth by approximately 0.5mm per fortnight. That isn't very much for one aligner, but if one aligner doesn't do its job, the rest won't either. Always inform your orthodontist if you are unable to wear an aligner for the recommended amount of time.
The success of Invisalign relies on the full cooperation of the patient. If you don't think you can commit to 22 hours of wear per day, you may be better suited to another form of treatment.