Post to Forum

18 Things I Wish I Knew Before Invisalign

  • 3 years ago

In our Invisalign community many people look back on their experiences and say, "I wish I had known..." some information prior to undergoing the treatment. Here are 18 tips from RealSelf community members that you may find helpful. Feel free to add your own in the comments! --Sharon

1) Choosing a Provider

I would recommend finding an ORTHODONTIST versus a DENTIST for better results... especially a Premier Provider that has lots of experience. [by polotab]

2) The Price

No matter who's the doc, you won't find anyone less than $5k for a full Invisalign treatment. Now, the Invisalign Express easily runs under $2k, but it's only applicable for cases that can be treated with 10 aligners or less. Also, see if the price will include the retainers you'll need to wear after the treatment. [by mixa]

If you have orthodontic insurance through your dental plan, it will typically cover some of this treatment. Mine paid for half and I got a discount for paying cash with my orthodontist, so the cost wasn't bad at all. [by polotab]

3) Is Invisalign Right for Me?

If you're not going to commit to wearing them for approximately 22 hours per day, don't bother having the treatment. It's similar to training for a marathon or studying all semester; if you skimp on the process, you won't get results in the end, and it'll be a waste of time and money. [by mars]

Keep in mind that Invisalign is mainly a product used for cosmetic purposes, and discuss with your orthodontist if you need also to address structural issues with your appliance. Invisalign is very good in some instances, but in cases where there are existing bite problems it should not be used. If you're getting them because you don't want the look of wire braces, consider that wire braces may do a much better job, and are much more adaptable to different mouth and bite conditions than Invisalign, and reconsider your reservations about wire. Don't get sucked in by what looks easy -- do your homework (get multiple opinions before you commit to an orthodontic course of action), and find out what will work best both for cosmetic and for structural reasons. Invisalign is definitely one answer, and not always the best one. [by Simon6]

Invisalign actually does address bites... its the orthodontist that doesn't. There are a few ways they deal with over/under bites and such. One way is they attach rubber bands to attachments, which pulls the jaw into the direction it needs to... and another way is having traditional braces stuck to the back few teeth with a spring which pulls the jaw into place. [by Rosieee]

I would ask to see the virtual picture of the final product before commiting to it. My top teeth were almost perfect and one of my bottom middle teeth was slighly rotated. I did not see what the final product would look like until last week and I was caught off guard when I saw that my top and bottom teeth would not line up perfectly. Apparently that is only something braces with elastics can do and Invisalign can't -- something my orthodontist failed to mention. So, if you are looking for perfection like I was, it is only something traditional braces can achieve, and not Invisalign. [by alicia123]

4) Going Through the Process

The current recommendation is 18 days between trays. The latter part of this time is for the teeth to "firm up" in their new positions, so you don't see any change, but it's necessary to be patient. You can cause root damage if you aren't. If you are seeing a reputable Invisalign service provider, you will not have received all of your trays at once! You should get them in sets of three or four, and have to go into the office for a checkup to get the next sets. Part of what you are paying for is monitoring by a service provider. [by California Crookedteeth]

5) What Does It Feel Like?

Everyday I eat they become less noticeable and have not irritated the inside of my mouth like the orthodontist said they may. They feel like pieces of chunky peanut butter stuck on my teeth. I feel the retainer pushing on my teeth but there has been no pain. Just slight tenderness if I push the teeth being adjusted to the side. No pain whatsoever when eating, although I do enjoy removing the retainer a few times a day to eat. That I feel is a big advantage to traditional braces. When the retainer is in I notice it less every day. The first few days I had an oral fixation on it and examined the edges of the retainer constantly with my tongue -- DO NOT DO THIS -- just leave it alone. The tip of my tongue has become very scratched and sore. [by Droo]

When I first got the trays, the first few days are the WORST and it's hard to get used to. I was regretting my decision at first. It is pretty painful because your teeth are moving and it feels like a vice grip on your jaw. But the pain subsides with a day or 2 and ibuprofen really helps. When I switch aligner trays after 2 weeks, I always do so in the evening with an ibuprofen, and I am fine. [by polotab]

6) Will People Notice Them?

The first week or so I was extremely self conscious in general, thinking that I looked like a freak with my new plastic teeth. But now I have to say that I love them, am not shy about smiling and absolutely love to tell people all about my experience thus far! [by vj2009]

I cannot overstate the aesthetic value of having "clear braces" over a year. No one, and I mean no one, could tell I had them on unless I mentioned it. It may be the right solution for you depending on your occupation or personal preference. [by KoolAidSmile]

7) Kissing with Invisalign

Kiss your social life (and romantic life) goodbye until the trays are gone. They give you bad breath, make you speak oddly, discolor your teeth, and make most people clench their mouths to hide their teeth so that they look unpleasant. [by California Crookedteeth]

As far as kissing, I do feel a little self conscious about it but that won't stop me! [by vj2009]

8) Speaking of Social Situations...

I was only affected with a lisp with my first set and only for a day or so. In my opinion, they are well worth it. [by jackster212]

My speech has not really been affected. They said I may have a lisp for a bit -- but I think I speak pressing my tongue to the back of the palate rather than the front so I think my speech is less affected. [by Droo]

My sons noticed my lisp right away. We just laughed about it. They were very happy that my teeth were getting taken care of. [by 6905anon]

Speech is slightly impaired with certain syllables -- like "F" and "V", but it's not major. I would choose Invisalign any day over traditional braces. [by polotab]

9) Invisalign Attachments

Not everyone gets the attachments put on their teeth. I have seven and my brother has none. No, they don't hurt when they are being put on but they are kind of annoying; and I think that's what makes the Invisalign noticeable. I might as well have metal in my mouth with the number of people that come up and ask me what's on my teeth. My brother's you don't notice at all, but he has no attachments. [by Juliana]

I have the buttons and they are very irritating. I began to wonder if they were put on for the sole purpose of making sure you didn't keep your trays out of your mouth too long because if you do, you can't stand the irritation on the inside of your mouth. I'm halfway through treatment and feel the worst is over. It was terrible getting used to them in the beginning. It's a lot of plastic in your mouth. [by Smiley hopeful]

I have put some orthodontist wax on the buttons when I take the trays out to ease up on the scratchiness and it has worked wonders! I have only swallowed a tiny bit of wax and am still alive! [by izzybizzy]

I suspect that most of you who describe the Invisalign buttons as "terrible" and "irritating" never had to deal with old-fashioned braces. (I'd had conventional braces as a teen, but 40 years later, my bottom teeth were terribly misaligned again.) I got headaches and mouth ulcers and less-than-charming breath under both systems, but all the pain and annoyance and embarrassment was far, far, far worse with conventional braces than with Invisalign. [by iolanthe]

10) What's It Like to Have Your Teeth Filed?

I had to have two teeth filed. It didn't hurt at all -- just more of an uncomfortable weird feeling to see them filing my teeth with something that looked like a nail file! [by vj2009]

I opted not to file my teeth -- I was not pressured to -- only told I may have a slight gap. We'll see. I don't need perfect teeth, just a nice looking smile. If there is a gap and it bothers me, I can always see what my options are then to fix it. [by Droo]

11) How to Care for Your Aligners

Soak them briefly in a solution of half Listerine and half water twice a week, and then brush them with a small amount of toothpaste to keep them clean. Besides killing germs, the Listerine will color the gunk on the trays that you can't see, and you can brush it off. If you have trouble with rough edges on the trays, use the softer side of an emory board to smooth them. [by California Crookedteeth]

I quit brushing mine and started washing them with Dial antibacterial soap and a washcloth or my hands. They seemed to get cleaner that way and didn't get scratched. [by hlatlanta]

I use a metal fingernail file to smooth rough areas. You may need to use an exacto knife to trim first, being careful not to cut into the area where the tooth sits. [by mlb]

I also found that using a nail file on the buttons to make them smoother really helps. They were so sharp initially when I took the trays out that I was getting big sores in my mouth. I smoothed them down slightly with a file and I got BIG RELIEF. It seems gross but so worth it! [by polotab]

12) Eating and Drinking

I am getting use to scheduling my meals and the only major drawback is I enjoy drinking a few beers a night -- so now instead of slowly enjoying them I drink them much more quickly so that I do not go more than a half hour without the retainer in. They said I need to average 20 hours a day with it in. The closer to 24 hours a day the better, so I try to get as close as reasonably possible to that. [by Droo]

Eating is a challenge when they have to be removed each time. But a person gets used to it and it's great hygiene to brush 5 times a day. It makes my dentist visits so easy! [by polotab]

Drink loads of water -- the trays make your mouth dry and irritated, which will encourage bacteria. [by California Crookedteeth]

I do drink tea pretty much non-stop (I work nights) and as long as you drink it through a straw, I have had no problems at all. My trays get a little discolored in the back where the tea hits them but it brushes right off. [by izzybizzy]

Don't drink anything but water with them. Anything dark will stain them and it's just gross to have liquid in between the trays and your teeth. [by hlatlanta]

13) The "Invisalign Diet"

The only adjustment to them is my eating habits. Which have been a good thing. I didn't realize how often I would eat and drink just because it was there. Now having to deal with my tray and brushing my teeth... I feel like I've been forced to do the Invisalign Diet! In only four months I've lost 8lbs! When this all over I'll have good teeth & be super skinny. [by M McEachran]

I did not realize how much I was snacking but I have lost something like 5lb in two weeks. [by sips]

14) Oral Hygiene

I have found that Listerine, brushing, and floss after each meal works well for me. My advice for anyone debating or starting -- go to Costco and pick up a ten-pack of tooth brushes, floss, and mouthwash. I even don't notice the Invisalign trays when my mind is on doing work or something else. Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash is five minutes, three times a day -- big deal... I do not want cavities or bad breath problems. The fact you can take them out to eat and clean makes the trays a 1,000 times better than traditional braces. [by Droo]

No matter how often you brush your teeth your mouth will dry out (most of the saliva collects in the trays which end up feeling slimy), and feel dirty and smell less than fresh. Constantly brushing your teeth and sipping water helps, but not always an option. Your lips also get chapped. Had I really understood the inconvenience and gross factor, I would not have done it based on that alone. [by kaths]

You have to be crazy about oral hygiene but why not start good habits now? [by vj2009]

15) Teeth Whitening

I switched to AIM toothpaste as it was rated #1 by Consumer Reports for whitening and actually had three people ask me last week if I had my teeth bleached! NO, I just brush them upmteen million times a day now! I am a snacker so I do brush a lot now! [by izzybizzy]

My teeth are whiter these days! I think it's probably because after brushing my teeth at night (with a toothpaste that says "Whitening" on it) and putting the trays back on, there's toothpaste residue either on my teeth or in the trays (I brush those as well, to keep them clean) and overnight, they act as teeth bleaching trays and voila! Whiter teeth! [by maharichie]

16) Removing the Aligners

They are near impossible to remove with attachments. To help with thism get yourself an aligner remover tool called an Outie on Amazon -- a set of three for $5. You need all three so that you can leave one in the car, one in your pocket, etc. They are a lifesaver and well worth the cash. [by addierocks]

17) Follow-up Visits

The chair time at the orthodontist is minimial. Every eight weeks makes for only a handful of visits and they are super quick. [by polotab]

18) After Invisalign

I will need permanent retainers to keep my teeth in place afterwards but should be much easier than the trays. Overall I would recommend this for adults as an alternative to wire braces! [by polotab]

Comments (456)

Sort by

When compared to traditional metal braces, Invisalign has been always a good choice for obtaining perfect straight teeth in a short time. Also, these Invisalign aligners are invisible and can be easily removed for the purpose of brushing and flossing.
  • Reply
Can anyone say if the retainer, after the aligners, are only worn at night. I hope.
  • Reply
I wore my retainer for about 6 months just like the Invisalign--although I had them out a LOT more than the aligners (about 2 hours 3-4 times a in reality, I guess I only work them about 16 hours a day). I went by "feel" -- if it felt tight when I put them back in, then I didn't leave them out as long the next time. Now, I'm only wearing them at night. Some people, after awhile, skip a night or two, but it's my "comfort" and I don't want my teeth to go crooked again. Besides, sometimes they do feel a little snug still after having them out for about 15-16 hours. Hope that helps.
  • Reply
I wear mine only at night per instructions from my orthodontist. My situation had to do with closing an open bite due to severe TMJ that left both discs being displaced, not due to crooked teeth. I had Invisalign to begin, then TADS (temporary anchoring devices) with bands, which was followed by attachments. I also had two upper wisdom teeth removed to help in this process. All total the treatment time was about 18 months. I really did my homework before doing this work and had a wonderful orthodontist. It's very important to have a good working relationship with your provider. By the way, my case is being presented by my orthodontist at a major convention this November in Las Vegas. He will be showing how closing an open bite does not necessarily require surgery. I was told repeatedly by oral surgeons that the only recourse was surgery but I persisted in looking at alternatives. It was by chance that I found my orthodontist and I can say that I'm thoroughly pleased with the results. So everyone, do your due diligence and good luck! This forum was a big support to me in the entire process as well. Thank you to everyone here!
  • Reply
I'm on my second tray. My ortho is having me wear them in for 3 weeks. Then I'll be going in for an eval. I can't tell if they are working. I had 4 extractions an wonder how they will move my teeth. My daughter has braces and we started seeing results pretty fast. I have a cross bite an an over and under bite, due to crowding, the extractions should help (I was told). Just wondering how soon folks saw results and if there was anyone with a similar situation; how did it work out for them. I make sure to wear mine 22-23 hours a day.
  • Reply
I have a mild overbite with underbite situation along with some crooked bottom teeth. I gotta say you are right, traditional braces such as my children wore do seem to work faster. Don't despair, I did not see anything, not a smidge of change, until the end of tray set four, and I was instructed to wear each set for 3 weeks. I am on tray 23 of 28, and am at last seeing the cosmetic changes I was looking for. Your changes will be very gradual but, personally, I think that is good. I think taking an "old ish" mouth and wrenching it manually is draconian. The nice thing about Invisalign is that if the set you are on is still quite snug, you can hang tight (pardon the pun) until your mouth has adjusted and is ready for another nudge. I really took a lot of encouragement from one of our members who told me to relax, that many people don't "see" the dramatic changes until they are 4-6 trays from the end of their treatment. In my case, at the one year mark, my ortho pulled out my day one pictures and had me compare them to to day 365. The change in alignment of my interior teeth was nothing short of astounding. I guess they had to move them before they can move the front. I teased my ortho that as nice as they look it is the FRONT teeth that brought me to him. He laughed and said "Soon". Finally, remember that some are lucky, they have lots of room between their teeth so they get noticeable results faster. Don't let their super fast treatments discourage you as well. Run YOUR race and you'll have a great smile at the end. Best of luck!
  • Reply
Very well said, Deidre. I also wore the first few of my retainers or 3 weeks. I had a cautious ortho, but I'm glad. At my age, I felt it was better to move slower rather than rush it. A few more months, but well worth it.
  • Reply
Thank you everyone for all the responses.. And advice
  • Reply
Hi all im on day 6 of my 1st tray of 52, long way 2 go yet. I'm actually worried bout these buttons im supposed 2 get in 2 weeks wish i had know more bout them. I was very sick with them the 1st 4 days all i wanted to do is get sick nd rip them out but im glad im sticking it out as it seems to be getting better. Does d pain ever settle
  • Reply
Nickydd you will be an old pro before you know it. Some discomfort is normal, especially as you adjust to each new set of trays, but I can't emphasize enough that you should not be in so much pain that it affects your daily activities. Make your dentist earn the big bucks by checking in often if you are experiencing significant discomfort.
  • Reply
I hope so Deidre just put in my second tray nd oh my god they are so tight, should they be this bad the 1st 1s werent
  • Reply
Nickydd, I just put in my 23rd set yesterday and I said the exact same thing "they are soooo tight!". It felt like they were trying to complete my treatment in one day! Today they feel really snug but tolerable. The first week is always the hardest. It is a good idea to put the new set in just before bed so that you are asleep while they "settle in". If, however, you find that you are more than uncomfortable, that the pain is waking you at night, then run don't walk to your dentist. He/She may have you stay in your first set longer, no big deal as this is not a race. :-)
  • Reply
Ur so right mine ar snug now 2 dat u 4get dey are der, sore taking in nd out at times but ok. Have to get my attachments sat week how did you get on with them?? How many trays do you have to go?? Thanks for chatting Deidre :)
  • Reply
Nickydd, Yes, I got seven attachments, four on the top and three on the bottom. I got lucky in that none of them are on my two front teeth as that would feel annoying and be quite noticeable. Unlike some of our comrades here, I do not particularly notice mine appearance wise, I'll have to ask family if they notice them. They do not cause me any problems hygiene wise. My only "issue" with them is I know I have to be careful when pulling my trays out. I have learned where it is safe to "tug" so I haven't needed a mirror in a long time. I am on set 23 of 28 though I have read enough comments to realize there is a possibility that my orthodontist could send for extra trays if he is not happy with the final result. The really funny thing about my journey is that all these months the improvement (movement) has been really good in my "back" teeth and I recently joked with my orthodontist "Hey, this is NOT why I came here!" The improvement of the alignment of my top and bottom front teeth seemed minimal. He said I should soon expect a more noticeable change and he was right. Just this morning (Five days into week one of tray 23) I went "Oh, wow" when I caught a glance of my bottom teeth as I was brushing. It is clear those little soldiers are starting to line up straighter. My Ortho told me Invisalign would help me but not "Do Miracles" with my 60 year old mouth, but think I will be pleased with the final result. I'll keep you posted.
  • Reply
Just started mine today. My only complaint is about the "buttons". I wish I had known about this. I have buttons on my front teeth which pretty much negate the point of INVISALIGN. We choose these so it is less noticeable. The 'buttons' make them look quite odd. I'm disappointed she didn't tell me this beforehand
  • Reply
Same here! Just got these today and was not told about the buttons glued to my front teeth. It looks like clear braces with the trays in. I burst into tears when I saw my teeth. Very insecure about this. :(
  • Reply
I'm 3 weeks into this process now. I wish I could tell you it gets easier... Like you, I am very insecure with the very visible and funny looking buttons on my teeth... I am a very confident guy, but now I struggle in social settings. I rarely smile anymore and try to talk without showing my teeth... I just tell myself, 5 months and it's all over. January can't come fast enough!!! Sorry to hear you were misled the same way I was
  • Reply
5 months??? Wow, you are super lucky. I've had mine now 14 months and, THANK GOD!!!, I will switch to my last set of aligners tonight. All 14 of my attachments (buttons) come off September 4th. I was completely unhappy and very uncomfortable when I started this process and didn't think I would settle in to wearing them but, at some point, I began to feel "naked" when I didn't have them in. You do get used to it and it becomes a part of you. Hang in there!
  • Reply
VegasChompers, are you happy with your results so far? Congrats on making it through the entire process!.. If they give me the desired results, it will all be worth it.
  • Reply
-:- Message from RealSelf staff -:-

This comment does not follow our Community Guidelines and/or Terms of Service. We reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.
  • Reply
I am only on day 4, but I have to say I already hate them! I don't know how I am going to do another week of this let alone 2 years! The first day, I had them on the tray cut up my lower lip! The worst part of the day, each time I have to take them off. They are difficult to take off, I suffer tooth pain when they initially come out and jaw pain while they are on. They've already seriously impacted my life style as I am a coffee drinker, wine drinker, and I like to snack. I don't need to lose weight, so that is not a thrill factor for me, in fact the eats and drinks are the little things that help when the days are not so good. Unfortunately because it's so much of a project to eat and drink, I've been skipping snacks and my afternoon coffee! When I do eat, I can't shovel it in fast enough. I am v. close to saying the heck with this! I'll live w/the darn crooked teeth to be able to enjoy my day to day life! I wish I had taken just a little more time to research before agreeing to invisalign.
  • Reply
It'll get better and quickly. I felt the same way and even though I only have 5 weeks left, I now feel naked without my aligners in. Trust me, it goes by much quicker than you ever thought.
  • Reply
I think everyone feels the same at first, definitely a big life changer. I remember wondering if I made the right decision. But then I remember what my kids went through with regular braces and invisalign is clearly superior. I was so grateful to be able to finally straighten my teeth I would have done just about anything! I had some cosmetic bonding done to make my teeth appear better and I was horrified when it gad to be removed for the invisalign. My two lateral incisors were pushed in and brown after being under the bonding all those years. So the attachments were the least of my problems! My treatment was about 12 months 28 trays and I opted for an additional 11 trays for refinement! I could not be happier with my results! Hang in there, it will soon be so routine you will hardly notice them!
  • Reply
The buttons started coming off while still in the chair. If the crackpot dentist had mentioned 'buttons' even existed, I probably would not have asked for Invisalign. All buttons had popped off by bedtime on that first night. Dentist said to come back in 2 weeks to see if we get good results without them. There were 6 buttons put on my lower teeth. After they came off, I was able to see and FEEL where all the filing he did to allow me to bite properly included filing my enamel!! 6 teeth are now jagged, gouged, rough, and one is poined. My husband calls it a fang! I'm devestated!! I called Invisalign the very next day. All the guy would say is to call the dentist. I understand there are alternative ways to straighten the teeth but missing enamel is forever!! Never. Again.
  • Reply
  • Reply