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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
(Updated October 15, 2014 by 

gemma123's Set 12 Aligner Progression1) 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]

A general dentist with Elite ranking clearly has a lot of Invisalign experience and may provide care comparable to that provided by an orthodontist. On the other hand an orthodontist with experience in using not only Invisalign but other treatment systems may have a broader approach that would serve you well -particularly if your treament needs are complex. I suggest arranging a consultation with both and selecting the person to do your treatment based on your comfort with not only the doctors, but also their office atmosphere and staff. The likelihood is that either practitioner can meet your expectations. Choose the one in which you feel you have the most confidence! [by R. William McNeill, DDS, MS 
Mercer Island Orthodontist]

2) The Price

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]

The cost of treatment varies based on the length of treatment, the complexity and the geographical location. My wife's friend had Invisalign done at a dentist in Manhattan overlooking central park and the cost was $9000. The average fee in the USA is $3500-$6500. Some easy cases can be less, and complex cases can be more. Payments plans are available so the cost could be $200-$400 per month on average. Some offices charge extra for the initial patient records, some offices also charge extra for retainers which should be worn after treatment is completed to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original position. [by Sylvan Fain, DDS 
Miami Cosmetic Dentist]

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 [ called a ClinCheck – Ed.] 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]

( An example of a ClinCheck, from fightingthefear24's review.)

Invisalign can definitely correct a midline. It did mine. In the right hands Invisalign can fix almost anything….There are lots of ways to fix a 3mm+ midline issues.
Interproximal reduction
etc [by Jacqueline Demko, DDS, MSD 
Chesterfield Orthodontist]

4) How Often Do I Change Aligners?

Invisalign recommends that the aligners be changed every 2 weeks with about 20hrs of wear time per day. We have found that some complex movements require the aligners to be in place 3 weeks while other movements can be done in less time, 10 days. It really depends on the plan that your doctor has formulated. I would follow his/her recommendations. Keep in mind, that even if worn perfectly there may still be a need for a refinement at the end of treatment as there may be other factors at play. [by Dan Hagi, DDS 
Toronto Cosmetic Dentist]

It is more important to move your teeth at a consistently slow and gentle pace. Your teeth are anchored into your maxilla (upper jaw bone) and your mandible (lower jaw) by your tooth roots. Moving your teeth too fast can cause tooth root resorption (or shrinkage). Over time, these shortened tooth roots make your teeth less stable. This decreased stability can make your teeth become mobile (you would be able to wiggle them with your finger or tongue). This increase tooth mobility makes them much more likely to become detached and fall out. So, it's important to not rush your Invisalign trays for this reason.
Good luck to you and I hope that this answers your questions. [by Sarah Thompson, DMD 
Saint Louis Cosmetic Dentist]

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]

Number of people that notice I'm wearing invisalign: TWO!!! I got busted this morning by a girl I'm seeing. She didn't mind, actually was really REALLY envious because her teeth are not perfect at all. And I think I convinced her to do it! [by  fightingthefear24]

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 ]

You can kiss fine with them! Just take them out if your obviously going to be getting intimate for a longer period of time. My boyfriend used to get so frustrated when I would refuse to even peck him goodbye when I was going off to work because I was convinced he could taste/feel my invisalign but he didn't even CARE. (Did I mention I had no dating woes/problems getting my boyfriend) [by  ladyofthenight]

For the intimate life, it did not change anything. My husband, of course, knows about it and said it does not bother him. I guess it is different when you are single and looking for a partner. [by  Mil ou]

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]

I ended up with an attachment on every single tooth. Some of my teeth even have two smaller attachments. I was so upset... Now it has been around four months and I am on tray number 8. Things have looked up quite a lot….Stick with it and the pain will mostly go away and you will find new ways to get around the obstacles that invasalign makes. [by  28attachments]

I'm now two weeks into the dreaded 27 attachments and despite not liking the feeling and texture of them at first. I have to say I am totally used to them now. [by  Kazzalou]

10) Tooth Filing (AKA IPR, or Interproximal Reduction)

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]

Interproximal reduction (IPR), stripping, slenderization, or enamelplasty is always one of the biggest concerns of Invisalign patients. This procedure is not limited to Invisalign but also used with patients in fixed braces.

Recently, in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Zachrisson, one of the most famous orthodontists of our time, published a paper showing the stability and safety of this procedure after 10 years of study. The key is the proper technique of reduction. Sheridan has described the proper protocol for high speed reduction (HSR).

In some cases, IPR may actually produce a more aesthetic result since it may improve the contact between teeth and eliminate "black triangles" caused by some recession of the interdental papillae (the v-shaped gum between teeth). It may be required to relieve crowding, when expansion and proclination of teeth is not desired.
Proper radiographs may be required to determine the amount of enamel possible.

*From a personal standpoint, I have undergone this procedure myself and had no adverse problems. [by Jason K. Tam, DDS Toronto Orthodontist]

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 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]

I brush my aligners with water and liquid soap. Sometimes I soak them in denture cleaner. I know the Invisalign company says not to do that (the denture cleaner) but I feel that they are just trying to cover their own butts and sell their own cleaning product. [by  MoldedClay]

( An example of staining, from mlb502's review.)

In my practice we instruct our invisalign patients to soak their aligners in a solution of 50% water and 50% hydrogen peroxide (3% H202) for 5-7 minutes and then brush them with a soft toothbrush. We have found that this is very effective and inexpensive. It is very important to keep your aligners free of plaque that will cause cavities and bad breath. [by James D. Salazar, DDS 
San Diego Cosmetic Dentist]

12) Eating and Drinking, and the "Invisalign Diet"

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]

I only drink water with my trays in and nothing else.... occasional vodka and tonic if I'm going out. [by  ace11]

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]

13) 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]

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda: Used to make my homemade mouth rinse. After eating most foods, the pH of your mouth is lowered; it becomes acidic. Enamel is softened in an acidic environment so if you brush your teeth right after eating, you can wear away enamel, making you more susceptible to cavities. After all, it is the acids produced by bacteria which cause cavities, not so much the bacteria themselves. 30 minutes after eating saliva brings up the pH naturally, but 30 minutes is a long time when you have to wear aligners 20-22+ hours a day, so you can bring up the pH with baking soda, which has a basic pH. I add 1.5 tablespoons to a 16 oz water bottle, which lasts for several days. [by PreOrtho]

( From PreOrtho's review, her oral hygiene kit.)

Ideally, you want to brush and floss each time after you eat before you insert your aligners. Realistically, that can't always happen. Either rinsing your mouth with warm water or chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal will help remove food particles and move them and the bacteria off your teeth. If you need to reinsert your aligners after that, just brush and floss as soon as you can and make sure to clean your aligners as they probably picked up some of the particles from your last meal. [ by Gerilyn Alfe, DMD Chicago Cosmetic Dentist]

Ideally, one would brush after every meal, but not all people can. The invisalign aligners can act as reservoirs and trap food and acids that would normally be washed away from saliva. If one brushes and flosses well, morning and night, then things are likely going to be fine. It takes roughly 8 hours to demineralize, so it should work out ok.  [ by Lance Timmerman, DMD 
Seattle Cosmetic Dentist]

14) 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]

15) 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]

I use my thumb nail from the back molars. It took a bit but I am now on tray 12 and it is easy after a couple of days after tray change. On the day of tray change, I have a good breakfast, clean teeth, make change and do not touch them for 12 hours. I drink vanilla protein shakes during the day and rinse with water. [by  mic123]

16) 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]

17) But Can I Speed This Up?

( An AcceleDent device, from Robyn74's Review.)

Acceledent is great. I bought t from the dentist directly (he sells it for at least $1,300 ). Invisalign requires you to change trays every 2 weeks, since I got Acceledent, I now change every 1 week (every Wednesday night), with the exception of Tray 11 because my dentist just wanted it to sit a little longer. In any case, I have gone through 10 trays in 13 weeks and that is amazing to me. My last check up was just 2 days ago from the time of this writing, and everything is tracking as it should. 13 weeks vs what would have been 20 weeks... yup, good enough for me (I also started Acceledent after Tray 2, so its actually 8 trays in 8 weeks). It's been a blessing... worth the investment if you want this stuff off faster. [by fightingthefear24]

Soooo the Propel was not too bad I was numb so I didn't feel it but I'm a bit sore today, nothing unbearable. I can change my trays after 12 days for tray 5 and after 10 for tray 6. Then once a week from there on out! Last night was a little uncomfortable my mouth was swollen and numb so def don't wanna get propel a few hours b4 you have somewhere to go. Also I only got it on my top row to cut costs (my bottom teeth are already pretty straight) so we shall see! Pics attached! [by  Maiganb09]

18) After Invisalign

If you want your teeth to stay put you need to marry your retainer. No divorce unless you want your teeth to start to drift. Wear around the clock for the first 6 months or so then night time forever. Naturally one retainer won't last forever so get used to the idea of investing in the future. This should be part of the discussion before you decide to proceed with Invisalign. [by Ted Murray, DDS 
Dubuque Cosmetic Dentist]

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]