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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

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 (477)

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I do not recommend Invisalign. I was told it would take 13 to 15 months. I am now on month 27 and still there are a couple that are not straight. Invisalign don't have the control of metal braces and cost more. If your teeth are too high or low or twisted they do a poor job. Dentist like them because they make a lot of money off them and take a minimal amount of effort on their part. Two of the clips that were ground off for the next set took tooth enamel with them because the tech supporting the ortho. didn't know what he was doing. High cost, poor control, greater risk of cavities and take longer than metal. I would not use them if I knew now what no one talked about three years ago.
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Have you had both types of braces? I had traditional metal ones for a year and a half in high school, didn't wear my retainers, and then had almost two years of Invisalign 40 years later. I think that most people who have had both would tell you that the metal ones are way more painful, obviously a lot more visible, and and much harder to keep clean . There is no way I would have done the metal braces again, although I do agree that Invisalign is much more annoying than I expected.
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I did not have braces before so the necessary correction was more than those that are correcting changes from original braces. Invisalign's hurt some also but I have no way to compare them to metal braces. Those that are getting braces for the first time should not use invisalign because of the limited control, assuming the end result is to have straight and even teeth.
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I started my teeth straightening with invisalign with my dentist, but when it went off track I switched to an orthodontist with metal braces. For me there was no difference in pain (both were only painful when putting in a new aligner or having the wire changed). I honestly felt more self conscious with invisalign than with braces, because invisalign is still visible if you have attachments on the front teeth and people are confused by why you have plastic on your teeth, whereas with braces everyone knows what they are. I would agree cleaning is much easier with invisalign, but it's also more inconvenient that you have to take it out every time you want to eat.
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I started treatment with invisalign and then switched to braces when my treatment went off track. For me there was no difference in pain (i only had pain when putting in a new aligner or when they changed the wire on the braces, otherwise I didn't feel pain). I was honestly more self-conscious with invisalign than with braces, because invisalign is still visible if you have attachments on the front teeth and people are confused by why you have plastic in your mouth, whereas with braces everyone knows right away what they are. I would agree that cleaning is easier with invisalign than braces.
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My treatment has been good so far. They get less noticeable each day and bother my mouth less and less. I had a small lisp for the first few days but no longer do. The only down fall I have is having 11 attachments right in the front which makes them noticeable. I also feel weird smiling both with and without teeth. Still think this is way better than braces.
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I also wish I knew about the buttons on my front teeth. Very self- conscious about them. I call it 'not-so-invisalign'. Was anyone else given 'chewies' to use? I have not seen any posts that mention them.
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What are chewies. First I've heard of them.
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I didn't end up getting them on my front teeth thank goodness. You can't really see the ones I have. And I used my chewies the first night. My tech said that it was just to get them to set at first. She said lots of people don't use them. But other then that the worst part is them digging into the top of my mouth. I have to put braces wax on it!!
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They look like little erasers. You chew them to set your trays in.
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Thanks for the info. I was never offered them. I don't have any problems getting my trays in.
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Imagine tiny pool 'noodles'. I was told to use chew on them for 1/2 hour each day.
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You don't need them to get the trays in...I was told they make things move along faster.
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Chewies-are cotton balls your orthodontist gives you to buy on in order for the aligners to set properly.
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Bite* not buy
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I had my invisalign treatment completed over 3 years ago. Post treatment i wore the aligners are prescribed form my densist. However now i am trying to put them back in to help get them back to completely straight, but i seemed to have moved a tooth and created a gap which was fixed by the intial treatments. Should i keep wearing the aligners to rectify the problem?
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I am only 14 and can I say my Invisalign experience hasn't been good. My teeth were very crooked, my canine teeth were high up and were to be included in my 8th aligner (out of 36, they initially said it would take 9 months but once I got them that changed to 16 months), well to make them come down quicker because they weren't in the right spot I had to have bands and they hurt really bad. Then my teeth still weren't in the right space so I had to get all of my 23 attachments taken off yes 23 and there was even more than one attachment on some of my teeth. Have more scanned and then the scans weren't right so I had to get them done again. For the mean time I had to get a normal retainer like what people get after braces so my teeth don't move. I had the scans done early June and I am still waiting for them when the first time they took around 3-4 weeks. I was getting really fed up and my mum called 3 times over that period. She called today and said would they like me to come in and double check the scans and they haven't even sent them off to get made and they said it would take a further 2 weeks from today. I had them for 6 months when I had to get more scanned plus the 3 months I have been waiting and they said I need 30 aligners thankfully no attachments on my front 4 teeth. So it from 9 months to 16 months to now 14 months extra. So all together it has and will have taken 23 months instead of the initial 9. From that 3 month wait they didn't offer any extra or discounts nothing it may not be their fault that I needed new ones made but the fact that it took them 2 and a half months to send off the scans.
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My goodness I am so sorry you are having such a terrible experience! Are you seeing an orthodontist or a regular dentist for your Invisalign treatment? I have to say 9 months seems like a wildly over optimistic estimate of treatment time. Yes, some people are done that quickly, but a case such as yours "very crooked" should take much longer as the movement (improvement) is supposed to be a very gradual process. My treatment plan was estimated to take 19 months and I have nothing like the challenges you face. The snafu with the 23 attachments and the poorly done scans cause me to question the experience level of the dentist and his staff. Was this dentist recommended to your family? The long delay in submitting your scans is another cause for concern. It sounds as if the practice could be experiencing some staffing or organizational problems as well. I suggest that you and mom request a sit down face to face meeting with your dentist to discuss your many concerns. Your family, no doubt, is paying a lot of money for your treatment and you have every right to expect accurate and timely service. If your dentist makes light of your concerns or becomes defensive, I can only suggest you find another Invisalign experienced dentist. If that is not possible, at the very least you will want to regularly get second opinions, from an Invisalign experienced dentist, concerning the course of your treatment. Don't worry about hurting your dentist's feelings by getting second opinions, you and mom have every reason and right to be concerned about your care. This will be a lesson in self advocating that you can use for the rest of your life. Please be sure to update us on your situation. Best of luck!
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I get my Invisalign on Monday and I have a large over bite with a large gap in my front teeth. I'm really nervous! My main concerns are that I'm going to end up with attachments on my front teeth. Which would really upset me because they get enough attention on their own. They don't need any help! My other concern is going to be social situations. Like ladies nights and business functions. How do you guys deal with it? Just not be social? Or what! I'm going camping the weekend after and I'm nervous! Help!
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Just be confident. If you don't act like it bothers you then no one else will say anything.
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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.
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Can anyone say if the retainer, after the aligners, are only worn at night. I hope.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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