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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 (500)

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I tried to wear trays for a week when I first got them and it was so painful I gave up but I am trying a second time around and put them back in today as I already paid the initial $2k fee. Anyone who has really severe tooth and jaw pain for almost a week when they first got it in?
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I had horrible headaches the first week that I got my aligners. After that though, I guess your teeth become accustomed to moving around so it doesn't hurt as bad as the first week. They are always sensitive the first 2-3 days when you put a new set in though, and some trays hurt more than others (at least from my experience). Honestly, I would recommend just leaving them in and taking Advil because the sooner they move the sooner your discomfort can be eased. I'm 3 trays from finishing a set of 30 trays, so trust me it gets better!
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Thanks Ellie - I am going to try for another week and see if it passes . It also seems that my teeth are becoming more crooked as they rotate anyone else experienced this ?
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We've had a few members who had severe pain that took longer than usual.  One that I recall it resolved after about two weeks.  One had fibromyalgia and had to quit.  Another started getting terrible pain after her third aligner that was so severe she's had to take a break before possibly continuing.  You can take a look at claireanne19's review and see if her experience strikes a chord.
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Thanks Twoplusone for your reassurance - much appreciated. I am giving it to next week to decide whether to continue and still on Tray 1 until October 8th.
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Jadevee I have to say it is good to know that I am not alone in experiencing the "Gets worse before it gets better" adventure. I had about two worrisome months of my teeth looking a little more crooked before settling down to a gradual, very gradual, move towards straightening. I liken it to shimming a piece of furniture into or out of a tight spot in that there are moments when one corner or another is sharply jutting out as it is eased into place. Of course you can't go wrong by checking, frequently, with your provider. That's why they are paid the big bucks. Best of luck!
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Thanks Deidre, right now I am still on day 11 of my treatment. So far it's made me pretty cranky !
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My trays are in!! I had my photos done on Sept 10,2014 and my Ortho called this morning to tell me my trays are in and to come in for a fitting tomorrow morning. I'm well prepared thanks to all of your comments. I have my Tylenol ready, my bag of dental picks, my travel toothbrush and paste. I'm so excited, I hope i'll be able to sleep tonight!
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Congratulations!!!!  I saw that you started a review so we can follow you!  I'll say hi over there as soon as it's published. Good luck!
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How are you doing ?
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I'm doing really well Jadevee. I'll post a full review a little later today.
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Thank you so much. I wish I knew how to get back to my review so I could update. Hahaha
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It's up now, MsMary65 :).  It just takes some hours for them to post it :).  I saw you left an update so I hope that means you found it!
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Did anyone that was supposed to get attachments opt out of getting them for personal reasons ie: in my case vanity :)?
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There are definitely some people.  I'm not one of them, but I didn't have them on my front teeth.  Here's a Q&A where one of our members asked if removing them was possible because they didn't look good.  The doctors talk about how it affects your treatment.
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How do they take the attachments off when you're done. They did't tell me. I read that someone lost enamel when theirs was removed.
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They kind of grind them off.  A careful orthodontist (which a professional orthodontist should be :)) will not remove any enamel.  I've also read a few cases, but they are very few.  I was super-nervous about it, too, because of having read those cases, but it was just a non-issue.  Some people lose enamel during their treatment because of other reasons too, though.  That's why hygiene and a healthy diet and fluoride and stuff are so important.  Demineralization can happen during your treatment.  Here's a Q&A on the subject of removing attachments: Do the buttons have an effect on the teeth?
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Did anyone have their teeth filed down? My teeth are short to begin with and I'm very nervous about filing my teeth and making them even shorter. Please respond, I'm having 2nd thoughts.
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I had my teeth filed, in between to allow more room for movement - my mouth is overcrowded. They only took a tiny amount off it wasn't even noticeable probably around 1-2 mm. Speak to your dentist
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Each visit my orthodontist files a little between my teeth to make room. He uses what appears to be a piece of sturdy sandpaper. His assistant reads off where (Between which teeth) he is supposed to file, so I assume it is the Invisalign folks who sent him the directions for treatment. I suppose I should ask! Anyway, as wise11 mentioned, it removes a very small amount. I agree that filing your teeth shorter seems draconian. Is it just a very tiny bit or is there quite a noticeable discrepancy in length? If so, you might ask if there isn't some other way it can be handled. I am thinking some sort of bonding or a cap. Perhaps your dentist/orthodontist can put you in touch with other patients that have had it done. I think your reluctance is understandable, I would feel the same way.
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I spent most of my youth in braces - I had regular braces (and several dental appliances) twice during my childhood. After treatment I was given clear retainers to wear. After several years the retainers were gross, so I stopped wearing them & my teeth started to shift. My teeth were still pretty straight, but both of my top lateral incisors had shifted. No one else would ever notice - my teeth were still (mostly) straight and I had a beautiful smile, but I figured that I'd spent so much time (& $) thus far, that I should do Invisalign to adjust the 2 teeth that had slightly shifted. My dentist didn't offer Invisalign, so I used the Invisalign website to find a local dentist who did. I was hoping that since I only had 2 teeth that were shifted that I would qualify for the Express Invisalign (10 wks and around $2K). Of course I didn't qualify and was told 20 weeks and 5K. I went ahead with the dentist's recommendation. I was never told I'd have buttons and was shocked when I had my appointment to start the process. I'm pretty easy going, so I went ahead. Once my 20 wk treatment was done they shaved the buttons off - they also shaved the enamel off. They then realized that my teeth hadn't progressed & decided to order new trays and a rubber band treatment to bring the teeth down. I did this for 6 additional trays. They shaved the new buttons off - and shaved off more enamel. They ordered my "final" retainers and told me to pick them up in 2 weeks. My final appointment was this morning. We did a before and after review of the photos they had taken... Guess what? My teeth hadn't shifted AT ALL!!!!!!!!! I started the process in November of 2013. It is now September 2014. My dentist even agreed that there was no difference between the photos. He recommended that we add more buttons and do rubber bands again. I refused - my teeth are too tender to have more buttons removed (and I really don't want them to shave any more enamel off of my teeth - not that there is much left anyway). My dentist is now calling Invisalign to see what to do next & I am to wait for their call. My take away's: Out $5K for the treatment ( yes, insurance did pay a portion) No results No enamel - my teeth are rough to the touch. They feel dirty all the time now, like I just ate a bag of candy & didn't brush my teeth. They are also sore all the time. Extreme hot & cold sensitivity now. The dentist, assistant, and receptionist were all super nice, I'd recommend them for regular dentistry. However, I am VERY disappointed with the 'results' of the Invisalign treatment. As I said before, my smile was beautiful to start with. Now I HATE it. I would NOT recommend Invisalign to anyone.
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You should really share this review in our community!  Invisalign in general works, but your experience shows that it doesn't work for some, under some circumstances.  People want to know about those circumstances before they sign up for Invisalign, and especially if they are considering using the same doctor that you used.  They can only find that out if you add your voice to the reviews.  You can use this link if you like:  Add and Invisalign Review.
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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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