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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 (409)

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Has anyone heard of MTM Clear ?? Its a new clear aligner and my doc suggested it?? Apparently no attachments and lower cost....Has anyone heard this ?? thanks...
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It's only for minor tooth movement, so more comparable to Invisalign Express 10 or even Invisalign Express 5, Simpli 5, or Bioliners.  I haven't been able to find any reviews of it specifically here on RealSelf, though it'd not be in this forum, but in our Clear Braces section.  I won't move this question there, though, because your odds are just as high finding someone here as under Clear Braces.  If you do decide to go with MTM, I hope you'll make a review under Clear Braces!
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I had my impressions done on Monday. They sent them digitally along with my prescription, does anyone know about how long they take to come in? I'm getting 10 trays
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Hi there, I had my permanent retainer impressions taken but i had only had only but in my last tray the night before. I had phoned in the next day to enlighten him but he seemed unfazed. Is this normal, if not what action should i take?
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Hello, I am getting my first set of aligners in a week or so, I work in a call centre on the phone all day and I am a bit worried that I might be in a bit of pain with them, does anyone think I would benefit from booking a few days off work when I start wearing them or should I be okay just taking Ibuprofen or paracetamol? Also, regarding the filing..... If the dentist advises that this treatment is needed can you refuse it? I dont want to damage my teeth!!
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I had two ipr's (filings) done on side teeth--I didn't realize this was going to happen. I then went through almost all the treatment and was told in order to continue I would have to have more filing done between all my front teeth. My teeth were straight...I was happy with how they looked, so I refused the filing and stopped--no refinements, etc. Just realize that you may not get the 'perfect' smile, or final look you want without filing...but the choice is ultimately yours. You paid for it...you can decide when it's enough.
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You have to be very careful with people who are playing with your teeth. The damage that filing does is permanent. Get about ten opinions is my advice. You are at the mercy of the dentist. My dentist put so much pressure on me to do the Invisalign thing with filing which was totally unnecessary but I trusted him (he had been my dentist for years - I didn't just go to a random dentist) and didn't realise he was just trying to do business and make money. Worst thing I ever agreed to in my life. Ruined it totally. Pain and misery.
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I'm so sorry this happened to you, too. I have basically the identical story--dentist of 15 years whom I trusted implicitly. Now I live with this poor decision and teeth that are rotting like never before. Wish I had something positive to report, but cavities left a big hole in my experience.
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How do explain someone like me who has had Invisalign for 1 1/2 years with no cavities and an almost-perfect smile? I did go to an orthodontist.
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I think you explained it, mskitkat! you went to an orthodontist. we all went to our general dentists. there is a significant difference in their training and expertise. wish i'd known now what I didn't know then...
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It doesn't matter what they call himself/herself. If they present invisalign to you as the best thing since sliced bread then they are unprofessional.There are too many ways it can go wrong and I doubt very much whether they tell people about this. Just from the comments on this site it appears that people are not told that they'll have to use a retainer after the 'treatment'. (And they make you sign a disclaimer that 'you have had the oppportunity to ask for details' when of course you have no idea what to ask). As for the filing and the cavities it's quite clear to me (non dentist, non orthodontist) what happened. Your tooth to start with was smooth. After the filing it isn't - did you notice food sticking to places where previously it didn't? I think you may have. And food would hang around in the rough areas between your teeth. Easy for this to turn into caries. Sorry for you. And I feel for you. I am going off my head with the pain. Anyway good luck. If I were you I'd get those surfaces covered with that stuff they put on molars to stop caries happening. But then I'm no dentist. Get more advice.
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Please avoid negative blanket generalizations when posting.  Sharing your personal negative experiences is perfectly fine, and you may be characterizing your own dentist perfectly.  However, there is a fiduciary relationship between dentists and their patients, just as there is between doctors and their patients. Their professional ethics require them to do what's in your best interest in the same way that a doctor is required to (even if it goes against their own best interest.)  Blanket negative statements about an entire profession are against our Community Guidelines.
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Worst medical decision of my life. Finished the treatment 12 months ago and now wear nightly retainers. I have a mouth full of cavities, despite my neurotic brushing and flossing. I am desperate to find another way to "retain" the positioning of my teeth, without causing further damage and decay. Any suggestions out there for an alternate retainer?
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If you mean an alternative to Vivera or Essix retainers (the clear plastic retainers) then yes!  There are several!  

One is the bonded lingual retainer, which is a straight or wavy wire bonded to the backs of each of your front teeth in the arch.  It can be permanent (or semi-permanent, anyway.)  The negatives are that it often only covers the front four to eight in the arch, and the other teeth may move.  Also, if you get the straight wire, you have to use alternative methods to floss.  The V-Loop lingual bonded retainer gets around the flossing problem, but seems limited in its availability.

For removable retainers, there is the classic Hawley-style retainer, with the tell-tale wire that goes around the front.  That wire can be metal (very durable) or a clear plastic (less durable but more discreet).

I started off with the Vivera, but was left with bite issues, and have now switched out the upper Vivera for a Hawley.  I much prefer it, and am considering shelling out the money for a lower Hawley as well.  There are pros and cons, of course :).

I hope this is helpful to you!
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Thanks so much!
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Six months after completion I am getting cavities where they filed my teeth! I have strong teeth, first filing at age 36 , and no fillings for last 16 years, now fillings. So sad. The invisalign pushed in my top teeth and now they wobble in and out when my mouth closes. I dont know what to do, the Dentist agreed and her solution was to file away the back of the top teeth to make them thinner! So she did and now they still touch, i could cry...
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Has your dentist talked at all about allowing your teeth to settle in some way?  Like going to a different style of retainer that doesn't push in your teeth?
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The teeth top and bottom hit off each other because she brought the top ones in. So bottom one push (one of the teeth in particular) out , wobble it . So it can never stay aligned where it should be.
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Don't do it. The damage to your teeth from the filing is permanent. The dentist has to somehow let invisalign understand the EXACT meeting position of your lower and upper jaw or the result will be wrong for your mouth. There is no way that you know that invisalign has got the right measurements of the meeting of top and bottom jaw. There is no way that you know that your dentist has taken the right measurements. Remember that while a dentist is working on your teeth your bottom jaw is often tense. The impression that the dentist takes of how the top and bottom teeth meet is usually taken at the end of some other work so it is not true to natural position. My advice is to think long and hard about not using non-invasive treatment. The stripping of your teeth is permanent and when a dentist makes a mistake, like mine did, you are in an absolutely horrendous situation. More so when your dentist refuses to help. Mine didn't even provide the original impressions or the measurements of the tooth stripping so I could explain fully to someone else what he had done. I'd really like to publish his name because he shouldn't be practising.
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If you think that there is malpractice involved you should report it to your state dental board. Otherwise your "stripping the teeth" talk is extremely exaggerated. Most patients have a tiny amount (less than half a millimeter) filed from between a few teeth to allow proper movement.
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Thanks for your answer and your comments. My point really is not accusing someone of malpractice - the damage has been done and now my life is ruined. I can't see how to put it right. I have already tried to take the dentist to court about this (I am not in the US) and it is extremely difficult to prove - I have to prove that the situation as it stands is not acceptable, rather than anything that he did to me. And let me tell you, there are very few practitioners who are capable of working out what happened and why I am in this situation. I know more than them because it is my mouth and they just fail to get the point. I have to say that you too are saying that the filing is always minimal, without considering that perhaps he filed more from the top than from the bottom teeth. The actual size of each measurement is not important. If more was filed from the top than from the bottom then the bottom jaw have to work in tension to stay back and enough room between the teeth. Also, he has refused to hand me the original impressions (he did two invisalign attacks so there were impressions for both) and he refused to let me have a list of the filing and position of the filing. Also he made a mistake on the first filing, doing it on the wrong tooth and never put that in the dental records. As you grow into an adult, the position of your teeth will be influenced by your tongue. If a practitioner just moves your front bottom and top teeth back without considering this and without discussing it with the patient and explaining that it will affect the spaceavailable for the tongue, then it is just wrong. I can't speak properly now because my tongue always hurts and it swells up near the throat because of the tension it is under so I can't say my vowels properly (I also make mistakes with consonants because I have to move my tongue back to meet my top teeth (compared to the way I spoke before the damage). This was not all apparent at the beginning, although I had mentioned to him that I thought that the teeth had been moved too much (something he just ignored). The situation is not static and I have come to realise the incredible damage that he did to me only over time. You CAN speak differently for a while - but you can't keep up a position of tension like this. I have seen other talk on this site about Invisalign and so very little talk if of what the situation is over time. People seem to just refer to the aesthetics. And by the way, I haven't seen even one reference to how food sticks to your teeth where filing has been done. Overall, I think that Invisalign is far too invasive and too few practitioners look at the whole situation. Let-s also not forget that it is a business and as such, money has to be made. No accusations - just making an observation. Although I WOULD make an accusation to the practitioner who ruined my teeth. He persuaded me to do a treatment I had never EVER thought of.
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I also notice that you say that my " "stripping the teeth" talkis extremely exaggerated". Rereading this, I take your comment quite badly. You have made a comment without asking more of the facts, and you are assuming that reporting someone for malpractice puts a bad situation right. It doesn't. Whether it is proved that someone has done malpractice or not makes not different. Either you believe my first hand account or you don't. Your final comment "Most patients have a tiny amount (less than half a millimeter) filed from between a few teeth to allow proper movement" cannot be considered a 'tiny amount' unless you have the total amount of filed teeth added up, and the amounts of the top teeth and the bottom teeth compared. The comment is totally uncontextualised and not at all objective. I am tempted to ask you whether you actually work for Invisalign. Otherwise why would you say that I am exaggerating without considering the points I have mentioned here. Really, you cannot talk of half a millimeter as being a tiny amount unless you add up all the half a millimeters, put them together and then make some kind of comparison or point of reference. Then you talk of "most patients". What about the other patients? I'm sorry if I sound combative. But to be told yet again that I can't possibly be right when I am the one who can't close her mouth in a relaxed way, when I could before the practitioner put his hands on my teeth is something that I cannot accept. And I repeat, reporting someone for malpractice does absolutely nothing to change the situation. Your teeth cannot be mucked around with as if they were skittles.
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I'm confused. My orthodontist didn't file any of my teeth. Except the spots where they put the tooth colored anchors were placed.
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