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My Invisalign Experience - Dublin, CA

This is the first time I've had a non-trivial...

This is the first time I've had a non-trivial cosmetic procedure done and am pretty excited to get on my way. I have mildly crooked teeth, nothing disfiguring but an annoying snaggletooth in front usually keeps me from smiling a lot and I hate the way it looks in pictures. My dentist has been pushing for an Invisalign treatment after I had to have fillings for 6 cavities that were in between my overcrowded teeth. She explained that straightening my teeth will make cleaning much easier as well as ease the jaw pain I have been experiencing.

My treatment price covers everything - all prep work, aligners, retainers, accessories, office visits and whitening treatments at the initial cost of 6,450$. Invisalign had a 1000$ discount promotion and my dental insurance covers 2,000$, leaving me to pay 3,450$. I paid 50% of my cost up front and the rest on a monthly basis for the next 12 months.

I have 18 sets of aligners, and an estimated 11-16 months of treament.

First few days

First day was painful…. mainly my jaw at this point. I'm not used to having something in my mouth all the time; I keep biting down on the retainers and sucking the extra saliva out of them... it's gross. When I talk I have a lisp and I try not to spit at anyone. My upper lip catches on the top of my aligner, it’s not painful just embarrassing when I’m talking to someone. After day 3 the aligners feel more comfortable and my mouth muscles are not as clenched... I make sure to have lots of lip balm on hand since my lips tend to dry out, from never licking them I guess.

I was surprised the aligners are so bulky; there is definitely no mistaking I have them on. I really thought they would be thinner/less conspicuous, not so - especially with the added ‘buttons’ or attachments used to hold them in place and provide extra shifting power. They said I would have ‘a couple of buttons’, well in reality I have 16 of them, 2 are pretty conspicuous on my front bottom teeth. Hopefully they will be removed before too long.

My dentist told me most women lose weight during the treatment; since you have to brush your teeth and aligners each time you eat people end up just not snacking so you don’t need to take your aligners out at all, especially when you are first using a set and they are tight you don’t feel like messing around with it. I'm used to snacking a lot so my body is not happy at the moment and I'm experiencing hunger way more often than I am willing to take the trays out, so I try to tough it out as much as I can and got some Boost high-protein meal replacements and drinking straws when I can't take it anymore between meals (I know, sugar… I wash it down with water).
I’ve been desperate to lose a few pounds and my eating habits are not that great so the weight loss aspect is welcome :)

It feels strange when I take the aligners out, and after a couple of days it actually feels better when they are in... as long as I'm not talking to anyone!!

I see that others have their Clinchek videos and photos so I will ask my dentist to hand them over. I had to ask her to see them which was disappointing, it would have been nice for them to show them to me upfront and offer to send them to me. I have attached a picture of my mouth with my first set of aligners in; you can see the 'buttons' or attachments pretty clearly.

Invisalign contract details

Those who are shopping around may find this helpful - I reviewed my contract earlier today and this is what it covers:

- Comprehensive Orthodontic exam
- Dental photographs
- Full mouth PVS impressions
- Orthodontic X Rays
- All periodic appoints and aligner checks
- Any interproximal reduction necessary
- Attachment bonding and materials
- Periodic Occlusal adjustments
- Removal of attachments and de-bond
- Additional refinement treatment within 6 months of completion of phase 1 aligners
- Professional gel whitening kit for use with aligners (4 whitening syringes)
- 1 year subscription to Vivera retainer system (4 sets of retainers shipped to my home every 3 months for a year)

I looked at what others are paying and it seems to me that I am paying a lot more (even though my out of pocket is just $3,450). I know I live in Northern Ca but still. Do they bump up the prices when insurance covers part of it? I didn't really shop around I just used my regular dentist. Maybe it's more expensive because of the 6-month refinements and the retainer subscription?

Aligner 4

I'm now halfway through aligner 4, about 9 weeks in. 14 more aligners to go. I haven't had a problem with snapping the aligners in and out, once you get the hang of it it's easy.

Observations:

At this point there aren't any major physiological changes; my front teeth are being brought forward and I now notice there is less difference between them and my snaggletooth, very cool. Also my teeth are much much easier to floss; they are definitely moving.

My mouth isn't salivating as much anymore; it's still kind of gross to see spit bubbles in my aligners so I do tend to suck on them. Other people in general do not really notice my aligners but they do notice I have a slight lisp. I remove them for in-person meetings and phone conferences where I have to present. All the teeth brushing resulting from removal of the aligners irritates my gums; I now have a super-soft toothbrush and I use Sensodyne toothpaste. The aligners really smell bad after you've been wearing them for awhile and I get nervous that I have super bad breath from them... I found some denture cleaner crystals that are essentially peroxide and on the box it says they are safe for retainers and plastic orthodontics (in which case they advise to use lukewarm water not hot) I use those about every second day for a few minutes and my aligners are much fresher than just brushing them with toothpaste.

Also, if you fail to brush your teeth before putting your aligners back in your teeth will become discolored very quickly. I learned that the hard way after drinking coffee and just snapping them back in :-( ended up doing a quick one shot whitening treatment with a 35% syringe (I didn't want to do whitening as long as the resin attachments are there, trying to prevent residual staining but I really had no choice) and now I use a stain-lifting toothpaste so things are better.

All in all so far I am not sure this is so much better than traditional braces? When you snap them out you have to deal with the pain of the resin attachments scraping inside your cheeks, and when they are in, you have the pain of the aligner edges scraping in your mouth. Other than that I don't really have much pain to speak of and I have mostly gotten over the social embarrassment... it's just annoying to have them in your mouth all the time.

Pic of aligner 4

I didn't think there would be much of a difference with before but you can see it somewhat. Note also the tooth discoloration.

Aligner 8

I am almost at half point of my treatment (initial set of 18 aligners). This set is working on my snaggle tooth in front so I am experiencing pain again, and my jaw pops in and out when I eat. Things are going generally well, my dentist warned me not to change my aligners too fast and wait the 2 full weeks in between sets (guess who wanted to go faster!) my teeth are discolored again, trying to wait as long as I can before giving them another emergency whitening treatment. Flossing is just so easy now I am thrilled. The past 2 days were annoying, I ripped them out a couple of times and just left them on the counter for a while in frustration. I would definitely not recommend this for teens or kids, compliance is a challenge. I also still have a lisp, but the aligners are becoming less and less bulky as the treatment moves forward.
Oasis Dental

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