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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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You can whiten as much as you want during treatment and not worry about it. When they remove your attachments they will remove [most] of the resin and polish the stains off your teeth. :) I have begun using the white strips and putting my aligners back in while wearing it... helps tremendously! Your progress is looking good so far!!
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Thanks mlb! I will do a whitening treatment based on your advice :) last time I did one I really burned my gums; the aligners tended to push the gel right into my gums vs. my old whitening trays. I plan on using less gel this time...
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@moonchild13:  Also, you can wipe your gums with a wet washcloth after you have the trays in, to get off the excess gel.  I've even swished (very gently) with a little water--but not too much, so you don't rinse out the gel. :)
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What was it specifically that made you frustrated enough to rip them out those times?  Was it the pain of the snaggletooth or something else?
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Hi twoplusone, it was a combination of things - the saliva and air bubbling around the aligners when they get looser during the second week of wear, the embarrassing bad breath, the lisp when I talk (also really embarrassing), the feeling of wearing plastic in my mouth (I keep tending to bite down on them) my tongue rubbing on the edges... it just gets to be too much at times. I'm glad my smile is getting so much nicer but I was not fully prepared as to what living with these things in my mouth for a year would entail.
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Oh yeah.  It's an acclimation process for sure.  I never got over the chewing on the plastic thing.  Hate that.  And while I was doing the Vivera retainers (same as Invisalign) sometimes my jaw would just get so exhausted that I started crying and took out the retainers.  So I totally get it.  Hang in there--we're rooting for you for sure!
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Already a difference on aligner 4!  I can't see the tooth discoloration in the picture, but I'm not at all surprised.  I got it throughout my treatment, and my ortho polished it off with pumice occasionally.  But after my treatment, my dentist polished most of the rest off, and a whitening treatment took care of the rest.
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This is awesome. I just got my consultation yesterday and still waiting to here from my insurance regarding the coverage I get. I am still nervous. I've read about the pain for the first couple of days and than you get use to it. I was wondering how it feels when you were talking to someone. Do you get use to it after a while? My ex-coworker (old job) has them and I don't notice a difference in the way she speaks. But I have read many post people have a lisp. The price is definitely worth it. I was quoted $5000 with a deposit of $1700 up front. Though this is Canadian currency, so it may work out around the same price. Please keep the pictures coming. I am getting super nervous but wanted this for the past 14 years!
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I just reread your first day and saw the $1000 promotion.  I think they said I got one of those too.  But I don't know if that means anything.  I get this feeling, especially looking at Viktoriajv's price, that the prices run the gamut.  I knew the price I was paying was high, but by the end, I felt like it was worthwhile, you know?  If you get the teeth you've always wanted, you're gonna forget about the money a little more. If you end up unhappy, you're gonna hate every penny you shelled out!

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'If you get the teeth you've always wanted, you're gonna forget about the money a little more. If you end up unhappy, you're gonna hate every penny you shelled out!' Couldn't agree more :) :) wise words TwoPlusOne!!
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Let's hope you end up not caring one whit about the money!  When do you start your next pair of aligners?

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Wow! I paid $4750 and it included everything you listed and I see an ortho. My bite was/is fine and I think they may be charging you a bit more because you have jaw bite issues? My contract doesn't say anything about Periodic Occlusal adjustments through.
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Hi viktoria yeah it may be more because they have to readjust my jaw alignment; you got a really good deal though - did you also have ortho insurance? Also your ortho may do more volume than my dentist who then passes the savings on to you, just a thought.
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Hi so funny! Now I'm worried I didn't pay enough! LOL!! My ortho does a huge volume, advertises all over the place and that worried me initially. But his reviews were good and a friend used him and got good results. What I've seen on here is what I paid was about average. And while my teeth were very crowded there were no bite issues and I think that makes it simpler. I have no insurance but I get reimbursed some for out of pocket expense from my employer. My dental office is also a full service dental office with a periodontist and other specialists. I need an implant when I'm done and I think that runs less than some other dental offices. But you and twoplusone are right, as long as our results are good it doesn't matter what we pay! I
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I paid waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than you ($7000 total, $5000 after insurance), and I didn't get 4 free whitening syringes either (they were over a hundred bucks), SO, I think that NorCal is very expensive, but that you probably got it a little cheaper than you might have with an orthodontist.  

Continued good journey!

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Good luck! I can't wait to see your progress! I'm in the Bay Area as well! I took pictures every tray and it really helped me not to get discouraged. I had 28 trays and it wasn't until the middle of my treatment that I could see clear progress. The last few trays were amazing. I am doing refinements now and have an additional 11 trays! Seems like a lot but in the grand scheme of things 18 months total is nothing and I love my results! You have pretty teeth and I bet your smile is going to be gorgeous when you are done.
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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement Victoria!! I will check out your story xo
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Thank you for writing a review!  Excited to see you're in CA, too! :)  Are you going with a dentist or an orthodontist?  Are you going to upload pictures so we can track your progress? Have you gotten your first set of aligners yet?  Or are they still in the works.  Looking forward to following your story!

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Hi, thank you for commenting! I am seeing a dentist for this treatment and will review them once my treatment is completed. Yes I will be uploading pictures as I go along, other reviews have been so helpful I will do my part :) I started last Friday morning, on Day 3 right now.
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