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Fashioning The New Me a.k.a. My Invisalign Experience - Georgia, GA

Hello everyone! I'm a mid-20s pre-dental student,...

Hello everyone! I'm a mid-20s pre-dental student, hoping eventually for orthodontia (hence the name). This is where I will be writing about my experience with Invisalign for approximately 15 months. I will be updating every aligner, and adding progress pictures every other aligner, so about every month.

I never had braces as a child because my parents think teeth straightening is for the most part vanity and my teeth gave me character. I never agreed but I couldn't find the right orthodontist and price (I am paying completely out of pocket) until now.

I'm hoping to correct the following issues:
-5mm diastema between upper central incisors (better known as The Gap)
-Moderate overjet causing slight gaps between remaining upper teeth

The cause of my issues are thumb-sucking as a child and tongue thrust (I will begin working on it as soon as I begin treatment).

So, how did I decide on Invisalign and what am I hoping to achieve? The interesting thing is that I had no intention of getting Invisalign. For one reason: I didn't think it could fix my issues. I had only done a bit of research on my own, but two orthodontists had told me that Invisalign only works for minor straightening and they didn't recommend it at all for me. I don't care if anyone could see that I was getting my teeth straightened. So I was looking for a good orthodontist to fit me with traditional metal braces when I happened upon my current orthodontist.

One of the first things the treatment coordinator asked me was, "So, you're here for Invisalign?" I said "...No, just regular braces. I don't think Invisalign would work for me." She waved her hand and said that the orthodontist has dealt with cases like mine with Invisalign. When the ortho arrived he showed me pictures of a patient with very similar issues (slightly more extreme) and I was shocked by how great her teeth came in ~1 year. So those little plastic things and some bonding could do that? He impressed me with his knowledge of teeth movement and mentioned that Invisalign worked really well for closing spaces.

I had already chosen to go with him for Invisalign, expecting that the cost would be more than for traditional braces, when I got a nice surprise: $5,680 was my quote. This was less than 2 other orthodontists in the same/similar area for traditional braces, in one case $1300 less. I set up my appointment to have my impressions taken.

I wonder how I've lived with these teeth all these years...

But I guess the answer is: I didn't. I was somewhat lucky in that when I talk, my teeth are mostly covered. I never smiled with teeth showing past the age of 7 or 8. So most people have no clue what my teeth really look like, i.e. how bad they really are.

I'm a little self-conscious about these pictures because, as I've mentioned, I never show my teeth. Now that I'm going to be receiving my first aligners in a couple of days, I can breathe a little easier and post them, knowing that these teeth will soon be a thing of the past. And maybe if there is someone out there with teeth like mine who is wondering how or if Invisalign would work for them, they can watch my progress.

P.S. Sorry for the sepia tone. The pictures were taken with my phone which throws off natural color anyway. The next update will hopefully be in full color when I get my digital camera back.

First Impressions: Aligner 1 of 30

I am wearing my first aligners!

I must say, after that long wait and from reading others posts, I was expecting a little more. No pain, no edges causing cuts, nothing. Just a mild tingly feeling on a lower central incisor which is slightly rotated and the aligner is targeting. The entire appointment was quite anticlimactic and only took about 15 minutes. I received my first and second aligners, chewie, aligner cases, instructions, and a toothbrush. What I did not get were attachments -- those are going on in a month at my next appointment. My orthodontist says that he does this with all patients because he wants them to get used to taking the aligners in and out before the attachments come on.

The only interesting thing I learned about at the appointment is that I will be getting a rubber band! My ortho added, "Remember we talked about having to get a rubber band at some point..." No, I don't remember that! During my initial consultation we discussed many things, even the mechanics behind Invisalign, but we didn't discuss that, I'm sure. I'm not too happy about the rubber band thing but it's supposed to only be for a short time, to move one of my canines. The office secretary also has Invisalign with attachments and rubber band on her canine and I didn't notice until today so I guess it won't look so bad. I'll just not open my mouth too wide, which shouldn't be hard considering I've been doing that all my life. ;)

Now, on to my impressions of my first aligner/aligners in general:

-The aligners are tight, especially on the bottom, but not tight enough that I need any pain relief.

-I feel ready to play a sport -- the aligners are like thin mouthguards. Or like having peanut butter stuck to my teeth.

-I have a slight lisp, but it should be only temporary. I'm talking as much as I can with them in to get used to having the aligners in.

-Putting them on are a cinch and taking them out is also pretty easy except around The Gap, probably because the large space doesn't allow for smooth movement.

-The bottom aligners have a slightly rough edge but nothing major. I may file them if it becomes annoying.

-The aligner plastic makes The Gap appear a millimeter+ smaller, so that's a definite plus.

As my teeth still look the same, except shinier, I'll save pictures until Aligner 3, when the real fun begins..

Is The Pain Really Gone (Aligner 1 of 30)

My aligners decided to give me a swift kick in the butt for underestimating them. The past few days I've been in real pain!

Here I was thinking they wouldn't do much damage without the attachments. I even used my chewie throughout the day, hoping to get a response...and I sure got one. In the evening of the first day the aching started, particularly on my right side. At first I was glad to feel something: they were working! But the pain kept growing and the aligners felt like they might squeeze my teeth right out of my mouth. Afraid the pain might rise to a completely unbearable level, I popped a couple of pain relievers and went to bed.

The next morning my mouth throbbed. Moving my mouth or touching my upper incisors sent pain shooting down my body. I couldn't wait to rip the aligners out to release the death grip they held on my teeth. The pain continued through the third day. If it weren't for pain relievers I would have just stayed in bed because the 24/7 aching was exhausting.

Just when I was wondering how I could go through this twice a month for a year and a half, this morning I'm almost completely pain free. Whew!

On the positive side, my teeth look better! I know it's too early to see results but the aligners make my teeth bright and shiny and give the appearance of being straight. And after that period of pain, I'm happy with knowing I'm making progress toward better teeth. I'm going out to buy some vinegar to soak the aligners in because I think I spot a hint of a yellow tint to them when held up to the light. I currently use the baby toothbrush given by my ortho and liquid hand soap to brush them when I take them out, which keeps them sanitary but I don't think removes stains very effectively.

Anyway, I'm both looking forward to and dreading Aligner 2. I can only hope the worst pain is with the first aligner, like some say.

Feeling Fine: Aligner 2 of 30

Merry Christmas!

I changed to my second aligners last night (finally!) so I decided to post a quick review. These aligners are my first with the wells for the attachments. I won't on my teeth actually be getting the attachments until two weeks from now. It is a little weird feeling and knowing I will have these tiny bumps inside my mouth for the next 15 months. They resemble the brackets of traditional braces.

One bright side: these aligners aren't hurting as much as the first did. Hopefully I'm not speaking too soon, but right now I just feel tightness. They were a little difficult to put on. The back right side just wouldn't snap on, and is still not as tight as the rest. Overall though, if this is how the rest will be, I can deal with that.

I've added a photo so everyone can see the attachment wells. I will have 17 attachments, mostly on the top front teeth (lucky me, eh?).

Typos...

Sorry for the typos: writing from my phone makes editing difficult and I don't see a way to edit updates.

Attachments

I'm officially an Invisaligner: today my attachments were put on. The process was long but not difficult. The dental assistant brushed my teeth with pumice paste, etched my teeth with something sour (I'm guessing phosphoric acid), then polished them before applying the template aligners which had been filled with the attachment material. The attachments are made of a clear material, so no issues with matching my tooth color. They feel gritty, which I wasn't expecting.

Now, practicing taking out the top aligners at the office was difficult, as I knew it would be. It took almost 5 minutes, when it used to take a bit more than 5 seconds. I was afraid of snapping the aligners around the canines; they were holding on tight.

In the meantime I'm still wearing Aligner 2. I will be wearing them for one more week so they can work their magic with the attachments, so I'll be in them for a total of 3 weeks. I'm SO ready to move on, but the aligners feel much tighter, as if they are new, so it makes sense to wear these for an extra week. I'll add pictures next week with Aligner 3, probably in full color.

No Pain: Aligner 3 of 30

I moved to Aligner 3 two nights ago, finally. Aligner 2 was getting so old; 3 weeks is really a long time to wear trays.

I expected some pain, but there was hardly any pain at all. The interesting thing is that only the left side seems to have any pressure/tightness. It feels as though the Aligner is only retaining the right side (minus the right incisor) in the same position it was.

I've attached a close-up, full color photo so everyone can see the attachments in all their glory. The aligners make it appear like I have an open bite, but I actually do not.

4 mm + Clincheck

I switched to Aligner 4 last night and it's been as uneventful as Aligner 3. The only difference is that the pressure is more evenly distributed. Also, I noticed that my upper and lower midlines don't match up (never paid attention to if before, since I have bigger issues). I recall seeing an orthodontist before my current one (He was very thorough and friendly; I would have went with him, but he was extremely expensive) and he mentioned that my back bite on the right side is in perfect occlusion but the left side is not so it would need to be shifted forward. So now I'm theorizing that Aligner 3 had that left side-only pressure because it was shifting it to align the midlines.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited because The Gap is now down to 4 mm from 5 mm! This is a small difference so I doubt anyone will notice, and I almost missed it myself except that one day last week I was looking at my attachments and thought, "Ha, my front teeth are so Sponge-Bobby." Then I thought, "Wait, Sponge Bob...were they always like that...?" and measured the space and it was 1 mm less than before. Proof that Invisalign is working for me!

I could kiss my ortho, because any improvement is a huge deal for me, as I've spent my entire life barely opening my mouth. I wasn't expecting such a change with only 3 trays, but I looked at Aligner #7 and I measured the space at 2 mm (which means it would be around 3 mm, since the plastic covers spaces a little). I won't be sure until I get them on, but I'll be glad if that's the case.

Finally, I never added my ClinCheck, so here it is, showing what my teeth will look like at the end of my initial treatment. Well, close to the end, because the video goes so fast I couldn't get all the way there. It appears like I will have a tiny sliver of space between my front teeth, but I don't in the final frame.

Still Chugging Along: Aligner 5 of 30

I moved to Aligner 5 last night. So far the aligners are fitting well; no spaces between the edge of the teeth and the aligner.

I did notice that I felt some soreness with the previous aligner until after the 7th day, which is pretty unusual. Usually the soreness is gone within 3-4 days. So that was interesting, but I haven't noticed any major changes since Aligner 3. I received Aligners 3 through 7 at my last appointment and I can see a clear difference in Aligner 7 vs Aligners 1 and 2, so I'm looking forward to that.

10 Day Cycle: Aligner 6

Last night I moved to Aligner 6. Although this aligner appears to be identical to the previous 2, there is more soreness than usual, so lots of changes must be in the works. Aligner 5 I believe was doing more with the roots/uprighting because for the previous couple of aligners my front teeth looked like they were tipped 1 mm together, and now the teeth are straight up and down.

On a more exciting note, I am now on a 10 day cycle!

I found that Aligner 5 was fairly loose after the first week; if I didn't have so many attachments and the material weren't so flexible, it could probably slip off easily. So I began thinking that I would like to switch to changing my aligners every 10 days instead of 14 days. Bone does have to reform after movement, but 10 days is a safe time period, according to my research. So I called my ortho's office and asked about changing the aligners sooner. I was expecting to have to state all of the reasons why I would be a good candidate for a 10 day cycle, but surprisingly, my ortho suggested himself that I move to 10 days without me mentioning it at all. Hurray! That's 3 months off of my treatment time.

I should add that I wear my aligners for 23 hours a day on most days (I only take them out for meals, which are small), or 22.5 hours every other week when I go out to eat or have a special meal. And I use my chewie for a few minutes after every meal and a few times throughout the day to make sure the aligners are flush to the teeth and engage the attachments. I wouldn't be comfortable with moving to 10 days if I could only wear the aligners only 20 hours a day and didn't have my trusted chewies.

I'm excited for Aligner 7, which is only about 9 days away. :)

Treatment Check-up + Aligner 7 of 30

I moved to Aligner 7 a couple of nights ago and my front teeth are pretty sore. I'd noticed this Aligner looks different from the previous four, so I decided to wait to take pictures until a few days in, when the movements would fully express themselves. It looks like The Gap is down another 1/2-3/4 millimeter, not 1 millimeter like I'd thought, but it could be that it still needs time to move. It's been more difficult to get the top aligners off this cycle and the front teeth ache when I take them off, so they must be moving. The front open bite look the aligners were giving me has come down noticeably, so I'm glad about that.

I went to my orthodontist appointment last week to receive the next set of aligners -- 8 through 15 (they like to give a couple of extras just in case). The space in 13-15 look about a millimeter less than my current aligners. Anyway, the orthodontist came to check on my progress so far. He looked in my mouth for a couple of minutes and said, "I don't know what you're doing..." My heart sank: I'd been doing something wrong this whole time! Then he continued, "But whatever it is, keep doing it. Your teeth are moving better than planned. I was thinking I'd have to make some adjustments at this stage but your teeth are doing 100% of what they're supposed to and your teeth are edge to edge with the trays. I can't offer you any other advice but to keep doing what you're doing all the way to the end of treatment. Don't change it, not even a little bit."

...Great news! Except he added that my teeth are moving along so well that he will probably start me on wearing elastics soon. Bleh. I guess the only upside to that is that the sooner I start them, the sooner I can get them off. Maybe.

Anyway, I've attached a picture wearing Aligner 7. I'll try to add comparison shots at Aligner 10.

Aligner 8 of 30 + My Anti-Cavity Invisalign Routine

I'm on my third full day of Aligner 8. Nothing unusual to report: I had the typical soreness for the first couple of days, especially in my left central incisor, but my teeth have already stopped aching. These aligners look quite similar to #7, so I won't add pictures.

I mentioned my Invisalign routine elsewhere but I want to go into detail here because I think it's an important topic. Having aligners on your teeth the vast majority of the day and having to brush your teeth multiple times a day means you have to be more vigilant about how you take of your teeth. Having straighter teeth at the end of your treatment, but more cavities than before you started is not a great trade-off, so I'm going through all of my materials and routine, from left to right:

Squigle Tooth Builder/Sensitive Toothpaste: This is one of the most important parts of my routine. Squigle is a natural, fluoride-free, low abrasion paste. It contains xylitol, a natural sugar which has been proven in studies to lower the amount of cavity-causing bacteria and increase remineralization of teeth. It also contains soluble calcium to help remineralize. It's a bit pricey, at roughly $8-10, but I really don't think any orthodontic patient should be without it, or a similar product. Even with regular brushing, you may not get every particle of food, so this gives you much needed added protection.

I use this alone after eating, and morning and night with my fluoride toothpaste because fluoride and xylitol in conjunction have been found to enhance remineralization of teeth.

Generic Hydrogen Peroxide: I soak my aligners in half-half solution of H2O2 and H2O every couple of days or so, to keep aligner yellowing at bay.

Generic Floss: I use 1-2x per day to clean between teeth. Food caught between the teeth and under the aligners for hours at a time is the perfect environment for any cavity-favoring bacteria present to have a feast.

Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap: Great for scrubbing aligners free of build-up. i try to use each time I reinsert the aligners after eating.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda: Used to make my homemade mouth rinse. After eating most foods, the pH of your mouth is lowered; it becomes acidic. Enamel is softened in an acidic environment so if you brush your teeth right after eating, you can wear away enamel, making you more susceptible to cavities. After all, it is the acids produced by bacteria which cause cavities, not so much the bacteria themselves. 30 minutes after eating saliva brings up the pH naturally, but 30 minutes is a long time when you have to wear aligners 20-22+ hours a day, so you can bring up the pH with baking soda, which has a basic pH.

I add 1.5 tablespoons to a 16 oz water bottle, which lasts for several days.

Aim Toothpaste: My regular fluoride toothpaste. Less abrasive than most toothpastes, inexpensive and effective.

Toothbrushes: Smaller, purple toothbrush is for brushing the aligners; it gets into the crevices better than a larger head toothbrush. The larger toothbrush is my regular toothbrush, replaced roughly every month and a half.

Getting Rid of the Overjet: Aligner 9 of 30

This is the 4th full day of Aligner 9 and I have noticed an interesting change: my overjet is disappearing! When I initially put the aligners on I noticed immediately that the back fit. Normally the aligners tend to pop off the very back molars (I have all of my wisdom teeth) unless i use a chewie pen for a day or so. Then I noticed that my teeth felt like they were fitting together differently; my front teeth felt like they were closing in and my whole felt "flat". I thought "Oh, that's nice"...Then I thought, "Hey, wouldn't that mean something for the overjet?" I checked in the mirror and indeed the overjet has made a lot more progress than I would have expected at this time. I'd been paying so much attention to The Gap and I completely forgot about my overjet. I figured it would take a much longer time.

I'd thought the aligner popping off was due to the assistant taking improper molds but now it makes more sense; the overjet pushes the aligner out an angle so it doesn't sit properly. And now I understand why the openbite look that the aligners were giving me is gone.

Now, the overjet is by no means completely corrected, but if things continue at this pace then it should be close to finished around aligner 20. Which makes me wonder if I really need the last 9/10 aligners. To be honest, if my teeth moved back too much further, I would feel trapped!

I'll be adding comparison photos as promised at aligner 10, although it may be for aligner 2 vs 10, since I may not be able to retriever aligner 1 photos from my old phone.

One-Third of the Way Through: Aligner 10 of 30

I'm done with one-third of my aligners! I can definitely see some changes. The Gap is solidly at 3 mm (down from 5 mm) and my overjet is reduced, although i think both of these were apparent with the previous aligner as well.

I was hoping to add comparison shots but that failed miserably because 1. the photos I took of the photos on my old phone came out blurry, no matter what I tried and 2. I don't know how to make proper comparison photos (if anyone knows how I can make them online, let me know). So I'll just upload pictures of Aligner 10, and you can compare that to the first two photos, pre-Invisalign.

Comparison Pictures

Thanks to TwoPlusOne, I can now make comparison shots online. So here the photos are. The first photo is a comparison of pre-Invisalign to Aligner 10 and the second photo is aligner 2 to aligner 10. Since I was not able to add the pictures of Aligner 1, I decided these were the most fair comparisons to make.

Aligner 11 of 30 + 10 Day Cycle vs. 14 Day Cycle

I'm currently in Aligner 11. Initially putting these aligners on there was pain, but that subsided in a couple of hours. Interesting note: this is the first aligner, outside of Aligner 1, where I felt pressure on my lower teeth. There isn't going to be a drastic change there, but one of my lower incisors needs to be rotated slightly, and that's where I felt the pressure most. Looking at Aligner 15, there is a clear improvement in that tooth, so the work must be starting now.

In other news, I'm thinking of returning to the 14 day aligner change cycle for Aligner 19 or 20 and beyond. The reason why I'm considering this is because I don't like the way my teeth feel nowadays; tender and a little insecure. That's usually how teeth feel after moving them, but moving more quickly now, they feel that way more often. I wonder though, if they feel like that now because they've just been moved so much. Also, looking at Clincheck, I see the movement with the last 10 or so aligners is less drastic than the earlier ones, so I wonder if it's worth changing back.

Ortho Visit + Aligner 12 of 30

I moved to Aligner 12 a few nights ago. The first night was fine, but the day after my teeth were very sore, so I know I have some changes coming! I'm still getting used to these new, flatter teeth which seem to become more and more so with every other aligner, but I like them so far.

My orthodontist appointment was scheduled for today so I've picked up the next few aligners. I'm also scheduled for a small bit of IPR after Aligner 18 (on the lower arch), which I'm not looking forward to. I have to do it though, to continue to reduce the overjet and close all of the spacing, otherwise my top teeth would be moved back further than the lower. The ortho looked at my teeth and said that the overjet is going perfectly. He didn't mention anything about the elastic, so at this point I'll probably wear them for only the last 10 or so aligners, if at all.

I've added a photo of Aligner 12. The changes seem to be subtle at this point.

Aligner 13 of 30 + Retainer Talk

I'm now in Aligner 13 -- teenaged aligners! I suspected these aligners would be more easygoing than the previous ones, since it seems like the every aligner with pain is followed by one that has much less.

On one of my last visits I asked my orthodontist what his plans were for retention after I'm done with initial treatment. He said, "Well, the retainers will just be an overnight thing..." I thought "???" I couldn't believe he was suggesting that I only wear retainers at night. He always emphasized retention, retention, retention, so I was confused and not in agreement at all; my teeth would surely move during the day. But then he added, "You'll have the wire bonded to the back, so you'll just slip them on over the wire." I thought, "Whew!" So he'd thought I was only referring to the removable retainers. I asked a few more questions and it seems his plan is to have one or two bonded retainers, on upper and possibly lower. I don't know about having a bonded retainer on my lower teeth. It doesn't seem necessary and one on the top is enough. He said it was my choice, but if I got the bonded retainer on my lower teeth then I would only have to wear the removable retainer on my upper teeth, and never on the lowers. As tempting as that is, I'd rather wear the Vivera retainers full-time for 6-9 months, then move to nighttime wear. I still have time to decide, but those are my thoughts on retainers, for now.

Routine, Routine: Aligner 14 of 30

I'm now on Aligner 14 and everything is going well. However, the routine of Invisalign is getting boring, and I can't wait to go back to sipping fruit juice randomly throughout the day and eating outside of my main three meals. This aligner was quite painful on the second day (I got flashbacks of the Aligner 1), and I'm also tired of soreness every 10 days.

On the bright side, it occurs to me that people seem to think this is how my teeth always were. Since I still have The Gap (although it could just be called a gap now, a little over 1 mm with aligners on) and a slight overjet, my family and friends who know i have Invisalign are commenting that I didn't really need it and my teeth are really not bad. Of course, Invisalign is the reason why my teeth are the way they are now, but since they're not completely corrected and it's been a relatively short amount of time, people don't make that connection.

Updated pictures will be added for Aligner 15.

Half-time: Aligner 15 of 30

I'm on my fourth day of Aligner 15 and halfway through with my initial treatment!

The only downside is, again, the pain. This aligner broke the trend and managed to be even more painful than the previous one, instead of mild. Actually, it may not be the pain that is getting to me so much as the sensitivity. It's similar to the sensation of drinking ice cold water or eating bone-chilling ice cream. It's only in one tooth -- the upper right incisor this time and it's been fading since the second day when I first felt it, but it's not completely gone yet. These odd sensations are one thing I won't miss when I'm done with Invisalign.

Anyway, here are photos from today. I wanted to add comparison shots but for some reason the photos were coming out really large, so i just added them as single photos.

Only a Little Pain: Aligner 16 of 30

I'm currently in Aligner 16 and it's been fairly easygoing compared to the last two. There was the regular soreness and sensitivity that happens with each aligner change, but nothing major. I still haven't noticed any major changes since Aligner 12ish. Updated pictures coming with Aligner 17.

Shooting Pain: Aligner 17 of 30

Well, Aligner 17 started out easy enough. It wasn't until around lunch on the second day that I began to experience strong shooting pains on my left side. This was worse than with Aligner 15, and I suddenly remembered the Orajel I bought at the beginning of my treatment, never having needed it until now. Every time I would drink semi-cold liquid or sometimes even when I spoke, pain shot up my teeth and radiated through my gums. Orajel helped but only for a little while, unless I reapplied it constantly.

I finally broke down yesterday and called my orthodontist. He sounded pretty worried, and initially thought it might be a cavity, but I told him the pain is only at the beginning of the trays. He looked up my Clincheck and thought it might be because of the space that is being created in that area; surfaces that were previously in contact with other teeth or covered by the gums are now being exposed, created sensitivity. He said it likely isn't a root issue, but he will look at it more closely when I come in for my next appointment at the end of this month.

And my updated pictures...Not really any movement at the top as my ortho said there won't be until after IPR, so the two arches will line up. My slightly rotated bottom tooth is now straight, which would make sense as it would need to be before IPR.

A17 Photos

Pictures of Aligner 17.

Seeing Progress: Aligner 18

I've moved to Aligner 18. Thankfully, this aligner hasn't been painful like the previous one. The shooting pain is gone, and this aligner doesn't seem to be putting as much pressure on that side.

Also, I see more progress. I'd thought there really hadn't been any changes for several aligners now, but comparing now to aligner 14 I see there have been. It just isn't as drastic as before, I guess, because there is becoming less and less to improve.

I have my appointment with my ortho in a couple of days, and I will be having IPR on a few lower teeth. On my next update I will post pictures of my lower teeth before and after, to note any changes (it's only a fraction of a millimeter, but just in case).

IPR: Aligner 19 of 30

I'm on my fourth day of Aligner 19. Everything is going okay so far. The sensitivity of the first few days is wearing off.

As I mentioned, I received IPR between four of my lower teeth last week. I was a bit nervous about the IPR resulting in my teeth being smaller or having ledges/uneven edges, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The entire process was a little intimidating: my ortho used the diamond disc, which, when it contacted my teeth, created smoke and fine particles, and smelled like something burning. The whole process took under a minute. When I looked in the mirror though, I saw no changes whatsoever. I do notice now when flossing that there is no resistance at all, but that will change as the teeth are moved closer together again.

So the IPR was a success, and it's the only one I'm scheduled for. I wanted to add pictures of my lower teeth before and after IPR but there is no physical change detectable with the eye, so those would be the most underwhelming before and after photos ever. Instead, I will add my full progress pictures for next aligner change.

No Longer a Teenager: Aligner 20 of 30

I've made it to Aligner 20. I'm glad to be out of the teens, as they were a pain (literally). This aligner has been fairly uneventful in that arena, although the soreness seems to be lasting longer.

I forgot to mention in my last update that my ortho put my shooting pain down to the space being created around the teeth that were previously in close contact with each other, and pressure of the aligners. He says that it would likely be worse with metal braces since they apply 4x the pressure, all at once. The pain seems to be gone for good now though; I barely even feel normal aligner change in those teeth nowadays.

One thing I am annoyed with is how much the aligners are causing an open bite. It used to be just the back molars but it's crept up to all of my teeth. My ortho did say it will go back to normal when I move to retainers, but in the meantime I hate the look of it.

Anyway, here are some comparison pictures: aligner 2 vs 20. I'm happy with the way things are progressing (sans the open bite).

1 mm: Aligner 21 of 30

Moved to Aligner 21 a few nights ago. 70 percent done! Everything is going well and the Gap is down to the last millimeter. The Gap should be completely closed before the last aligner, and I'm guessing, based on the ClinCheck, around aligner 24-25. The last 5 or so aligners should just be reducing the overjet further.

It seems like time has passed so quickly, but in reality I've been in Invisalign for over 7.5 months. When it's broken down into stages, i.e. aligners, everything seems much more manageable, so that is one upside of Invisalign vs. traditional braces.

Late: Aligner 22 of 30

I'll be switching to Aligner 23 in a few hours, so I'm actually late in posting this. I was also late in moving to Aligner 22; I normally switch after dinner on the 10th day so my mouth can adjust to them through the night but I just got a new puppy so I've been extremely busy and completely forgot about it. I ended up switching the next morning, so I missed 10-12 hours of wear time. However, with this aligner I barely felt anything, just very slight pressure in the first couple of days. So I figured that it would still be okay to switch on my next scheduled date, so I'll be switching and posting my update with pictures by early next week.

Blood and a Braces Chat: Aligner 23

Another late update: I blame the dog, again. I will be moving to Aligner 24 tomorrow night, so I should update while I still have time. With this aligner I got the usual "My-left-central-incisor-WILL-fall-out" feeling again, so just average: not easy, but not the worst.

However, I did notice the morning after inserting the aligner that there was a bit of food stuck on my gum, to the right of the frenum (that tissue between the two front teeth). I felt like slapping myself on the forehead for sleeping with food stuck in my aligner, and proceeded to scrape it off. That's when I noticed it wasn't food, but a speck of blood; it started bleeding when I scratched it, and I freaked out and popped my aligner back in to stop the bleeding, not knowing what else to do. I drank some water and spat to rinse it out. While it was a bit surprising, by the third day things went back to normal. I do wonder, however, if I may need to get a frenectomy to get rid of the tissue. I think the blood was the result of the teeth pushing on the tissue. My ortho said he normally does the frenectomy near the end of the treatment, so I may ask at my appointment in a couple of weeks.

By now it should be obvious that I'm basically okay with my front teeth attachments and have started smiling all of the time, so I thought most people I know offline knew that I am undergoing Invisalign treatment. Well, I thought wrong because the other day at a get-together with a few friends, the conversation turned to braces and at what ages we had them. Most commented that they got them in middle or high school, but one just got hers off a year ago and she was embarrassed that she was so late getting them and had them for so long. She sighed and said that she had wanted to get Invisalign but was told it could take up to 3 years. Little did she know her braces also took almost 3 years. I was convinced that she was going to turn to me and ask, "How is Invisalign working for you?", but she didn't. Instead she said I was lucky to not have had braces at this age. I just nodded my head: why make her feel even worse for choosing metal brackets over Invisalign?

Pictures of aligner 23 attached.

80 Percent Completion: Aligner 24 of 30

So, this, aligner, #24 marks 80 percent completion of my initial (and hopefully final) treatment. Everything has been going well, although I was worried for a bit because I thought my teeth weren't moving along as outlined by the Clincheck. It seemed that the last few aligners caused barely any changes in The Gap -- it's now a little less than a millimeter. I was disappointed because I'd thought it would be closing by next aligner, but it will only appear to be closed with aligners in; it won't be completely gone until almost the very end. This doesn't bother me as the end is becoming more and more of a reality.

Pictures next update.

Refinements? : Aligner 25 of 30

Fourth day of aligner 25 and the pressure has subsided. The pressure lasted a bit longer than the last few, which I welcomed because that means something is being done. However, I can still see a sliver of space, which is odd because I thought there wouldn't be one by now. I only have 5 more aligners left, and with how slow these aligners have been moving, I don't know how far I'll get with closing that space.

I went to my orthodontist visit last week to pick up my last aligners. The assistant said my next appointment would be for taking impressions for refinements...? I asked if she thought I needed them, and she said it was just standard and he does that with all cases, unless everything is 100 percent perfect. She said that my teeth were completely following the aligners but it appears like, at the end there may still be a tiny space in the front and some teeth which need to come down in the back. I remember my ortho saying that the program only brought the teeth together enough to touch at the end, but it doesn't account for things like gum structure, so if my gums are higher (which I don't think they are), then there would still be some space. Nonetheless, he came over to look at my teeth and said they looked perfect and the impressions would only be taken if there was something off at the end, that couldn't be accounted for when they were crafting the aligners.

I really hope I don't have any refinements! It would be great to get back to eating more often and I'd like to give my teeth a rest from all of the movement. If it's decided I need them, I wouldn't deny the refinements, but I wouldn't complete them all, if there are say, 20, as the assistant mentioned she's seen in extreme cases. Anyway, latest photo attached.

Blah, blah, blah: Aligner 26 of 30

How I feel about this aligner: blah. At first it seemed like it was making major progress but that must have been an illusion because my teeth look identical to how they did with the previous aligner. At this point progress is going so slowly that there is little excitement with each aligner change.

I'm going to hope there is some progress to report for my picture update next aligner.

More Progress, Finally: Aligner 27 of 30

Finally, I can say I see some more changes. The Gap appears to be closed with my aligners in, but there is still a tiny bit of space without it; less than a .25 mm. Hopefully the last 3 aligners can finish the job, after all my first 3 aligners brought The Gap in 1 whole mm.

Another thing I'd noticed with the previous aligners that haven't this one: food stuck in my two front teeth. The first time it happened, it was a very odd sensation and I wasn't aware it was food. Of course I've never had food stuck in my front teeth until recently, so I found it weird and kept trying to take whatever it was out with my fingernail. When I figured out it was food, since it only happened when I was eating, I thought this must be one downside to having straight teeth: having to floss food out all of the time. However, I haven't noticed the feeling since, so here's to hoping that The Gap disappears and I only have to floss at my regular times.

Update picture included!
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How did it go with those tongue-thrust exercises, by the way?
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Really well, I think. I stopped doing them a couple of months ago because I noticed my tongue naturally goes to the roof of my mouth now. I think the exercises, combined with the aligners and reducing the overjet really worked to retrain my tongue.
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So it trains you to make your tongue go to the roof of your mouth instead of behind your teeth?  I never noticed where my tongue goes before, but I guess it is right up there at the roof of my mouth. Though I feel it behind my teeth as well.  Is it supposed to not touch your front teeth at all?  Or is it just not supposed to…I don't know, like push up against them or something?
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wow... you make me want to update more than i have...
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Yes, please update! :) I love seeing everyone's progress.
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Thank you for the detailed info and pictures. I have the exact same problems. My gap is about half the size of yours, but my overbite is about the same. I received the same response from my family. Everyone says there is nothing wrong with my teeth. I hate this gap, so finally at 66 years of age I am doing something about it. Your journey and pictures give me strength to live through the bad times that are sure to come. Your thoroughness tells me that you will become a very good dentist. I wrote down your routine so that I can follow it myself when my invisalign's arrive next month. Your updates and pictures are invaluable to a newbie like myself.
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Hi daylily, it's never too late! I'm glad this gives you hope and thanks for the compliments! Living with aligners can be a bit difficult sometimes but I'd still do it over again because I love my teeth now. I'm sure you'll love your results as well. Keep me updated!
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Hi! I live in the ATL area and I'm very interested in knowing who the orthodontist was and what his place of practice is called? I would love to visit him for a quote. How much was the consultation fee?
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Hi, I will send you a message!
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There is no way you'll have 20 refinements.  That'd be insanity.  Your teeth look great already.  The only times I've seen 20 refinements is with really stubborn cases, where teeth have refused to move and they knew already that there were problems.  I've seen some people get mid-course corrections that are 20, and they call them refinements, but that's not really the same thing.  I hope your number of refinements is more reasonable than that.  But I agree that with five left, it seems unlikely you'll finish.  Usually the last few are overcorrection and that's certainly not where you are now.  Good luck--definitely hoping for the best for you!
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If I do have 20, I give up! Lol. I'm certain I don't have any corrections, but I sure wish they would have simply added more aligners, like maybe 35, because they say the issue isn't with my teeth tracking but with the Clincheck result, which is something that could have been changed earlier. I do recall the ortho mentioning IPR to move the teeth closer if the space doesn't close all of the way and I really don't think I'd go with that.
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Is it just that you don't want to go longer or is the IPR concerning to you in itself?  I know you were concerned before you had it before, but less so after having done it.
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Both! I don't think I'd want IPR on my front teeth. I don't want to make my teeth smaller because they're already small enough. And I don't want to go months more after thinking that I'd be finished.
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*nods*  Fair enough :).  I asked for IPR in the front to help with the black triangles.  But you don't seem to have those.
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I popped over to check out your treatment and your progress is amazing. It's very inspiring to see how invisalign pulled back any overjet and perfectly straightened your teeth. i hope you are happy with the results because your teeth look beautiful! I still dont really understand how the orthos decide how many trays to give people. I would think if you are closing a large gap then you need more trays - but now im thinking when there is crowding, they need to expand the area and then pull the teeth back which maybe takes more trays. thanks for all the detail on your posts - it really helps. ill be back to look at your final result - and im sure it will help to stop back and read your earlier posts in these beginning stages of my treatment! Best of luck for the last 5!
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Hey! My ortho predicted I'd have 30 aligners, and lo and behold! I think they program the movements into the computer and while they tweak things, there is only a certain amount of movement you can get from each aligner. Spaces are actually pretty simple to fix with Invisalign (not so much with traditional braces) because the space is already there to shift the teeth. No complex extrusions, intrusions, rotations, etc. I would have half the aligners I do if it were just that one space; I've seen larger spaces closed in ~20 aligners. However, I do have many aligners already; 30 is not a small number! Most people have 20 something. And yes, crowding can take a while because you have to make space first.
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Just popped in to see how you were progressing and I can't believe the transformation. Gorgeous!!! It might seem like forever to you, but it hasn't even been one year yet. Your smile looks awesome!!
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Hi CraftyMama, thanks for stopping by! I am happy with how well things have gone, and yes, the treatment didn't even take up to a year. Thanks for the compliments :)
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You're welcome. Just read your latest update. When I went for refinements, I was told 'about 3 or 4'-- sounded ok to me. They came back with 15 or 20, can't remember now. I opted not to do them because I thought I could do a few, but ortho said sometimes your teeth may be moved "off" before they're corrected again, so I really should go through the entire refinement process. Everyone is different, but my initial treatment took longer than yours. Good luck!
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Ha, the assistant says maybe around 6, but I'm not going to take her word for it. The refinements seem to always take longer than they predict, which is why I dread them so much! 6...okay. 16...ehhh. But I hope the refinements don't have to move my teeth out of place first because that would be a real dilemma.
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At least your aligners are in all the time--helps to tide you over until the gap is actually closed.  To us watching, though, it is so amazing to see it closing so quickly!  So excited for you--80%!!!!  Do you know what the latest aligners have been doing, since they've not been closing the gap?
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They did a tiny bit -- The Gap is a little less than .75 MM. But I think they worked on the overjet more. I could live with the one I have now; it's barely noticeable and "normal". My ortho is impressed with how well it came along, especially without elastics, but I'm more focused on The Gap. Of course he sets it up so it's not until basically the end before it closes completely, lol.
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:D !!
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I can't believe they haven't noticed your diastema disappearing.  But I guess I am also obsessed with teeth.  I rarely notice when people get haircuts, so maybe it's like that.  I'm still really surprised, though--your results are really obvious!  I wonder if she's already begun thinking of you as another person with perfect teeth--must have had braces in middle school.  *the mind boggles*
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Beautiful results! Your progress us amazing!
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