I started Invisalign a few months ago in hopes to...
I started Invisalign a few months ago in hopes to finally straighten my teeth. I grew up in a military family and we moved around so often that we had always planned to straighten my teeth when we finally settled down. Unfortunately, I never did get traditional braces. I'm 26 now and am planning to get married sometime next year, so I decided to finally get braces and apply for a loan to pay for the treatment. I know it will be well worth it in the end.
I reached out to several local orthodontists, but finally decided on Invisalign because 1) the treatment would be considerably shorter than traditional braces, 2) the clear aligners are not nearly as visible as traditional braces and 3) I could whiten my teeth early on in the treatment.
My first consult was quick and painless. I met with a dental hygienist and my dentist to have several photos taken of my teeth. We then reviewed the photos and discussed that I was in fact a candidate (even thought my general dentist had said for years that I would never be a candidate). I believe the Invsialign provider mentioned I was a Level 2 (out of 5) candidate, so my teeth weren't as bad as I thought on their scale of difficulty. My main issue is overcrowding, esp. my right canine tooth.
I then returned a few days later to have a digital mold created and applied for a loan through my Invisalign provider's office. The digital mold consisted of a dental hygienist taking pictures of each tooth from several angles and uploading them to her computer. I was able to watch the mold gradually build throughout the 45 minute session. My dentist then came in and showed me how my teeth would look in 6 months, 1 year and 1.5 years. She then pointed out a few cosmetic changes we could make, i.e. fix the small facial cracks towards the bottom of some of my teeth, which are included in the overall cost.
I was very happy with my initial consults and the Invisalign provider office. I am very much looking forward to seeing the completed look.
Sets 1 and 2
I received my first set of aligners approximately two weeks after completing my digital mold. The aligners are clear trays that fit perfectly over your teeth. I received Sets 1 and 2 during my visit. The dental hygienist gave me the aligners and showed me how to insert them. I found it extremely helpful that the hygienist also has Invisalign. She answered many of my questions - including how to clean them, how often to take them off, what if any adjustments would be made and/or what would happen if I broke or lost an aligner.
I wear my aligners for 22-23 hours a day. I only take them out for meals. The dental hygienist recommending brushing the aligners at least once a day with warm water and toothpaste. I decided to brush my teeth and my aligners after each meal though. It only takes a few minutes longer to do so and this way I don't have to worry about any food or drink residue left behind. I've noticed that since starting my treatment I've stopped snacking throughout the day. It's too much of a hassle to take the aligners out and brush them just to eat a bag of potato chips, so I now only eat three meals a day.
My first set of aligners felt tight. The dental hygienist and dentist noted that I might feel slight pressure within the first few hours of wearing the aligners (The initial pressure did cause a headache, but I haven't experienced it with my other sets). They also mentioned that I might have a slight lisp, so they recommended singing in the car on my way home from my dental visit. This would allow me to practice talking without being embarrassed. I think it's a great idea. I had to go back to work though, so I immediate had to try talking to my coworkers and customers. I actually think that going straight back to work really helped me. It allowed me to acclimate to the aligners very quickly (although I did have trouble with certain words).
It did take getting used to having my tongue occasionally touching the bottom of my aligners. Some of the aligners have a little extra plastic at the bottom to make sure it stays in place. I kept rubbing my tongue against this area by accident. It's not sharp, so it doesn't hurt. It was just a bit odd to think that I'd be having these aligners in my mouth now all the time.
I switched to Set 2 exactly two weeks after my I started Set 1. The second set was also tight, but I didn't experience a headache or any difficulties talking. I did, however, have a little trouble removing the sets. My dental hygienist and dentist recommended taking the aligners out by starting in the back molars and working your way forward. Your fingernails should easily be able to fit under or latch on to the aligner. Removing the aligners gets easier and easier with each day and each set.
My Invisaglign provider gave me a free Zoom Nite 22% Whitening Gel as part of my treatment. I was told to insert a drop of the gel for each individual tooth in my aligners over the next three days or until I ran out of the gel. I started whitening the same day I received my first set of aligners (Sept. 19, 2013). I found the whitening treatment to be pretty painful, but highly effective.
My dentist did ask me if I have sensitive teeth and/or if I've ever used whitening gels before. I've never had issues with hot or cold, but I also hadn't whitened before. I wasn't sure how I would react. Inserting the gel into the aligners was easy enough. Most whitening gels recommend wearing it for 1-2 hours, but my provider said I could wear the gel overnight and then brush my teeth in the morning. I didn't notice any pain while wearing the gel, but the next morning I would occasionally have sharp pains on my bottom teeth. I also couldn't comfortably drink coffee or tea. The pain lasted a few hours (off and on) and then I continued to whiten the next several days. I don't think the pain would have been as sharp if I'd only used the gel for a few hours instead of close to 8 hours, but I also don't think my teeth would have been as bright as they are now.
I was a bridesmaid in my best friends wedding a few days after starting Invisalign, so whitening my teeth was a huge bonus! I haven't felt as confident as I do now. My teeth are still overcrowded, but they've never looked as good as this. My dentist is really happy with the results. She mentioned that my teeth are probably close 5-6 shades lighter than before.
Four months later my teeth are still very white, so I definitely think it's worth it. No pain, no gain.
Set 3 and Bumps
Two sets and four weeks later I went back to my dentist and had bumps installed. My dentist explained that bumps are similar to the brackets on traditional metal braces. The brackets or bumps help move the teeth or in some case keep the tooth in place. The bumps ultimately help move the process along according to plan.
The bumps are very small tooth-colored enameled pieces that are glued on similar to a bracket. The bumps are nearly invisible on my teeth (without my aligners on). I was pleasantly surprised at how well the color matched up to my teeth. They are however slightly noticeable with my aligners in, since my Set 3 aligners now have to go over the bumps (so the aligners do protrude a bit over the bumps). Each candidate's bumps will be on different teeth. It really depends on which teeth need to move the most.
My dental hygenist and dentist installed the bumps within 10-15 minutes. The treatment was pain free. I have two tiny bumps on my two of my bottom row of teeth. These are not noticeable at all, since the bumps are on the sides. I have four slightly larger bumps on four of my top row of teeth. I find these ones noticeable compared to Sets 1 and 2. I don't think any of my co-workers or customers noticed that I started treatment in the first month (unless I mentioned it), but with the bumps I occasionally have people ask if I have braces.
I was a little self-conscious about the bumps, but honestly the bumps don't show up in photographs and I've only had a few people even notice them. So far, so good.
Set 4 and 5
I started to notice real progress by Set 4 or 5 (Nov. 28, 2013). I couldn't visually notice a difference, but then again I look at my teeth every single day. I did notice that it's starting to get easier to floss between several teeth though! It's a great sign! I started the treatment, so I can be more confident with my smile. It's a bonus that my teeth will be much healthy in the long run. Flossing helps prevent cavities after all!
I've also noticed that since starting the treatment I've cut back on eating candy and drinking soda. My general dentist has been telling me to do this for years, but I only started cutting back because I didn't want to worry about any sugary residue sitting in my aligners (after my meal).
Set 6 and 7
I recently completed Set 6 and 7 (Dec. 30, 2013) and my relatives mentioned over the holidays that my right canine tooth isn't protruding as much. It's hard for me to see a physical change after 14 weeks of treatment, but my dentist mentions that my teeth are moving at each dental appointment.
Most of appointments last 15-30 minutes. The dental hygienist checks to make sure that my current set is fitting properly and then she will give me my next two or three sets of aligners. My dentist then comes in and asks me to remove my current set of aligners. She then proceeds to check my teeth by flossing and/or comparing my teeth against the digital mold that was created when I started the treatment. She does this in case she needs to make changes to my treatment plan.
No changes have been made, so everything is going according to plan. The only bump in the road I've experienced was that I picked up the wrong set of aligners at my last visit. I picked up Set 7 and 8, when I needed Set 6 and 7. So, I ended up wearing Set 5 for a few extra days (since my provider was closed for most of the week due to Thanksgiving). I then picked up Set 6 over my lunch break. I was quickly in and out of the office. It was a common mistake, so I don't blame my dental hygienist or dentist for the mix-up (esp. since I didn't notice that I had the wrong aligners until I needed to start the next set).
I'm looking forward to the New Year. I just started Set 8 out of 34. I should complete my treatment by December 2014 or January 2015.
16 Jan 2014
4 months post
I recently completed Set 8 (Jan. 13) and started Set 9. My Invisalign experience has been a great experience so far. Smooth sailing. I'm starting to really see results. I visually compared Set 1 to Set 9 and I'm happy to say I can actually see a difference. The difference between each tray is normally not noticeable (since the change is so small week to week), but comparing the trays I can tell that my two front teeth aren't overlapping as much as before. It's a small change, but it's nice to finally know for sure that my teeth are in fact moving!
I met with my dentist recently and she verified that everything is in fact going according to plan. My teeth are moving nicely. It's hard to imagine that my teeth will be completely straight this time next year!
Each try feels tighter and tighter now. I feel a bit more pressure and have the occasional headache. I normally take an Advil before switching into a new tray and that seems to help. It's only an issue taking the trays in and out to eat that bother me the first few days of each new tray. I sometimes feel like I'll rip my teeth out or break the aligner, but so far that hasn't happened!
Set 9 and 10
14 Feb 2014
5 months post
I'm moving right along! I recently completed Set 9 (Jan. 26) and 10 (Feb. 10). I'm really seeing a difference in my right canine tooth. Flossing is becoming easier and easier. Each tray continues to feel tighter and tighter now, but not painful. I occasionally have a headache the first day while wearing a new tray. I no longer have trouble eating apples or red meat, but I imagine with my teeth moving that some foods will be an issue on certain days. I also think I'm biting or grinding my teeth at night. I wake up and feel like I've had my jaw clenched. I didn't use to do this (before starting Invisalign). i also don't recall doing this over the past few months. I plan on bringing this up with my dentist at my next appointment (This may also be due to stress. I am currently juggling two jobs and a family member has been in and out of the hospital recently).
My dentist appointments continue to be a positive experience. Both my dentist and dental hygienist are quick to see me and review my progress. I'm almost 1/3 of the day done with my treatment. I'm currently on Set 11 of 34.
Set 11, 12 and 13!
24 Mar 2014
6 months post
I've been quite busy the past few weeks, so I hadn't had a chance to update my post until now! I'm moving right along in the process. I'm definitely noticing more and more change - esp. when I compare my first set aligners to my current set. Most of the change is on my top row - although I am noticing more space when flossing on my bottom row.
I had another dentist appointment and all is going well. I also talked to my dentist about grinding or clenching my teeth at night. It seems that most patients (based on her comments and other reviews) seem to have that issue at some point during treatment. Luckily - it seems to be going away. I think the issue is really that I'm not used to having something in my mouth at all times. I often would sleep with my mouth open during the first few weeks of treatment, which would equal drool on my pillow the next morning. I finally got used to sleeping with my mouth closed, but then I felt like I was clinching. I now only feel like I'm clenching the first few days of a new set (getting used to the set) and then I'm fine. It doesn't seem to be causing any problems though. Everything is moving along as it should and my bite is fine.
I'm now on Set 14 of 34. My dentist gave me two sets during my last visit, so my next appointment is in a little less than a month.
Set 13, 14 & 15
It's been a while since I posted any updates about my Invisalign process. I'm currently on set 19 of 34. I'll post more photos soon.
I'm more than half way through the process! I really haven't had any issues the past few months. I rarely have headaches anymore (I used to have headaches off and on when switching to a new set). I've gotten used to only drinking water with my aligners in. I've also gotten used to only eating at designated meal times (I used to snack all day before Invsialign). It seems like second nature to me now.
I was recently sick though. It wasn't very much fun experience flu-like symptoms with aligners. I ended up simply taking them out and when I was feeling better I put them back in. I did keep them on a few extra days (instead of the usual 14), so I wouldn't start the new set before my teeth were ready.
Set 19 and 20
7 Jul 2014
10 months post
I'm moving right along...Everything is going well. There is still a lot of work ahead though. I haven't had any issues and I'm looking forward to wrapping this process up. Only 6 months to go! I have another appointment scheduled for this Thursday. I'll start Set 22 of 34 then.
Set 21, 22 and 23
This summer has flown by! I've had several appointments since my last post. During my last appointment - the doctor showed me the photos from my consultation (which was almost a year ago!). I'm shocked to see just how bad my teeth really were. I've been taking photos throughout the process, but it's hard to see those early photos (esp. on a huge monitor!). I couldn't be happier with the process and my improvement. I just wish I did it sooner!
Set 24 and 25
I'm now on Set 26 of 34. I should be with the process in December 2014 / January 2015. It looks like most of the work - these past few weeks and now- has been focused on my bottom row. I haven't noticed as much of a change in my bottom row from week to week, but my doctor said that it's actually harder to shift your bottom row then your top. I'd have to look it up, but I seem to recall her mentioning that the top and bottom row move at different speeds because they are different types of bones. I'm starting to notice a difference now though - I also started to get headaches again with each new set.
Sets 26, 27, 28 and 29!
It has been a very busy few months! Sorry for the late update, but all is going well with Invisalign. I'm currently on Set 30 and have my next appointment on Nov. 13. The only hiccup I had was that I had a general cleaning with my primary dentist and turns out one of my fillings cracked! My dentist wasn't sure if it's because the filling was one of the oldest fillings I had (for most patients, or so I'm told, they eventually need to be repaired and/or fixed after a certain period of time) or if it was because of my teeth moving. Either way - he fixed the filling and several hours later - I felt extremely lucky that my Invisalign trays still fit! At my next appt., I will probably be picking up Sets 31 and 32. My treatment should end with Set 34, BUT I think my bottom teeth are moving much slower than I expected. I can't imagine actually being done with Set 34, but we will see. My dentist says everything is going well, so fingers crossed!
Set 30, 31 and 32
I'm currently on Set 33 of 34. I'll be switching to Set 34 on Christmas (YEAH!!) with a target end date of January 8, 2015. Everything is moving along smoothly, however I think I'll have to have a bottom set on for a few weeks to a month or so longer. One of my bottom canine teeth is slightly lower than my other other teeth (see the attached pictures). We noticed a small air bubble towards the top of my aligner a few weeks ago (meaning my tooth wasn't reaching the top of the aligner). It hasn't corrected itself, so after the holidays I will probably have to have sometime of band around the aligner and my teeth to help bring my canine tooth up. I'm not too worried about it. It will be a pain to take on and off to eat, but I knew coming into my treatment that many people often have additional aligners or refinements.
At this point, it looks like my top row of teeth will be good to go in the new year. In addition to the straightening, my office will be fixing some of my hairline cracks and/or filing the jagged ends. I'll be sure to post additional pictures after my last two sets :) and after my next appointment.
Set 33 and 34
My bottom row, esp. my bottom right canine tooth, continues to put up a fight. I finished my last set of aligners on Jan. 8, 2015 (a week ago), but my bottom row still needs work. As I mentioned, in previous posts, my dentist mentioned that I may need a bracket to help "pull" the tooth up and into alignment. Luckily, I didn't have to have the bracket put on until after the holidays. I now have a bracket and have to use rubber bands. The rubber band fits into two grooves made by my dentist on my aligner. I then wrap the rubber band around the aligner until I can safely secure it to the bracket. It was a bit difficult to do at first, but now it's fairly easy. I'll have to do this for six weeks. Hopefully, by my next appointment my canine tooth will be in place.
Still on Set 34....
My next appointment is about three weeks away. At this point, I've been wearing my altered set for nine weeks. My bottom right canine tooth is gradually moving up, so the rubber bands are working. I used a slightly larger and more noticeable rubber band the first six weeks and now I'm using a smaller, less noticeable band. It hasn't been hard wearing the rubber band, but it is occasionally difficult to remove the rubber band before eating. I'd recommend using a small tool - nail flyer, pen cap - to pop the rubber band off the bracket (if you can't get it off). I'm not sure if my canine tooth will be in the proper space or not by the time I have my next appointment, but here's hoping!
A general orthodontist told me I'd have braces for almost three years, while my invisalign provider estimated 1.5 years. I'm almost at that point, so hopefully it's not too much longer. Overall, I've been very happy with the process. I'm just itching for it to be over now.
Now onto refinements....
I haven't posted an update in a while....mainly because I've been wearing the same tray for months. Instead of moving into refinement trays, I had a makeshift tray (see previous posts) to accommodate a bracket and rubber band system (similar to traditional braces). As of mid-April, I am completely done with brackets and rubber bands. I was now in the waiting game...three weeks later...my refinement trays came in.
I had my refinement follow-up today. I had two additional bumps added, which really aren't noticeable (considering how many I've already had throughout the process). I also received my first refinement set of....drumroll, please...21! Urgh. I was expecting a couple months of refinements, not forty-two weeks. I'm completely ready to be done, but I understand that it takes awhile to get perfectly straight teeth and my bottom right canine has been extremely stubborn. Luckily, my dentist did recommend that I can choose not to do all the refinements (if we are both on the same page). My top teeth actually won't move much in the refinement process. We are really focused on moving the stubborn tooth. So..who knows..I might have them off sooner. At this point, I imagine I'll probably at least need to wear them until the 2 year mark (Sept. 2015) and/or possibly closer to 2.5 years (April 2016) if I decided to do all the refinements.
Have you stopped during the refinement treatment and had your retainer made earlier? Did you regret it?
Refinement Sets 1-5
I'm plugging away on my refinement trays. All is still going well. My bottom right canine tooth gradually appears to be moving, but I still find it hard to notice gradual changes. My next appointment is in early August.