Not in Love with Invisalign (Yet??) - Raleigh, NC

I've been thinking about Invisalign for many years...

I've been thinking about Invisalign for many years but as it was quite expensive and mostly cosmetic for me, I never followed through. But suddenly at 35 I found myself able to afford it and I figured, why not? It sounded so easy (Invisible! Mostly painless! Few office visits! Amazing results!) so I talked to my dentist (yes dentist, not orthodontist, oops!) and decided to give it a try.

I know now after doing hours of research (that I should have done beforehand instead of just relying on family experience) that it is not uncommon for dentists and orthodontists to omit some pertinent details when describing the procedure. I was shown a model of top teeth with a very thin, truly invisible, plastic tray on them attached by two buttons on the back teeth. I asked about these buttons specifically and was told there may be a "few" more for me but that it would be unusual for them to be on the front teeth (my concern). I know now that this is not true. IPR was never mentioned at all and as both my dentist and hygienist were hovering over me while I read the Invisalign disclaimer, I missed those few lines and didn't get to ask about them.

My molds were taken and sent away and I was given the impression that I'd get the opportunity to preview the final projected outcome before proceeding. The next call I got, however, was that the trays were in and I should come get them.

I thought this visit would be easy. I expected a preview of my results, as promised, but they immediately leaned me back and stuffed my mouth full of cotton to get started with the buttons. The hygienist started counting, counted up to 14 and I asked her what she was counting, "Oh, your buttons!" she said. I was more than a little surprised at this. She proceeded to tell me that not only would I have 10 more buttons than I was expecting, but many of them would be on my front-most teeth including two on my top right front tooth. I told her I was not ok with that and she called the dentist over to reprimand me and explain that without those buttons the procedure will not work. I allowed them to continue, I wasn't sure what else to do. They swore that the buttons would not be noticeable once the aligners were on and barely noticeable with them off. This was not quite accurate.

They popped the trays on and handed me a mirror, I was so disappointed, it could not have been further from my expectations. They gave me some wax, two cases, some cleaner crystals, and two more sets of trays and sent me on my way. I was fairly certain at that time that I would simply return the next day to have the buttons removed and forget about the whole thing. I am two and a half weeks in now, I put my second set of trays in last week. I am still not sold on this procedure but I promised I'd give it one month.

My most immediate issue revolved around a serious amount of tooth and jaw pain for the entire first week. I ate mostly yogurt, soup, and Ensure drinks, I couldn't handle anything else and some meals I skipped because taking the trays in and out was just too painful. Obviously I was lisping like crazy, partly because the hygienist accidentally swiped the inside of my cheek and lip with the etchant used to help adhere the buttons causing my mouth to swell and peel, ick!

My ongoing issues are the sharp edges that cut my tongue and cheeks to ribbons, this second tray set is even worse than the first. My doctor "smoothed" my first set at my request but while the edges were no longer sharp, they were then rough, and caused just as much irritation so I've used and am currently just using a lot of wax. My trays even seem to have a "shelf" on the outside edge (my top tray on one front tooth has an indentation at the top, the reverse of the button bubbles, that created even more of a shelf) which catch my lips when I talk, like regular braces would. And although I've seen no mention of it in anyone else's reviews, I am unable to completely close my lips over the bulge of the aligners without straining my cheeks and chin. This leaves me with an aching face on a daily basis, not to mention I look ridiculous walking around either trying to force my mouth closed or just leaving it hanging open, lovely ; )

I would like to say I am getting used to this and I am on board now, but I am not. I was initially told I had 10 trays on top and 10 on bottom, but then oops, it's actually 15 for both! And honestly, my final projection shows my top front teeth moving forward which makes me fear that I may NEVER be able to close my lips again! And I see "black triangles" on my lower teeth thinking that IPR may be in my future although I've been told not. I’m hoping I will adjust and be able to stick this out but all of it is such a hassle and so much discomfort that I am thinking my vanity is simply not worth it!

Still going...

I am now on my third set of trays and I have my first check-in appointment on Oct 22nd. I have not had much improvement in the sharpness of the trays, I have to do a LOT of filing and then still use wax, but at least I can get them comfortable after a few days. I am currently having to use a bit of wax on the front of my top tooth, though, because there is a significant shelf/gap there and it catches and cuts my lip when I talk. I am not sure how noticeable the wax is, I think the trays themselves are so distracting that it's just all part of the weirdness and no one can tell!

My biggest problem now is that when my trays are out, my front top and bottom teeth hit when I try to chew and I am unable to comfortably eat. I can't chew properly because my back teeth don't touch at all and I'm very anxious about eating because it hurts like crazy when they do hit. I am thinking now that this may be related to my jaw being pushed forward or just irritated by the trays 22 hours a day (it feels the same as when my jaw is swollen from a bad night of clenching) and I am concerned that this could be causing some permanent issue. Guess I'll just have to see what my dentist says.

I'm also wondering if I'm the only one whose teeth never stop hurting? They are sore for the entire two weeks making it hard to eat at all, and then they just get MORE sore for the first three or four days of the new trays. Ugh.

I'm not lisping anymore but I am having periodic issues with air flowing through my top tray when I talk and like, bubbling and whatnot and I feel like I'm spitting on people! I am STILL not sold on this, but maybe I've gone too far already?

First six week appointment

I had my first six week check-in on October 22nd. Not that much to report, my dentist seems to think that everything is going well, the trays are fitting "perfectly" and so on. She seemed to think that my teeth hitting in front had more to do with my teeth moving and less to do with my jaw being pushed forward. I tried to explain that at the end of an hour with the trays out I was able to touch some of my back teeth together, but this did not sway her opinion. I am not sure how confident I am in her opinion anymore, oh well.

She filed my tries for me a bit, but I wish she hadn't. She tends to nick the front of the trays leaving rough patches that I then have to wax over. She did finally explain that the irritating shelf on the tray in the front is a "power ridge" and that it's not going anywhere for the duration so I just need to keep packing the gap with wax. Awesome.

Today I actually had to go in because I realized I was missing a button on my upper canine. I looked back at photos I took from my first day and I think perhaps this button was never even placed! My dentist didn't think it was going to affect much because there is another button on the same tooth, but I guess we'll have to wait and see if I'm on track at the next check-in.

Still wishing I'd never done this but I think at this point everyone I associate with already knows I'm doing Invisalign and has seen me so I get less weird looks now ; )

Some Pictures

Not sure exactly how to add pictures so I'll put some here : )

One more picture!

12 weeks done

I am now on my 7th set of trays and I had another appointment with my dentist. She seems to think I may need IPR on my lower teeth, which I expected but she had said not. I am concerned that one of my bottom teeth seem to be tilting, as though the top is moving but not the root, my dentist said she thought it was just the way it was turning to fit in. I'm afraid my teeth are looking worse now than they did originally! I had my dentist send me some photos of my upper and lower teeth on the first day so I could compare, I will add those here. I will also add a current picture of my teeth from the front, I think they are also yellowing considerably! Ugh.

I will see my dentist again right after Christmas to assess whether I will complete my original 15 trays or we will do a mid-course correction and send in impressions to get new trays. I have no idea how she's going to make that decision as she is not an ortho, but we shall see.

Tray Pictures

I am noticing my bottom teeth FEEL different from the inside so I decided to compare my trays and see what exactly is going on. I was actually quite stunned to see how much progress I've apparently made. As of now my trays are fitting pretty well, although I'm concerned that my current bottom tray never settled in all the way (my dentist didn't seem concerned when she put it in, though, so who knows). I switch trays tomorrow, to set 8 and I'm just crossing my fingers that they go in smoothly! I am terrified of the day when they just won't go on and the mid-course correction is then inevitable. Anyway, I'll post some pictures comparing my 2nd set of trays to my 9th set.

Bottom Tray not fitting?

Just a picture of the bottom tray that doesn't seem to be quite fitting. As far as I can tell there are just a few teeth that aren't all they way seated, although all the buttons seem to be popped in where they are supposed to be. This picture is from the last day of tray 7, I put in tray 8 tonight and it is the same.

Mid-Course Correction

I just received the first of my new trays after a slight mid-course correction. Just after Christmas as I was finishing up tray 8, I had a meeting with my dentist. There was one tooth that was clearly not filling the trays anymore and she decided to do new impressions (I did NOT have to have my buttons removed for this as I had expected) and send them back to Invisalign to see whether to continue to Tray 9 or to get new trays.

Today (January 13th) I went in and was told they sent back new trays, 9-18, which only adds 3 trays to my original 15 unless they are withholding some like they did before. I had several buttons removed which was painless and very fast, not what I expected at all and pleasantly surprising! And then several more put on. I am so pleased that the two buttons on my right front tooth are gone! These new trays hurt as badly as the very first trays I had, maybe because I spent an extra 2 weeks in Tray 8? OUCH!! But apparently nothing drastic needs to be changed and hopefully all will progress well from here. Of course there is always the chance that the are again planning to reassess at the end of these trays and actually have 20 more trays waiting, ugh. I think I don't even want to know ; )
Was this review helpful? 1 other found this helpful

Comments (28)

Sort by

I am almost to the end of my first refinement tray, and I had the same issue with pain. I wore my last tray before refinements came in for about 5 weeks, so my teeth were nice and set! I hope you won't have any reoccurring issues with the fit or your aligners and all will be smooth sailing from here on out!
  • Reply
Yeah, when you hang out in a tray for a while, the teeth start settling, and have to loosen up again.  Terrible.  That happened to me between the last aligner and the retainer, and then again every time I had to get a new retainer (Vivera gives you 4 you need to break in.  Ugh.)  Anyway, not unusual, but definitely unfortunate and unpleasant.  

It seems unlikely they'd be withholding some aligners but give you nine at once.  But there's nothing that says you won't need/want refinements at the end of the 18.  I started with 15 and got 6 in a refinement.  But I felt like the refinement was somehow easier--I don't know if it was less tooth movement or just psychological. :)

It's good to see your tray fitting again, though.  Hopefully it'll be smooth sailing from here!
  • Reply
I definitely do not think your teeth look worse than before! You could try chewies to help seat your aligners the first few days of wear. That should help them fit properly so that by the time your 2 weeks is up and you are switching to a new tray they fit perfectly. Usually when you first put in a tray it won't fit great as the teeth need to move into those new positions. After a few days though the trays should fit fairly well if there are no problems. I look forward to hearing what the dentist has to say after your post Christmas appt!
  • Reply
Thank you! You know, the aligners feel seated, they fit all the buttons it seems, but they don't look seated. I will post a picture of the bottom teeth that concern me, I just don't know. I did put in trays #8 this evening and they went in just fine, so that at least was a relief, though the bottom tray looks the same as the previous one. I also look forward to hearing what the dentist has to say after Christmas, crossing my fingers that she feels I'm on track!!
  • Reply

I love those pics side-by-side.  Excellent illustration.  Good luck with your post-Yule appointment!

  • Reply
I have a lot of the same issues as you do. I got invisalign from my dentist and it seemed a pretty basic fix. Widen my arch, fix some minor crowding, give my front teeth some more space between them. I consulted with an ortho as well and she felt the dentist could do it fine too, so I went with my dentist cause he was several thousand dollars cheaper. I regret that choice now. The alligner edges dont bother me, but same as you, after a month into wearing the invisalign, my front teeth started hitting first and all my teeth and gums around the teeth were sore all the time. Most people only have sore teeth for a few days when they change out trays, but like you, mine are constantly sore day in and day out, very frustrating. I had jaw and face Pain that come and went through my treatment and my front teeth kept hitting with the trays out, my lower jaw felt forward and I too think and thought it was due to the trays but my dentist didn't seem to understand what I was saying. On my Last visit before refinment i demanded he evaluate what I was saying and put it into consideration for my refinement. He stated I was bringing my jaw forward when I bit, but obviously I wasn't purposely doing it. I got to the point of concern that I got a consult from a highly experienced orthodontist. She didn't give me any clear answers as to why my bite felt off or why my teeth were always sore, other then that it could be the trays or my jaw desiring to be forward after my arch was expanded. She did offer to consult my dentist with the refinement and she did. My dentist didn't seem to happy about it but I could care less. I am almost sure now that most dentists rely too much on invisalign computers and the techs to make the treatment plan. My refinment phase is just as long as my initial treatment, and I can see the orthodontist I consulted stayed true to her word and assisted in the treatment. My teeth are still alWays sore, and my front teeth still hit, as if lower jaw is slightly forward, as other teeth feel off when I bite too. I do get a sense from the ortho consultation that she believes the trays are causing this even though she didn't say it. Your not alone, I seem to have several of the issues, worries, and concerns you do and am highly concerned about the final results. At this time I regret doing it. My teeth do look good, they looked fine before I think too, but the discomfort is like a daily minor torture and irritability.
  • Reply
Hey there! Well, I'm very glad to hear that I'm not alone, but not so glad to hear that your experience isn't going well : ( I have days now and then, or more like, individual meals in a day, when my front teeth don't hit and it's amazing! That makes me think it's NOT the actual tooth position and that it is something with the jaw, but who knows. I miss biting things with my front teeth! I have to cut everything up into bites, my 5 year old thinks this is very funny but I don't! If you do get any better answers or if things get better (or worse??) I'd love to hear your updates! Good luck with the refinements!
  • Reply

I see good progress in the top jaw.  Not so much in the bottom, though the angles are different in the pics, so that may be part of it.  

The discoloring of the teeth is a known problem.  Some of us get it worse than others (mine was awful, and I don't drink coffee, tea, or soda.  My dentist was able to polish it off with pumice everywhere except in the crevices of my molars--that remains and will remain forever, I guess.)  

I've heard of the power chains but have never seen them.  Is it possible to get a pic of those?  Don't go out of your way, but I'd love to see them.  

I don't think your teeth look worse now.  I'm not saying I have any idea if your dentist knows what she's doing, but it would not be unusual if your tooth takes a while to move to its new position and straighten out.  Just make sure your trays are fitting perfectly before you switch to the next tray.  Let your dentist know if it's not fitting perfectly when you're supposed to switch.

  • Reply
I know, the dentist's original pics are terrible and at an angle I can't replicate! But I'm not seeing much movement on the bottom. Bummer to hear about the yellowing being a common problem, whitening can't fix it? I was thinking I'd just have to do that when I'm done. I'm not sure what you mean about the power chains, is that another IPR? I was talking about interproximal reduction.
  • Reply

Oops, you called it a power ridge.  That's what I meant :)

I don't know if whitening can get rid of the staining.  All of the most visible surfaces of my teeth were easy to clean.  My orthodontist did it when I went to the office, and my dentist did it at my checkups.  I have whitening gel but I haven't tried it in those crevices cause it's just not that big of a deal to me.  I definitely want to whiten a bit now, though, that the teeth are all straight.  I just haven't gotten around to doing it more than twice yet because we moved and I can't find the gel :-/.

The IPR definitely isn't a big deal.  No pain, hardly notice it's been done. :)

  • Reply

Okay, so because of your post, I used my whitening gel last night.  And yeah, it worked on the stain :)  So that's good!

  • Reply
That's excellent news! Yay!
  • Reply
Wow Wednesday, I just read your review. Sorry to hear your having a tough time. Believe it or not it does get a bit easier dealing with the trays as you go along, or it just becomes the new norm. When my trays were sharp I'd hit the edges with a nail file or even sandpaper at times to smooth them out. Like you I went to my regular Dentist for treatment. If I could do it all over again I would've went to an Ortho. I think most Dentists are in over their heads prescribing tooth movement, and rely on the coarse of treatment some invisalign tech sends them back. That's what I call the Clincheck cartoon. For me the Clincheck's haven't been reliable with the results I've experienced, however they're a great sales tool for the Dentist trying to close the deal. I'm surprised your Dentist didn't show you that before she started your attatchments. You're supposed to approve the Clincheck before they start. I'm now in the refinement phase of my treatment, tray # 40 in total. Six more trays to go to finish up the first refinement. Then on to refinement #2. Oh boy, I can't wait. Drop by and read my very long review, I have pictures of each trays progress. Tc and gl
  • Reply
Hi! I am more and more convinced that my dentist has NO idea what she's doing! She has had Invisalign herself, as have many of her staff, so I know at least she can relate on some level. But since she clearly knew ahead of time what to expect, she did not have the experience I am having. Right now the inside of my bottom tray is killing me. I actually bought a nail kit, like a little nail dremel kit thing, and have been filing with that. It worked really well on previous trays but for some reason this one is a fail and I'm back to wax. Grrrrr. I'm sorry to hear the ClinCheck's haven't been accurate, although that doesn't sound so unusual after all I've read. It sure IS a good selling tool, though!!! I can't believe that refinements were never discussed with me as it too seems like just part of the package. I am already planning my hysterical crying fit when I reach tray 15 and my teeth are still a mess. I will take a look at your review, I'm interested to see how your treatment has progressed since you've been in it for, well, awhile now! Thanks for the comment!! Good luck with your refinements!
  • Reply
Your trays don't stand out that much, mine looks much more noticeable with my 16 attachments, haha. Looking forward to seeing your progess!
  • Reply
Thank you! : )
  • Reply
Hi WC! I just read your review and will tell you it does get easier! It takes time but you will get used to the trays and the process. I also went to a dentist instead of an ortho... kind of a spur of the moment decision for me! I've done a ton of research between then and now though and feel ok with the decision... its a learning process for both of us though (eek.) The inside of your mouth will get "tougher" as time goes on and you won't have to use as much wax (or any at all after a while). I also have 5 power ridges, 2 on the top in the front (on either side of my left central incisor) and 3 on the bottom front. I have more issues with my bottom lip catching on the bottom ridges. I will push on the very bottom of the tray right there so it doesn't stick out as much (while wearing them). It seems to do the trick. I didn't know about all the attachments at first, and will admit that it took me a few months to fully get used to them (I REALLY HATE THEM!!) I have 13, and 2 of them are on that left central incisor. I am now on tray 18 and can say the time has gone by relatively quickly... easier for me to say since I am down the line, but it seems just like yesterday that I got my first trays. After tray 19, I go in to have my attachments removed and get new impressions for my first set of refinements. I will have a few weeks free of the attachments (yippee! LOL.) You'll also find that your bite will change slightly here or there as you move through the trays. It's a very odd thing to get used to. I think on tray 2 I had an issue with not being able to chew properly because my upper teeth were hitting on one of the lower attachments. It fixed itself pretty quickly though and it was ok. Right now my cuspids (had to break out the tooth chart for the names! LOL) are not meeting like they used to but I can chew ok and haven't noticed too much of an issue with it. I've been writing a review since the beginning and have a lot of pictures if you are interested. I am happy with my decision to get invisalign - even though it is not as easy or invisible as they say! :) I've had some great movement so far! I hope my refinements will be 10 trays or less. That would be nice. I have some other dental work to be done afterward to complete my smile make-over. :) Good luck! I look forward to reading about your experience as you move through your treatment!
  • Reply
Hey there! Oh refinements, does everyone need refinements?? That's another thing I was clueless about. I figured 15 sets and I'm done, which is what my dentist told me, but then I keep reading that refinements are practically just part of the plan all along! I was told they made 10 trays for me at which point I am going to be evaluated to see whether to continue with my last 5 trays or to do a mid-course correction with new molds and everything. I am not sure if those last 5 trays are then considered refinements or if they would start all over with full treatment?? Would you say that you NEED the refinements? I think that if my teeth look at all better and I am actually able to chew, I'm quitting after 15 trays, I don't need perfection! What do you think?? I will go check out your review, thank you!!
  • Reply

It's pretty invisible in the picture ;).  Hang in there.  It's always worse from the inside!  Thanks for posting pictures!!!!!  I can't wait to see your progress :D

  • Reply
Thank you! Actually I am doing a bit better. This third set of trays is requiring minimal wax (although I did do a lot of filing!) although I do need it in some weird places. I do need to write an update, I'm having some new issues with my teeth hitting when I try to eat, and my teeth have not stopped being sore since I began all this (hence I can't chew anything that is hard). I have my first check-in on the 22nd and I am really looking forward to seeing what my dentist thinks about it all. But I am no longer having constant soreness in my jaw and face, I think I may just NOT be closing my mouth but oh well!! Hopefully it will keep getting better and I'll actually SEE something changing, that will certainly help my mental state anyway ; )
  • Reply

I think it's a great thing you get to see the dentist very soon.  I can say I was sore a lot during mine.  I just didn't consider it pain, so it was easier to forget ;).  The problem with the teeth meeting is a definite side-effect of the trays, and it goes away when you have the trays out for some hours (or days, depending).  In other words, I'd expect that to last for the entire treatment.  It did for me.  And I still have to wait many hours after my retainers are out before I can chew properly.  I hope things continue to improve for you, and look forward to hearing what the dentist says!

  • Reply
It's encouraging to hear that even if it takes hours, your teeth DO eventually meet properly and you can chew! My biggest fear is just that there will be long-term unexpected side effects, that I'll have pretty teeth, but non-functional teeth! Thank you for sharing your experience!
  • Reply

For some reason, I didn't get notified of your reply!  I will say that I still have a little trouble talking.  I'm not used to the way my teeth are now, and maybe the way my jaw keeps moving.  But it's not a lisp or anything, and I'll take it over the way my teeth used to be.  Next time I go to the ortho, I'm going to ask about another kind of retainers, though.  I sure hope you start seeing some results so you'll at least know it's worth it!  You said you took pics, are you going to post them? :)

  • Reply

Just wondering if things are improving for you?  I feel like I remember, at the beginning of my treatment, having a lot of issues with my tongue being cut and having to use wax.  I still have a bit of a shelf on my bottom tray and that's retainers.  But now, nothing ever cuts me.  Maybe my mouth just got tough!  My lips don't close that well over my retainers either, but I've gotten used to that as well, and, obviously, they're retainers so I don't have to wear them all day!  I feel for you, though--it sounds like you're having a rough go :(

  • Reply
WoW, I just read your thread on the invisalign and I really hope the best for you, I am new to on invisalign today makes it 2 months with having it, and you seem to have a lot of issues going on, I would say stay on top of things with this dentist, alot of dentist offices are offering invisalign, but my opinion, an orthodontist is the way to go, especially a preferred invisalign provider where a number of invisalign cases need to be done to get this title. My dentist was offering invisalign but I hate to say I went to an orthodontist. Hang in there I wish you the best....
  • Reply