18 Things I Wish I Knew Before Invisalign
- Last updated: 6 months ago
In our Invisalign community many people look back on their experiences and say, "I wish I had known..." some information before having the treatment. Here are 18 of the top tips from RealSelf members and medical practices that you may find helpful.
1. You can still kiss.
A big concern in our community is how Invisalign may affect romance. Answers vary. Some RealSelf members say you can kiss your love life goodbye, others say it doesn’t change anything. Sometimes it’s a bigger deal to the person wearing Invisalign than it is to the significant other.
“My boyfriend used to get so frustrated when I would refuse to even peck him goodbye when I was going off to work because I was convinced he could taste/feel my invisalign but he didn't even CARE,” says RealSelf member ladyofthenight.
2. Speaking of social situations.
Invisalign can also affect your speech, causing a slight lisp. Some people find it very noticeable and for others, it’s barely there.
“The more someone speaks with the trays in, the faster they tend to adjust,” says Dr. Tanya Vaysman, a New York orthodontist, in a RealSelf Q&A. Whether it takes a day or a few weeks, the lisp should go away. If it doesn’t, let your dentist know because that may indicate that your aligners aren’t fitting quite right.
3. There may be pain. Here’s what to do about it.
Some people report a lot of pain with Invisalign, but there are several things you can do about it. Community members in this RealSelf forum describe using wax to cover sharp or rough edges on their aligners. Others have their dentists file down sharp edges.
“If you get the wax on the problem area as soon as possible, you'll save yourself a lot of pain. For those who cannot get the wax to stick, I recommend putting a bead of wax on your tray on the spot where it hurts BEFORE you put the tray into your mouth,” says properlyprim.
4. How long does it take to start seeing results?
The average Invisalign course for adults is about a year, but how long does it take before you start seeing results? For most people, not long.
“It usually takes two to three months for most patients to notice results from clear aligners,” says Dr. Sarah Thompson, a St. Louis dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A. “It usually takes a few months later for other people to notice results.”
5. You can get results in less time.
To accelerate the Invisalign process, your dentist can treat you with AcceleDent or Propel. Acceledent is an FDA-cleared device that you use at home for about 20 minutes each day. It uses micropulse technology to accelerate the movement of your teeth.
“Under normal Invisalign recommendations you change trays every two weeks, but with the AcceleDent I changed trays every week,” says casmira2 in a RealSelf review, who was able to complete Invisalign treatment in about six months. “As an added bonus, the AcceleDent gently massages your teeth which makes the initial pain/discomfort of wearing a new tray a lot more tolerable.”
Photo: An AcceleDent device from Robyn74's review.
Propel is a treatment done in a dentist’s office. It makes a series of small holes in the jaw, called micro-osteoperforations. The treatments are performed every six to eight weeks. Dentists have found that Propel can reduce treatment type by about 60%.
“The discomfort associated with Propel is minimal. Our patients have described the feeling afterward as roughly the same as having a ‘deep cleaning’ done by their dental hygienist,” says Dr. Jared Gianquinto, a Bakersfield orthodontist, in a RealSelf Q&A.
If you do have pain with Propel, keep in mind that it limits your options for pain medications. “It is very important that you only take Tylenol. Part of what makes Propel work is the inflammation caused by the little holes drilled into your jawline, and if you take ibuprofen or Advil, it will keep the inflammation down and basically cancel out the Propel treatment,” says JessieSchu in a RealSelf review.
6. Invisalign costs vary.
Dentists point to two main factors in the cost of Invisalign. One is the complexity of the treatment. Additional treatment time and more aligner trays will be more expensive.
The second factor is location. “My wife's friend had Invisalign done at a dentist in Manhattan overlooking Central Park and the cost was $9,000. The average fee in the U.S. is $3,500-$6,500,” says Dr. Sylvan Fain, a Miami dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A.
An additional factor to consider is aftercare: Retainers, bite guards, and bite adjustments may be needed. Ask your Invisalign provider if these things are included in the initial price quote.
7. Invisalign isn’t right for everyone.
Invisalign can’t fix every problem. Discuss with your dentist or orthodontist what Invisalign can and cannot do for you, and consult more than one expert. You can and should ask to see a ClinCheck, which is a short animated movie that Invisalign produces of your teeth and how they will be moved by Invisalign.
Dr. Raj Kumar, a London dentist, reports in this RealSelf Q&A that he has been able to fix most problems with Invisalign except for poor compliance (not wearing the trays), rotating lower canine teeth, correcting jaw size differences, and adjusting the vertical position of small teeth.
Invisalign, as with braces of any kind, is a big commitment. Ideally, you should wear it 22 hours a day, every day. That gives you two hours a day to remove them for eating, drinking and cleaning.
“For Invisalign, or any orthodontic procedure to work, teeth need to have constant, gradual pressure,” says Dr. Lisa Hansen, a Simi Valley, Calif. dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A. “When the trays are left out more than two hours, the teeth will tighten up, and then when you put your tray back in, it takes quite a few hours just to reloosen your teeth so they move.”
Find out more with these Q&As about Clincheck and Invisalign.
8. What you’re going to miss and the ‘Invisalign diet.’
Invisalign has an immediate effect on your diet. Your dentist will likely warn you to only drink water when your aligners are in. And it’s a good idea to drink a lot of it, since having the aligners in your mouth can make your mouth dry and irritated.
Many community members report that they miss drinking coffee or beer slowly. Now they have to remove their aligners, eat or drink quickly, then brush their teeth before putting them back in. “The real shocker was the lifestyle change,” says michaelfromny. “It will change your lifestyle overnight.”
However, the changes aren’t all bad. Some community members report losing a few pounds as a result of being on the “Invisalign diet.”
9. Will I have Invisalign attachments or buttons?
Some people who get Invisalign have attachments or “buttons” temporarily bonded to their teeth as part of the treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist will determine if you need them. Made of tooth-colored filling material, attachments help the aligner trays grip individual teeth, which helps move them to their correct position. They are removed at when your Invisalign treatment is completed.
Although attachments are sometimes referred to as “buttons,” orthodontists use that term to mean something else: small round pieces of metal or plastic that are used to attach elastics, also known as rubber bands, to correct other problems with tooth alignment.
10. A tip for removing your aligners.
Your aligner trays will need to stay in most of the day, but they do need to come out at times. Usually, this isn’t too difficult. But if you have attachments to help the aligners grip your teeth, it might take something extra to remove the trays.
11. Caring for your teeth is going to take extra time.
It’s very important to brush and floss after each time you eat and before you reinsert your aligners. It’s tempting to skip a step, but with Invisalign on, your teeth are soaking in whatever is on them.
“One of the advantages of Invisalign over braces is better hygiene. Without caring for the teeth before placing the aligners, it becomes a moot point,” says Dr. Lance Timmerman, a Seattle dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A.
12. It’s easy to care for your aligners.
Dentists recommend brushing your aligners with toothpaste or sometimes just water. Invisalign sells cleaning tablets, but dentists also recommend a mild denture cleaner, a diluted bleach rinse, or retainer-cleaning tablets.
13. You’re not done after Invisalign.
After you complete your Invisalign treatment, you must wear a retainer every night to keep your teeth in place.
“Wear your retainer around the clock for the first six months or so, then night-time forever,” says Dr. Ted Murray, a Dubuque, Iowa, dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A. “Naturally one retainer won't last forever, so get used to the idea of investing in the future.”
14. How do you choose an Invisalign provider?
Both dentists and orthodontists can provide Invisalign. Orthodontists have an extra two to three years of training in correcting bites and straightening teeth, and a number of RealSelf reviews recommend choosing an orthodontist.
Is an orthodontist always the best choice? It depends. Orthodontists have more training and tools, and can explain all options for correcting your teeth, including techniques other than Invisalign. However, if your teeth do not need other corrective techniques, a dentist experienced with Invisalign might be a good choice.
“I suggest arranging a consultation with both and selecting the person to do your treatment based on your comfort with not only the doctors, but also their office atmosphere and staff,” says Dr. R. William McNeill, a Seattle orthodontist, in a RealSelf Q&A.
Choosing a dental provider? Find doctors nearby.
15. What do Invisalign doctor ratings like ‘Top 1%’ mean?
Invisalign offers the following doctor designations for their providers: Preferred, Premier, Elite, and Top 1%.
- Preferred Provider: Performs a minimum of 10 cases per year
- Premier Provider: Has treated 50 cases total and performs 25 cases every six months
- Elite Provider: Has treated at least 300 cases total and performs 50 cases every six months
- Top 1% Provider: Has treated at least 800 cases and performs at least 200 cases per year
The doctor designations reflect the number of patients treated with Invisalign, not the outcomes of those treatments. “While I agree that a higher quantity of finished cases does not guarantee better quality, a low experience level pretty much guarantees ‘variable’ quality,” says Jwortho. “Invisalign has lots of continuing education opportunities but nothing substitutes for experience.”
16. Am I too old for Invisalign?
There are many people using Invisalign in their 50s and 60s. Travel can be a challenge, but they report being able to manage the trays on cruises and airplanes. One community member says she’s better able to handle the commitment now than if she would have tried it when she was younger. “Invisalign can be used to move teeth at any age,” says Dr. Raj Kumar, a London dentist, in a RealSelf forum.
17. You can whiten your teeth while using Invisalign.
People are often interested in whitening and straightening. Should you wait until after Invisalign treatment is completed, or can you do both? “Go ahead and whiten during Invisalign treatment,” says Dr. John Whittemore, a Memphis dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A. “You've already got the trays in all day, so use that time to get the color right while you're at it.”
18. Your teeth may need a shave.
If your teeth are crowded, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend shaving them, also known as filing, slenderizing, or Interproximal Reduction (IPR). Although this sounds drastic, in most cases it means only taking off a tenth of a millimeter.
“If there is no room for crowded teeth, there are only three choices: Expand the arches to make room, remove teeth to make room, or ‘shave’ teeth to make room,” says Dr. Lance Timmerman, a Seattle dentist, in a RealSelf Q&A.
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