Before You Get Invisalign - My Experience So Far
- Last updated: 8 months ago
Hi there. I just wanted to share my experience so far in hopes to help with some of the inquiries people tend to have before getting Invisalign.
I am currently on aligners 38 of 52 (a year and 5 months in) so I cannot say whether it has been a complete success or not. I can say that I am happy with the results so far and I’m optimistic. First and foremost, it is important to have a great orthodontist, and yes, I do mean orthodontist. Even if your dentist can do invisalign treatment, I still HIGHLY recommend you go to an orthodontist instead. Any time you’re doing something out of the ordinary, it’s best to go to someone who specializes and has more experience. I recommend really doing your research before choosing your orthodontist. If possible, ask around with people you know and in addition, use online reviews. Like in any profession, there are good and bad orthodontists. Thankfully, my ortho is amazing.
Before I explain the process of getting them, I will say the thing that I wish I’d done but didn’t was to ask more questions. It seems obvious, but sometimes we get so excited, nervous…whatever, and we don’t ask about the process. I wish I would have just simply asked my orthodontist to explain to me how the entire process of Invisalign would go so there’d be no surprises for me, and there have been a couple. As I recall, the only thing my ortho really told me was how long treatment would be, the price, and the fact that she would put “attachments on my teeth”. I think most orthodontists assume people do their own research before getting something like Invisalign (which we often too obviously) so they don’t think they need to explain as much. But a good orthodontist will certainly answer any questions you have.
So, in my experience, there was an initial consultation where she looked at my teeth and determined that I was a good candidate for Invisalign. I was actually nervous that I wouldn’t be because at the time, I wasn’t aware of the full capabilities of invisalign. I had a canine tooth that was pretty high up due to the baby tooth not falling out before the adult canine began to grow in, among other things. Obviously I was cleared for Invisalign, yay. My ortho did ask me if I’d rather do traditional braces because they are less expensive and the treatment time is shorter. How long your treatment lasts obviously depends on your individual case. Mine is going to be about 2 years, as opposed to 1 with metal braces. This is something each person just has to weigh out for themselves. I preferred Invisalign because I was turning 30 and had just gotten divorced and the idea of trying to date with metal braces just didn’t appeal to me. Had I been in a comfortable relationship, who knows? Maybe I’d have been willing to do regular braces. I can’t say.
X-RAYS AND PHOTOS
Anyway, then they scheduled me for an appointment to get my impressions done, at which time I signed all of my paperwork agreeing to treatment, payments…etc. The total price was $5000.00. My insurance covered $1000.00 and I am making payments for the rest, which comes out to $154 (and some change) a month. Some orthodontists take actual impressions of your teeth where you bite down into a goopy mold. At my office, they took several photos of my teeth for records, then did some traditional x-rays and then the “impressions” were done digitally using an optical machine. They placed a weird wand in my mouth (yes it was sort of uncomfortable) at different angles and it took images of all of my teeth and made a 3-d model on the screen. I wanna say the imaging process took about an hour. They send these images off to the Invisalign company and then if I remember correctly they told me my aligners would be in about 2 weeks later so they scheduled me for an appointment then and I left.
Once the aligners came in, I went back in to get them and have the attachments put on my teeth, which if you aren’t aware, are small bits of the same material they use to fill a cavity. They use this material to create a small “bump” on certain teeth so the aligners can snap on and hold in place. Each individual case determines how many attachments you have and where they need to be placed. In my case, I have 10, starting on my canines and moving back. There are 5 on the top row, and 5 on the bottom. I had already done some research and seen pictures so I knew about these attachments. Because of the small bump they create, the aligners bubble out a tiny bit over where each attachment sits. Yes, you can see it and some people are turned off to Invisalign because of this. I personally don’t think it’s all that noticeable unless you’re really looking up close and staring. The attachment process consisted of them buffing my teeth to make sure they were clean and dry. Then they used a syringe to place etching gel on the teeth needing attachments, then they washed that off and brushed on the filling material. Then they put my aligner on so the filling material would mold to the shape of each attachment bubble. Then while the aligner was still on, they put an LED light wand over each attachment to cure and bond them, then popped the aligner off and cleaned up any excess material. Once all the attachments were done, we put my first aligners in and I was good to go. They gave me two sets of aligners and two retainer cases to keep them in at home and on the go. She told me to switch to my second set of aligners in two weeks and then two weeks after that, come back for 2 more sets. I have been doing that for a year and half now so I see my ortho once a month to get 2 new set of aligners. I also turn in my old aligners to her each time I see her. She also told me I may experience some pain and headaches with each knew set but that it would likely subside after a couple days, that I would initially have trouble popping the aligners off and on but that it would get easier over time, and that I should wear them for at least 22 hours a day, taking them off only to eat and brush my teeth, and she recommended drinking things like coffee with a straw to avoid teeth staining. Oh, and once your treatment is complete, they simply remove the attachments and buff your teeth so it should appear as if they were never there.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS/GETTING USED TO IT
If you’re wondering about pain, like she said, yes, they are a bit painful every time you get a new set, but even traditional braces are painful when tightened. In my personal experience some sets are more painful than others, obviously depending on how your teeth are shifting at that moment. But each time, if I get a headache at all it really only lasts for about a day or two. I remember reading that before I started this and really worrying about how I would adjust but you really do adjust. It’s just a nuisance for a day or so, you pop some advil and then you’re fine. With some new aligners my teeth will be sore when I take them off or when I chew, again, it’s not unbearable, just annoying. Several aligners in I got a not so pleasant surprise when I was eating and took a drink of cold water that sent excruciating pain into my gums and jaw. As your teeth shift, your nerves become exposed and vulnerable in ways they weren’t before so you may experience that. Again, it subsides as your treatment progresses and should go away entirely once you’re all done. I avoided it by drinking everything through a straw and it was fine. I did have trouble popping the aligners off for the first few months because of how my teeth were. Once my canine tooth moved down more, they weren’t so difficult. I also keep my nails polished regularly and they chipped sometimes when I used my nails to pop off the aligners so I avoided that by using tweezers to pop them off. Again, once my teeth shifted to a certain point and the aligners were easier to pop off, I was able to stop using the tweezers. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how much more comfortable I was with the aligners than I thought. I was so nervous that people would just be staring at them or wondering what was on my teeth…etc, but no one seemed to notice. I found myself pointing out to people that I had Invisalign and they’d lead in and go “Oh wow. You do, I didn’t even notice.” Over the last year and a half, I’ve had maybe a total of 3 people actually notice them and ask me if I had them. The most interesting thing for me, was realizing I actually became attached to my aligners and felt much more comfortable in social setting with them in, than out. I smile like crazy now and I thought I’d have to wait until my treatment was over to experience that. I was so self-conscious about my teeth before that the Invisalign has sort of become a security blanket for me. While I love seeing the progress of my teeth when I take them off, I much prefer them on for the time being since, they also hide the imperfections and small gaps as your teeth shift. So trust me, you will get very used to them.
LIPSTICK AND KISSING/DAY TO DAY
I remember reading Q&As before I started treatment about being able to wear lip stick and kissing. A LOT of people were responding adamant that they could not do either during treatment. That was a MAJOR bummer for me cause A) I wore lipstick every day and B) who doesn’t like to kiss? I was thinking, I’m to start dating and I can’t kiss anyone for 2 years? Anywho, for those wondering, in my personal experience, neither of those are an issue. I still wear lipstick every day and it is perfectly fine. I will say I used to occasionally get lipstick on my aligners when I first started treatment because of the placement of my teeth. I simply checked and cleaned them off regularly and it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Now that I’m further into treatment, it’s less of an issue and rarely happens, and again, I just check occasionally and it’s fine. I met my boyfriend about 7 months into my treatment. We were able to full on make out and the aligners didn’t have an impact at all. They’ve never gotten in the way of anything like that. We were also dating for about a month and a half before the Invisalign was even addressed. I mentioned having braces assuming he already knew and he said “What, you have braces?” I laughed and said “you didn’t notice I have Invisalign?” And he said “Oh yeah. I think I’ve noticed it before. I just forgot” So, at least in my personal experience, they do the job they’re intended to. As far as the day to day stuff, I simply keep my retainer case and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in my handbag, pop my aligners out in the restroom before eating, excuse myself to quickly brush my teeth after meals and pop them back in. Again, you get used to it. There are certain things you can’t do during treatment, you can’t exactly munch on popcorn at the movies or quickly taste test somebody’s cooking. It’s funny when someone will be snacking on something and go to give me one with a “hey try this” and I have to back away like they’re trying to get me to eat a slug. LOL. People just forget you’re in the throes of orthodontia :)
Just FWI, even with brushing after meals, crap builds up in our teeth and your aligners will get stuff in them from time to time. They can be porous in certain areas and particles just find crevices and sit in there. Sometimes by the end of 2 weeks, they can start to smell. Gross, I know, but that’s why hygiene is important. There are all kinds of methods and personal preference for keeping aligners clean. Some people use denture cleaner, some baking soda… I recommend doing some reading and just finding what works for you. I personally brush my aligners off with my toothbrush and toothpaste and let them sit in some listerine while I gargle.
ODDS AND ENDS
One of my attachments fell off between my 1st and 2nd appointment. I simply let them know and they put it right back on. That can happen, just make sure you let them know. No big deal. Hasn’t happened since. So the second surprise for me was teeth filing, also known as IPR. Again, something I would have known about had I asked more questions. Sometimes as your teeth shift, they push into each other so much that it can make them difficult to move properly so your orthodontist will use a small strip filer to run in between your teeth and give them a little space to move again. The idea of having my teeth filed sort of freaked me out, but again, all in the name of the process. Some people never need it, some need it often. I end up having to have them filed an average of every other month or so. It’s minimal filing. Maybe a few strokes with the strip in between two or three teeth and I’m good. The only other thing I think I was surprised by was one of the dental assistants asking me if we’d already moved my attachments. Apparently sometimes during treatment, some people have to have their attachments removed and replaced in a different spot. I meant to ask my orthodontist about it after she said it but I was in a hurry to get back to work. I will do so at my next appointment. That’s the other thing, my monthly visits are very brief and don’t really impact my job. I make my appointments for Monday mornings at 8 am and I’m usually in and out within a half hour. They look at my progress, maybe do IPR if needed, have me put in my new aligners to make sure they fit and I’m on my way.
Like with so many things that are new to us, when we first start, it seems very daunting and we build it up to be this thing we imagine will take over our lives. For me, Invisalign easily became part of my routine and really doesn’t impact my life negatively. When I’m around friends and family eating and they see how much my teeth have already changed, I get nothing but compliments and words of affirmation so so far, it’s been super positive for me. I used to always go to the restroom to remove my aligners but when I’m around my close friends and family now, I’ll just pop them out in front of them. You get used to it and in my family, they don’t care. My little nephew who has seen Grandma remove her dentures thinks that what I’m doing and says “You’re takin’ your teef out?” LOL. I’ve read that like with traditional braces, wearing a retainer once Invisalign treatment is complete is crucial to keeping your teeth from shifting again, so that is something I anticipate as also becoming part of my regular routine. The thing I’m looking forward to the most, aside from just finally having straight teeth that I’m no longer self-conscious about, is whitening. Since you’ve got the attachments on your teeth, you can’t whiten during treatment. I do drink coffee every morning and while I always use a straw, your teeth do still stain like anyone elses. My teeth have yellowed a bit more than usual (nothing outrageous) since I started treatment, so I can’t wait to have white teeth again after I’m all done.
That’s everything I can think of right now. I hope this helps anyone thinking of getting Invisalign. Feel free to ask if there’s something you want to know and I didn’t cover it :)