Forward to late 40's, with periodontal problems since my 20s and my teeth hard to clean because of crowded lower teeth. My periodontist said, "Don't move them... you already have too much bone loss during your history." By then I had heard about Invisalign and it was tempting because they were not wire and were clear. I simply had been unwilling to wear any more wire on my teeth. I got the estimate, liked the technology, took the plunge.
People normally don't adequately say, "It hurts to move teeth." And it does hurt ... a lot. After all, we don't want them to move easily, do we?? So, each time one moves to a new set of aligners, it hurts again wherever the teeth are moving during those weeks. It improves usually after the first week especially, when it can really be sore and the teeth moving feel somewhat loose from shifting. But, then they tend to simply feel tight when out of the aligner for a while while eating, and by the end of that series, they are fairly comfortable .... until the new one goes in! It is also a bit hard to get them off of the teeth when they are new, and this can be a killer too with the teeth that are already sore and moving.
I was told probably about a year or more to wear them. It took about 1 1/2 to 2 years.
Overall, today I think it was worth the pain and even the $5000 out of pocket expense -- I was in graduate school and had no dental insurance (since most dental insurance paid for a few cleanings and a filling it wasn't worth it to carry it for my periodontal needs.) But after doing Invisalign, I finally felt good about my teeth being aligned where I had wanted them to be since I was a teenager. My teeth were also easier to clean and my periodontist, to her credit said, "Your teeth look great and I think you were right and made a good decision...you do seem to be able to clean your teeth and care for your gums better now that they are aligned."
The "but" is that the ortho and dental people traditionally do not tell people fully about the after care and constant cost of retainers. I got one retainer initially from the orthodontist and replaced that in a year. Then they told me I could get 4 pair over the course of a year for about $350 at the time with Vivera, which seemed expensive, but now I can't find a competitive price below $400. These sets were supposed to be worn for three months each, because they do get more lose and the teeth shift slightly, but I was not willing to come off the money. I wore those for about 2 years, going through 1 set about every 6 months till one, then the other, split somewhere, which then kills the integrity of them holding the teeth well.
Then my dentist said, "We can make some in our office", but for just one set I think it was $100 each for top and bottom. So now, the top one just split... okay, I super-glued it ... really. I am sick of paying for these. But it is a temporary fix until I find another source.
Maybe someday the Vivera patent will be over and someone can figure out a way to make a killing on a new generic brand of retainers. I'm quite sure they don't cost $200 a pair to make and once a company has a person's dental impression on hand then they shouldn't have to pay for that again either. I'm not sure that Vivera isn't even Invisalign's way of holding on to the retainer patent through changing the name. I haven't checked.
So, if you stick with the discipline and some endurance of wearing Invisalign, I think you will be glad you did. You do get used to the degrees of pain and shifting and some series are harder than others. You will likely not get "used" to continually paying for retainers. I am considering going to an orthodontist and ordering a regular wire retainer that I wore as an adolescent. Since I just wear it at night, who cares and I think one of these will last for years ... but as somebody else wrote, I will have to research how well it holds the Invisalign individual tooth alignment in place. It was a lot to go through to let some of its computer model perfection slip away.
Why write all of this? Because I have done more with periodontal disease and moving my teeth than any other health and maintenance part of my body. It has been a major expense, with many surgeries and procedures and a bunch of pain. Especially because of this, it has been an asset and real source of appreciation to have finally been able to get these teeth, that I've been fighting to keep in my mouth for years, to look and feel a way I am happy with after finding and using Invisalign.