My Invisalign Experience

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Am a 45 year-old corporate executive from...

am a 45 year-old corporate executive from Chicagoland. I never had braces as a kid and over the last 20 years, my teeth continued to push forward. I had major crowding on the bottom and some crowding on the top. In no way am I suggesting you’ll experience the same, but here’s a recap of my journey. The first month was hard - and the first four months were harder than the last four. With a foreign object in my mouth, my tongue was sore occasionally, and I had some mouth sores. It was just uncomfortable and I didn't like it. I wanted to quit after a few weeks...but it got better, slowly. The last few months were way easier than the first few. In fact, the last couple months were pretty easy, even during the winter holiday season. Not all aligners are alike. With some aligners, I had a bad taste in my mouth. With others, my mouth was overly dry and uncomfortable. With others, I had a burning sensation in my mouth. And with others, I couldn't talk the way I wanted to (lisp, tripping over my tongue and lips, etc.). I couldn't figure out why there were inconsistencies; it felt like there may have been quality/consistency issues with the aligners. My daily habits and routines changed. I took my aligners out for 30 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes for a mid-morning snack, 15 minutes for lunch, and an hour for dinner (and brushed each time). This meant changing many of my life-long habits: coffee for only during the 30 minutes in the morning, no more diet coke (it didn't taste good any longer), no eating nuts (too hard to get them out of my teeth), no nail biting (gross, I know), and way less snacking. Also, no eating whole raw apples (had to cut them up). Invisalign Diet...or Binge Eating? I read a lot about the 'Invisalign Diet'. There's some truth to it, but over time I adjusted my routine to get my normal daily caloric intake. I had to be careful though. Eating meals/snacks, in a much shorter amount of time, led to eating a TON more than normal at times. After a couple months, I caught myself and made a conscience effort to change. I wasn't able to realize some of the perceived benefits. I was unable to remove my aligners and immediately speak comfortably or easily. When I pulled out the aligners, it took time (more than an hour) for my mouth to adjust. Talking felt uncomfortable and I seemed to spit everywhere. Prior to starting, I thought I'd be able to pull out the aligners and easily lead a meeting or attend a business dinner. That wasn't the case; it was easier to keep them in at all times. I preferred to keep them versus taking them out. I had dreams. Several of them - dreams my teeth had fallen out. I never had braces as a kid, but it sounds like this is somewhat normal. I didn't like these dreams though. Tooth soreness My teeth were sore throughout much of the process. I was told this was normal. I wasn't able to eat my normal two raw apples/day (I had to cut them up). This wasn't the end of the world for me…not a huge issue. 22 hours a day is a lot more than 20. I kept mine in for 22 hours per day, with very few exceptions. Taking them out for an extra 2 hours per day was significant, but I felt more comfortable with them in. If they were out for 2 more hours, it felt like a bit of a set-back when I put them back in. Tooth crowding to gaps. My teeth were initially crowded, but once they started to move, I actually had awkward looking gaps. In the first few months, my teeth looked very odd with the aligners out, so as mentioned above, I kept them in. The gaps eventually filled in. Also, many of my teeth were a little bit loose throughout, so keeping the aligners in felt safer. Acceledent seemed to work, I guess. I changed my aligners every four days, down from the recommended every seven days. I don't know if the Acceledent was actually working or if I could have followed the same routine without it. No complaints though - changing every four days was great. I never really 'forgot' the aligners were in my mouth. Contrary to others' reviews, I never forgot the aligners were in my mouth. Never. It got easier as the months went on, but I always knew if they were in or out. Attachments, no biggie. I had four side attachments; they weren't a huge deal, but they were annoying especially when the aligners were out. They looked a little odd and led to the lack of 'invisibility' (below). One of my attachments stained badly. Not a huge deal since it was near the back, but it was a little annoying. Not invisible, but less intrusive. My aligners were invisible in pictures, but if I was less than 6 feet away from the person I was talking to, they were not invisible. People familiar with me knew something was different and could easily figure it out. On video conferences, no one could tell. With clients or prospects (with whom I wasn't close to), they never knew, which was great from a business standpoint. Going out and about was a drag sometimes. Traveling and going out to dinner was a pain, and it took planning. I preferred not to do either, but my work calls for both. Brushing my teeth on airplanes or in restaurants wasn't fun, but I was committed to the 22 hours per day. Also, since my teeth looked awkward, I had whacked out speech, and the attachments were visible, it just wasn't totally comfortable being out and about. I just had to power through it... I cheated almost daily, but only a little. I routinely had a couple beers after work (at home), but took the aligners out shortly thereafter to eat dinner. I didn't see the harm since I was removing them soon anyway. I would also slip in an occasional luke-warm tea or even coffee. It didn't feel like the same coffee drinking 'experience', so I would usually take them out. In my teeth-cleaning travel kit, I carried a mirror. I learned the hard way. After eating fajitas and brushing/rinsing on the run, I failed to realize a nasty green spice from the fajita chicken was lodged between my teeth and aligner. Gross. Refinements - the ultimate buzz kill. Just when I thought I made it through to completion, I went in for one more scan. Align Tech recommended another 10 aligners. Not the end of the world, but I was ready to be done with aligners and move on with my life. My results are good. I didn't know what to expect, but I am surprised and happy with the end result. My teeth are straight and they feel healthy. Why did I write about my experience? When researching Invisalign, I didn’t see too many end-to-end reviews. Also, I’m at a different stage of life than most folks had written about in the past. Many of the posts I read were helpful to me, so I thought I would giveback a bit. For me, Invisalign was worth the cost and sacrifice. I am glad I did it. However, it is hard for me to recommend it to others though. It was not an easy process; in fact, it was a bit of a beat-down. I like the results, and I changed some life-long habits (and I won't go back to the old ways).
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