I considered Invisalign for at least a year before...
I considered Invisalign for at least a year before I went through with it. I was under the impression that it was completely painless, completely invisible, and would be a relatively quick process. NO, NO, and NO. My teeth need pretty minor correcting... I have uneven front teeth, and a tooth that pokes out a bit. It's not major, but it seems to be getting worse over the years so I wanted to correct it.
The process of getting the trays isn't so bad. There is a session where they make molds of your teeth that is pretty yucky and was particularly difficult because I have anxiety. Having my mouth 'glued' shut with molding material for over a minute several times was enough to make my palms sweaty. It's not painful, but it does play on your nerves and the goo will get all over your face.
When they fit my first tray in my mouth - I was almost like 'I CAN'T DO THIS!'. It felt unnatural, and the trays felt ENORMOUS in my mouth. I had a big time lisp, and the next day it felt like I had been punched in every single one of my teeth. No really. It was painful. On top of that, my tongue seemed to find all the sharp edges and began to get really cut up. By day 3 I really didn't want to talk at all and was trying to eat only mushy food. I barely slept the first night because the trays felt so strange in my mouth.
I did take a nail file and file down some of the sharp edges. After that it was fine. You have to be a bit more aggressive about it then you think to actually get the sharp bits to file down.
By my second appointment (time for attachments!) I barely even noticed I was wearing a tray. So it DOES get better, but you have to just hang in there.
Getting the attachments was unpleasant, and they don't feel nice. It feels like I constantly have food stuck in my teeth, which I hate. I can already tell that my upper lip is going to get cut up on the top one. They are pointy. I can also not tell when there are huge pieces of food stuck in them.
Having Invisalign makes going out to dinner a bit unpleasant, and takes some of the joy out of eating. I no longer eat between meals, have much coffee, or drink much alcohol. You can get away with some beverages by using a straw and literally sticking it all the way to pretty much the back of your throat, but I pretty much promise that some beverage will still get in your trays. The upside is that I now drink a ton of water, and my skin looks awesome. If I am drinking wine, I'll literally have a sip of wine (thru a straw) and then a sip of water to chase it. It helps. Colgate wisps are amazing if you are out to eat and don't feel like taking a toothbrush everywhere.
Also - your mouth and lips will get RIDICULOUSLY dry at first. I bought a ton of chapstick and wear it constantly. I keep it next to my bed at night. I do outreach at work which means I talk A LOT, and I absolutely must have a bottle of water with me or I am unable to continue.
Your mouth does compensate for the initial dryness by producing a seeming waterfall of saliva after the first couple weeks, but you will still be a bit dryer than usual.
Hanging In There...
I'm a week into tray 2. I'm surprisingly sad/upset that my ortho is having me wear each tray for 3 weeks instead of the typical two. This is going to extend my treatment significantly and I was really hoping to be done for a big event I have next September. Does anyone else have an ortho that was having them wear trays for 3 weeks each?
Tray 2 was initially quite painful. My upper lip was having a good bit of trouble sliding easily over the top attachments, and I developed a sore. Against my ortho's advice I had to file down a part of the attachment on the actual tray itself. Note to anyone else doing this: it will rough up your tray a little, and cause the attachment nubbin to cease being 'clear'. This small cosmetic sacrifice was worth it for my upper lip, I found.
I have periodic days where I notice the trays more than others. If I am talking a lot at work the underside of my tongue occasionally gets sore from the bottom liner edge. Other then that I find that most days I don't notice them much unless I'm taking them out for eating (in which case I notice A LOT).
It is really difficult to time eating around the holidays. There is so much food and I'm going to so many parties. I have begun to drink alcohol with trays in through a straw, and it seems to be ok. Every once in a while I'll go into the bathroom and remove the trays and swish with water, and it seems to be ok.
Mouth is a bit less dry but I still drink a ton of water.
All in all going well. Can't wait for tray 3. I feel like I may actually be able to see some improvement. Hopefully posting some photos soon!
These are both with tray two (and attachments). You can see my snaggle up top, which is what I'm hoping to correct. One of my front teeth is also longer than the other. The photo where I am completely visible shows my full 'before'.
Tray 3. Drowning in my own saliva.
Ok so real talk. I am drowning in my own saliva. I have choked twice this week in public situations because when I take a breath while speaking, I suck in a puddle and begin gasping for breath. This has happened at the gas station and bank. I get awkward stares until I am finally able to begin breathing again and choke out that I have Invisalign and it seems to be increasing my saliva production quite a bit. Ironically, I will wake up from sleeping with cotton ball dry mouth. I am reasonably sure that the trays cause me to mouth breathe.
Not really much pain when I changed to this tray. It was pretty uneventful and I was thankful. I couldn't wait to change it because after wearing a tray for 3 weeks it gets pretty nasty. I am obsessive about cleaning my teeth and the trays, and it was still getting gross.
I learned quickly that 'cheating' with the trays is impossible. While shopping I decided I wanted a pretzel. Brushing afterward was impossible, so I swished with water after I ate it and put the trays back in. Don't do this. I tasted parmesan and garlic for HOURS until I could get home and really soak the trays and brush. Nasty is an understatement.
Also, while burning your tongue at any point is unpleasant, dong so with Invisalign is essentially torture. Being that my mouth just feels raw all the time, with a burned tongue it is miserable. This is interesting because I seem to bolt food the second I take my trays out, and often disregard temperature.
I am also noticing staining on and around my attachments that I cannot seem to clean. It's also appearing between some of my teeth, and all the flossing and brushing in the world is not helping.
But no real pain. So that's good.
Tips for the Invisalign Newbie
So I figured I would compile together a few of my most helpful tips and tricks for those of you just getting started with this whole situation. First, three things.
1. You CAN do it. It sucks at first. You will want to throw in the towel. But it gets better.
2. You probably will stop eating some foods. You may even stop drinking coffee. You will live. And on the occasions when you do have these special treats, they will be all the more special.
3. Most people will understand that you have funky trays on your teeth. A lot of people will even think it's cool. It's kind of become my party trick now where I take my teeth out to do fireball shots and stuff. Own it.
- Make a 'tooth bag' and carry your essentials in it. This includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss (A MUST), and tissues. You will be horrified how many bathrooms now have air dryers leaving you with toothpaste crusted over your mouth. Bring tissues.
- Eat, and then wait 10 minutes. It's tempting to immediately go brush after eating to get those aligners back in. I find waiting 10-15 minutes makes the brushing process much easier because saliva has helped to do some of the work for me. In a world that will feel like you're brushing every six minutes, having an easier time of it helps.
- I plan to brush 4 times a day. In the morning, after lunch, after dinner, and then after dessert (typically right before bed).
- Get some Listerine. No, make that get A LOT of Listerine. When I'm at home, I fill a cup with water and a dash of Listerine and let my trays soak in there while I eat. It keeps them minty fresh and easy to clean when I pop them back in my mouth.
- Wrap your aligners in a tissue before putting them in their case while you're eating. I just do this for sanitary reasons, it keeps things much cleaner.
The photo I just attached is of my teeth a week into the 3rd set of aligners. Maybe some marginal improvement already?
Tray 4 (and some really dirty attachments)
27 Jan 2015
2 months post
Tray 4 hurt a bit, but nothing crazy. Each time I change trays I get really excited and don't seem to even really mind the pain because I know it means that I'm moving forward in this process. The only thing that is really bothering me lately is how dirty my attachments are.
I know, I know. They're stained. No. Not only are they stained - there is actual filth on them. I have always been instructed by my dentist to brush fairly lightly because of my gums. However - unless I brush aggressively, this filth does not go away. Even when I do brush aggressively, it's still there. It is brown, it is clinging to the attachments, and it's gross. I brush religiously after each meal or drink that is not water. I use mouthwash. I am doing everything right - and yet the filth persists.
Seeing my dentist next week and then the ortho the week following. Really afraid the filth is on my teeth and not just the bonding agent. Anybody else having this problem?
A Cleaning and a Suggestion
So I went to the dentist today. I was telling the hygienist about the filth on my attachments, and she asked me if I was using Crest Pro Health mouthwash. I told her I wasn't sure but there was potential. She looked in my mouth and was like 'yeah... this is bad. I'm going to do my best, but this is bad.' Over 45 minutes later she had cleaned up everything super well (with no pain! - my hygienist is AMAZING), but did let me know that Crest Pro Health mouthwash causes staining. I did a quick Google search and sure enough - many others have had the same experience.
I had funky brown on teeth that had no attachments that I had never seen before - and the attachments were NASTY. I am a heavy mouthwash user with Invisalign, so I'm imagining the typical staining was even more exacerbated.
I asked the dentist about my migraines - I am getting a lot of them lately and I'm loosely linking them to the trays. I had TWO migraines last week vs. maybe one every other month that I typically get. I clench my teeth something ridiculous at night, and I have a feeling it's contributing to this. I'm going to ask my ortho next week when I go.
My bite is off. And it sucks.
Been trucking along with my trays. I was pretty much extatic that at my ortho appt. a couple weeks ago I got the ok to change every 2 weeks. Ask and ye shall receive! On tray 6 now. Really noticing differences in my teeth and it is so exciting.
My bite is really off with these trays. Only the molars on my left are touching. I've nearly been swallowing food whole, like a snake. It's unpleasant but it's going to be worth it! Right?!
Tray 8, and Torque
29 Mar 2015
4 months post
So I thought that tray 7 had a defect. It had this funky little ridge on top of one of my front teeth that was causing the tray to kind of protrude outward and was constantly hitting my lip. This hurt a LOT, and since I do public speaking at work, I was pretty much getting a nasty ulcer in that spot.
I wet back to the ortho last week to get more trays and ask about the ridge. Turns out it was intentional, and now tray 8 has TWO. One on each front tooth. My ortho said the ridges were for torque to put on my front teeth and move the roots. I didn't even want to look ahead at the next couple of trays that I got to see if there's more of this.
Last few trays have really been bothering my entire mouth. If I do a lot of talking at work my tongue is all cut up. I really can't wait to be done.
Middle of Tray 8
31 Mar 2015
4 months post
Can't believe the difference in my teeth so far - they look so good I could probably stop here and be happy. Good to see progress when my tongue is so cut up from this tray.
28 Jul 2015
8 months post
Things were going along pretty well with my treatment and I was on tray 16 of 19. I was SO ENTHUSIASTIC to be done. I had a feeling I was going to need refinements, as one of my teeth was not moving down like it was supposed to - and I was seriously considering just forgoing them. I am so over Invisalign. Last night I was taking photos (I'm a professional photographer) when my boyfriend and partner looked at me and was like 'is your lip bleeding?'. I said I didn't think so. He told me my upper tray was full of blood. It was. Maybe I had flossed to hard, or put the trays in too hard, but a spot between my teeth was indeed bleeding and had literally filled up the tray. It did stop once I took the trays out and cleaned up, but it was gross.
I have also been really tired of having an incredibly awkward bite, where literally two teeth are meeting in the far back left of my mouth. Eating steak is impossible, as is eating many other things. Just misery. I am also sick of tooth brushing, sticking my fingers in my mouth, and having to worry about drinking or eating beverages. Just done.
I had an ortho appointment this morning, and he was checking my bite. He didn't like what was happening so he ended up cutting off the molars of each tray, and now I have to wear these little quarter trays for 6 WEEKS.
Just very over this.
An unexpected extraction: So long, wisdom teeth.
So, there have been several bumps in my Invisalign road.
My teeth look great. I'm going to throw that out there right away. However. My bite is way off. Way, waaaaay off. This has been building for some time, and finally came to a culmination at my last orthodontist visit. They initially wanted to make molds so that I could have refinements to close my bite. We did this. After halfway accidentally making the mold with my bottom attachments on, they wanted to remove my top attachments. Fine by me!
So off the attachments came. I am just letting you know: this is not pleasant. They are more/less sanded off, and dust literally turned my eyelashes gray. I have a couple sensitive teeth, and it was murderous on those. Unfortunately despite several attempts, I still do not feel like my teeth are smooth. I got to a point with the sanding where I was just over it and unwillingly to continue on. Maybe at some later point.
Anyway. So that happened. Then it was decided after more examination of my bite, that my wisdom teeth have literally been the only teeth that have been touching this entire time. So the orthodontist basically pulled out a dremel and filed them down. This is also not pleasant. My bite felt slightly improved, but the ortho was still not happy, so he said, 'your upper wisdom teeth need to come out'. LOL WTF.
My wisdom teeth have never bothered me, ever. They are fine. They just hang out. But alas, I was told they had to go.
I am NOT a lover of dental work. Very anxious and had (obviously) hung onto those teeth for 30 years because I just had not desire to get them senselessly out. However. I am so done with Invisalign that I made a consultation for a couple days later so I could get the uppers pulled. The oral surgeon was awesome and I opted to be awake.
Welp. I just had them out literally an hour ago. I had nitrous and obviously local anesthetic. They popped out in seriously 10 minutes all told. In pain now, but I expected that. All in all not a bad experience.
Really hoping that now my Invisalign journey can end. It's been a year this month and I am so over this. I am through all my trays and now just wearing my final set.