I've been thinking about Invisalign for many years...
I've been thinking about Invisalign for many years but as it was quite expensive and mostly cosmetic for me, I never followed through. But suddenly at 35 I found myself able to afford it and I figured, why not? It sounded so easy (Invisible! Mostly painless! Few office visits! Amazing results!) so I talked to my dentist (yes dentist, not orthodontist, oops!) and decided to give it a try.
I know now after doing hours of research (that I should have done beforehand instead of just relying on family experience) that it is not uncommon for dentists and orthodontists to omit some pertinent details when describing the procedure. I was shown a model of top teeth with a very thin, truly invisible, plastic tray on them attached by two buttons on the back teeth. I asked about these buttons specifically and was told there may be a "few" more for me but that it would be unusual for them to be on the front teeth (my concern). I know now that this is not true. IPR was never mentioned at all and as both my dentist and hygienist were hovering over me while I read the Invisalign disclaimer, I missed those few lines and didn't get to ask about them.
My molds were taken and sent away and I was given the impression that I'd get the opportunity to preview the final projected outcome before proceeding. The next call I got, however, was that the trays were in and I should come get them.
I thought this visit would be easy. I expected a preview of my results, as promised, but they immediately leaned me back and stuffed my mouth full of cotton to get started with the buttons. The hygienist started counting, counted up to 14 and I asked her what she was counting, "Oh, your buttons!" she said. I was more than a little surprised at this. She proceeded to tell me that not only would I have 10 more buttons than I was expecting, but many of them would be on my front-most teeth including two on my top right front tooth. I told her I was not ok with that and she called the dentist over to reprimand me and explain that without those buttons the procedure will not work. I allowed them to continue, I wasn't sure what else to do. They swore that the buttons would not be noticeable once the aligners were on and barely noticeable with them off. This was not quite accurate.
They popped the trays on and handed me a mirror, I was so disappointed, it could not have been further from my expectations. They gave me some wax, two cases, some cleaner crystals, and two more sets of trays and sent me on my way. I was fairly certain at that time that I would simply return the next day to have the buttons removed and forget about the whole thing. I am two and a half weeks in now, I put my second set of trays in last week. I am still not sold on this procedure but I promised I'd give it one month.
My most immediate issue revolved around a serious amount of tooth and jaw pain for the entire first week. I ate mostly yogurt, soup, and Ensure drinks, I couldn't handle anything else and some meals I skipped because taking the trays in and out was just too painful. Obviously I was lisping like crazy, partly because the hygienist accidentally swiped the inside of my cheek and lip with the etchant used to help adhere the buttons causing my mouth to swell and peel, ick!
My ongoing issues are the sharp edges that cut my tongue and cheeks to ribbons, this second tray set is even worse than the first. My doctor "smoothed" my first set at my request but while the edges were no longer sharp, they were then rough, and caused just as much irritation so I've used and am currently just using a lot of wax. My trays even seem to have a "shelf" on the outside edge (my top tray on one front tooth has an indentation at the top, the reverse of the button bubbles, that created even more of a shelf) which catch my lips when I talk, like regular braces would. And although I've seen no mention of it in anyone else's reviews, I am unable to completely close my lips over the bulge of the aligners without straining my cheeks and chin. This leaves me with an aching face on a daily basis, not to mention I look ridiculous walking around either trying to force my mouth closed or just leaving it hanging open, lovely ; )
I would like to say I am getting used to this and I am on board now, but I am not. I was initially told I had 10 trays on top and 10 on bottom, but then oops, it's actually 15 for both! And honestly, my final projection shows my top front teeth moving forward which makes me fear that I may NEVER be able to close my lips again! And I see "black triangles" on my lower teeth thinking that IPR may be in my future although I've been told not. I’m hoping I will adjust and be able to stick this out but all of it is such a hassle and so much discomfort that I am thinking my vanity is simply not worth it!
I am now on my third set of trays and I have my first check-in appointment on Oct 22nd. I have not had much improvement in the sharpness of the trays, I have to do a LOT of filing and then still use wax, but at least I can get them comfortable after a few days. I am currently having to use a bit of wax on the front of my top tooth, though, because there is a significant shelf/gap there and it catches and cuts my lip when I talk. I am not sure how noticeable the wax is, I think the trays themselves are so distracting that it's just all part of the weirdness and no one can tell!
My biggest problem now is that when my trays are out, my front top and bottom teeth hit when I try to chew and I am unable to comfortably eat. I can't chew properly because my back teeth don't touch at all and I'm very anxious about eating because it hurts like crazy when they do hit. I am thinking now that this may be related to my jaw being pushed forward or just irritated by the trays 22 hours a day (it feels the same as when my jaw is swollen from a bad night of clenching) and I am concerned that this could be causing some permanent issue. Guess I'll just have to see what my dentist says.
I'm also wondering if I'm the only one whose teeth never stop hurting? They are sore for the entire two weeks making it hard to eat at all, and then they just get MORE sore for the first three or four days of the new trays. Ugh.
I'm not lisping anymore but I am having periodic issues with air flowing through my top tray when I talk and like, bubbling and whatnot and I feel like I'm spitting on people! I am STILL not sold on this, but maybe I've gone too far already?
First six week appointment
I had my first six week check-in on October 22nd. Not that much to report, my dentist seems to think that everything is going well, the trays are fitting "perfectly" and so on. She seemed to think that my teeth hitting in front had more to do with my teeth moving and less to do with my jaw being pushed forward. I tried to explain that at the end of an hour with the trays out I was able to touch some of my back teeth together, but this did not sway her opinion. I am not sure how confident I am in her opinion anymore, oh well.
She filed my tries for me a bit, but I wish she hadn't. She tends to nick the front of the trays leaving rough patches that I then have to wax over. She did finally explain that the irritating shelf on the tray in the front is a "power ridge" and that it's not going anywhere for the duration so I just need to keep packing the gap with wax. Awesome.
Today I actually had to go in because I realized I was missing a button on my upper canine. I looked back at photos I took from my first day and I think perhaps this button was never even placed! My dentist didn't think it was going to affect much because there is another button on the same tooth, but I guess we'll have to wait and see if I'm on track at the next check-in.
Still wishing I'd never done this but I think at this point everyone I associate with already knows I'm doing Invisalign and has seen me so I get less weird looks now ; )
Not sure exactly how to add pictures so I'll put some here : )
12 weeks done
I am now on my 7th set of trays and I had another appointment with my dentist. She seems to think I may need IPR on my lower teeth, which I expected but she had said not. I am concerned that one of my bottom teeth seem to be tilting, as though the top is moving but not the root, my dentist said she thought it was just the way it was turning to fit in. I'm afraid my teeth are looking worse now than they did originally! I had my dentist send me some photos of my upper and lower teeth on the first day so I could compare, I will add those here. I will also add a current picture of my teeth from the front, I think they are also yellowing considerably! Ugh.
I will see my dentist again right after Christmas to assess whether I will complete my original 15 trays or we will do a mid-course correction and send in impressions to get new trays. I have no idea how she's going to make that decision as she is not an ortho, but we shall see.
15 Dec 2013
3 months post
I am noticing my bottom teeth FEEL different from the inside so I decided to compare my trays and see what exactly is going on. I was actually quite stunned to see how much progress I've apparently made. As of now my trays are fitting pretty well, although I'm concerned that my current bottom tray never settled in all the way (my dentist didn't seem concerned when she put it in, though, so who knows). I switch trays tomorrow, to set 8 and I'm just crossing my fingers that they go in smoothly! I am terrified of the day when they just won't go on and the mid-course correction is then inevitable. Anyway, I'll post some pictures comparing my 2nd set of trays to my 9th set.
Bottom Tray not fitting?
17 Dec 2013
3 months post
Just a picture of the bottom tray that doesn't seem to be quite fitting. As far as I can tell there are just a few teeth that aren't all they way seated, although all the buttons seem to be popped in where they are supposed to be. This picture is from the last day of tray 7, I put in tray 8 tonight and it is the same.
13 Jan 2014
4 months post
I just received the first of my new trays after a slight mid-course correction. Just after Christmas as I was finishing up tray 8, I had a meeting with my dentist. There was one tooth that was clearly not filling the trays anymore and she decided to do new impressions (I did NOT have to have my buttons removed for this as I had expected) and send them back to Invisalign to see whether to continue to Tray 9 or to get new trays.
Today (January 13th) I went in and was told they sent back new trays, 9-18, which only adds 3 trays to my original 15 unless they are withholding some like they did before. I had several buttons removed which was painless and very fast, not what I expected at all and pleasantly surprising! And then several more put on. I am so pleased that the two buttons on my right front tooth are gone! These new trays hurt as badly as the very first trays I had, maybe because I spent an extra 2 weeks in Tray 8? OUCH!! But apparently nothing drastic needs to be changed and hopefully all will progress well from here. Of course there is always the chance that the are again planning to reassess at the end of these trays and actually have 20 more trays waiting, ugh. I think I don't even want to know ; )
Almost Done (maybe??)
24 Apr 2014
7 months post
I am currently on Trays number 16 (of 17 on the top and 18 on the bottom). As far as I can tell the top seems to be in line and complete, there wasn't much to do there though. The bottom however does not all appear to be fixable with only two more sets of trays to go (5 weeks left including one week for the trays I'm on). The teeth are not quite straight and this gives the appearance of them being arched, or maybe they are arched now?? The dentist says it's an illusion.
My other big concern is that currently only my front teeth are touching and I am unable to chew properly because my back teeth do not touch at all. So I find myself constantly "clacking" my front teeth together when I DO chew too hard and it hurts. I am not sure how this can be amended in only 5 weeks, but I've been through a lot of bite changes so I'm trying to have faith!
Only recently did my dentist begin to do some IPR with the strips on spots where my teeth seem to be tight on the bottom. IPR was not, however, part of the recommendation by the Invisalign orthodontists so I think she's just winging it. Obviously this means that things are not going exactly as expected, so I am now trying to come to terms with the fact that I will be continuing with refinements, although this has yet to come up. As of now I am just heading back in to the dentist whenever the teeth get tight, so I've been in 3 times now for more filing. She says she doesn't want to do too much at any one time, but they never seem to stay "unstuck" for more than a day so I don't know how much it is helping.
I guess we will see how it goes. I am not that happy about it all right now, I'd hoped to be in retainers and done with this by now but I knew it was a long shot!
Peek at Final Tray
29 Apr 2014
7 months post
Just took a look at my final tray to make sure that my teeth WOULD be perfectly straight at completion (as promised and as indicated by ClinCheck) and I was shocked to discover that they are NOT!! I was having a hard time figuring out how they'd get this one tooth pushed to the front in just two more trays and the answer is, they won't!!
My dentist just scheduled my retainer impressions appointment (before I realized this). I have a call in to her to see whether this is actually supposed to be impressions for refinements, at least on the bottom, because I did not pay $3500 for crooked teeth (I had those for free!). If Invisialign did not expect me to be successful, would that not have been indicated at the outset? Would they really stop treatment when the projected outcome has not been reached, without even mentioning that they were "giving up"? Or is this confusion on my dentist's end? I'm very frustrated right now!!
ANOTHER mid-course correction!
26 Jun 2014
9 months post
Today I went back to the dentist to get the trays from my new impressions. She informed me that rather than being my refinement trays, these were actually still considered mid-course correction trays, so I can still do a set of refinements if necessary. It better not be necessary!!
Much to my horror, they decided my top teeth were not finished after all and I actually have ELEVEN more trays to go on top!!!! And 12 more trays to go on bottom (making my end totals 30 and 31 trays, twice the original number). To make matters worse I got the two buttons on my top front tooth put BACK on after having them off for months and thinking I was done with them. I was also looking forward to getting rid of the power ridge on the upper front tooth as well, it is the bane of my Invisalign existence, but that was not to be.
The only good news was that in quickly peeking at my final tray this time around, the teeth seemed to be nice and straight. I forgot that I wouldn't get to take it home to examine more closely so I'll have to take a better look next time I'm in to be sure.
I am incredibly disappointed to be essentially back at square one when it seems like there is so little that really still needs to be done, but what can you do? For now I'll just stick it out and see how things go. If at the end of this round my teeth are a mess, I will certainly be seeking the services of an orthodontist. I can say at this point I am really regretting my choice to have my teeth fixed, they really weren't that bad!!! Oh well.
Still going ; ) August 14, 2014 Tray 22
14 Aug 2014
11 months post
I am a couple trays into my second mid-course correction. My dentist says she can see good movement on the bottom teeth already so I thought I'd post some pictures although I'm not sure I can tell. I am really disliking the fact that my lower teeth are now so high, arched looking, but I guess I'll just have to see what happens.
I recently had to go back in twice for missing buttons. One I am quite certain was never put on, which I noticed when I realized my left upper incisor seemed to have been pulled down, but the right had not. It was then that I discovered there were supposed to be matching buttons on both, but the right one was not there. I'm hoping that replacing that button will help them start matching up better.
Anyway, just chugging along, nothing really new to report but I'll add some pictures!
First (and hopefully only!) set of refinements
So I initially was told I'd have 10 sets of trays, then oops! It was actually 15. Two mid-course corrections later I was supposed to be wrapping up at 30 top and 31 bottom, that would have ended just before Christmas. However, there is one tooth that just did not move and so we continue!!
The top teeth are DONE!! At my last appointment (Jan 2nd) my dentist removed all of my upper buttons and took impressions for a retainer, hooray!! My bottom however, will apparently require no less than 13 more trays!!! Ridiculous!! So she did IPR between all of my bottom front teeth and just a day later I can feel they are already tight again. But she says that as soon as my retainer arrives I will no longer have to wear a top tray during the day at all so at least that's good!
My biggest disappointment right now, well, I have three actually, but the worst may be that she says now she cannot fix my chipped front top tooth : ( She is afraid to take too much off by grinding it down a bit and she thinks any bonding she would put on there would get quickly knocked off. I am really upset because I was always told that if I got my bottom teeth fixed then they would NOT knock off the bonding and all would be well, but I guess it is not to be.
Also, my back teeth are still not touching at all. My lower front teeth are considerably arched and the left front teeth are the only ones in my mouth that are hitting (and it has been this way for at least 15 weeks!!). This has not yet been addressed by my dentist or Invisalign. I am hoping that by not wearing a top tray during the day that my back teeth will come back down a bit but I just don't know.
Hawley Retainer Issues 1/22/15
Ok, so I got my Hawley retainer this morning and I'm a little distressed. I did have braces as a child and afterward I had retainers for awhile and I remember the top one fitting very closely to the roof of my mouth, like, right up against the roof, no gap. The retainer I was just given doesn't touch the roof of my mouth at all!! In fact, when I bite down (I still have a lower tray in) my lower tray hits the retainer and I can feel it flex and squeak as it pushes up a bit. Is this right??? They did humor me and call the Ortho lab and they took a new impression and even sent away for a replacement, but all for MY complaining, my dentist did not seem concerned.
I'm just wondering, am I overreacting? I'm terrified that if I am flexing the retainer when I clench my teeth at night won't that screw it up? Won't that pull my nice straight teeth out of shape or break the retaine?? Am I crazy? I'd love to hear opinions on this, whether anyone else with a Hawley has this gap issue and if it's really ok! GRRRR, I thought this was going to be the easy part!!!
Refinement Tray 11 of 13, the home stretch!
So it's been a long time since my last review and I really had no hope that things were going to end up well. But I think maybe they will after all : )
My retainer slowly came to fit me, so much that I wasn't even able to put in the replacement retainer they sent away for (although I think THAT one would have fit perfectly before!). And since it's been months now and my teeth haven't moved, I don't think, I am ok with the retainer I have. And although I did wear it for a few hours during the day at first, I quickly went to night only and that seems to be just fine for me.
My bottom teeth have improved a lot. I feel like the arch I was seeing before has greatly reduced, I'm not exactly sure how but I'm also not complaining! My dentist says she will file down some of the bottom teeth when I'm all done, to make it a little flatter, but I think I'm going to be ok with it either way. Right now the main concern is that my bite is all strange. My teeth only touch in three small places in the back and mostly hit in the front, which won't be ok at all. I do have about 5 more weeks of trays to go through so we'll see if anything changes.