36 y.o., finally getting Straight Teeth with Invisalign - Switzerland, CH

As far as I can remember, I always had crooked...

As far as I can remember, I always had crooked teeth (and an overbite). As a toddler I sucked my fingers, and that sealed the beginning of one big mess. I did not wear braces as a teenager and although I have wanted a better smile for almost my entire life, I do not regret it one bit. All my friends who endured metal braces as teenagers now have the exact same crooked teeth they paid so dearly in cash and in pain to get straightened. None of them was ever offered a retainer by their doctors. And if I am to believe my young cousin who is now finishing his 18-month treatment of metal braces, it seems retainers after orthodontic treatment are still nowadays unheard here, in Europe.
I have read tons of reviews about Invisalign and orthodontics (most of them by patients in North America) and I am shocked by the gross ignorance of European doctors in comparison (well, in France they still do not have hygienists so that says enough how far we are behind.....). Most of them still work solely with metal braces. Earlier this year one literally laughed to my face when I suggested fixing my teeth with Invisalign. His alternative was two years of metal braces and a 10'000 $ bill. Another had offered me lingual braces (which I nearly accepted). Then I moved to another country (Switzerland) where I met my current doctor. He has worked with Invisalign since the beginning of this technology, and now works almost exclusively with it, and he is... American.
So I started my Invisalign journey four weeks ago and I am at tray... 5. You read right, tray 5. I kept each of the first three trays one week, and did not have yet the attachments. Last Saturday I got the attachments fixed and received a new set of aligners which I am to change every 3,5 days. I have 71 trays for the upper teeth and 37 for the bottom teeth. I use Orthopulse (similar to Acceledent) 5 min a day. If I forget to use Orthopulse or if I wear my aligners less than 22 hours a day, I have to wear them one extra day.
So far, so good. I did not experience any particular pain. After reading some reviews here, I think my doctor chooses to make tiny movements at each aligner, which would explain why I have a lot of aligners (but ok, my teeth are super crooked) and why I am changing them so often. And (maybe) why I have not felt any major pain, just some pressure and the occasional (small) headache (more on this further down). I also did not have any problem with sharp edges. In fact, the worst is the rubber band I wear on one side to correct my overbite: it is scratching the inside of my cheek, making it a bit sensitive but it is really manageable. The attachments are also a bit hurting when I remove the aligners for eating, but again, nothing super bad although I have an attachment on almost every single tooth. (yep, that is how bad are my teeth)
My doctor told me to try keeping the aligners when eating (he said teeth move more effectively as they chew). I was very surprised when I heard this and told him I was afraid they would break, stain, smell bad, etc. He replied that aligners do not break so easily and the stain/smell could easily be removed by soaking them into water/vinegar. And in any case, changing them so often would make it easier for keeping them clean. So I tried eating with them on and while soft foods (yoghurt, soup, bread, cooked vegetables, rice, pasta) are ok, the rest just does not work. Chewing is incredibly non effective with the aligners on, you end up swallowing too big chunks of food, making you almost choke on them (sorry for the details). Plus the feeling is just plain disgusting. So I usually take them off for lunch and dinner, keep them if I am snacking on a yoghurt or banana or having a tea... before rushing to the bathroom in order to clean them + brush my teeth and floss. I wash my mouth, brush my teeth and floss each time I eat or drink something else than water. This is the best thing about Invisalign: being able to eat whatever you want, and being able to clean thoroughly afterwards. I love the constant clean feeling of my teeth. I never had big problems with my teeth (except for the crooked part) although I discovered flossing only few years ago (oops). In my entire life I had only one tiny cavity and one demineralised spot between teeth, so I cross fingers it will keep this way even during the Invisalign treatment.
During the first ten days, I had a lisp, nothing crazy but noticeable. It disappeared once my mouth got used to the aligners. I had the impression it came back a little bit with the attachments on, but it was easier this time. The first days my mouth was constantly dry but paradoxically salivating more... weird and sometimes a bit difficult to manage when I had to talk a lot while at work. The aligners are not entirely invisible but they are not noticeable unless you are very close. Also for my upper incisors my doctor stuck the attachments on the back of my teeth, making the aligners even more invisible. When I started the treatment, my husband and my daughter asked me when I should get my braces, while I had them on! They had not noticed them!
Finally I'd like to address TMJ issues. When starting with Invisalign, I had the suspicion some of my migraines could be linked to my dysfunctional teeth: because of the bad position of my teeth, I would chew mostly on one side, straining too much on the jaw joint on that particular side, which would induce pain at the joint but also in the nerves at the back of my neck and start a migraine. Now I know there is a genetic part in those migraines (thank you mom!) but after almost 20 years, I somehow recognized several things: my migraines were generally induced by hormones (especially when under contraception) and stress, but also problems with my back/neck/teeth(?) which I am managing thanks to osteopathy and yoga. When I started with Invisalign I recognized sometimes the same type of pain/tension in my neck and shoulder as when a migraine usually starts. I was a bit scared moving my teeth would increase my migraines but in fact the tension/pain just wore off, without any medication. So let's see... I am interested in seeing how the migraines will evolve once the treatment will be over... I feel already some results with my teeth steadily moving, especially as some places become much easier to floss than before, but I am eager to be able to flash a proper smile for the first time of my life!

Tray 6

I am now on tray 6. Suddenly the dry mouth feeling was back today, i hope it is only temporary, it is not very pleasant and give me some kind of small lisp.
Still no pain, maybe some soreness when eating but nothing that prevented from eating what i want (including chocolate with nuts!). I can see already my bottom teeth have moved, flossing is otherwise a good way to recognize the tiny movements my teeth are making.
On the top, i do not yet recognize a difference. I am really careful with keeping the trays minimum 22 hours a day, using orthopulse, using the smaller elastic band the doctor gave me because i really want my front teeth to move.
But to be honest, I am afraid it will not work, considering the rotation required. I find it very hard to imagine my teeth would be straight one day...

Tray 10

Getting now to the two digits... i am right on tracks and the new trays fit well each time. Some days though i am just so fed up with having plastic in my mouth... especially in the morning it feels gross. The rest of the time i am busy and do not think about them.
I did the most stupid thing you can do with aligners in... eating some curry food. To my defense, the food was not clearly labelled as "curry" (it was couscous) but the back of my trays ended up with bright greenish stains nonetheless... yiiik, i am glad i could change them the day after. Nothing could get this horrible green colour away although i brushed and cleaned them a million times... a good lesson learned!

Tray 19/68

I have had today my first visit to my orthodontist since I got the attachments and elastic band. He was very pleased with the progress. I now need to wear the elastic band only at nights, since my teeth moved already so well. Wearing the smallest elastic band and keeping the trays 22 hours a day finally pays off! Discipline is key. I keep telling myself to go on like this and i might be off the hook for the next summer (probably wishful thinking considering the probability of getting refinements, but who knows, let's dream big, hahaha).
I also start noticing the moves of my front teeth, what do you think? I cannot wait to see those ones finally straight. With my teeth straightened a bit i notice with wonder how similar my smile is (or will be) to my brother's (who has very straight teeth). While i love my brother, i had never thought we had much in common physically, but now the similarity strikes me, how funny and nice.
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