I loved going to the dentist as a child (probably because I never had any cavities) and was obsessed with braces. I remember wishing for and pretending I had braces – I was obsessed, haha! My dentist always told my mom that “if I was his daughter, he wouldn’t do braces,” so it had honestly never been a consideration. My mom told me she even took me to an orthodontist and I didn’t need braces then either.
So, why did I decide to do Invisalign?
I’ve always noticed my front teeth were quite crowded and the two front teeth overlapped on an angle. I knew they were imperfect and that was OK – I didn’t feel they took away from my overall appearance and didn’t think much about them.
Over the last few years though, I started to notice that my front teeth were more visibly crooked/crossed in photos (inevitable, since I take photos so often for my blog). It bothered me a bit, but not enough to do much about it other than having a very brief conversation with my dentist during a routine cleaning about possibly getting a consult for Invisalign.
By chance, I was at work meeting with a group of nurses and one of them mentioned having just completed her Invisalign treatment. I was intrigued and learned through our conversation that one of our employee benefits at the hospital where I work was being able to use our orthodontist (who is actually a Craniofacial Orthodontist) to do an Invisalign treatment for a flat fee.
My teeth when I first started Invisalign, with my trays in.
After talking to a few friends and fellow bloggers who had done Invisalign, I decided to book a consultation with our orthodontics clinic. Most people I know who used Invisalign had already had braces as a child or teen, but I had one friend who, like me, had never had braces before and she was super transparent about the process and its ups and downs (thanks Amanda!)
The consultation went well and I pretty much knew I was going to do it before even going to the appointment. I paid for my treatment in full (no turning back now, haha!) and went to have my teeth scanned. It’s so cool how they do it now – no weird and messy molds on your teeth. They use a stick that has a special camera. They slide it all over your teeth/mouth and the camera’s software creates a perfect 3D model of your teeth. It’s such an interesting experience! After seeing my teeth on the computer screen, I was happier than ever that I made the decision to move forward with the treatment because they were more crooked than I ever realized.
I wanted to straighten my teeth for both aesthetic/cosmetic reasons and for ease of care (flossing and brushing). I think straightening them now will lead to better overall oral health as I age. A lot of people were surprised when I said I was going to do Invisalign because I’ve always liked my teeth – which is true – I don’t hate them! I’m really looking forward to having a straight smile though. Now that I’m halfway through the treatment, I notice people’s teeth all the time and notice how beautiful smiles look with straight teeth (not saying my smile isn’t pretty or that you have to have straight teeth to have a good smile!) I feel it’s a worthwhile investment and I’d rather do it now than later in life. As a side note, my mom also decided to do Invisalign when she learned I was doing it and she is so happy she did! We are actually on the exact same tray, but she has 28 sets of trays in her treatment and I have 20.
After my scans, I then had another follow-up appointment where the orthodontist showed me my projected tooth movements and explained how the process would work. I also learned that my teeth are angled slightly inward, so they will be pushed forward a little more when they’re straightened out. It’s hard to even imagine the final result, even when it’s on the screen in front of you.
When my trays finally came in, I went to my orthodontist to have the attachments fused/bonded to my teeth (they come off after your treatment is complete, but they’re crucial to hold your trays in place and help them move your teeth as intended). I was then taught how to remove my trays, care for them, etc.
I thought it would be helpful to have an FAQ in this post, so here we go!
Does Invisalign hurt?
Yes – but it was only bad the first three days of my first set of trays. My teeth were SO sensitive (like when you whiten them, but worse). The nerve/zinger pain was intense and pain meds didn’t help much – so it was a miserable first few days of treatment. Nerve pain in your teeth kind of makes you feel on edge because it’s constant. A few days later, the nerve pain faded quite a bit, but my two front teeth were super sore and felt paper thin…like it was difficult to bite into food without feeling a lot of discomfort. Each day gets better, but I was warned to switch to a new tray at night to sleep through the pain and that has been a game-changer.
Moving teeth isn’t painless and I knew this going in, which really helped me manage my expectations. Having said that, I have never had bad pain after that first set of trays. I do feel some pressure/discomfort when I start a new set of trays and sometimes my two front teeth feel a little sore, but I don’t take any medication and it’s totally manageable – actually MUCH better than I expected, which has been a pleasant surprise. Of course, everyone is different and some people experience pain throughout their treatment. It’s impossible to know how your body will react, so I prepared myself for the worst. Even when I switch to a new set of trays, I have never had to take pain killers other than the first ever set of trays. Each set of trays gets easier (for me).
Is Ivisalign hard to live with?
I constantly feel and am aware of the aligners in my mouth, but not in a bad way, you just know they’re there at all times. I also have a very high maintenance oral hygiene routine now, brushing and flossing every time I eat and also in the morning (so, four times a day). I also water floss after my dinner/dessert now, in addition to regular flossing and use a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste each night. I actually don’t mind this because my teeth and gums are so much healthier now.
It’s a good thing I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for over a year, because it actually makes Invisalign treatment not a big deal. I start eating at 8:45 or 9 a.m. and stop eating at 6 or 6:15 p.m., so I’m able to fit all of my meals into this window.
What does your typical day with Invisalign look like? How often do you brush/floss?
- 6:20 a.m. Wake up, take out Invisalign trays, clean in M3 retainer cleaner for 10-15 mins. Brush teeth and put aligners back in after doing my hair/make up for work.
- 9 a.m. Make my latte and breakfast at work, take out trays, eat/drink, floss and brush and put aligners back in (always make your coffee and food and have it ready to eat before taking aligners out – this will ensure you’re not wasting time waiting for your food to heat up or coffee to be made).
- 12:30 p.m. Heat up lunch, take aligners out, eat lunch and make a latte while eating, drink latte and have a snack (I moved my snack to right after lunch so I don’t have to brush/floss again at 2 or 3 p.m. I need to eat that meal anyway and timing it right after lunch does keep me full until dinner so it hasn’t been a huge change for me). Floss/brush after latte and snack and put aligners back in.
- 6:00 p.m. Heat up dinner at home, take aligners out, eat dinner + dessert. Floss, water floss, brush with prescription toothpaste and put aligners back in (they don’t come out again until the morning, so this is a nice long block of time my aligners are in).
Invisalign can be challenging for those who like to snack/graze/sip coffee slowly all day long. I do miss slowly drinking my coffee, but I remind myself that this is a one year commitment for a lifetime of straight teeth.
How do you take the aligners out?
The first day my orthodontist put the aligners in, I thought I’d never be able to get them out, LOL! They made me practice in the office and it was so hard at first! My preferred method is to use a Kleenex or napkin. It helps me grip the aligners and not ruin my manicure. Then, I put my aligners in my Invisalign case (you get one when you start your treatment). My mom likes to use the Ortho Key, but I find it more complicated and I feel it can mess up your aligners (my mom has broken two of hers and I haven’t broken any).
How do you handle eating out when you have Invisalign?
For eating out, I just bring my Invisalign case with me and I have a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in my purse in this clarity zip pouch. I pop my aligners out when my food is served – never beforehand because I want to have them in as long as possible each day.
When I’m done eating, if we are going home right after, I wait to brush and floss and if we are running errands or staying out, I just brush in the restaurant’s bathroom. It has never posed an issue. Most of the time, I’m in there alone and even when I’m not, no one has even batted an eye. If there are multiple people in the bathroom, I always wait for everyone to finish washing their hands if there are only 1 or 2 sinks and I will brush my teeth after as to not inconvenience those people.
Can you eat, put the aligners back in and then brush your teeth later?
I avoid doing this – I don’t want plaque and bacteria to build up from not flossing and brushing and I also don’t want to stain my trays. I have had times where I drank a latte and just rinsed with Listerine before putting my aligners back in, but this is rare.
What products do you recommend for starting Invisalign?
- M3 retainer cleaner
- Alcohol-free mouthwash
- Sensodyne toothpaste
- An Ortho Key (I don’t use mine but my mom loves hers)
- A cute pouch for your purse
- Travel toothbrush
- Sonicare toothbrush
How often do you change your Invisalign trays?
When I first got them, I changed them every two weeks. Because I am very compliant (most days I wear them 21-22 hours), my orthodontist allowed me to switch them every 10 days, which has been great! This means I have about 70 more days of my initial treatment.
How much does Invisalign cost?
Costs for Invisalign treatment vary based on your provider, but since I am doing mine through my work, I am paying $3500 for my full treatment and any refinements. Invisalign is actually said to work more quickly than traditional metal braces and they flexibility can’t be beat! (being able to take them off to eat, brush, for a special event, etc).
What are attachments and can you see them on your teeth?
Attachments are bonded to your teeth – how many you have depends on your treatment plan and how your teeth have to move. Their purpose is to help the trays work their magic and stay on/apply pressure to the teeth. You can feel your Invisalign trays “click” into the attachments when they’re on correctly – kind of like when you click your ski boots into your ski bindings. I’m lucky that though I have quite a few attachments, they’re on my side and back teeth, so they’re pretty much undetectable. I’ve actually been shocked at how invisible they are – some people can’t even see them when I point them out when my aligners are off. If you drink coffee, tea or red wine with your Invisalign on (which you’re not supposed to do, but some people do), not only can your attachments become stained, but so can your trays. Most people don’t care because you switch the trays out every 10-14 days, but the attachments cannot be whitened, so I would avoid it.
My teeth when I first started and a week ago, on tray 12/20.
How long does Invisalign treatment take?
I am now a little over halfway through my Invisalign treatment (tray 13/20) and I’m thrilled so far! I cannot believe the amount of change I’ve seen. Every case is different, but I expect that, with refinements, it will take about a year.
Why do you need refinements?
I actually don’t know if I will need refinement trays – this is determined after your initial treatment, but most people do them to get everything as perfect as possible. Some teeth can be more challenging to move, so this is a way to help push along the more stubborn teeth. For refinements, your teeth are re-scanned after your initial treatment and then new trays are made to address any teeth that still need some movement.
I will also have some bonding work done after my treatment. When your teeth have been crossed or overlapped for a long time, it is common that you get “black triangles” between your teeth when they shift in your gum area. Once your treatment is complete, you can get some bonding work done in order to help minimize the appearance of these triangles and overall make your smile look its best.
Did you have a lisp?
Yes, I did have a lisp at first but I think it went away pretty quickly! I notice a slight lisp when I start certain trays, but nothing major or that bothers me and it usually resolves in a day or two. I think this is different for everyone depending on your treatment.
How long do you have to wear them daily?
Invisalign recommends that aligners are worn 21-22 hours per day, so that’s what I aim for.
Are you happy you did Invisalign?
I’m thrilled! I wish I had done it sooner, actually. I’ve always been kind of afraid to do things that could alter my facial appearance, but I think a straight smile is always something that just enhances your overall look. I can’t wait to see the final results after my treatment, attachment removal, bonding and whitening!
Are there any cons?
The only downside for me has been that I clench and grind my teeth at night when I sleep more than I did before. I think it’s because I can feel the aligners because when I had a mouth guard, I found myself clenching more then, too. The only other con is having to brush constantly and not being able to enjoy a more leisurely cup of coffee.
I hope this post answers all of your questions – I am SO HAPPY so far and can’t believe how much my teeth have already improved!