Like most people, I stopped wearing my retainer at some point after I had braces. It was sometime in college where my mom wasn’t there to make sure I was wearing them at least a couple nights a week. Honestly, I thought that they had been straight for years now…surely they would stay that way. Wrong. My teeth shifted fairly quickly after I ditched the retainers and nothing was the same (cue some Drake). I don’t remember exactly when my teeth started to bother me but at some point I really wanted to do something about it. Whenever I would complain to my friends, they never noticed anything wrong because they were basically still pretty straight. It was one of those things that only you really see or care about…no one was about to agree with me that my upper laterals needed to move up a little. My bottom teeth had the most obviously crookedness but no one sees those anyway. Still, I was on a mission to do something about it.
Fast forward to May of 2016. I am on vacation with my cousin in Seattle and I can’t help but notice how great her teeth look and she tells me that she just finished with Invisalign. My interest piques. Also, for those of you that may not know, Invisalign is a teeth alignment treatment in which you receive a set of removable trays (I had 20) that you change out (on average) every 2 weeks. Your teeth slowly move in the correct position over the course of your treatment and it is a pretty painless and not-so-obvious method of straightening your teeth.
It just so happened that the very next month I started working and we get great dental insurance options so I picked the plan that covered the most orthodontics care and started researching practices that had the most experience with Invisalign patients.
I picked a practice and had my initial consultation where they told me I was a good candidate for Invisalign. They also offered a treatment called Acceledent which is basically a device you put in your mouth daily for 20mins that helps your teeth move quicker by applying micropulses to assist in bone remodeling. It is apparently supposed to cut your Invisalign treatment period in half, but it came with a hefty price tag. I decided to just see how things would go and then decide later if Acceledent was something I wanted to do.
One great piece of advice from my cousin was to have a conversation with your doctor about how serious you are about pursuing this treatment. Reason being is that the standard amount of time you use each tray out of the set is 2 weeks. The way I see it, 2 weeks gives you a good margin of error. If you slack on wearing your trays for a couple days, 2 weeks is a long enough period to ensure that your teeth move the intended amount before you move onto your next set of trays. Your doctor will always err on the side of caution. However, in my case, my teeth were definitely moving faster and the way I was able to tell was that my trays were feeling looser around the week period a.k.a. they had moved/conformed to the shape of the tray. By letting my doctor know that I was serious about wearing them and wanting to get the treatment done in the shortest amount of time, she let me wear each tray for 10 days vs. 14 days. This may not seem like a huge difference but it did cut down the time of my treatment pretty significantly. So, definitely speak up about your expectations and your goals with Invisalign and your doctor may be open to speeding up the whole process.
On day 1, I had my attachments put in. The attachments are these small clay-like ridges that they put on certain teeth to help the trays stay on better and help promote movement. Then they helped me put the trays in and made me practice taking them off and on again. For some reason on the very first day this was really hard. I guess my teeth were just getting used to them or something but I felt like it was taking forever to take them off. I was like great…is this my life now?! The rest of that day my mouth was pretty sore and the inside of my mouth was getting slightly cut up from the trays (but nothing compared to braces.) I have to say, it was only that first day where I experienced any real discomfort. Over the next couple days it became easier and easier to take the trays on and off and eventually I could do it without a mirror.
Oh, and when people say they really can’t see that you have your trays in…I’m 95% certain that they are lying and just being polite. It’s definitely obvious when you have them in and while it’s not horrifying or anything, it’s not exactly you putting your best face forward. I never minded wearing them at work because I pretty much work with the same people every day and they knew I was doing this; but I may have felt different if I was in an environment where I was constantly meeting new people or having to give presentations or something like that. Also, you will have a slight lisp.
One thing I read about Invisalign users before I started was that a lot of people lost some weight during the initial few weeks. I was like…wait, what? How? But, once I started I totally got why. When I still sucked at taking them on and off, it didn’t seem worth it to take them off just to have a snack because 1) I’d have to spend a couple minutes just to remove them and 2) I would have to brush my teeth right after before putting them back on. Which brings me to an important point: you HAVE to brush your teeth before you put these suckers back on. Because think about it, you just ate and have all these small food particles lodged in your teeth and then you put your trays back on and now you’ve created an environment where the bacteria can flourish and potentially cause problems moving forward. So yeah, it really only seemed worth it to eat my main meals and to cut down on the snacking. And sure enough, I lost a couple pounds those first 2 months.
Once I kind of caught onto how quickly my teeth were moving and how having my trays off for longer periods of time wasn’t sabotaging the whole treatment, I started relaxing a bit more on how long I would wear them. I mean…the recommended wear time is 22 hours…that’s a lot. My boyfriend used to tease me all the time that I would have Invisalign for years because we basically only see each other on the weekends and during that time I would pretty much only wear them at night (oops!) Regardless, this made no difference and my orthodontist would always be so happy with my progress…little did she know 🙂
In terms of cleaning them, I just did the recommended method of using regular hand soap and a toothbrush to scrub off all the gunk that builds up with daily wear. Initially, I had read online about creating a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to soak them in to really sanitize them. But, that ended up causing some gum irritation that my dentist pointed out to me so I stopped doing that and my gums went back to normal. Also, I would recommend having a separate brush just to clean your trays because it’s more sanitary. Q-tips also work really well to remove gunk on the parts that your toothbrush can’t reach with ease.
During my last month, I had attachments put on my front 4 teeth and I was honestly dreading that so much because I thought it was going to be super obvious that they were there, even when I had my trays out. But, very few people could tell they were there and those that did just happened to be standing really close to me. When I had my trays in, it looked like I had clear braces which wasn’t the cutest look but thankfully it was only for a month.
The whole treatment for me took 8 months. Obviously it varies from person to person but I was so happy with the duration of the treatment and the results. My teeth have seriously never looked/felt better! My dentist was even telling me during one of my cleanings that it had become a lot easier to remove plaque between my bottom teeth since they had started straightening out. Also, I never ended up doing Acceledent because I was happy with changing out my trays every 10 days.
Overall, Invisalign is something I would highly recommend for those of you wanting to straighten your teeth. If anyone has any additional questions that were not answered in this post, please feel free to ask me and I’ll be happy to help!
P.S. You should definitely wear your trays all the time until you figure out what time of wear works for you. I don’t want anyone thinking you can get away with just a couple hours of wear everyday!