Introduce yourself, tell us about yourself and what lead you to fixing your teeth. Tell us about why you chose Invisalign (over conventional braces) and how long your treatment time is:
I am a 40 year old Business Consultant with a major IT company. I had a retainer for my top teeth as a teenager, but didn’t wear it as much as I should have, and as a result my teeth never got straightened as they should have. At age 40, I didn’t feel comfortable to wear conventional braces, not even with the clear brackets. Now that I am finally at a stage in life where I can afford it, I sought out an Invisalign orthodontist who also dealt with lingual braces so that I could weigh my options. Invisalign’s Cost was less than half the price of the lingual braces, and also seemed to be the most comfortable option.
How bad would you rate your teeth before Invisalign?
I really like the teeth themselves, but the positioning has always bothered me, especially my top right canine (my ‘fang’). In technical terms, I have a 4mm overbite, and a 4.5mm overjet. I had enough crowding on the bottom to require one extraction.
How many trays did you get?
I was assigned 42 top trays, and 57 bottom. My Invisalign orthodontist works with a designated wear time of 220 hours per tray, which is therefore a 10 day rotation period, unlike the typical 14 day one that it seems most people work with. I asked about this, and he explained to me he prefers to work with more trays, smaller movement increments per tray as he finds this more precise.
Were the aligners painful? Explain. Did anything remedy it?
Of course there was an adjustment period for the first week or so. I had quite a bit of discomfort, especially on the bottom where my tongue or cheeks would rub against the tray. This passed after the first few trays. Using dental wax to pad the areas helped quite a bit. Now, trays are usually uncomfortable for the first few days in that I can feel the pressure of movement on my teeth, but trays that rub or hurt my tongue or cheek are rare.
How many times did you have to visit the dentist?
I’m given 4 trays at a time, so I see my orthodontist every 40 days. During holidays etc., I’m sometimes given a few more trays.
Were there any glitches or setbacks in your treatment?
About one year into my treatment, my Invisalign trays suddenly did not fit as they always had in the past. This happened literally from one day to the next. Tray 36 was absolutely perfect as usual, and when I changed on my scheduled day to the next tray it was almost impossible to get my bottom tray on. I saw my orthodontist the following morning, and he said my options were to either get new impressions or put regular brackets on the 3 teeth that had shifted. I opted to get the 3 brackets, and they took my remaining bottom trays and punched out the affected side to allow for the traditional braces. At the same time, the top trays began to sit wrong on my lateral incisor and the canine next to it. There is a visible gap between the top edge of the tray and my gumline, as well as a gap between the bottom of the teeth and the tray which was so noticeable I’d even received comments from people thinking I had something stuck on my tooth. My orthodontist removed the attachment on the affected canine, and then redid it with the aligner pressed on as tightly as possible, hoping to incite some more movement. That was two weeks ago, but it has not rectified the problem at all. He’s away for another week, and I plan to go back in as soon as he is back. Given that I only have 2 top aligners left (I’m on 40 of 42 top trays), I imagine he will order new impressions, but I have no idea right now.
What was your favorite aspect of the treatment?
For me, there are many advantages of using Invisalign rather than traditional braces. People do not have to know about my treatment unless I choose to tell them because of my Invisible braces. I can brush and floss my teeth as usual, and I can eat anything I want, and I don’t need to worry about food getting caught in my braces.
What did you dislike about Invisalign?
The negative aspects of Invisalign for me are not being able to have fillings or dental work done during treatment because of the fact that the trays are so precisely made. I miss chewing gum, but I wouldn’t say that was a big sacrifice at all, in light of the results I hope to achieve. I also am not looking forward to having to wait many weeks for a new set of trays, should new impressions be needed.
What advice would you give to me, if I were looking to try the Invisalign treatment?
Ha! I have tons on this.
The single biggest piece of advice I wish someone had given to me before seeking treatment would be:
1) Get ALL your dental work done before you get impressions made! I didn’t know this, and my check up happened to be 2 weeks after I started Invisalign. I have 2 cavities that have now remain untreated until I am done, because I can’t have them fixed without ruining the precise fit of my trays.
2) Be aware that invisalign is LESS visible, but it still exists in your mouth. I’ve read so many blogs and posts where the person is totally upset that there are attachments that go along with their trays, or that the trays can actually be seen. It’s not magic, but it’s still far less visible than traditional braces. Ask your orthodontist where he expects to place attachments for you, if any will be needed during your treatment.
3) be aware that you WILL feel the movement of your teeth, just as you would with traditional braces, especially in the first few days of each tray. Some trays are more uncomfortable than others, depending on which teeth are being moved. I find that the discomfort is greatest as I am taking the trays out, and as I am chewing on those first days. Front teeth moving has been the most uncomfortable for me, and of my 40 trays so far, only 2 could be categorised as being truly painful the first days. A very good idea that has helped me immensely has been to change my trays at night to allow the initial settling in to happen overnight as I sleep. Invisalign Chewies help a lot as well.
4) Make sure you always wear your trays at least as many hours as your orthodontist has told you to. I have personally found that not just the cumulative amount of time you have your trays out each day counts, but also the length of time per removal makes a difference. In the first few days of a tray, I find it of great benefit to remove my trays only for very very short periods of time. If I have plans that I know will mean having my trays out for very long, I always try to plan this to be on the last days before rotation, and I have never exceeded more than an hour and half with my trays out, ever.
5) When you are first learning to remove your trays, use a small square of paper towel to help improve your grip. You won’t need this after a while, but it was a lifesaver for me at the beginning.
6) Invest in a small electric manicure machine. I got mine for under 10 dollars, and it is absolutely invaluable at filing the little nooks and crannies if you have a tray that has a sharp edge. Do NOT use a Dremel, it’s too strong and the heat of rotation speed can destroy your trays. Don’t bother with a sonic cleaner, or any other special equipment for your trays. A hard toothbrush (only for your trays, not your teeth!) and some toothpaste will keep your trays perfectly clean. Placing your trays in water while they are out, or at least rinsing them with water as soon as you take them out will help keep them fresher as well. For your teeth, DO invest in a good electric/sonic type toothbrush. Take your dental hygiene seriously. During your treatment your teeth are deprived of the constant flow of saliva to your teeth which helps keep them clean, and you need to take extra good care of them.
7) Do not settle for an orthodontist that doesn’t take the time to talk to you, LISTEN to you and with whom you feel 100% comfortable with. You get what you pay for!
DO ask lots of Invisalign questions about what is and isn’t included in the price of treatment: subsequent retainers, bleaching, refinements etc.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with our readers Dawna! Good Luck in the rest of your treatment!
Want to know more? You can keep tabs on Dawna’s progress on her blog.