My Invisalign Journey

I've always hated my crooked teeth.

When I was a teen, I felt like all of my friends had braces and although they griped about it, I always envied them. When your parents have trouble putting food on the table, luxuries like braces aren't even worth asking for.

As an adult, braces never seemed to fit into our budget - there was always something else that struck us as more important. My top teeth have always been pretty straight and my teeth are pretty well hidden by my lips - unlike some who have a pretty toothy or gummy smile. I hated my bottom teeth, but I felt selfish putting so much money toward something that was pure vanity.

Over the past year, however, my dentist and I started noticing how a few of my teeth were getting worn down due to my poor bite. Otherwise, my teeth are in great shape. I hated the thought that some of my teeth were being compromised. I'm no spring chicken, but I have many years ahead of my and I'd like my teeth to be there alongside me!

All of that, alongside the fact that the price has come down since first looking into it, made it so that straightening my teeth was finally worth pursuing.

I'm not going to be blogging about this every day, but I was surprised by a few things and wanted to make note of them before I forget. Maybe this information will be helpful to someone else out there.

So, in no particular order, here are my thoughts on Invisalign.

1. It's not quite as low profile as I thought it would be. They place little anchors on your teeth to create "handles" for the liners to grip so they can move the teeth were they need to go. While the anchors are tooth-colored, they are pretty bumpy! They look like...nubs sticking out from your teeth. Also, while the liners are thin and form-fitting, they still feel like you have a mouth guard in and so you don't move your lips the same. People who know you are going to notice that something is up with your mouth!

2. Removing the liners is difficult. One of the touted benefits is that you don't need to remove any foods from your diet since you remove the aligners to eat. Also, there's this idea that if you have an important function, you can simply leave the aligners at home and no one is the wiser. Well, not so fast. Again, the anchors are fairly visible up close. Add to that the fact the aligners are very form-fitting and are meant to apply pressure. There's really no way to discreetly pop them out. Instead, you have to find a "weak" spot and kind of peel them away from your teeth.

3. You can't drink anything but cold or tepid water with the aligners in place. Anything else and you risk tooth decay, damage, or discoloration to the liners. Not worth it. So the aligners must be removed prior to eating and drinking and then you must brush and floss before putting the aligners back.

4. Sharp edges. Have some fine-grit sandpaper on hand. The liners are comprised of a thin plastic and the edges are fairly sharp. You might not notice it a first, but your gums or lips will probably be rubbed raw in some places. Identify the sharp spots and sand...and sand...and sand. It does work and, thankfully, mouths seem to heal quickly!

5. You'll probably have a speech impediment. I'm only on day 3 and this is already easing up a bit, but you'll probably feel like you have sports-grade mouth guard in for the first few days. My words slur sometimes and I have a lisp. Yay.

6. Eating is a pain. Welcome to your new weight-loss plan! At least, that's what everyone tells me. I get that snacking isn't going to happen and that doesn't bother me. I further realize that any brace system is going to make my teeth sensitive. What I didn't not expect is that eating is STILL a pain due to those darn anchors! Some of the anchors are like bubbles, but others are fairly pointed and sharp. Due to my overbite, the anchors on my lower teeth crash into the back of my upper teeth and sometimes my lip gets caught and is painfully pinched. So I must chew slowly and deliberately. Not fun and, again, not what I would consider discreet or low-profile.

7. Even when it's over, it's not over. Be sure that your dentist includes the "after" care when planning. After the aligners, I'll have to wear clear retainers for a good while. Eventually they'll just be at night, but for a while they'll be needed during the day, too. It doesn't make sense to go through all of this if you aren't going to do the final step. If your teeth migrate right back to where they were, then what's the point?

Final thoughts: I still think that it will all be worth it in the end, but I do think it's important for people to consider some of these points. Be sure to look at lots of pictures to get a good idea of everything that's involved.

It might be a good idea to schedule your initial appointment on a Friday afternoon. Get your anchors attached, put in your aligners, and then spend the weekend recovering and getting used to everything. Make up a little kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and your aligner case. You'll need to take it with you if you plan on eating or drinking throughout the day.

Most of this post was written the first week and I've now had the aligners for almost 4. The aligners are already easier to pop in and out - even after starting the second set. We took a trip to Orlando and it was a hassle to mess with them before eating, but it wasn't terrible. I didn't want to brush them in busy public restrooms so I just swished water after eating. At least once a day I'd swish the liners themselves in my water cup before popping them back in and then I'd give them a good brushing as soon as we returned to our condo.

Pro tip: Use the container they give you to keep your aligners in. At first, I didn't want to carry it around with me and get it out, etc. It seemed like an unnecessary hassle. Instead, I'd take out the aligners and place them in a clean napkin - until I had a heart attack thinking they'd been thrown out. Never again! After that I went to the extra effort of placing them in their little holding case until my meal was over.

I'm still early on in this process and have a long way ahead of me. I'll probably post again at the halfway point or if I have any unexpected issues. I felt a bit blindsided in the beginning, but I'm very encouraged by how quickly I've acclimated and am feeling much more comfortable and upbeat about my decision. Before I know it, all this will be behind me and I'll have the teeth I've always wanted!

Update 3/9/20

I was going to post separately, but it becomes difficult to track and reference between multiple blog posts. I'm finishing up my third set of trays now. The only difficulty has been the anchor on my bottom front tooth. It keeps snapping off. It's there to pull the tooth upward. Honestly, I HATE than anchor anyway. It makes it impossible to eat without constantly pinching my lip. I was miserable. The dentist said to forget about it for now and he'll have to reevaluate toward the end of my treatment. I'm not sure how this will impact everything, but I'm realizing that I have to be flexible during the process so I'll take his advice and just not worry about it for now.


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