Invisalign

Start to Now

My teeth have always been a little janky. They also weren’t close to touching. I had a pretty open bite caused by tongue thrusts. I’ve spent a lot of time in a dentist’s chair getting my mouth healthy, but the bite was always bad.

Two of our kids started on braces and while we were going through that process, I went through and evaluation as well. The orthodontist recommended Invisalign. I balked at the price and left it it that.

My wonderful wife, surprised me by paying the deposit while I was out of town! So I started down that path.

The attached image is the before and current. I’m just now on my second set of trays, a step they call refinement. Interestingly, I have more refinement trays than the original set.

Beginning Treatment

The start is really easy. They scan your mouth and you wait. In a few weeks you get your first few sets of trays and start wearing them as much as possible. They say 22 hours per day. I never hit that mark.

The first trays are a lie. Sure they put pressure on your teeth and you get sore, but the next step is where the teeth really get moving.

Attachments

Attachments (not the email kind). They bond little pieces to your teeth and the trays snap on to them. The pitch is that you have a “few attachments”. In my case, every tooth on top had one. Most of the bottoms did as well. These give the trays something to really grab onto.

The first few days were awful. The amount of pressure the trays put on the teeth once the attachments are on is much greater than without.

Getting the trays in and out is really, really hard. Partly because the pain, but it’s just plain hard. The attachments are sharp and the tray really lock on. Removing the trays feels like you’re pulling your teeth out. You aren’t, but it sure feels like it.

It Gets Better, Really

A few days in things start to subside. I got into a good routine of pulling from the back right and just unzipping the tray. Once you get used to the pulling sensation, the discomfort is mostly gone. With each new tray, there may be a day or two of soreness, but it’s really been minimal after that first week with attachments.

Still Annoying

I’m not going to lie, these get annoying. Some days I barely notice them, but others … I want to just throw them in the trash. It’s nice to not have the restrictions that come along with braces, but I feel like there is more maintenance on these. Figure every time you eat or drink anything not water (more on that later) they trays come out. You brush your teeth. Brush the trays. Put the trays back in. I often turn down food because I don’t want to deal with that. And no, I didn’t lose weight (partly COVID), but when the trays are out I eat and drink everything!

You can bet that I break those drinking rules! I did learn to never drink anything hot. I’ve had one tray break, and it was a day that I drank warmish coffee. I do leave the trays in when I drink a non-sugary liquor (whiskey, vodka, gin) or beer. Once there’s sugar or citrus in there, I just take them out. Same for wine. I’ve occasionally drank white wine with them in, but I take them out for reds.

I have the pleasure of having rubber bands too. These have extra metal hooks on my teeth and hooks built into the trays. It’s puts a different type of pressure on your teeth so be prepared for a change if you have bands.

Like I said, I never hit the 22 hours a day. I can tell if they are staying tight and will do things like drink iced coffee (no milk or sugar) so I leave them in more in the morning. Usually, by the time I change trays, I don’t feel any pressure with the current tray.

Tips

  • Keep toothbrushes and toothpaste everywhere: bathrooms, kitchen, vehicle, desk, backpack.
  • Keep a case handy. You don’t have to buy the expensive ones. My wife bought some index card boxes for me.
  • Wear them as much as you can. The days I drink iced coffee or skip a red wine for a white are to maximized the time the trays are in. The treatment is expensive and temporary.
  • Changing trays at night helps a ton! I’ve only taken ibuprofen a few times.
  • Try different directions for removing the trays. I struggled with grabbing both sides and settled on grabbing the back right and unzipping them from there.
  • Be prepared to smile more.

How I Feel About It

It’s expensive, and a little selfish, but I’m glad I did it. I didn’t realize how self-conscious I still was of my teeth and smile. Even with the trays is I simply smile more. And that’s not in my head, people commented that didn’t even realize I had trays in.

Overall it’s been pleasant, or at least as pleasant as moving your teeth can be. Biting and chewing are much better (my front teeth touch!) I also feel a lot better about myself, I feel like I look better. That was definitely not part of my reason for starting, but it definitely adds to the experience.