I was asked ever-so-nicely by a few readers on Instagram to recount all the juicy details of my experience with Invisalign, so hold onto your dental floss, we’re about to talk teeth!
Invisalign are essentially clear, plastic mouthguards that move/ straighten/ work wonders on your teeth in the same way that traditional metal braces do.
They’re not for everyone for a number of reasons (cost, the fact some people need metal braces to correct other issues such as severe overbites, for example) so let me start by saying that if you’re interested, it’s best to chat to both your regular dentist and book an appointment with an orthodontist to see if these extraordinary pieces of plastic will do what they need to do for you.
* Just on that, my dentist told me they wouldn’t work for me and I think he’s still full from eating a big ol’ piece of humble pie yesterday when I went for my 6 monthly clean!
Why I Got Them
Shown: wearing my Invisalign, one month after getting them.
I didn’t have braces as a teen as I was lucky to have straight teeth… that is, until my wisdom teeth came down about 5 years ago in my mid-twenties and things started really moving. Overcrowding became a big issue, and I noticed that one of my front teeth was starting to cross over the other, along with some noticeable movement with the teeth on each side and my middle bottom teeth. I’d also started pushing (“thrusting” is apparently the technical term but… wow) my tongue up against my front teeth quite aggressively when I was sleeping. See what I mean? Aggressive thrusting, and… OKAY THEN.
Where were we?
Anyway, when I mentioned my toothy predicament to friends or Ramai, they’d laugh and say “Your teeth are fine” but then I’d show them a photo and they’d say “Oh, yep, I get it now” and with a wedding on the cards – ergo, photos a-plenty – it was decided that off I would trot to get fitted for what became affectionately referred to as my “Vizzy’s.”
Shown: wearing Invisalign, 2 months in.
+ Impressions, X-rays and photos are taken of your teeth and are then turned into a 3-D image so you can see the kind of results you’ll get. At this point, you pay a deposit, which for me was around $3000. The Invisalign cost me $8000 in total which I paid in montly installments.
+ At your first fitting, you’ll be shown how to get the trays in and out of your mouth as you take them off to eat and drink hot drinks. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably think THERE’S NO FREAKING WAY I’M GETTING THESE BAD BOYS ON AND OFF BY MYSELF, but then after playing in the mirror at home, you’ll get the hang of it quick sticks. Promise.
+ You’re then given a batch of trays that need to be changed every fortnight, and for the first day or so, you’ll feel some pain and sensitivity as they start to whip your teeth into line. I had mine on for 12 months all up and I found for the first 6 months I really noticed a dull ache for the first day of a new set (sometimes randomly, mostly after I’d put them back in after having them out to eat), but later on in the process, when my teeth were more mobile, I’d whip them in and out like nobody’s bizness with very little pain at all.
My hot tip here is to put your new ones on at night so the movement begins while you’re sleeping.
* may vary depending where you get them done. I got mine at Gullotta Orthodontics on the Gold Coast (very professional, highly recommend).
The Rules + Other Stuff
+ You need to wear your Invisalign for 20 – 22 hours a day, which means popping them out to eat, rinsing your mouth out and then getting them straight back in. Because I’m a nerd and did just that, if I had a party or a work dinner where I couldn’t pull them in and out repeatedly without looking disgusting (Oh, don’t mind me just fishing around in my mouth at the table, guys!) I’d just keep them out for a block of a few hours. Which is OK sometimes, but should not be “the norm” if you want them to actually do what you hope.
+ To clean: you’re given a special coarse brush and told to clean the aligners every morning and night with mouthwash, but I found that towards the end of the 2 weeks before I was about to pop in the new set, they would get rather UGH, so I soaked them in Steradent denture tablets which worked an absolute treat.*
+ Attachments: or as we called them, “shark fins.” These are small and tooth-coloured and applied to any teeth that need extra assistance to move (they create more friction/ tightness between the aligner and your teeth). They do make it harder to get the trays in and out of your mouth at first, but you get used to them. They also make your Invisalign slightly less “invisible” but remember, no one notices them as much as you – in fact, lots of people never even knew I had them on.
+ Elastics: like the sharkeys, I wasn’t the hugest fan of the elastics and thankfully they were only on for a short period of time. These are to encourage faster movement, and honestly, once you’re into the process, you just want to do everything you can to help achieve an amazing result.
How these work: small buttons are attached to your back teeth (bottom ones) and slits are made in the top aligners towards the back. The tiny elastics then slide into the slits and are wrapped around the buttons to create more tension.
* Not recommended in the manual, but I found this to work well if used occasionally.
A.I (After Invisalign)
Taken straight after my last orthodontist appointment!
I finished my 12 month treatment 2 weeks ago and part of ensuring my teeth stay as straight as they now are means I have a bar stuck behind my upper and lower teeth, and I have to wear a plastic mouthguard (retainer) to bed every night for the first 6 months, and eventually once a week (forever). Of course, that’s up to me, but after doling out the cash and being super vigilant for the past year, you can bet I’ll doing everything I can to keep them in line, so to speak.
Why I Loved Them
Straight teeth on our wedding day = hooray!
Don’t laugh, but I actually grew quite fond of my Vizzy’s. I think it was the psychological aspect of knowing that when they were on they were working their magic, but I think most importantly, I loved that I could see them moving and straightening as I went along.
I love food and was stoked that I didn’t have to cut anything out of my diet like you do with regular braces (well except chewing gum, but it’s no good for you anyway). I also have to admit that the fact I could pretend I wasn’t in the middle of a teeth straightening adventure if I needed to (like at my birthday soiree, for instance) was a pretty big win, and something that you can’t say about our friend Mr Metal.
So that’s it, a totally unsponsored, completely honest account of my experience with Invisalign. I hope that answers a few questions!
+ What about you – have you ever had braces? What did you think of them? Have you ever thought about Invisalign?