Hi everyone! I have been wanting to do a post about my Invisalign journey for awhile now. Somehow, it kept getting pushed back... it's a lot of work with all of the progress photos. I'm finally ready to share my Invisalign Journey, which I am on Tray 8 right now, which is 16 weeks in.
A Little History
I started to talk to a new dentist about Invisalign and veneers for my bonded teeth last October. I wanted to get veneers on my two front teeth, because I chipped them badly when I was a child when I fell off my bike. I've had the bonding touched up a couple of times since then, but it keeps staining. The dentist suggested starting Invisalign to straighten my teeth, because my two front teeth were coming out and the two on the side were pushing in. My bottom teeth were also not straight with one pushing out. I had braces when I was in 5th grade, but I was never good about wearing my retainer. It made sense to correct the orthodontics of my teeth before spending money on veneers. He also suggested having veneers put on my four front teeth, even though the teeth on each side of my front ones are fine. His reasoning behind this is to give me a more perfect smile. I did do some research on this and it is common practice to have the four front teeth done with veneers. You'll have a more finished look and it doesn't cost a lot more. Also, the bonding has made my two front teeth wider than they should be and he is going to correct that by filing the teeth down throughout the Invisalign process. I am also going to do whitening on my teeth after I finish the Invisalign and before getting the veneers. That way the dentist can match the veneers to the color of my teeth after the whitening. I am REALLY excited about the end result, this is something I have wanted for myself for a long time.
I didn't really do a lot of research on Invisalign versus metal braces. I had the metal braces when I was a child and I never enjoyed them. I liked the idea that Invisalign is clear and that I wouldn't look like a teenager in my thirties with braces! My main reason for going with Invisalign was because my dentist offered it and he can correct my teeth in a way that when it comes time to do my veneers, it will all look seamless.
The cost for Invisalign at my dentist was $4,500. I paid cash, but he did offer a monthly payment plan with no interest if you paid regularly. This cost includes EVERYTHING. All appointments, the trays, the lifetime retainer afterwards, etc. I have read online that some dentists charge more, some a little less. My insurance paid for some of it, but would pay for more if I was under 21.
What to Expect Before Invisalign
You will make an appointment to have your impressions made. This is where they stick a puddy-like material in your mouth and you bite down. They will also take photographs of your teeth and natural smile. After this is done you wait 1-2 months, since they send these to the Invisalign lab and they create your trays!
Getting 'Fitted' for Invisalign and IPR
I really wasn't sure what to expect when I came in for my visit to get my Invisalign fitted. They put several buttons on my teeth, which is what the clear plastic trays lock into. I have buttons on almost all of my bottom teeth and thankfully none on my two front teeth. They also had to file down a few of my teeth, this process is called IPR (inter proximal reduction). This is done in order to get some 'space' in your mouth so they teeth can move. When I had braces as a child, they removed 4 of my teeth to get space. As an adult, you'll probably need IPR. Don't worry, it is hardly noticeable and doesn't hurt at all. And, they only take a small amount off, so you still have a lot of enamel left on the tooth. This was the part of Invisalign that bothered me the most at first. Your teeth look a little funny after this is done with little spaces, but they close up right away! My dentist did IPR at the beginning and I have to have a little more done before I start Tray 9.
I left with Tray 1 in my mouth and Trays 2, 3 and 4 in individual bags to take home. At Tray 5, I would have my next orthodontic visit. Each tray is to be worn two weeks. You are supposed to keep ALL the trays, because if you lose one the dentist will either have you go back a tray or forward a tray. It takes Invisalign 2 weeks to make a new tray, so you are stuck with what they've originally sent you.
First Few Days
The first few days are the ABSOLUTE worst. It gets better! I promise! The trays are hard to get in and out until you get used to them. It took me a couple of days to get comfortable taking them out and putting them in. I also damaged my nails trying to remove them, but then I read online to take a little piece of paper towel or tissue and it helps give you more grip. Not only does this help me remove the trays, but it also saves my nails!
My mouth was also really sore in certain spots during the first week. The edges of the trays aren't perfectly smooth on the tops and bottoms. I know this sounds weird and you would think they'd be smooth, but they aren't. With a foreign object in my mouth, my tongue just wanted to rub up and down on these edges. I had to train my tongue to behave itself! Also, some of the spots where the 'buttons' are would make the inside of my mouth sore. This really bothered me and I was even thinking about filing my trays with a nail file to smooth them down (read this online), but after a week the trays weren't bothering me anymore! I didn't have this problem with the second, third or any other trays... I think it just takes time for your mouth to get used to the trays. So, try to just take it easy that first week. Trust me, you won't regret this!
The first 3-4 days of every new tray is the absolute worse. I read online that some people put the trays in the night before and take Tylenol before bed. I think the first tray is HORRIBLE, but the other ones do hurt more the first few days... but, it is tolerable pain. So, I just put my new trays in that morning and I do ok. I do feel like I am teething constantly, I think it is that I just want to bite down and chew on something with these trays in my mouth.
After the first 3-4 days, you'll notice your tray will get a little looser and it'll be easier to take out and put back in. It does get better! That is... until you start another tray! :wink:
You are supposed to have the trays in for 22 hours every day for optimal results. I did read in the book that keeping them in for 20 hours is ok, too. I try to aim to have them out for 2 hours a day and if it goes to 4, I don't beat myself up about it.
It is REALLY hard to eat three meals, snack, enjoy a coffee, etc. in just 2 hours! At first, I would set a timer on my phone and give myself 30 minutes per meal and two 15 minute snack breaks. I don't set a timer anymore, but it does help you to figure out a schedule at first. You will definitely miss sipping on a hot tea or coffee in the morning.
You can only drink cold or room temperature water with the trays in. No sparkling water, no wine, no hot drinks.
You can only drink cold or room temperature water with the trays in. No sparkling water, no wine, no hot drinks.
You also need to brush and floss after every meal and before you put the trays back in. You will get so tired of brushing and flossing! But, wow... your teeth will be so clean! I brush and floss after I eat, unless we are out... then I'll just put the trays in and take them out and brush/floss when I get home. I carry Listerine pocket packs in my purse and I will sometimes slip one of those into my mouth before I put the trays back in after I eat. This freshens up my mouth until I get home and can brush/floss.
The only time I leave the trays in is during communion when I take a tiny cup of wine and I let the bread melt on my tongue. I brush/floss when we get home from church. I do this, because I don't want to take the trays out during church (it makes a loud popping noise when you take them out) and I don't want to walk out of church to take them out in the bathroom. It has worked out well to do it this way, so that church isn't interrupted for me.
I was surprised by this, but after awhile I actually preferred wearing the trays. When the trays are over the buttons, they feel smoother. And, surprisingly... your teeth actually look a hundred times better when the trays are in and they are pushing them where they need to be. I had a gap in-between my two front teeth after the IPR and when I wore the trays, the gap wasn't even present. I've become friends with the trays.
After wearing Tray 8 for a week, I noticed a tear in the tray one morning. I called my dentist right away and he told me to keep wearing the tray and that if it tore completely in half that I could start on Tray 9. It wasn't a big deal and when I put the tray in it still felt tight and the little tear was pushed in, so I didn't feel any sharpness on it with my tongue. You can see the tear in the photo just below my index finger.
I think getting a tear is rare, if this had happened on the first tray I would have been more worried. I had gotten a little rough and careless and yanking the trays out and I'm going back to being a little more gentle. It was probably my fault that it tore. I just get really excited when it is time to take them out and eat! Ya know... 2 hour window people!
This set of trays goes up to 15, so I have 7 more trays left! I then will get impressions taken again and they will take all of the buttons off my teeth. My dentist is guessing I will then need to do approximately 10 more 'revision' trays to finish everything. After that, I will need to wear a full-time retainer for 6 months (there may even be a 12 hour wearing period, I just can't remember) and then a lifetime retainer at night.
Just a little warning before I share these photos... these are photos of my TEETH going through hell y'all. So, so not flattering!!! Most of these were taken in the morning before I showered or right after I showered. I have no makeup on, my eyes are puffy as I just woke up, etc. I almost thought about not sharing them, but I wanted to share the real progression on my teeth during each tray. So, I promise I don't always look this horrible and my teeth really are looking a lot better these days. ;)
My teeth are a hot mess in these photos. But, they're on their way to better days! I also had some intensive cleanings done at the dentist after these photos and you'll be able to see my teeth are a lot 'cleaner' in the other photos. I had been going to my childhood dentist twice a year, but he was just not cleaning my teeth as well as this new place. My new dentist scheduled FOUR cleanings where they spent an hour cleaning each quadrant (upper right, upper left, bottom right and bottom left). Seriously, it was a blast... but, they really need to flavor gum numbing gel- that stuff tastes NASTY!
Tray One, Day One
(What I looked like after the buttons were added and IPR was done.) Notice how I now have a gap in-between my two front teeth from the IPR. The dentist is doing this to add space and to make my two front teeth smaller to make them more even with the rest of my teeth. Most of what he is removing is bonding from them.
And, YES! Your teeth look BETTER when your Invisalign trays are in!
Start of Tray Two
I forgot to take photos of my teeth! So, I'm including a photo of my teeth during Tray Four with the tray in.
Tray 8 is where I am at right now. I am really pleased with the results so far!
Invisalign Tray 8
Close Up - Before Invisalign
Close Up - Invisalign Tray 8
Well, that is all I have to share for right now. I plan to do another post after I finish this set of trays out. So, at Tray 15 (in about 3.5 months) you'll see another Invisalign post. Stay tuned! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!