Many patients have asked me what it was like going through Invisalign treatment to answer all the questions I thought I would blog my treatment.
Most of us think that Invisalign/ orthodontics is only for teens. This is not the case and from my experience working behind the reception desk, I see patients coming in from their 20's to 60's currently undergoing treatment. The best thing I find is being able to see their transformations.
I had braces from the age of 11-14. I dreaded them in fact, I hated them and remember crying being told I needed them. From memory, I recall them being uncomfortable, my wires coming loose and those dreaded wires cutting into my cheeks and causing sore ulcers ouch!!
Once my traditional orthodontic treatment was complete my orthodontist said, "Sophia make sure you wear your retainer nightly". however, I broke the rules and did not wear my retainers consistently at night. Due to this and age my teeth moved.
Fast forward 13 years and at 27, I was engaged to be married and as an upcoming bride, I was very unhappy with my bottom teeth. However, it was not the push I needed to have Invisalign done.
By luck, I was asked by my boss to attend an Invisalign workshop and now with a clear understanding on how Invisalign could correct my smile as well as the smiles of many of our patients, I decided to go ahead. So what exactly is Invialign? Invisalign is a series of plastic retainers which are virtually invisible. Invisalign will help straighten your teeth without the need for traditional metal brackets and metal wires. I came to learn that Invisalign can correct tooth crowding, spacing, deep bite, overbite, crossbite, excessive overjet, edge to edge bite and open bite.
If you are wondering if Invisalign is right for you the first thing you will require is an initial Invisalign consultation. Not every candidate is suitable for Invisalign and there are some instances where traditional braces may be recommended.
My boss (Sam) who is the head dentist at the practice asked me what I didn't like about my smile. It was mainly that my bottom front teeth were now overlapping and showing too much gum when I smiled. This was something I was extremely self-conscious about.
Sam explained that my previous orthodontic treatment created a very narrow smile that did not fit my mouth correctly and that if we expanded the top and bottom arches not only would it help to straighten my teeth out but it would also allow for more of my smile to show. He also explained that we could push the teeth up which would mean no more gummy smile. I was pretty much sold & the decision to go ahead with the treatment was made.
The second visit consisted of mirrors being placed into my mouth and a series of images being taken. This was to capture the start point for my treatment. Dental impressions were also taken to capture a picture of my top and bottom arches.
My images were uploaded into my patient file on the Invisalign 3D software and my dental impressions were sent away to Invisalign’s head office in Texas. 3 weeks later Invisalign sent back an online treatment plan showing how my teeth would look from start to finish. Sam was not happy initially with how the results looked so with a few tweaks on the 3D software we had come to the final treatment plan.
The 3D imaging software showed my teeth as they were and then showed me how each aligner would move my teeth till we got to the end result. I could see a drastic improvement and could also see how much more of my smile would show once the treatment was complete. Sam asked if I was happy with the outcome which I was. The plan was approved and now was the waiting game as the aligners were now to be made. Three weeks later I was very excited to see the UPS courier as I knew the box contained my aligners. I scheduled myself an appointment to have my first aligner insert and my attachments placed.
So what exactly are attachments? Well, they are little composite buttons placed on your teeth. The material used for attachments is actually the same tooth coloured material we use for fillings. These composite buttons help put pressure on certain points on your teeth in order to help move them into the correct position. When you take your aligners off they can feel a little sharp and rough but you quickly become accustomed to having them there.
What did the first aligner feel like? Truthfully when I inserted the first aligner I was cursing myself and questioning why I would put myself through this. It felt like I had a lot of plastic in my mouth and my teeth were becoming very sore quite quickly. Obviously having an upper a lower retainer felt foreign and uncomfortable but within a day or two, it felt completely natural and normal. It was hard to speak initially and I thought I had a lisp but apparently to everyone else I sounded just the same. As soon as your tongue become used to having the aligners in any lisp or sounding funny will soon disappear.
I will admit that your teeth do hurt with the aligners in, in a similar way to what they do when you have traditional braces. This is due to pressure being placed on the attachments. The aligners do not hurt too much when you are wearing them but they can be uncomfortable when being removed to eat or clean your teeth. The best way I found to remove your aligners is peeling them off from the very back and working your way forward.
How does the system work? Invisalign works by providing a series of aligners which you change every 2 weeks. Each aligner has little spaces that allow for the attachments to fit in and with gentle pressure, each aligner moves your teeth into a different position. You may find some aligners will give discomfort for the first week easing in the second week and other times it is vice versa. There are also some aligners that feel as if they do not fit correctly and they can feel spongy at one end but as your teeth move into position, you will then find by week two the aligner fits correctly.
When do you start to notice a difference? You notice it very slightly at first and then very quickly about the middle of your treatment. It is a great feeling to see everything start to come together and take shape. It is important to make sure you are following the instructions given by your orthodontist or dentist. Invisalign retainers must be worn for 22hrs a day. If you think you’ll get away with less wear you are wrong. We make aligners with markers which will show us if you have been wearing your aligners. If you are not wearing them consistently it will only prolong your treatment. We will also know as the 3D software shows us exactly where your teeth should be and will tell is if your teeth have not tracked.
Treatment can take anywhere from six months to two years depending on the case. Mine took 9 months which did go very quickly. I remember I was very diligent when wearing my night retainers and even wore them during the day sometimes. Unfortunately, I went out without taking my retainer case, I placed my retainers in a tissue and put them in my handbag. Somehow I lost my top retainer. A few days later I found it in my driveway and was relieved until I noticed I had run over it with the car!!
Unfortunately, due to this, I have gone without my retainers for a while now and my teeth have moved slightly. Luckily due to working in dental, I am able to have Invisalign done again and will be undergoing treatment soon. This will mean I will most likely have to go back to the last 5 or 6 retainers in my kit and start wearing them again. This goes to show how important it is to make sure you take care of your night retainers!
If you happen to lose an aligner you are to call the practice immediately so another can be ordered for you. Please note this will incur additional fees. Make sure to keep your aligner case handy at all times and never keep your retainers in reach of pets. I cannot tell you how many times I have had calls to say, “Sophia you won’t believe it but my dog chewed my aligners”. It happens, believe me.
You must make sure to take your aligners out when eating, drinking anything hot or if you are drinking soda. You are able to leave your retainers in if you are drinking cold water. To clean your aligners use a gentle toothbrush with toothpaste and rinse them under cold water. Make sure you never drink anything hot with your retainers in or rinse your aligners under hot water as you will distort them meaning you will need a new set of aligners. You can also put the retainers in a cold glass of water mixed with some white vinegar to sanitise them and stop them from turning yellow.
How much does Invisalign cost? This varies from patient to patient and will depend on the number of aligners needed and the length of your treatment however, you can expect the cost to be similar to traditional orthodontics . If you have major dental on your health fund policy you may be entitled to claim a rebate back for orthodontic treatment. Our practice, however, will issue you with a treatment plan to take to your health fund so that you are able to see what rebate your health fund will pay towards the treatment.
Many people will ask “What happens once my treatment is finished?” This again varies from patient to patient. Some patients will finish treatment, have their attachments removed, have wires placed behind their top and lower teeth and be given a set of plastic retainers to wear at night. The reason metal wires are placed behind the top and bottom teeth is to ensure they do not move. Some patients need to go into refinement retainers and again how many retainers needed, will depend on the end result they hope to achieve. Refinement retainers will help correct a bite, move teeth into the correct position or help make any final adjustments. Once refinement is complete the attachments are removed, wires will be placed on the back of the teeth and a night retainer will be issued.
In some instances, the wires cemented to the back of your teeth can dislodge. If you ever find yourself in this situation you are to call us immediately.
I hope this gives you an idea of what is to be expected for anyone contemplating having Invisalign. I can say that compared to traditional braces Invisalign was a lot more comfortable. I am so glad I went ahead with the treatment as it has improved my smile dramatically.
For anyone who is considering treatment who has questions you are always welcome to call me and I will be more than happy to answer them.
Till next time.