I posted about my Invisalign journey back in March of 2020 and had explained my experience up until that point! I also chatted about why I decided to do Invisalign and some problems I encountered along the way. At the time, I was thinking it was the halfway mark of my treatment. (Rookie mistake, ha!) After some unexpected delays, I can say I am finally finished with my aligners and in my retainer! To wrap up my previous post, I wanted to chat a little bit about my full experience with Invisalign as well as show you the before and after photos!
A Quick Recap
I started Invisalign treatment in November 2019. My first set was made up of 38 pairs of aligners, and instructed to change them once per week. I was diligent about wearing them, brushing my teeth, and flossing. I was the perfect patient! However, despite my best efforts, my treatment was a little longer than expected. The original 38 weeks ended up more like 131 weeks and 5 days.
The delay was due to several factors out of my control. My orthodontist’s office was closed for quite a while due to the pandemic, and then once I came back I was almost finished with my original 38 trays, but was told that I would need to have a new set of “refinement” aligners to get my teeth to the end goal. This was included in my total cost, so it was not a big deal other than more time in my aligners.
On my final day, I had the attachments removed from my teeth, and I was given a take home whitening treatment from my orthodontist! I was instructed to wear my final retainer as I had worn my other aligners up until that point. This was what I was instructed to do for 3 months until the most recent appointment I had which was this past week.
My very last appointment will be about 12 weeks from now, and is a final check to ensure that my teeth haven’t moved. At that point, I’ll be able to switch to nighttime wear only!
What I Wish I Knew Before Treatment
Treatment Can Take Longer Than Expected
Okay, let’s start with the obvious. My treatment did take a REALLY long time, and I’ll be honest, I was over it. I am so thankful to my orthodontist for being a perfectionist, because my teeth look great. BUT, I was ready to be finished. Thankfully, my orthodontist office keeps Invisalign treatments open for up to 5 years. That meant I didn’t have to pay extra for any refinements beyond my initial set of aligners. (And I had 4 sets total.)
If refinements are done, a new scan and model of the current state of your teeth has to be completed. This essentially puts your treatment on pause. The data is then sent in to Invisalign to create your new set of aligners which can take 6-8 weeks.
Though I was delayed due to the pandemic, I also had a weird experience where my new set of aligners finally came in the mail but didn’t fit properly. My orthodontist suspected they might have somehow been left in the heat during shipping which can warp the plastic and cause them not to fit.
Some People Experience New or Worsening Jaw Clenching
I mentioned this in my previous Invisalign post, but once I started treatment, I started to clench my jaw at night. This resulted in terrible headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, and stiffness. The frustrating part was that it happened mostly while I was asleep, so I couldn’t control it. I finally found relief by getting Botox injections in my masseter muscles on either side of my face. I know that sounds a little extreme, but it’s a fairly common procedure and is even used to prevent headaches and treat TMJ.
Going to measures like that aren’t for everyone, but it worked well to prevent my jaw clenching at night since it mostly happened while I was unconscious. I also felt like it was a lot better than other options like treating headaches all the time or taking a muscle relaxer to prevent clenching. It wasn’t something I wanted to upkeep forever, and thankfully, I am not having the issue with my final retainer. However, I would definitely look into it again if it becomes a problem.
Moving Teeth Can Result in Tooth Sensitivity
Thankfully, this is only temporary. I did experience this from time to time, and it made me really paranoid that I had a cavity. I learned that as teeth shift, new parts of the tooth, particularly around the gums, are exposed to air. They eventually get used to it, and that was the case with mine. It just would have been nice to know before it happened though!
Your Teeth Can Feel Loose
Another alarming thing that happened during treatment! I usually felt this after taking my aligners out to eat. It was nothing drastic, but in order to shuffle your teeth around they can sometimes feel a bit loose. I most often experience this after changing to a new set of aligners for the week. When I took them out to eat or brush my teeth, they felt a little wiggly for a day or two until they were settled in their new spot.
You Have to Eat Faster
During treatment, gone are the days of grazing and snacking all day. I didn’t mind that so much, (and neither did my waistline), but I am a SLOW coffee drinker in the morning so this is something that was difficult for me to adhere to. I did find that drinking iced coffee was a little easier to down quicker than hot coffee. But I missed savoring a nice hot cup of coffee in the mornings.
Before + After
Okay, last up- the before + after! I know the difference doesn’t seem SUPER dramatic, until you look at how much WIDER my smile is. They broadened out my arches and now my smile fills up my whole mouth instead of leaving all that space on either side. Aesthetically, it definitely looks better, but in the long run this will also help support my cheeks as I get older, and we love a good aging-gracefully moment.
My bite is another thing that you can’t really see, but I can definitely feel. Instead of a bunch of crowding, they all lay nicely on top of each other like puzzle pieces fitting together!
Overall, I’m really happy with my Invisalign experience. Compared to my experience with braces, it provided a lot more flexibility and delivered results just the same. I will say that Invisalign was a lot more involved than braces, as I had to be sure and wear them at least 22 hours each day, and I honestly don’t think I was mature enough to do that when I was in middle school back when I had braces. It did allow me to eat mostly whatever I wanted, and it was much easier to floss than with traditional braces. I think Invisalign was the perfect fit for where I was at this point in my life.
If you are located in the Tulsa area, I cannot recommend Carter & Higgins Orthodontics enough! They are so kind, detail-oriented, and honest. They do free consultations for anyone interested in braces or Invisalign, so check them out if that is you! They’ll chat pricing and payment options as well, depending on your insurance.
Thanks so much for reading along! I hope this helps if you are on the fence about starting treatment. I know it can be a huge investment, so I wanted to provide some insight with my experience. As always, thanks for being here, and I’ll catch you next time!