As of this week, I am officially halfway through my Invisalign treatment, and today I wanted to shed some light on the details of my experience so far. I’m in deep enough now that I feel like I can provide some insight if Invisalign is something you are interested in. At first, it did take some adjusting (no pun intended) to get used to life with my aligners, but now they’re just a normal part of my routine. Every few weeks, I have been documenting my thoughts, feelings, and experiences as I’ve gone through the process. Thinking of getting Invisalign yourself? Read on for a glimpse into my experience with treatment so far.
I thought long and hard about Invisalign before I made any moves to start treatment. I had done the whole braces thing when I was younger, but my permanent retainers that remained were difficult to clean and eventually fell out. Before I knew it, my teeth were moving right back to their original positions. Thankfully, the happiest coincidence occurred, and a sweet friend of mine, Lindsey (of lindseymeek.com) held an event at Carter and Higgins Orthodontics to educate all of us about Invisalign and give us the opportunity to learn more about treatment. I immediately felt at ease in their beautiful office, and it was obvious that they know what they are doing. Their office is truly made up of the best people with the kindest hearts, and they go above and beyond to make their clients happy!
It was almost a year before I reached out to them again with serious intentions to begin treatment. They scheduled me to come in for a free consultation where they gave me even more information about Invisalign like what to expect day-to-day, discuss goals of treatment, and quote me a price. They were not pushy AT ALL. Just very kind, informative, and eager to help. I took everything home to let all the information they had given me digest and decided to pull the trigger.
My First Appointment
At the office for my initial appointment, some scans were done which would be used to create digital 3D images of my teeth. Fun fact: they don’t use that awful gummy stuff that traumatized us all when we were kids. Instead, they use a wand with a camera on the end that shoots LOTS of photos of your teeth. The camera is hooked up to a computer with software that allows it to create a 3D virtual mold of your teeth right on the screen in front of you.
The “mold” was to be sent off to Invisalign to create all my aligners. It took less than fifteen minutes to complete all this! They gave me an estimated time when they would receive my aligners and told me they would give me a call as soon as they arrived. After several weeks of waiting on pins and needles, I got the call! My appointment to get started was scheduled ASAP!
The day I got my aligners, I was giddy with excitement (and a little nervous). Once I arrived and sat down in the chair, the first step was to apply “attachments” to my teeth. Attachments are basically tooth-colored bumps that give the Invisalign trays something to “hug” in order to slowly move your teeth. Everyone is different when it comes to how many attachments there are and where they are placed. Personally, I have them on almost all of my bottom teeth. It was a quick and completely painless process.
After all the attachments were on, it was time to make sure my aligners fit properly. They snapped in my first set for me which fit like a charm, but then they asked me to take them out myself. This took some serious maneuvering. It took me FOREVER the first time. I felt silly, and honestly, it was about week 3 before I figured out how to do it quickly.
Once I finally got them out, they did some “polishing” between my teeth. This involves sliding a thin piece of rough metal back and forth between certain teeth to create some space so that they have room to move. I promise this sounds SO much worse than it feels. In fact, it doesn’t hurt at all. This would most likely happen at all my follow-up appointments as well.
The last thing we did was pop my aligners back in and attach two “buttons” to my bottom teeth near the back. These would serve as a place for me to hook rubber bands which help correct my bite. I had no clue this was even a possibility with Invisalign! Each set of my aligners have hook cut into the top on each side that serves as the other place to connect my rubber bands. They showed me how to put them in, and I was all set!
At the end of my appointment, they gave me a HUGE bag that contained some welcome information, a case to keep my aligners in while I eat, extra rubber bands, and several boxes containing my aligners. They gave me all my sets of aligners at once, and I have a total of 38 so far. I say “so far” because they said at about week 20, they’ll know if I’ll need to add more. Sometimes people require a few extra “refining trays” to help perfect their smile at the very end.
I was instructed to change to the next set of aligners every 7 days, so I switch on Thursdays! I was also not to eat or drink anything except water while wearing my aligners. They have to be worn for at least 22 hours a day, which seemed like a pretty big life change. But, I figured if anything, it’d cut down on my snacking and encourage me to drink more water…
Incredibly, I was in and out of my appointment in 45 minutes. This was a huge contrast to my experience getting traditional braces back in my teens (which took hours). My teeth were really sore the very first week starting on day 2 and it lasted until about day 6. Truth time: it was not fun. Tylenol was my friend for those few days, and eating was not fun, but by the 2nd week, I was getting along just fine. However, when I compare it to traditional braces, it was a breeze.
I really felt like I was really starting to get into the swing of things at this point. Changing out my aligners each week was painless. They felt a little tight on the first day, but I quickly adjusted. I still didn’t see a huge difference in my teeth, but other people were starting to notice by week 6! I had my first follow up appointment at the 6-week mark, and it was a breeze. They double-checked the fit of my aligners, did some polishing between my teeth, and sent me on my way. The appointment was was over in about 10 minutes.
Taking my aligners in and out felt like a normal part of my routine, and I could sneak them out at the dinner table without anyone noticing. These few weeks flew by.
This is when I really started to notice a difference in my smile! Each time I took my aligners out to eat or brush my teeth, I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy. My friends and family also continued to comment on my smile. The other exciting thing I started to notice was how WHITE my teeth looked! Not sure if it’s because I was brushing my teeth more often or reaching for water more than anything else, but it was definitely noticeable. It felt great to have the extra confidence boost!
At about week 12, I had a few new developments. First, I realized a tiny gap between my two front teeth. It felt nostalgic because when I was little (pre-braces) I totally had a gap between my teeth haha. Thankfully, I had a follow-up appointment just after I noticed this, and was assured that my tiny gap was a normal part of the process. I was told it would go away, and that sometimes it was necessary to make room for other teeth to move into their appropriate positions.
Next, I had noticed around week 11 or 12 that I had been waking up with headaches. I also had some jaw soreness as well. The culprit? Grinding my teeth in my sleep. I’ve never had a problem with this in the past, but work had been a little more stressful than usual, and stress can definitely cause teeth grinding. I guess that in combination with the fact that I have something foreign in my mouth when I sleep (i.e. plastic covering all my teeth) caused me to start. I’ve been doing some research on how to prevent it, and I’ll most likely share it in a future post!
These last 5 weeks have been an absolute breeze. I am just patiently waiting to finish treatment at this point. The teeth grinding has subsided for the most part (and work has been less stressful lately), so I’m tabling the search for a preventative measure for now. I’ve recognized some small, but dramatic changes in my smile during this time and I’m so grateful and happy I’ve been able to do this! Once I’m finished with treatment, you can expect another blog post FULL of FAQs so if you have any burning questions, leave them in the comments below so I can answer them there!
As always, thanks for reading!