Now that we are all wearing masks in public, a lot of adults are thinking it’s a great time to get braces. I had been throwing the idea around for a few years, and this is the year I decided to go ahead and get Invisalign. I know I had a million questions before I got started, so I hope after my research and experience I can answer a few for you.
What is Invisalign?
They are a series of clear acrylic trays that straighten your teeth over the course of several months. You switch out the tray each week for a new one that is just slightly different than the one before. They attach to your teeth with clear little buttons or tabs that keep them in place. You wear them 22 hours a day and only take them out when it’s time to eat or brush your teeth.
Is it expensive?
I recommend getting your treatment done by a qualified orthodontist, so it can be expensive, yes. I got quotes from a few highly-recommended orthodontists in our area and they all charged the same price whether you chose Invisalign or traditional metal braces, which is several thousand dollars. (Get a few quotes, because one of the orthodontists I saw charged $1,000 more and also wanted to pull some teeth. Others were cheaper and didn’t want to pull any.) There are some mail-in companies that offer similar services at a cheaper price, but after reading some reviews I was really leery of them and I wanted to do this under the care and supervision of a professional. They had an interest-free payment plan, so it is costing us a little bit less than $200/month during the course of my treatment.
What can they fix?
The technology has really improved in recent years! Just five years ago I was told I wasn’t a good Invisalign candidate because I have bite issues. (I have an open bite in the front, see how my top teeth and bottom teeth have a space between them?) I was also concerned that previous orthodontists had said they would have to pull up to eight teeth (WHAT?!) to get my crowding issues fixed. But now the technology has changed so much that they can fix both crowding many bite issues and I am a good candidate. Plus, I didn’t have to have any teeth pulled- yay!! If you are curious, it never hurts to ask. Most orthodontists have a free consultation service where they can tell you whether or not you are a candidate.
Why did you choose Invisalign and not metal braces?
I had braces as a pre-teen and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of doing it again. Mostly, I chose them for aesthetic reasons, but I made my final decision after talking to my dentist. She chose Invisalign for herself and said she recommends them over traditional braces because as long as you are consistent in caring for your teeth the Invisaligns are easier to keep clean and there is really no such thing as an Invisalign medical emergency. There are no wires that can snap and hurt you, and there are fewer appointments to deal with. She also said that she sees fewer cavities in her patients that have Invisalign over traditional braces, because of how often you have to clean your teeth. (I will add, though, that I have heard some people do have cavity issues with Invisalign, and my orthodontist said he prefers to work with traditional braces because they give him more options and are more predictable in terms of teeth movement.)
How do you find a qualified orthodontist?
I asked my dentist who she recommends and also followed recommendations on our neighborhood Facebook page. Then I scheduled consultations at a few places to compare. I believe some dentists also offer Invisalign at their offices, but I am of the opinion that you should always go to a specialist when you have the option. Some things are worth the investment, and with something as prominent on my face as my smile, I knew I wanted to go to a good orthodontist when it came to moving my teeth because that’s literally all they do and they are good at it.
Are you happy with them?
I’m not finished my treatment, so I’ll have to update you with the final results. I’m getting used to them. I definitely like them better and they are more comfortable than I remember traditional braces being. I can eat whatever I want, so that’s nice. As an added bonus, they have curbed my snacking and I have not had any soda since wearing them. I’m drinking a lot more water because I’m concerned about them staining. Because you can only eat when the trays are out and they are a pain to remove, I am more careful about what I eat when, so I’m more mindful about my meals than I was before. I will say they are really difficult to remove for eating and brushing and, although less than traditional braces would, they do bring a little bit of unwanted attention to something I am already self-conscious about. They also make me speak slightly differently. I have a little more trouble with sounds like “sh” and “ch,” but my husband says it’s not very noticable to him.
How do you take care of them?
Just brush them (or my orthodontist also gave me cleaning crystals to soak the trays). Brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash after each time you eat. You change the trays every week, so they don’t get that dirty.
Do they hurt?
Not in my experience. For the first few days they felt very tight, but I wouldn’t say it was painful. I didn’t even feel the need to take a Tylenol. After that, they just felt similar to wearing a retainer or mouth guard.
Any other advice?
A friend of mine who has Invisalign recommended white toothpaste and clear mouthwash to avoid staining. I also wish someone would have told me to buy a remover tool like this one because the first day a new tray goes in they are very tight and can be hard to remove.
Let me know if Invisalign is something you have done or are considering!
While we’re on the subject of oral health, check out this post I wrote about my experience with gum disease and using a Waterpik.