I did it!
If you recall, I had a yearly goal to get my teeth straightened this year. As of right now, I have had Invisalign for about 14 weeks and I am half-way through all my aligners! There are a TON of Invisalign blogs out there, and I feel like I read most of them at the beginning of this process. And hey! I have a blog. I want to share my experience too.
I initially thought I could fit everything in one blog post, but I was wrong. Instead I am going to break this up into a series of 3 posts.
Part 1: Consultation to ClinCheck
Part 3: Daily Routine and Advice
First Visit: Consultation
I started putting this whole process into motion in January. I called an orthodontist in my area that I knew many of my friends used for braces in middle and high school. The consultation was free. This was a pretty easy appointment, especially because I had already read about a bajillion blogs on Invisalign and knew a good deal about it. (It’s “invisible” braces. You get a series of clear retainers/aligners that slowly move your teeth around as you change them every few weeks). The orthodontist looked at my teeth to make sure that I was a good candidate. I was.
He talked a little bit about my bite, and how it may not be perfectly corrected with Invisalign. This was not really a concern for me. Anything wrong with my bite was minor, and from my point of view, traditional braces were not an option. It was Invisalign or nothing (because I’m vain like that.)
My main concern was crowding on my top teeth. I don’t think my teeth are/were THAT bad. If you looked at me straight on, I think the crowding was hardly noticeable (so others have told me). What really bothered me was the way it looked from certain angles. Sometimes pictures were really bad. One tiny overlapping tooth would cast a shadow and make it look like I was the girl with the brown tooth. Not ideal. Haha.
And here is the best example of the “brown tooth shadow” effect. Haha.
I know it’s not awful, but it bothered me.
Part of the consultation involved talking about if I needed or wanted aligners for my bottom teeth. The only (very minor) issue with those teeth that I could see was the two center teeth ever so slightly angled back. Totally not noticeable. I was quoted two different prices for uppers and lowers vs. just uppers so I could think about what I wanted.
Here’s what made me decide to do both:
1. The price difference wasn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things.
2. The bottoms don’t bother me now, but after I’ve spent all this money making the top perfect, those two crooked bottom ones would drive me crazy.
3. The way they explained it to me was that if I decided to do the bottoms later, it would involve starting the whole process over again (imagine $10,000 total) because that’s the way the company works. They charge per case, map out the course of treatment, and send you your aligners. Bing Bang Boom. If I decided I wanted it later, that would be a whole new course of treatment.
Second Visit: Impressions and X-rays
I don’t remember how long it took to get to this appointment. I think it was a while because something was wrong with their computer system and they couldn’t schedule appointments for a couple weeks. Not really that important. They didn’t make me commit to top and bottom or just top yet because the impressions would be the same no matter what.
I read a whole lot of complaints about having impressions done, but it was really not bad at all. Or maybe I’m not as sensitive as some people. Anyway. They started out by taking before pictures with me pulling my lips back with those hook things.
Then they took the impressions. Big pile of goo in a tray. Hold it in your mouth for a couple minutes. Not a big deal. They did one set for in-house records, and another more important set to send off to Invisalign. Those had to be perfect, and the orthodontist had to check them and everything. I think I had to re-do an impression once. But like I said. No big deal. I didn’t gag. I didn’t choke. Just relax and breathe.
Then they took some x-rays. There was a funny moment when they were like “what is THAT?” before realizing it was my hyoid bone (which I know about because I’m an SLP). Apparently mine was really high or something. But that was it!
Third Visit: Checking the ClinCheck
This was a really short appointment, but very cool. After they send off the impressions, Invisalign sends back a little video (called a ClinCheck) that shows how my teeth are going to move with the course of treatment. You can find a bunch of these on YouTube. They didn’t give me a CD of mine, but I may ask for one next time I go back. Apparently most people get a copy for themselves.
It was really cool seeing how much my teeth were going to change. Even the bottom teeth were so different! If I hadn’t already decided on getting aligners for both top and bottom, the ClinCheck would have definitely helped me make up my mind.
We talked about attachments. (I have them). These are little pieces they cement to your teeth to help the aligners get a better grip and move specific teeth easier. They are just tooth colored bumps. I have (or should have 12). There are six on top and six on bottom, but not on any of my four front teeth. It’s three on each side starting with my incisors. I think they would be much more noticeable if they were on my front teeth.
I asked about IPR (interproximal reduction). That is shaving between your teeth (sounds awful doesn’t it?) At that point in time it was not in my course of treatment…but you just wait. Haha.
The orthodontist made some notes about his concerns to individualize my treatment. Things like making sure my midline stayed centered on my face and all that. The changes the orthodontist made affected my course of treatment. For example, I did have to have IPR (lots) and the number of aligners changed.
After the orthodontist and I OKed the treatment, he sent off his changes. All I had left to do was wait until my aligners came in!
As an adult, I do not have insurance coverage for orthodontic treatment, so I’m private pay. My orthodontist set up a payment schedule for me with a down payment due on the day that I get my aligners. Before that I didn’t pay for anything.