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My Invisalign Experience Part 3: Daily Routine and Advice

phonto

This post is the third part of a series describing my experience with Invisalign.

Here is Part 1: Consultation to ClinCheck

and Part 2: Getting My Aligners

In this post I am going to talk about what you should expect with Invisalign on a day to day basis and my advice based on my experience so far.

Recommendations (In a Perfect World)

First I wanted to let y’all know what you are SUPPOSED to do. The actual instruction manual and all the Invisalign blogs I read were very strict.

  • Wear your aligners at least 22 hours a day.
  • Change into a new aligner every 2 weeks.
  • Only take them out to eat and brush your teeth. Yes you sleep in them.
  • When you are wearing them, the only thing you can drink is water.
  • Brush and floss your teeth and clean your aligners after you consume anything (meals, snacks, beverages).
  • Never wrap your aligner in a napkin. It will get thrown away.
  • Clean your aligner with a toothbrush and water only. No toothpaste.

My Orthodontist’s Recommendations

Believe it or not, my orthodontist was pretty easy going in comparison, but it’s obviously ok because my teeth are looking pretty.

  • Shoot for 22 hours a day. When that doesn’t happen, it’s ok. You may just need to wear them longer than two weeks.
  • Change your aligners every 2 weeks. As long as they are starting to get loose, it’s long enough.
  • Wear them all the time unless you are eating, drinking hot stuff, or maybe at a party or something. (haha)
  • You can drink whatever with them in, just not hot stuff because that will make them warp.
  • Do you like to snack a lot? That could be a problem with getting your 22 hours a day in. You might need to learn how to snack with them in. me: what!? 😮
  • Brush your teeth after you eat.
  • Here are these two fancy cases for you to store your aligners. Don’t lose them by putting them in a napkin.
  • The instructions say to not use denture cleaner, but you can. Don’t use toothpaste because it will scratch the aligners and make them more visible.

My Routine

I honestly probably do wear my aligners 22 hours a day. However, that is mostly because I’m lazy when it comes to cleaning them. I’ve been known to just swish some water around in my mouth after meals and pop those babies back in right away. Probably not the best thing to do, but my teeth are getting straighter and I don’t have any cavities.

I change my aligners every 2 weeks. There was one week that I changed my aligners a day early because there was a really bad rough spot that developed that was driving me CRAZY. They are alway really loose and ready to be changed though. When I switched to my second set of aligners I was anticipating pain like I had the first few days after getting my first set (very bad), so I took some pain medicine and changed them before bed. It wasn’t bad at all, and I probably didn’t need the medicine. Now I don’t take pain medicine anymore, but I do change them at night. They are a little bit sore for a day or two, but it’s the good kind of sore that lets you know they are working (not the “I want to rip my teeth out”-sore.)

I mentioned that my aligners developed a rough spot. That’s because when I have new aligners in I want to chew on things like crazy. I’m like a teething baby. Apparently there are chewy tubes that you can get, but I don’t have those. I basically bite my teeth together a lot when they feel tight. I’m sure that’s bad, but I do it anyway. Another bad habit I have is popping my aligners in and out for fun. Aaron hates it and tells me I’m disgusting (true love). I’ve googled it and I can’t figure out if it’s really bad to do that or not, so I’ve just been telling myself it actually helps my teeth move faster 🙂 Don’t tell me if I’m wrong.

I drink everything with them in (I don’t drink coffee, but I wouldn’t do it with them in if I did). I eat nothing with them in. It honestly blew my mind when they told me I could snack with them in. I have no idea how anyone could do that.

Now that my teeth have moved stuff gets stuck in my teeth all the time. I carry travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in my purse just in case. I do not brush and floss every time I eat anything because it’s annoying. I went to Disney World the first week wearing Invisalign. I started out so good. I brushed my teeth in public bathrooms. I didn’t eat snacks on the road trip to Orlando because we wouldn’t be stopping soon. Then I realized: ain’t nobody got time for that. I take a lot of care in the morning and before bed, but throughout the day I usually just swish water around in my mouth to clear any residue and pop my aligners right back in. Hey. What can I say?

I use the fancy cases.

 

I keep one in my purse and one at home. I use the home one when I’m at home (duh) so I don’t ever take the other one out of my purse. If I did, I would forget to put it back before going places. I have forgotten it before and put my aligners in a napkin (shame). I just make sure to put the napkin immediately in my purse so it doesn’t get mixed with trash on the table. I haven’t lost an aligner yet. Knock on wood.

Some people may be embarrassed to take them out and put them in in public. I am not one of these people. I am all about full disclosure. “By the way, I have Invisalign. I have to take them out to eat.” I know I’m not the first person anyone has ever seen take out a retainer.

As far as cleaning the aligners goes, I’ve tried a bunch of different things. I did just water and a toothbrush. I even used toothpaste a few times. Lately I have been letting them soak in hydrogen peroxide. That works pretty well. I really want to buy some denture cleaner tablets though. I usually wake up, let my aligners soak while I eat breakfast and brush my teeth, then rinse them off and put them right back in before I finish getting ready.

Aaron doesn’t want me to get the denture tablets because it already freaks him out enough that I refer to my aligners as “my teeth.” I work in a nursing home, guys. It’s funny. Someone offers me a doughnut or something–“I can’t eat it right now. I have my teeth in.” Or “Hey Aaron. Do you have a little container I can soak my teeth in?”

My Progress

One of my absolute favorite things to do whenever I change aligners is to compare my new one with my first aligner. I took some pictures so you can appreciate the difference too. I’m sorry for how terrible these pictures are.

Uppers. Left: 1/14, Right:8/14

Huge difference here. Still more work though.

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Lowers. Left: 1/14, Right:8/14

Notice the difference in the two front teeth. Slightly angled in on #1 and more rounded on #8.IMG_0734

This next picture was really hard to take. I wanted to show you some more of the work that the lower aligners did. #1 is on top and #8 is on bottom. You can really see how the aligners moved my bottom teeth down more. The angle is gone and they are more flat now.

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I don’t have before pictures except for the pictures I included in the Part 1 of the Invisalign series. Here are some “durings” though.

With Invisalign in:

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Invisalign in, to the side so you can really see the attachments:

IMG_0727

And no Invisalign in, still able to see the attachments:

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Halfway done!

Note! These pictures were taken the day after I got IPR. I had noticeable spaces between my teeth yesterday, and they are already gone.

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My Invisalign Experience Part 2: Getting My Aligners

phonto

Check out part 1 of my Invisalign experience here, where I talk about all the appointments building up to getting my aligners.

In this post I am going to talk about the most exciting day of this whole experience: the day I got my aligners.

Like I mentioned in my previous Invisalign post, I had read a lot of blogs discussing this day in detail, so I felt very prepared. My course of treatment included 14 trays for top and bottom. That was a little different from my ClinCheck appointment. I think it was originally 12 uppers and 10 lowers. (I found out at my last appointment that the lower teeth will be done at tray 12. I still get new lowers 13 and 14, but they are passive trays. That way I don’t have to wear old ones on the bottom for 6 weeks).

Putting on Attachments

Attaching the attachments took up the vast majority of this appointment. It started out with them giving me a little flimsy version of an aligner to put on my teeth. This acted as a template so they knew where to put the attachments. They used those little hook things to pull my lips back and just went to town cementing those things to my teeth. They had to dry my teeth with this little mini dryer thing. Kind of funny.

One of my attachments would not stay on. The girl working on me tried 3 times, and it kept getting stuck in the template. I mentioned in the previous post that I was supposed to have 12 attachments, 3 on each side of my upper and lower teeth, starting with my incisors. She had the orthodontist come over and take a look so they could decided what to do. He said it would be ok to just not have that one. He said he didn’t think I really needed that many attachments anyway, so it would be fine. That’s why I only have 11 attachments.

Interproximal Reduction (IPR)

Ugh.

I hate IPR.

I read about it. I was prepared for it. Most of the blogs said it wasn’t a big deal.

It was a big deal for me.

It started out with the orthodontist taking a thin strip of metal and threading it between my teeth. The metal is basically sandpaper. Back and forth. Back and forth. He flossed my teeth with sandpaper.

Then it got big time. There was a drill involved. It had a big circular thin piece of “metal sandpaper” that was placed between my teeth. My teeth were sanded down high speed this time.

Does that sound pleasant? It’s not. I will say that it is not actually painful, just extremely uncomfortable. The best way I explained it to someones is like this. It is the most physically uncomfortable I have ever been without experiencing pain. I’d rather have experienced a little bit of pain than deal with the extreme amount of uncomfortableness. Nails on a chalk board. It’s painful for your brain. I would rather get a shot than IPR.

Anyway. I dealt with it. The purpose of IPR is to make room between your teeth so they have room to move. I wondered if it made you more susceptible to cavities since it’s taking enamel off of your teeth, but when I googled it, the answer was no. The amount of enamel/tooth shaved down is apparently the same amount that would come off with the movement of teeth rubbing together with traditional braces. At least that’s what the internet said.

After IPR, there was visible space between my teeth that I was kind of embarrassed about, but you could not see it when I put the actual aligners in. Also I’ve had to have IPR at almost every appointment I’ve gone to (on different teeth) and the spaces are always gone after a day or so.

First Time with Aligners

After all that mess, they had me practice putting my aligners in and taking them out. I didn’t have much trouble, but I could imagine it would be difficult if your teeth were more crooked than mine. I know they sell little plastic hooks to help people with this, but I have had no need for anything like that. They did tell me I didn’t have to be as gentle as I was being when I was taking them out. Loosening the back teeth first made it easier. The orthodontist gave me the first 5 sets of aligners. They come in little baggies and are marked with the number they are. I am supposed to wear each set for 2 weeks and then switch.

After that we were done. But then craziness happened. They sat me up in the chair and a piece of metal from the tiny lightbulb in the overhead lamp fell and hit my arm. And it was HOT. Oh my goodness. It only touched me for like a split second though, so I thought it was fine. They brought me an icepack and I held it on my arm for a bit. At first there was no mark, but when I got to my car it started getting red, and by the time I got back to work it was a full on blister. Luckily I work at a nursing home and one of the nurses put some silvadene on it for me. It got worse before it got better. This happened in May. It’s August and I still have a small scar on my arm. So that happened…But back to my teeth 🙂

After I left (and paid) I got in my car and stared at my teeth in the mirror for a bit. I was satisfied with the invisibility of the aligners. The attachments were there, but I didn’t mind them. Some people notice them and some people don’t. On my way to work I called Aaron to tell him about it all and to practice talking with my aligners in because, guess what you guys…

I HAD A LISP.

I am a SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST.

I had to go to work after all of this with a LISP.

It cleared up in a few hours, but for about the first 2 weeks, I had a noticeable lisp whenever I first put my aligners back in after eating or whatever. Not cool. Haha. I just went with the full disclosure method. If I lisped while talking to a patient or patient’s family member, I would just point to my teeth and say ” I just got Invisalign, and it’s affecting my speech.” Everyone was cool about it. Haha.

Pain Management

I really only had pain the first couple of days, but those first few days were pretty bad. I think wearing my aligners made me more tired at work because of the pain, and I would crash on the sofa immediately when I got home from work. I could distinctly tell which teeth were moving from where the pain was.

My aligners made me feel claustrophobic. I would want to take them off so bad, but when I did the attachments cut up the inside of my mouth so much that I was happy to put them back in. I was able to eat ok. When I first took the aligners out, my teeth would be very sensitive, but after chewing for about 1-2 minutes it was like normal.

Note: this was only for the first 2 or 3 days. After that everything got much better. I couldn’t eat apples or nuts for a while. I actually went to Disney World the first week after I got my aligners. Yep. I was the weirdo brushing my teeth in the bathroom at Disney World. 🙂 The inside of my mouth toughened up, so the attachments didn’t hurt anymore. I don’t feel claustrophobic wearing them either. If I’m honest I actually really like them. They’re cozy. Haha.

That’s all I have for today. In the next Invisalign post I’m going to talk about day to day care of the aligners including my daily routine and some advice!sig

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My Invisalign Experience Part 1: Consultation to ClinCheck

phonto

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 2: Getting My Aligners

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.

Check out some examples of my “bad teeth” pictures.
bad teeth 2 bad teeth 3 bad teeth 4 bad teeth1

And here is the best example of the “brown tooth shadow” effect. Haha.

bad teeth5

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!

Payment

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.

That’s all I have for today! Next post I will cover getting my aligners and the first couple of days after that!sig

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