A while ago, I asked on my Instagram story if you’d like to hear about my Invisalign journey. A majority of people said yes! It’s taken me a while to come up with enough to write about, so now that I’m onto my fifth tray I thought I’d write about the process of getting Invisalign as well as my progress so far.
I had spaced out teeth as a baby, which the dentist swore would be a good thing once my permanent teeth came in. There were no issues with crowding and, luckily, my bite was perfect. As my adult set came in, I had a couple of baby teeth that refused to fall out and instead needed to be pulled, so I ended up with a gap-toothed smile with as many as three teeth missing at once (all next to each other, of course). See below for my cute, gap-toothed, 11-year-old self.
Come age 12, I was metal-mouthed. The orthodontist told me I’d have braces for about two years to straighten my teeth. Thank god I never needed to wear rubber bands, because the sheer amount of metal in my mouth was more than enough. I remember having holes and callouses inside my cheeks because I refused to use the wax they gave me and the wires on my back molars constantly dug into my mouth.
I didn’t mind having braces in eighth grade because, back then, everyone had braces and it was no big deal. But by the time I got to high school (boarding school by the way, which meant a trip home every few weeks to have the braces tightened) and started to become interested in guys, it was a whole new story.
Guys in my class (and even older guys) would make fun of me for having braces. I had my first boyfriend at age 14, and he was 16. People would joke about how when we kissed I would cut up the inside of his mouth. Jokes like this are devastating and quite the confidence-killer to a 14-year-old girl experiencing her first relationship.
By July after my freshman year of high school, my braces finally came off and I was LIVING. My teeth were perfectly straight with no gaps, and I was getting so much more attention from boys (which, of course, was seemingly all that mattered for my self-confidence at the time). I looked pretty good, minus the over-plucked eyebrows. It was before Cara Delevigne was on the scene, in my defense.
I was given a set of clear retainers, a set of metal retainers, and a permanent retainer was placed on my bottom teeth. I was too excited to have perfect teeth that I never wore my retainers during the day – only at night. One day I was brushing my teeth in my dorm’s bathroom and accidentally left my clear retainers on the counter. When I remembered the next day, they were gone – presumably swept into the trash by a janitor. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never really been able to sleep in my metal retainers. Something about the way my tongue sits in my mouth when I have them in causes me to remove them in my sleep. On top of that, my permanent retainer on the bottom broke as I bit into a pretzel rod.
Deciding on Invisalign
My teeth began to shift, and slowly but surely, I was left with a rather big gap next to my two front teeth. My bottom teeth shifted almost perfectly down the middle, exactly where my retainer had broken. It wasn’t until college that the shifting became all that noticeable, and by my senior year my photo editing skills had gotten good enough for me to edit the gap out. This became increasingly annoying to me once I became a blogger this year and was taking more selfies and photos of myself to post to Instagram. If you don’t see a gap in my teeth in a photo, it’s likely I edited it out using FaceTune’s patch tool.
After my first cosmetic procedures earlier this year, which you can read about here, I decided my teeth were something I wanted to fix, too. I’m old enough now to be responsible enough to take care of them and wear my retainers, and it seemed like the right time to do it as I’m currently unemployed and living at home.
The initial consultation went smoothly, I of course opted for Invisalign over having adult braces. The orthodontist took a digital scan of my teeth using some large camera that creates a 3D image of your top and bottom teeth. Since I had no bite issues to correct and just cosmetic fixes, he assured me it would be a short course of treatment and no more than three to four months.
When I went in for my first set of trays, he placed tooth-colored “buttons” on eight of my top teeth (some have two buttons each, too) and just two of my bottom teeth. These are meant to help the Invisalign trays hold onto your teeth and move them better. I was worried they’d be noticeable, but they really aren’t – the longer I’ve had them, the less I tend to notice them, and the only people who have noticed them are people who have had Invisalign themselves. I was given my first three sets of trays out of ten total, and was instructed to switch to a new set every ten days. They also gave me a little plastic wire to bite on to help the Invisalign lay flush against my teeth. Easy peasy.
The worst part of beginning the process was really just the sounds and textures of the drill the doctor used to get excess glue from the buttons off of my teeth as well as the sandpaper-like tool he used to scrape in between my teeth to make them glide past one another more easily.
While the trays themselves were quite comfortable and didn’t cause a fraction of the pain and soreness braces did, I quickly became frustrated with how annoying it was to have to take my Invisalign out before every meal, brush my teeth, and at the bare minimum, rinse out my trays before putting them back in. Now, on tray five, I rarely brush my teeth after every single meal and simply rinse with water before putting my trays back in.
I am almost exactly halfway done with my treatment, and I can see a difference. It’s subtle, but since I obsessed over the gap beforehand, I can definitely tell that it’s shrunk quite a bit. I’ve inserted a before photo below followed by a photo taken yesterday to show the difference in the gap.
As I run my tongue along my bottom teeth, they definitely feel straighter, too, although my bottom teeth were never an issue for me. The orthodontist insisted that it was necessary to treat both the top and bottom at once. Whether that’s a money grab or not, I don’t know, but it will be nice to have both be perfectly straight at the end of all this.
Overall, I’m very happy with the process so far. It’s comfortable to wear and I don’t feel self-conscious wearing them out in public. I do usually take them out for a bit if I’m out at a bar or something with friends, but other than that, I try to be really good about wearing them for the recommended 20-22 hours per day. There have been two or three days/nights where I only wore my bottom tray, but that was either because I’d just had my two wisdom teeth out (only had the top two – woohoo!) or forgot to put the top one back in after a night of drinking. It definitely didn’t slow down my progress, as my orthodontist actually let me switch to my fourth tray a day or two early.
The main cons I can think of are as follows:
- The cost. We don’t have an insurance plan that covers this, so my parents paid for this out of pocket. It was around $4,000, if I remember correctly.
- Eating/drinking. You’re only supposed to drink water with these in. Drinking colored liquids can stain the trays and no one wants their teeth to look yellow because of the trays. I’ve occasionally snuck a vodka soda with the trays in or a few sips of coffee, but I try to stay good about this. I definitely haven’t eaten with these in, and it can be a pain to remember to rinse or brush your teeth after eating and put them back in right away. It’s also just kind of gross to have to take these out of your mouth around other people – no one wants to see your saliva.
- Cleaning the trays. I was told not to use mouthwash or toothpaste on the trays and to instead use dish soap. I brush my trays with dish soap every morning as that’s when they tend to be the grossest. You also can’t use hot water on them or they can melt. I used to always use hot water on my mouthguards for sports and on my metal retainers. Something about having to use cool water just doesn’t seem as clean to me.
I’ll keep you guys posted as I continue my treatment. I’m hoping to see continued progress so that I can be done after ten trays like I’m supposed to! Fingers crossed!
Got any questions or tips? Leave me a comment below!