Today I’m sharing my experience with Invisalign, how it corrected my crossbite and crowding and how I felt about the process overall.
My Invisalign Experience: Correcting a Crossbite and Crowding
For the best journey process pictures and videos, check out my Invisalign highlight on Instagram.
I had always felt there was something off with my jaw. When I’d look at photos of myself, I couldn’t exactly point to exactly what was causing my jaw to look misaligned. My lips and my jaw seemed to move in different directions or something. It wasn’t anything I ever was very insecure about, but when I’d see photos of myself where it was more apparent and when I’d see people with more symmetrical smiles, it would slightly bother me. I also had some crowding on my bottom teeth which I knew was only getting worse.
In January 2020, I decided it would be the “year of me” and that I would invest more in “self-care” or simply, putting myself first and feeling my best. Unfortunately, COVID hit a couple of months later, and I had to put that goal on hold, but, thankfully, I had made me Invisalign consultation appointment with my dentist for the end of January, committed to it that day, and then on February 12th, I went in to get my first package of aligners and get my buttons put on. I knew that I’d have to wear these aligners 20-22 hours a day (preferably 22) for the best possible results.
Braces twice as a teenager
Yes, you read that right: I had braces twice as a teenager. My poor parents. I forget why I had to get braces on twice, but I had them twice. Something about a growth spurt and my jaw shifting, I believe. And then, after having braces for the second time, we were on a family trip, and I lost my retainer. I didn’t tell my mother about it, and I just never wore a retainer again. Thus, my teeth and my jaw shifted and undid any work the braces had done!
Back to square one.
My first Invisalign appointment
During the consultation appointment, the doctor scanned my teeth and showed a 3D representation of what my teeth and bite looked like and what they’d look like after the treatment. Once I saw him slide the button from start to finish, I was sold. I couldn’t believe my bite and my teeth needed so much help! This is what I saw:
The doctor told me it would make my face more symmetrical. It’s actually pretty cool how they make the “mold” for your aligners – there is no gel mold, it’s all done with this wand that they scan over your teeth and it transmits to a computer which prints out the aligner molds.
The dentist also told me that I would need two veneers after treatment, because the treatment plan would create two gaps between two of my top teeth (lateral inciser and canine.) The reason the gaps would appear is because they were widening my top row of teeth to correct the crossbite.
So, on February 12th, I went to get my first Invisalign treatment. Now, my mother had just finished her Invisalign treatment, and I could barely tell she had anything on her teeth, so I was like, “Oh, I could do this!” As someone who is always “on camera,” I didn’t want anything that would change my face or make me look different or worse, make it difficult to speak.
Well, this is something I blame both myself and my dentist for. I wish I had researched more into Invisalign and what the possibilities were and then I wish I had used that information to ask my dentist about the treatment plan. For example, “Will I have to get buttons on my front teeth?”
The way Invisalign works is that there are these little “buttons” (that’s what they call them) that they put on your actual teeth. It’s like a gel that hardens and creates a “knob” of sorts which the Invisalign aligners can latch on to and keep the aligners secure on your teeth but also, that’s what shifts your teeth. When the gel does harden on your teeth it’s basically the exact color of your teeth, so they’re not as noticeable (they’re more noticeable when you put your trays on.) With each changing of an Invisalign tray (I was instructed to change them every 2 weeks, but it varies), the aligners change slightly to “pull” on these buttons and thus, shift your teeth.
So, I didn’t expect to get those buttons put on all of my front and bottom teeth and although the aligners are clear, you can still see them and they’re very obvious. It was a little shocking, and I felt like I had braces on. It was a big hit to my personal confidence, and I felt foolish about being so focused on physical appearance, but I couldn’t help those feelings. Luckily, within a few months, you’re so used to them, you forget they’re there and they become less and less obvious.
Long story short, ask your dentist about the buttons, haha! Now, even if I had known ahead of time, I would have still gone ahead with the treatment, I just would have liked to be a little bit more mentally prepared.
Well, ironically, COVID hit a month later, and I had to wear a mask for the past year, so no one really saw my aligners! Both luck and extreme misfortune there, COVID being the misfortune and luck being that I had a socially acceptable mask to wear. Actually, on my second appointment (typically, you go every 2 weeks to get your next aligners from your doctor), my dentist sent me home with a bunch of aligners “just in case COVID hits the states” (crazy to think about that statement.)
The doctor actually ended up sending me all of my aligners for the rest of my treatment plan, which was 7 months. So, until the last day of my treatment plan (in mid August of 2020,) I didn’t go into the dentist.
After the first treatment plan: Revisions
By the time August came, I was so excited for my final appointment. However, I still felt some misalignment in my jaw, and I knew I’d have to extend the treatment plan for “revisions” (that’s what they call it.) Luckily, the revisions aren’t an extra charge and of course, I wanted a perfect bite, so I agreed to continue. They removed all of my buttons, took new scans, and two weeks later, I picked up my trays for another 5 months of treatment. Womp womp.
During this treatment plan, the changes were so subtle, that I couldn’t really tell as they were happening (unlike the first time around, when my teeth were shifting so much and straightening, there was soreness each time for a day or so as I adjusted.) However, when I watched videos of myself speaking and looked at photos, I could tell that which each month, my bite was getting more and more symmetrical.
Most people I know who have done Invisalign have had revisions, because the dentist can’t predict how well your individual teeth will shift (some people, for example have one tooth that just won’t budge!)
My final appointment
At my final appointment (after the revisions), the dentist said, “Looks great, but you molars aren’t touching. This is normal and happens a lot. We’re going to have you wear your bottom aligners for the next month and then you’ll switch to nighttime retainers and be done.” They took off all of my buttons and cut down that bottom aligner so that it didn’t cover my molars. And then, they took molds for my veneers. They actually didn’t need to shave down my lateral incisors very much at all, so I didn’t need to wear any temporaries in the meantime.
Two weeks later, I came in and got my veneers put on. It was shocking at first, but after two weeks, I got used to them. The dentist then told me to continue wearing the bottom aligner and he took molds of my top and bottom rows for my nighttime retainers (that I will have to wear forever, but only while I’m sleeping.) Two weeks later, I still felt that one of my veneers seemed to be “jutting out” a bit, so when I came in for my final, final appointment (to pick up the nighttime retainers) he shaved it down a bit. I felt instantly better!
Here is a photo of what I looked like after my final treatment and after the veneers were put on:
So now, my Invisalign days are over and now I just wear my nighttime retainers forever! The next step is to get professional Zoom whitening, but I’m holding off on that for a bit until I have a full 2 hours to devote to a dentist appointment.
Invisalign Before and Afters
(No veneers here)
Q&A About My Invisalign Experience
Here are the questions you asked me about my experience!
How much does Invisalign cost?
This is something that you need to find out from your provider, whether that be a dentist, orthodontist, or Invisalign center. For me, it was $5,000 for Invisalign and then $1,200 for each veneer. So, $7,400 total.
Do the Invisalign aligners hurt?
Each two weeks, when I’d get a new aligner, there would be some discomfort from my teeth moving. It’s a light “soreness” and it would be gone within 2-3 days. Sometimes, it was barely noticeable and sometimes, it would be a little sensitive when chewing hard foods. On a scale of 1-10 of pain, it was a 3, maybe. It’s not a sharp pain, it’s like more of a throbbing. I never had pain that I felt the need to take Advil for, FYI.
What was your least favorite part of Invisalign?
Definitely having to take them out every time you eat or every time you drink something not clear. You can eat anything, but you have to take your aligners out first. And every time you eat, afterwards, you have to floss and brush your teeth before you put your aligners back in. Of course, towards the very end, I got less diligent about this, but for the best results, you’re supposed to do that. It’s tough when you’re a big snacker, because it’s obnoxious to have to deal with that. Also, the worst was in the morning, when I just wanted to enjoy a coffee, I’d have to chug the coffee, because I had to stick to keeping the aligners on for 22 hours a day. If I wanted to go for an afternoon coffee, it was difficult, again, because I had to take my teeth out at the coffee shop and then put them back in. It’s especially difficult during COVID, when the last thing you want is to put your fingers in your mouth.
How did you clean your trays?
Every morning, I would take them out and put them in a coffee mug of water and a Polident denture cleaner. After a few minutes, I’d scrub with a toothbrush I reserved just for that purpose and then rinse with water. I’d put them back in!
What are some products or tips you recommend to help with the experience?
- Polident for cleaning the aligner trays
- Buy extra retainer holders and put them everywhere – by your desk, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, by your bed, in your car, in your purse. That way, you won’t be tempted to put your retainers somewhere unsanitary or worse, on a paper towel, where they’re likely to get tossed in the garbage!
- Keep flossers, toothpaste, and a portable toothbrush wherever you will be able to most easily brush your teeth after eating (so you won’t be tempted to skip it.) You can even buy a cute pouch and keep it altogether for quick trips to the bathroom. I love Stasher bags for this.
- For cleaning your teeth in public or just in case I was in a situation where I needed them and didn’t want to bring a big pouch with toothpaste, I always had these on hand.
That’s my Invisalign experience! If you have any specific questions, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to respond as quickly as possible.