I’ve always had straight teeth but in my mid twenties I removed all four of my wisdom teeth and as a result, many of my teeth started to move causing my front ones to move back slightly.
Although my teeth were by no means awful, they did bother me from time to time and I was worried about them getting worse left to their own devices so decided to look into Invisalign- the invisible brace. It seemed the obvious choice as having endured train tracks as a teen, I knew the severity of having a metal monstrosity strapped to my mouth would not be a road I would be travelling again any time soon.
After a first consultation with Bridge Place Dental Practice in Tralee, I decided I would go through with the treatment which would take an initial period of ten months and also fix my overbite at the same time. My overbite which causes my upper lip to slightly stick out never bothered me and I actually like the shape of my mouth but I do suffer a lot from grinding my teeth at night and decided, feck it, if I am going to pay the money to fix a few teeth, I might as well fix everything!
Now 12 weeks into my invisalign journey, I’ve put together what I believe are the pros and cons of the treatment at this stage in my journey but please bare in mind that everyone’s journey is different. I went into the process fairly blind so I’ve tried to be as objective as possible in my observations, keeping in mind things that I think I would have liked to know. I hope this helps anyone considering or indeed starting out in their journey to perfect teeth with clear braces.
5 Pros about Invisalign
No 1. Flexibility
While you are supposed to leave your brace in for 22 hours a day, there has been a number of times that I have literally praised the lord and all the angels in heaven that I do have the power to take out my brace when I want.
At the very start, I took them out on the odd occasion for a night out and although I don’t do this anymore, it gave me huge piece of mind at the beginning. I have the control over them not the other way around. Also having the responsibility of changing them yourself every week and seeing them move, is serious satisfaction right there – it’s truly amazing to see the results week on week.
No 2. Treatment Time cut in half- New 1 week Treatment Time
As I am fixing an overbite, it involves all my teeth having to move to a new position which is a significant job for any brace. The fact that it’s now possible within ten months is down to the advancements in invisalign technology which means that you can now change your trays every week instead of every two weeks, cutting your treatment time by half. Although this rapid movement does mean there is more discomfort due to the speed of movement in your teeth, it’s just amazing that imperfections can be corrected in shorter timeframes so there really has never been a better time to get on board.
No 3. Good Oral Hygiene
Having my teeth cleaned is part of the invisalign package which is amazing, but when I went for my very first clean, I was told that my gums needed much more care and were slightly inflamed. I hadn’t been for a proper clean in almost 8 months but it still gave me a real shock so I’ve made an extra effort since to be as good as possible with flossing and brushing my teeth more frequently. Invisalign does help keep you in really good habits as you have to brush your teeth after breakfast, lunch and dinner before putting back on your trays. Previous to invisalign, I may have only brushed at morning and night apart from weekends when I am not at work.
Six weeks into my treatment, I went for a follow up visit to the hygienist who told me that my gums were looking significantly healthier since the beginning of my treatment which I was delighted with- an extra little bonus.
No 4 No More Grazing
Although I wouldn’t say I’ve cut down on how much I eat, your brace will make you consider your food choices more carefully. I try to pack more into my 3 meals a day so I am not snacking as much as it’s just too annoying and frankly sometimes just too damn painful to remove your brace for one square of chocolate. No snacking definitely makes you appreciate your proper meals more so and helps you make much smarter choices when it comes to food and what you need to eat to fill you through to your next meal.
No. 5 You Can Track Your Progress
The major pro with this treatment is the fact that it actually works and is strategically planned down to the smallest movement each week. Before your treatment starts you will be given a personalised 3d plan which shows you exactly how much your teeth will move from week to week, right up until the end of your treatment. I found this one of the coolest things about the treatment, as again it really adds an element of control to the whole experience and is something I find myself checking in on again and again as the weeks pass by.
5 Cons about Invisalign
No 1. No Pain, No Gain
Yes there is a certainly a lot of pain attached to these little plastic trays and me being me – living life though rose coloured spectacles – it was something I was poorly prepared for. I was told I may get mouth ulcers etc. as my gums got used to the new alien life form in my mouth but thankfully I escaped these. I did however get shooting pain in my teeth as they started moving and couldn’t even be out in the cold without my teeth hurting. When I was told that this was perfectly normal, I didn’t mind as much and the pain eventually passed. Another moment of weakness came when upon taking out my brace one evening, I felt my front tooth a bit loose. When I probed further, I discovered – to my absolute horror- that I could actually wiggle it backwards and forwards with my finger. After speaking with my dentist however, I was told that this was also perfectly normal as the teeth loosen when moving – silly me! These things can be frightening when you are not expecting them but once you learn why they are being caused, its generally quite easy to deal with them and no pain, no gain has definitely become my new mantra.
No 2. Goodbye Lipstick & Nails
As many of you will know, I am a huge lipstick fan and rarely leave the house without at least 3 different shades in my handbag.
One day, during the first week of my braces, I quickly grabbed a smoothie before an appointment. As I was rushing, I skipped brushing my teeth as I usually would and quickly shoved back in my braces before dashing off. Later that afternoon, I noticed that there was pink inside them that just was not coming off. I assumed it was my strawberry smoothie but a few days later I found the same thing happening and I finally realised it was my lipstick. I now refrain from wearing as much lipstick as I used to and just always try to make sure any excess is removed from the inside of my mouth.
Similarly, my nails were another causality that I have had to say goodbye to over the past few weeks. I’m generally not a wearer of false nails having great growth in my own but the past few weeks have seen my index fingers reduced to sorry stubs. It can be difficult to get your aligners out and you absolutely need nails to loosen the grip. I have heard this gets easier with practice but I’m still no pro and my nails are living proof.
No 3. You may not see but you can hear
I did find that not many people will initially notice that you are wearing a brace unless they are up close to you but you can hear them. Although any lispy sounds I had initially went after a couple of weeks, sometimes it does return. This is especially the case after changing to a new tray. Again it’s not a huge issue but I find it’s something you can get hung up on. There have been times I’ve noticed it myself when talking to others, especially at social events, and I have found that the more aware I become of it, the worse I feel about it and it has from time to time left me feeling a bit awkward. There have been one or two nights out especially where I have felt so conscious of it and wondered if removing for the entire night would just be the easiest thing. I would really advise against this as 12 weeks on, you do get more used to it and getting into the habit of removing your trays for long periods of time can really effect your treatment time.
No 4. Attachments
I felt like I was only getting used to having my braces when I suddenly had to go and get my attachments. Little buttons attached to your teeth, these are permanent fixtures that help your braces grip on to your teeth to increase the ease of movability. You can see them clearly on my picture above and I have 6 altogether but am lucky to have very few on my front teeth. This varies from person to person. When I got them initially, I did find that my new brace was much tighter going in and it did make them hurt that little bit more. They also take a day or two to get used to and without the protective layer of your brace they feel rough against your gums. Of course this feeling does get better in a couple of weeks and becomes just as normal as the brace.
No 5. Stains
When, I first got my braces, I remember removing them for a friend’s wedding because I wanted to drink Jack Daniels and Coke (my favourite) without having to worry about staining my brace but I quickly got over this rationale when on changing my brace the following week, it hurt like hell – Jack babe you just weren’t worth it in the end. Although I don’t go out too often, all those nights out do add up and really you are only fooling yourself so now I wear them out all the time and just adjust my alcoholic drinks to clear liquid- wine, champagne and vodka do not stain the braces. Of course your braces can just stain over the course of the week but generally, I find by changing your habits, not drinking sugary drinks, coffee or tea you can avoid any bad staining. If old habits just die too hard then you can use retainer brite which is a fantastic cleaning solution.
Regardless of any of the cons, I’m really excited to continue on to my next phase of treatment and overall just really glad I took the step towards my perfect smile. No path is completely smooth but if it gets you to where you want at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Any other questions on the treatment just holler and I would be happy to answer.