Posted by Corine.
After undergoing orthodontic treatment by wearing dreadful clear braces for over a year as a teenager, my upper front teeth started moving again during my twenties which was, let me tell you, a real bother and disappointment! I was given a retainer to wear every other night to make sure my teeth would remain aligned but the technology behind it was terrible and it was just too uncomfortable and painful to wear so I very quickly gave up on it… and I , of course, ended up with twisted front teeth by the time I was 25! It took me another couple of years to decide to seek orthodontic treatment (once again!) and I decided to go ahead with it when I realised how much the technology had progressed the past 10 years or so and, to my relief, braces were not the only option on the market anymore!
Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that helps to straighten teeth by wearing a series of custom-made clear plastic aligners that move your teeth through a series of carefully controlled movements. The aligners are replaced every two weeks. It was a perfect fit for me and the biggest selling point was that the the aligners could be removed at anytime giving me the possibility to enjoy a romantic evening or an important business meeting without an (embarrassing) orthodontic appliance! I am now half way through my treatment (6 months done and another 6 months to go) and I feel that I can give you an honest opinion on Invisalign!
Is it expensive? The technology behind Invisalign is impressive so it is pricey! Depending on where you get your treatment, you are looking at £2,500 to £5,000 for the most complex cases. I was charged ££3,000 for the Invisalign Lite that also included a second round of treatment if the result was not entirely satisfactory after the first six months (which is usually the case so I am glad that I went for this option!).
How long does it take? If you want to obtain satisfying results, you need to be strong-willed! Your orthodontist will advise you to wear your retainer trays for at least 22 hours a day. I personally wear mine between 18 to 20 hours a day (sometimes less!) and I have not been behind schedule so far. Having said that I have not spent one night without my retainer since I started my treatment as missing on a full night of treatment would really put me behind schedule. It is great to be able to take it out and have a little break but do not overdo it or your treatment will suffer and take way longer than expected!
Is it really invisible? Honestly, it is pretty much invisible! Only a few people have noticed my retainers since the start of my treatment. Plus most of the time they will simply notice that your teeth are a bit too shiny but they won’t figure out that you are actually undergoing orthodontic treatment!
Is it painful? I consider myself really lucky as my treatment has been pain free for the most part… of course everyone is different and some of you may strongly disagree! You do feel quite a lot of pressure when you put on a fresh aligner tray and some are worse than others and can cause pain when being removed (it feels like your teeth are being pulled out!) and some trays also cause headaches but the pain is manageable with painkillers if need be.
Is it comfortable? The first few hours are tough and you feel like you have a big piece of plastic in your mouth which is not pleasant at all! I kind of freaked out a bit at first and I remember wondering how on earth would I manage to keep the tray in my mouth for more than 10 minutes?! It takes a few days to get used to and you will probably get a sore tongue and sore gums at first but you will quickly adjust to it. Six months on and I actually feel ‘naked’ and not quite right when I am not wearing my aligner tray… who would have thought!
Is that it? Well, not quite… Some additional procedures may be required to perfect your treatment. I personally had to have attachments (or buttons) fixed on four of my side teeth which are made of tooth-colored filling material. They help the aligner trays grip individual teeth, which helps move them to their correct position. They are, of course, removed once the treatment is completed. My orthodontist also had to slenderise some of my teeth by taking off a tenth of a millimetre out of them. It sounds scary but the result is not visible to the naked eye and the procedure is pain free but, let’s be honest, a bit uncomfortable as it feels like someone is drilling a hole in your head! Having had a tooth removed during my first orthodontic treatment (that left me traumatised!), I was more than happy for him to shave my teeth and not have to go through the ordeal of tooth extraction once again!
What about hygiene? Let’s be honest here… having a piece of plastic inside your mouth for a long period of time is a bit yucky and your aligner tray stinks when you take it out after a long night sleep… it is gross and don’t even think about putting it back into your mouth before giving it a good wash! Warm soapy water and your toothbrush may not be enough so make sure to invest in some effervescent cleaning tablets – the best ones are the Retainer Brite Cleaning Tablets – your orthodontist should provide you with a box at the beginning of your treatment. If not or if you simply need a refill, they are available on Amazon for around £12 for a box of 96 tablets. I use one tablet every morning.
Drinking and eating? Water is the only thing you can put in your mouth while wearing your aligner tray… anything else will stain it and, trust me, keeping you tray clean and stain free will become an obsession! As you are supposed to brush your teeth after every meal, Invisalign will be your best friend if you are planning on shedding a few pounds. Snacking between meal is not worth the hassle of removing your retainer, cleaning it, brushing your teeth, etc… this will help you diet greatly!
Is it worth it? As far as I am concerned it is a Big Bold Yes! My treatment is not finished yet but I am already loving my new smile and I feel much more confident with myself. So if you are not happy with your smile and you are serious about fixing it (and you are also willing to use a good chunk of your savings for it!), it is good to know that there are some discreet options out there. Invisalign has been great for me and so much more comfortable (physically and mentally) than my previous experience with braces.