I did it. I’ve overdue about thirty years but I finally instigated a change I’ve wanted for over thirty years to straighten my teeth, close gaps. I recently made the leap to try Invisalign as an Adult and I’m going to share my journey with you. I’m on my third invisible aligner tray and I’ve had ups and downs already. It’s been a challenge but I know it will be worth it in the end.
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There are things I did not expect with starting Invisalign. There are many things that have surprised me. It is getting better as time goes on, but I know some things will be a struggle for me the entire time I’m doing the treatment. Invisalign as an adult is a challenge, as I’m sure it is for kids but there were several things that surprised me. I had romanticized the whole process, but it’s real, and it’s a challenge.
What Surprised Me About Starting Invisalign
Initially It HURTS!
There are multiple things that surprised me. Number one is that it hurt. I hadn’t investigated this or even thought to ask about it because I figured it’s just a tray that basically hugs your teeth snug. So it was a giant surprise for me to be in pain. At first, it hurt a lot and that was because the little buttons they put on my teeth rubbed the insides of my mouth and caused sores. Now, ten days into treatment, callouses have formed inside my mouth and it no longer hurts. As much Sometimes when I start a new aligner tray, it hurts a little bit as my gums and teeth get used to the new one.
At first, it hurt enough where I wanted to scream … like … all the time. I’d take ibuprofen and that helped. Thankfully this level of pain has reduced by a lot and it only hurts a little bit on occasion.
The little hooks for the rubber bands sometimes get bent out and they dig into the insides of my mouth. That’s unpleasant to say the least. I’ve had buttons fall off, but that was in the clinic so they quickly replaced them.
I had known that braces hurt having had three kids who have had braces, two still in them. So I had always heard Invisalign hurts less than braces, so having pain with them was really was a shocker for me.
**Tip: If a part of the aligner tray is stabbing you inside your lips/mouth, take a metal nail file and file it down. Just be sure you do not file too much that it changes the shape of the aligner. But this works very well and I find it only needs a little bit of filing to take the edge off.
Let me backtrack a bit… I was surprised my insurance covered me for orthodontics as an adult.
I had always assumed that my dental insurance would not cover me for a cosmetic treatment like Invisalign as an adult. Boy was I wrong. My insurance did cover a portion of the bill. So if you are considering Invisalign as an adult, make sure you check your coverage. You might luck out as I did. And I found out it was very affordable. Plus, if you go to the right clinics, the price is about the same as regular braces. I wish I had known this fact for my kids when they started braces, so they could have chosen which treatment they wanted to go with. But, live and learn. I’m using Minnesota Orthodontics. They said they do so many Invisalign treatments that the price is down and now the same as traditional braces.
So Why did I go forward with it?
I had always thought it was out of our price range and something extra, and unnecessary to do, meanwhile, my confidence has always been lacking because of the spaces in my teeth. My teeth don’t have huge spaces, but it’s enough where it has always bothered me. My mom passed away about the time I should have had braces as a teen, the dentist said I was on the verge of even needing them, so I opted not to do them. Big mistake. My dad didn’t push it either, but we were in a very strained time dealing with my mom’s death. So, I regret all of that. It was not ideal. But then, given the situation, nothing was.
I heard a commercial recently on the radio that discussed how the Invisalign treatment could be as cheap as $100 a month. One of my kids had just gotten out of braces, so I thought, wow, maybe it’s finally my turn. So I made an appointment to be assessed. I had all the prep work done, the scan of my teeth, the scope of the treatment plan, the payment plan, and I signed on as a big yes. I was ready for a good smile and the confidence that goes along with Invisalign as an adult.
As a woman in my forties, I didn’t want to do traditional braces, that’s for kids. So Invisalign and, its invisible aligners, was the only way to go for me.
The First Visit
The first real visit was not fun. I won’t lie. I had thought I’d get one little button on one tooth top and bottom to keep the aligners on. Nope. I got a button on almost every tooth. The glue tasted horrible and the buttons make me feel like I have dirty teeth, food on them, and grit. It’s not a pleasant feeling and I’m still getting used to it. Food gets stuck on the buttons like crazy.
Then I learned I had to have a chain to turn a tooth. This. Chain. Sucks. Food gets stuck in it constantly, especially untoasted bread. I’m constantly trying to fish food out of the chain with my tongue when I eat. So eating is less fun in general, as is drinking, so now, in getting back to the surprises.
Back to the Surprises…
Eating and drinking are a challenge. I didn’t expect this because I knew I got to take the aligners out. Cool. Well, that’s great that they come out but you are on a timeline and you need to eat and drink fast if you want multiple breaks taking them off during the day. They need to be worn 20-22 hours a day to work. There’s a nifty little app that works great, but half the time I forget to restart the timer when I put them back in, so that’s a challenge I have not mastered.
I didn’t expect the rubber bands to be such a challenge. They are really hard to put on the aligner trays and keep on as you insert and fit them back in around your teeth. The aligners snap in tight and the bottom ones I need to turn inward or I can’t snap them into place. One night I spent a full half hour trying to succeed. I was so frustrated I wanted to cry. That was the worst night and it’s still a challenge, but it’s gotten better.
I gag. UGH! I have a very strong gag reflex so this part is a giant challenge for me. My gag reflex is strongest in the morning and these are not fast to remove. I gag about every morning as I try to strip them off my teeth. It’s NOT PLEASANT!
More gagging! I have the little vibrator thing that I bite on as well. Yup. I gag on that multiple times each five-minute session. I’m surviving, but this is probably the most unpleasant part for me. I hate gagging. That and I hate rushing through coffee time or when having some wine, but it is what it is, and I’m going to survive it with a nice smile in the end.
It will be worth it all!
And MORE SURPRISES…About Invisalign as an Adult
I didn’t expect to be using Efferdent denture cleaner. I clean them daily with this.
My saliva production is up with them in my mouth. This is a challenge to deal with. I often will take them out for a for this reason, also sometimes I just need a break from the pressure of them on my teeth.
I feel like I talk a bit differently with a slight lisp, but no one seems to notice but me. It’s a challenge though because I’m also a voiceover narrator and I find it a huge challenge to narrate with them in so I’ve been removing them during recording. But then I have to add that into my time for when they are out of my mouth. So I have the extra challenge of that which most people will not have with Invisalign.
Get the teeth jiggler thing!
I mentioned above I use the teeth jiggler thingy, whatever it’s real name is, it’s basically a teeth vibrator. It helps speed up the treatment. So with using it, I can wear my aligners for 5 days instead of 7 and get through my treatment faster. Again, I gag on this, but when I’m about to gag, I pull it out, swallow, and put it back in and suffer until the blessed all done light comes on. Most people may not be as sensitive to this as I am, but I’m the extreme so hopefully it won’t be as bad for you as it is for me.
I have 64 sets of aligners. That means 5 days x 64 is 320 days or 45.7 weeks, so less than a year. Their initial plan for me was 18 months to a year so with using the vibrator thingy on my teeth, I’ve significantly shortened my treatment plan length and that’s very important to me … and worth all the gagging. Almost! Laugh out loud! No, it’s definitely worth it. And yes, the thingy does cost extra, of course.
Lastly, people can see the buttons on your teeth if they look close or you are in broad daylight. But, then again, who cares, right?
Ongoing Challenges of Invisalign as an Adult, well, for anyone really.
It’s hard because you have to really clean your teeth, brush them, or use mouthwash every time you eat and before putting them back in. This is so that food and bacteria don’t sit trapped right by your teeth and potentially cause cavities. So I’m stuck brushing my teeth all the time. I’ve heard gum is also great for removing food from your teeth so when out and about or at a restaurant and eating, chewing gum is a great option so you don’t have to bring a toothbrush everywhere. The thought of brushing my teeth in a public bathroom is also very unappealing to me, so gum is a great option for cleaning food particles off teeth. This is funny to me because kids with braces are told NOT to chew gum! So there’s a big difference right there.
Remembering to change them is a challenge but the app really helps with this issue. I found my first set of aligner trays not fitting near the end of the five days so at the end of day three, I called the clinic and told them it wasn’t fitting. They said to just move on to the next set of aligners so my first five days was shortened to three. But ironically, the next set actually fit my teeth better and felt better so it was good I could advance it. The app allows you to make adjustments too for such things so your reminder to change to the next level of aligners is accurate.
Honestly, I can’t wait until this is over with, but I know I will survive and be happy in the end that I did it.
Keep water handy all the time. I find my mouth gets dry so I want to drink water. And yes, you can drink water with the aligners in. Saliva can pool in the aligners and in your mouth so keep drinking water to clear it out. Sometimes I even take them out and rinse them if they are bothering me with too much saliva trapped in them. Also stayed hydrated will keep your saliva thinner so it will be a more pleasant experience for you.
Keep lip balm or Chapstick near. I find my lips get dried out and chapped.
You may need to adjust your workout. I find I can’t handle breathing super heavy with them in so I’ve scaled back my workouts a bit. This may not bother you but when I pant, my mouth dries out more and my saliva production is up so I feel like I get an overload of saliva while working out and feel like of like I’m choking at times.
I also find when it’s hurting or bothering me, I’m a bit more irritable. So the bottom line is to take breaks and plan for them. Even a few minutes of them out is worth it.
Allow extra time because with Invisalign you will have extra things to do after eating and before going about your life. I’ve learned to try and allow more time for the extra cares I know have with using Invisalign (such as brushing teeth, mouthwash rinses, cleaning the aligners, and putting rubber bands in).
The Big Question… am I glad I went forward?
Yes. I am glad I went forward even though it’s more of a challenge than I expected. I’m going to complete the treatment and hope all goes according to plan. I’m going to try hard and force myself to tolerate all the hard parts because I want the end result. I want to not feel like I need to hide my mouth while I talk and smile. It may seem petty, superficial, but living in a country where most people have straight teeth without gaps, I just want to be the same. Does it really matter? No. It doesn’t. I would have been fine living my life the way my teeth were, but, I have the ability and resources to do this, so I’m happy to be doing it. I know my confidence will be up the rest of my life just because I made this commitment to a better smile.
Bottom line: Invisalign as an adult is worth it.
So I’m almost a year from my start date. I have three weeks left and I’m so ready to be done. The gaps between my teeth are all closed so I’m very happy about that. The only thing left is the turning of a tooth that is slightly crooked, but it’s not even visible so it kind of feels not worth it at this point. I’m really dragging and want to be done. I’m tired of the pressure and the pain, and the nuisance of having these trays in my mouth all the time.
I do think it’s worth it but it really was worse than I imagined it would be. But, I’m a person who has a very strong gag reflex so at times I just had to remove them for a break because I’d start to gag, especially in the morning right after I’d wake up.
Things That Surprised Me
- It hurt more than I expected.
- I had a month break at month 10 in my treatment where I only wore the trays at night because they were making my next set of trays. It was heaven to live that way after having them on all day every day for so long. But then to go back to 12 more trays all day long was extra painful and arduous.
- Planning snacks and meals with Invisalign has always been a challenge because it’s such an ordeal to clean your teeth and get them back into your mouth.
- Timing the breaks so you don’t go over four hours a day seems possible with the app, but I always would forget to go back to the app once I put them back in so I quit trying. The app may work for some people, but I’d never remember and so it became useless to me. I estimated the time as best as I could and tried not to have them out for too long.
- Coffee and red wine stain the buttons over time. Mine got stained and there was no turning back so they were unsightly being darker than my teeth, particularly the ones on my front teeth. At the ten months point, I had them remove the stained buttons on my front teeth so I didn’t have to do daily life with dark buttons. It was embarrassing to me to have people see them. Now, even for just this set of twelve, I’m still having coffee, because I need it, but I’m completely avoiding red wine now to hopefully prevent staining in these last few weeks. The back ones are still stained because they are the originals, but they are less obvious being that they are way back there.
- The procedure to prepare for the second round of trays was much more arduous and painful than the first. Like it really felt like torture! Now, this could have been the procedure the tech chose to use, but it was definitely worse. I had these mouth spreaders that held my mouth open and I have a small mouth so it may have been worse for me than for other people for that reason.
- It’s hard to not fall asleep with them out. There were a few times when I took them out in the late evening and then I fell asleep so they were out for too long. I’d recommend not taking them out and sitting down late at night for this very reason. I was lucky I never fell asleep for an entire night! I cringe to think of the progress I’d have lost doing that!
- I was surprised at how much the soft insides of my mouth would get chewed up by the trays at the initial start and at the start of the last twelve trays after my month break. It took a while for my flesh to form callouses and not hurt.
- I did have a few trays that didn’t click down perfectly. When I encountered this, I moved on to the next tray a bit early.
- The worse surprise of all was how horrible it was to wear them when sick. I had a bad cold for a week and it was extremely difficult. With a thickened painful throat, coughing, and mucous, the trays were the worst ever. So be prepared when sick, it gets ten times harder to wear them than when you are healthy. Now that was an ordeal I won’t ever forget!
Would I do it all over again?
Yes, I would. But I wish I had been more prepared for how much of a challenge living with Invisalign would be. But, then again, maybe knowing this would have prevented me from ever starting, which would be a tragedy given how nice my teeth look now. Wearing the trays was a hard way to live and a struggle for me. I honestly thought it’d be easy, just slip some trays on your teeth. Boom. That’s it!
Ummm…. no! It’s soooooooo not that easy. There’s more pain than I expected and I was never one of those people who just forgot I had them in. Mine either bothered me, created pain, or at the very least, some pressure, or even made me gag, so for me, it was a slight bit of torture that varied up and down in severity, but I never forgot about them. They have been way too bothersome to ever forget I have them in my mouth. I can’t wait to be done!
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