It’s important to disclose that I have NOT been sponsored/endorsed by any parties mentioned within this organic post. This is all about my personal experience & should not be considered a professional guide on what to expect with this type of dental alignment. Always consult with your Dentist/Orthodontist if this corrective method is the right choice for you.
Shown above is the carrying case & plastic pouch containing Week 4’s top & bottom trays. The date is mismarked, as my 5-week treatment corresponds to June’s 2021 calendar (not July)
Why I decided to get Invisalign
When it came to my teeth at a young age, I had it pretty good in terms of constructive work. I rarely got cavities (probably had one filled in my lifetime) and never had a palate expander/evening mouth guard when it came to preparing for braces, which I only ended up having for 2.5 years starting in 8th Grade into the middle of my Sophomore Year in High School. However, I did have to get 3 baby teeth pulled prior to getting the braces on that very same day but that’s the extent of dental ‘trauma’ I’ve faced in my lifetime (knocking on wood as I type this..) Oh, and almost choking on that molding putty stuffed into your mouth to get impressions of your teeth – that wasn’t pleasant.
So why did I decide at the ripe age of *almost* 30 to opt for more dental alignment via Invisalign despite having braces?
A few reasons…
For starters, like most teens, I wasn’t diligent about wearing my retainer after getting my braces off. The last thing I wanted to do was wear more metal on my brand new, perfectly straight chompers during the school day. Plus, I convinced myself that it wasn’t “cool” to sleep over at friends’ houses and having to pop those lisp-provoking trays into my mouth. One could blame the cartoons of the early 2000’s where the girl with the retainer/braces was hardly spotlighted as someone aspirational…more so ‘geeky’ and unpopular. And as someone mildly coming into her own while at the very impressionable age of 15, the last thing I wanted to position myself as was ‘unfit’ for public high school culture standards. Long story short – I didn’t wear my retainers much, if at all.
Side note: A lot of my friends got a permanent bottom retainer put in & oddly, I was never given that option at the time. Maybe it was a price thing and my parents chose the more budget-friendly removable retainer for both top & bottom? I guess that’s probably why.
Second – I got my braces removed prior to my wisdom teeth coming in. We (as in my mom, myself, and my dentist) knew I had 3 of them based on the X-rays of my teeth prior to getting braces but I think the idea was that my wisdom teeth wouldn’t affect my alignment should they decide to come in post-braces. Regardless, I would have to get them removed because my mouth was too small to accommodate them anyway. But I didn’t end up getting my 3 wisdom teeth out until I was a senior in high school, which at that point had started to shift things unbeknownst to me at the time.
Lastly – I truly started noticing how crowded my bottom teeth were when I would film myself on IG Stories. I couldn’t stop staring at that one tooth that seemed so pushed back compared to the rest. It had gotten way more out of line (pun kind of intended) and I began to feel insecure about it, especially with the wedding coming up. So that was the moment I decided to look into Invisalign as an option to correct the situation.
Cost, Maintenance, & Other Things to Expect
Why Invisalign Over Budget-Friendly Competitors?
So funny enough, I did have Smile Direct for a hot second back in 2015… It was for a partnership where the brand was beyond generous & gifted me with a consultation/corrective trays to restore my slight overbite and crooked bottom layer. You’d think I hit the lottery with such an opportunity & you’re absolutely right. However, I still wasn’t mentally prepared to commit to wearing trays in my teeth every day for 2 weeks at a time, for 5 months.. That seemed like too much work for my immature 24-year- old self who was exploring her new home of NYC and beginning to date again after breaking off a 3-year relationship.
Which brings me back to my next point: the time frame of wearing the trays. After meeting with my Dentist and discussing the option of Invisalign, he said I’d only have to wear the trays for 5 WEEKS! Not months, weeks AND I’d swap the trays out weekly, not every other week. Compared to what my Smile Direct timeframe was in 2015, this seemed like a glorious opportunity that would straighten my teeth in one month as opposed to 5, with less trays to worry about too. I’d be crazy not to do it.
Keep in mind – this is based on my personal situation where I’m fortunate to have Invisalign Express as an option to correct my teeth. Not everyone has this shortened time-frame of corrective wear, but I did learn that the technology behind Invisalign has enhanced to allow for less trays/time worn based on circumstance & what needs to be corrected.
Justifying The Price Tag
As many of us know, Invisalign is a costly process but at this point in my life, I’m in a place where I genuinely want to commit to correcting my teeth. Unlike braces which was forced upon many of us as kids, this time around I’m choosing to do something I’ll be so happy about down the road – straightening my crooked bottom layer. But I’m not gonna lie, the price tag starts in the lower $2K range if you don’t have dental insurance which I recently learned I do NOT have after Jan 1 of this year (yay self-employment!)
Nonetheless, my dentist office offered to provide me with a payment plan to pay off the costs in increments if I wanted to do so, which is extremely kind of them. I’ve also gone to this dentist office since I was 4 so maybe that offer was due to our long-term relationship. I ended up paying in-full to get it over & done with, but it was nice to know they wanted me to feel comfortable paying for it. I’m sure if you go to a family-owned dentist office they’d be open to offering you the same should you ask. Most adults feel for us 35 & under people these days, right?
Cleaning The Trays
Because I only have 5 trays to worry about, cleaning them isn’t as big of a job unlike trays worn for 2 weeks at a time. All I do every morning/night or anytime they feel dirty is brush the trays with a separate toothbrush using HAND SOAP (not toothpaste.)
Managing The Lisp & Slightly Achy Teeth
Despite wearing the trays all day & night, except when eating/drinking anything but water, the lisp is something that might be here to stay. But it’s not as bad as my ears hear it, according to honest friends. The trays are actually pretty comfortable to wear in terms of not feeling heavy on my teeth, and by the end of the week you can hardly feel them on. I do find the first day/night after switching to a new tray that my teeth feel slightly achy and my jaw is tender sore from the tighter fit, but it goes away by day 3 or so.
Above is the container for the trays; pocket size for a small purse and recommended the only place to keep your trays while not in your mouth because they can easily be thrown out accidentally otherwise
And now to answer your specific questions…
Did you go to your Orthodontist or Dentist for Invisalign? And who do you go to?
I got Invisalign through my family dentist office – Leone Wenning Dental – whom I’ve been going to since age 4. I’m not sure if all dentist offices offer Invisalign, but I got lucky learning mine did after an annual cleaning. If you’re interested in getting Invisalign, it doesn’t hurt to call/ask during your next visit to your dentist. If anything, they can point you in the direction of other offices that offer it locally.
Were you given a consultation prior to committing to it? Was it virtual or in-person?
I wasn’t given a formal consultation given my dentist suggested I get it during my annual cleaning, but I did have to make an in-person appointment to come in a second time for x-rays & to get molds of my top & bottom (definitely had PTSD going through this again since my first experience years ago… trick is to lean forward if you feel the putty crawling towards the back of your throat.) Once the molds were sent off, it took about 2 months for my trays to come in. I went in for a 3rd time to get the 1st tray fitted properly & learn how to care for the trays (regardless of how many you’re required, you get all of the trays at the same time) but that’s about it in terms of the process of getting them.
Once I’m on my last week, I’ll have to go back in and have my dentist see the progress after completing the tray cycle. There might be one or two more things like a retainer in my future, but at least it’s now something I’m more than happy to follow through with.
Did you get to see a visual of what your teeth are expected to look like after?
I didn’t but I think it’s safe to say that unless you’re getting some serious reconstructive work in addition to tooth alignment, the end result will be straight smile full of aligned teeth from top to bottom.
Are you given a time frame of expected wear/when to swap trays?
Since I have Invisalign Express, I received 5 trays for a timeframe of 5 weeks – 1 tray per week. So every Tuesday in June, I switch out to the next tray until the completion of the final one’s week; then I’ll see my dentist for a follow-up appointment on what would be the start of the “6th week” if I had another tray to wear. But like I mentioned before, this is unique to my circumstance in terms of timeframe. The weekly tray thing might be applicable to most considering to get Invisalign – I’d ask your dentist to make sure though.
How often do you have to wear it? Are there any restrictions on when to take them out?
My dentist told me that my trays would have to be worn at least 22 hours a day… now, I personally think that’s unrealistic in terms of hourly dedication lol but I understand the reasoning why it was advised. You pretty much have to wear them at all times unless when you’re eating or drinking (except water.) Because they’re made of plastic, you risk breaking the trays or staining/cracking them if you eat or have anything hot with them in. So I just make sure to take them out in advance when I know I’ll be going out & eating/drinking throughout the night. I still haven’t gotten used to taking them out at the table unless I’m alone/home but I always have them with me in my bag should I want to pop them back in or need to take them out at a moments notice. The tray case is small enough to fit in a small bag & discrete enough to look like a blush or mirror compact.
What do you do with the old trays when done? Toss them?
I personally decided to keep all the trays for the sole purpose of having them JUST IN CASE I need to revert back. I doubt this is something you should need to do, but I have a hard time throwing expensive things away until I’m certain I won’t be needing/using them any longer. So I’ve kept all the small plastic pouches the trays came in and simply place the old ones back in the corresponding week #. I’m sure I’ll be tossing them once I see my dentist at my follow-up appointment at the conclusion of my treatment, but until then I’d rather be safe than sorry by assuming I no longer need them.
UPDATE: My dentist encouraged to YES, KEEP THE OLD TRAYS – if you ever need to pop them back in after getting a little lazy with wearing, at least you have them on standby.
How do you keep them clean on days where you’re out drinking/eating?
There truly isn’t a strategic way to do so when you’re out & about but I will suggest taking them out prior to arriving at the place of consumption so you can avoid the awkwardness of removing them in public. Bring them with you in a small bag along with a thing of floss & travel-size mouthwash should you want to escape to the bathroom to freshen up your mouth and smile before popping them back in.
Do you have a current before & after of your teeth we can see, from week one to whatever week you’re on now?
I truly tried to get photos of my teeth every week to track the progress, but I’ve learned that close-up selfie-esque iPhone photos of your teeth will not be in-focus nor attractive to look at. Maybe when I see my Dentist in 2 weeks I can ask for an x-ray photo to include here – stay tuned!