Although my teeth were not that bad to begin with, I had always been self conscious of them; more the bottoms them anything. I didn’t want regular braces and I was uncomfortable with filing off a good portion of my teeth in order to have the veneers. Besides, veneers were averaging about $1,200. per tooth. Invisalign, clear, removable braces, is a much cheaper option ($2,500. — now about $5,000.) so it seemed like the way to go in my case. Although this is not written in stone, as a longer treatment plan will cost more, and the Express treatment costs.
The Invisalign system uses a series of clear, plastic braces that are custom fit to your teeth using dental impressions. These impressions are sent to the company and are scanned using a CT machine (Computer Tomography) where a computer and an orthodontist determine your best course of action. Each tray is a little straighter and closer to your end result. You wear each set for about 2-3 weeks (or more depending upon how your teeth are moving). I started with a 5 month plan (Express) and was supposed to be finished in no more than 7 months total. However, I had been skydiving a lot and kept taking them out for some weird reason. Some of my teeth began moving back and my new trays didn’t fit correctly. Unfortunately, I had to take new impressions and get a new treatment plan, ergo all new trays. So it took me twice as long as it would have had I done what I had been told. Where. Your. Trays.
I feel that the trays can be a little painful when you first change to a new one. Tylenol helps, however. The new trays are always a bit tighter; they almost snap on. As those teeth move, your tray is not as tight and you are ready for the next one. You can take them out to eat and brush, so they are very convenient. One should wear their Invisalign trays for about 22 hours a day. Although at the end of your treatment you taper down to less and less time, and then only at night,. Although, I wear my retainers as often as I can. You can feel tightness when you leave them out for longer than you should. This is evidently because your teeth start reverting back to their former position. So, don’t forget to wear your trays or your next ones will fit less and less perfectly, and ruin your results in the long run.
The good thing about Invisalign is that the trays fit perfectly and can be used in combination with a bleaching regimen. I started on DayWhite and although I essentially already had white teeth, I wanted them whiter. Unfortunately, I drink red wine and coffee so this was a constant uphill battle. I went through tons of bleach. I still do, in fact! I am part of a Bleach For Life program with my new dentist, where as long as I keep my hygiene appointments every 4 months (obsessed much?), I get bleach at no charge.
While there are more pros than cons, the cons of Invisalign do exist. One, and this was totally unexpected, is that my dentist applied composite “contacts” for torque on each upper canine and one lower canine. These teeth needed to be rotated and the contacts are what helps these teeth move more efficiently. The contacts give the trays something to brace against to force these difficult teeth into the new position. They looked like 3 small bumps, but larger than I was comfortable with. very embarrassing to me when I wasn’t wearing my trays. I wasn’t aware of this at all during the consultation. Then again, apparently I was lucky to only have 3. Another is that my dentist filed in between teeth that seemed too crowded. This is called reproximation and at first you look as though you have gaps between your teeth. I was not happy about this in the least. It also concerned me that if the enamel was filed off in between these teeth, where food and plaque can accumulate, wouldn’t this increase your chances of a cavity?
After my treatment was over, I was still not satisfied with the amount of straightening of my canines. My upper canines were turned out and I was told this was the most difficult to correct, and they seemed too pointy for my taste. My lowers had the most dramatic results, they were becoming crowded and starting to shift. But, Invisalign corrected them very fast. Alas almost 1 and a 1/2 years later I was ready for bonding for my uppers!
My new dentist is such an artist, he is really great at bonding and the most difficult part of the process was determining what tooth shape I wanted. There was an entire book that portrayed the different types of shapes one could have. I didn’t know which to choose, so I simply said “sort of like Jessica Simpson’s, or Halle Berry’s” although they have veneers I am told. So we decided that we go slow and with a mirror in hand, we agreed on the shape throughout the entire process–which only took about 3 hours! He added composite material and shaped and buffed the top 6 teeth until I was thrilled. The bottoms we decided to just file. They are not perfect, but I didn’t want to remove enough natural tooth to affix the composite. Besides, I grind my teeth sometimes and I am quite sure I would have chipped them. Although Invisalign also helps with that! It’s like having a bite guard in your mouth when you sleep, but a lot thinner.
Overall, I am very happy with the results, although I have managed to chip the free edge of my left incisor already, so I will be getting that fixed eventually. I have been drinking a bit of coffee lately now that\pumpkin spice latté season is here! So I am starting to bleach again. Now if I could just fix my crooked smile. I can do it consciously, but a real or fake smile, I tend to drop my lower lip a bit more on one side. But as long as I’m smiling, who cares!