What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is the newest, simplest and most efficient way to straighten crooked teeth. The Invisalign system is light years ahead of traditional braces in terms of technology, and it provides the very same results that metal braces do, without all the fuss (and especially all the pain).
I recently started using the Invisalign system to fix a mouth full of jagged, turned, crooked teeth, that I had always been told would require both traditional braces and a jaw expander to make straight. It’s only been 5 weeks, and already the Invisalign aligners are working for me!
Check back each week for an update on how my teeth look, including a description of what happened during the week, so you can see what it’s actually like to use Invisalign aligners. I’m not being paid to do this, I have no connection to the Invisalign company, and I’m simply recording my story as a testament to my latest adventure.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
In my case, Invisalign will take 68 weeks to give me the “perfect smile”. The reason my treatment is going to take so long (it could be significantly less for you), is that I never had any sort of orthodontic work, and my teeth are nowhere near straight. Just look at the pictures on this page and you can see how bad they are.
Your Invisalign treatment plan probably won’t take nearly as long as mine does. I have to spin teeth, rotating them in the bone socket (it sounds bad, but it isn’t painful!), change the shape of both my upper and lower jaw, move my teeth up so that I have less of a ‘gummy smile’, and correct for a pretty bad overbite. If you’re just shifting some teeth around, and especially if you’ve already had orthodontic work done, your Invisalign treatments will take significantly less time.
How Much Does Invisalign Cost?
It depends on which level of engagement you purchase. I don’t have the exact details, but I know that there are two different Invisalign packages you can buy, one of which is significantly cheaper than the other (a couple thousand dollars less), but which doesn’t allow you to ‘restart’ the process if it doesn’t work the first time.
At the level I purchased, I’m able to restart the entire ordeal, with brand new moldings taken and new aligners created, up to three times. With that much insurance behind the process, there’s just no way that I won’t end up with straight teeth! It wasn’t cheap, but in my case, because I need so much work done, it was definitely worth it.
Does Invisalign Hurt?
Not one bit. I’m being completely honest here, and it does not hurt. My Dentist promised me that I would feel no pain that a tylenol couldn’t take care of, and he was absolutely right. The worst part of the process has been each time I get a new set of aligners, but it doesn’t produce ‘pain’, just a feeling of pressure.
When I pop a new aligner in for the first time, it’s tight, I can feel it pushing my teeth in a direction, but it doesn’t give me a headache or leave me running for pain pills or anything to that affect. For the first day or two after inserting a new aligner, I definitely do feel a bit of teeth soreness when I eat, but like I said before, it’s nothing that would stop me from eating what I like!
My Invisalign Story
Let’s face it – society is obsessed with straight teeth. Even though I tend to think of myself as specially ‘cultured’, ‘practical’, or even ‘enlightened’, even I have to admit that I care what I look like. I care what other people think about me. I care about what I look like. And I am especially aware of my crooked teeth. First impressions can make or break a job interview, a first date, or a courtroom trial, and a variety of other experiences. If you’re reading this Blog, odds are that you don’t have perfect teeth. And it’s probably obvious to you, as it was to me, that one of the first things people notice about us is our crooked teeth!
I do a lot of traveling, and a great deal of photography, and each and every time my picture is taken I can see a glaring imperfection in my teeth – the differences in color because of their crookedness, which led to vastly different colored shadows being thrown on my two front teeth. When I was in elementary school, I was told that I would need braces, but I didn’t believe the dentist. I thought myself too smart for his ‘marketing hype’. I could see through his ‘advertising’ and tell that he was just trying to use ‘scare tactics’ to convince my parents to drop $5,000 on an unnecessary expenditure, and I wouldn’t have any of it. But boy was I wrong!
I didn’t want to deal with the many problems that come along with wearing traditional braces: the headaches, the toothaches, the canker sores, the cuts in your cheeks, the sleepless lights, the social anxiety, the jaw fatigue, the rubber bands, the stained teeth, and all the rest, but I’ve been paying for it ever since with blown first impressions and unnecessary anxiety about my appearance.
Traditional braces are every school child’s nightmare, but when my Dentist said that I would also need a jaw-expander (the little metal contraption they install in the roof of your mouth, which has a tiny hole for a little key that gets spun each morning and night, forcing your jaw to open up wider with brute force), that was the end of the discussion for me. I would not have any of it, not now, nor ever.
I made up my mind to deal with my ‘crooked’ teeth later in life, when some new technology had been developed that didn’t require so much of a hassle. I figured that if wooden teeth were good enough for George Washington, then surely I could get by with whatever technology would be created by the time my teeth actually started to look quite bad. That wait has gone on for long enough, and that technology has arrived (in fact it’s been tried, tested, and proven true). Invisalign is that technology! I can tell you, without any doubt in my mind, that Invisalign braces are superior to traditional braces in virtually every way. I should know, because I’m wearing Invisalign aligners right now.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign braces work in nearly the same way that traditional braces do, but without all the fuss and hassle. Without getting into specific details (you can find those here: How do braces work?), traditional metal braces require that a very intricate, complicated and uncomfortable system of force be installed into your mouth. Little bits of metal (brackets, metal bands, arch wires, and something called a ligature elastic) all have to be bonded to your teeth, which is an unsettling, tedious, and now altogether unnecessary process.
Having the equipment for traditional braces installed in your mouth can be a nightmare, not only for kids whose mouths are both extremely small and sensitive, but also for adults. Braces will give you a lisp, their wires will cut up the sides of your gums and your cheeks, and braces will likely give severe headaches (including migraines). Braces look absolutely dreadful, there is no way to make them more comfortable, and you can’t remove them from your mouth, ever, under any circumstances, on your own. At least not without resorting to bashing your teeth out with a hammer, or pulling them out with pliers. Put simply- if you can avoid traditional braces, you should do everything in your power to do just that.
Invisalign aligners introduce none of catastrophes , yet they manage to accomplish the exact same results as traditional metal braces. But how does Invisalign work?
The Invisalign teeth-straightening system revolves around a single technology to straighten your teeth- it uses a highly refined, non-painful, non-intrusive, and comfortable plastic tray that they call an “aligner”. If you’ve ever had to wear a mouthguard for sports (I played Football and Lacrosse in High School), then you’ll be even more comfortable with your Invisalign aligners, as they’re significantly smaller, lighter, and less obnoxious than the plastic molded mouthguards we’ve all worn before.
Invisalign aligners are essentially invisible (in fact, multiple people at my office are still completely unaware that I’m using the system to straighten my teeth, even though I’ve been wearing my aligners for well over a month at the time of this writing). Invisalign aligners are created with a special type of “thermoplastic material” that was developed specifically for the Invisalign teeth-straightening process.
The aligners look similar to a set of teeth whitening trays, if you’ve ever used those, but they feel significantly more comfortable when you’re wearing them since they are custom-molded to fit the exact dimensions of your mouth (and they’re significantly less bulky). The first step in the Invisalign process involves taking molds of your teeth which will be used to create the sets of custom aligners required to get you the perfect smile. It may sound a little scary, but I’ve recently been through it and can promise you that it isn’t nearly as bad as it seems (and is nowhere near the nightmare that you’d get with traditional braces). This is how it went for me:
I had consulted with multiple dentists regarding how best to straighten my crooked teeth. As mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to go the route of using traditional braces (for all the same reasons I listed above), and I certainly wasn’t interested in having a jaw expander installed into the roof of my mouth. I knew that Invisalign was a tested technology that has resulted in successes for people of all ages and with all sorts of teeth problems, so I was hoping that I would be a good candidate for the system (it doesn’t work for EVERYONE, but if it can fix my teeth, I’d almost guarantee that it could do yours as well!).
I was told by multiple orthodontic specialists that Invisalign wouldn’t work for me, due to the fact that my front teeth are pointed slightly backward (tilted toward the back of my mouth at the bottom) and because of the fact that so many of my teeth need to be ‘rotated in the bone’. These dentists, all of whom came highly recommended by both extended family members and friends, claimed to be experts at using traditional braces, and told me that Invisalign was not as effective as metal braces, and was simply out of the question for me. I was nearly convinced, but for financial reasons, I decided to hold off on having traditional braces installed. I felt like I wasn’t being told the entire truth…
About a year later, I was referred to a more local dentist by my girlfriend (who’s now my fiancee), and who, it turns out, has been using Invisalign aligners since their debut. He’s about 30 years younger than the ‘orthodontic specialists’ I had consulted with previously, and his office is also about 30 times more up-to-date. Every dentists chair has perfect view of a fully networked TV that can pull up X-rays and patient records at the click of a mouse, everything is handled via electronic files, rather than traditional folder systems, and he’s very good at what he does. He took one look at my teeth during my first visit (which was just for a cleaning) and told me that Invisalign would absolutely work for me!
I was shocked! I’d been told it wasn’t even on the table. It took me some time to get over my disbelief, but after thinking about it, I realized that the problem wasn’t the Invisalign system, but the outdated, outmoded, and stubborn ‘orthodontic specialists’ who refused to accept that something had been developed which completely superceded their ‘expertise’ in straightening teeth. These old dinosaurs didn’t want to hear it, didn’t want to accept it, and certainly didn’t want to offer it to their patients.
The old guard doesn’t want to contribute to the demise of their old ways, but it’s too late for them, as people around the country have realized that the old ways just don’t cut it anymore. Migraines and blisters and shredded gums are now a thing of the past. If your dentist tells you Invisalign won’t work for you, make absolutely sure that you at least get a second opinion!
To return to my story- following my teeth cleaning, I stayed about 30 extra minutes to create the molds required to start the Invisalign process. The way the system works is that your dentist creates a perfect mold of your teeth, which he then sends to Invisalign’s corporate office, where they turn those molds into a digital replication of your mouth via computer modeling, which allows them to construct your treatment plan.
To create the molds, my Dentist filled a plastic tray the size of a mouthguard with some kind of sticky goop, then inserted it into my mouth, pressing the tray up against my top teeth and holding it there for a few seconds. Within seconds, I could feel the goop start to thicken up, and harden, surrounding my teeth and filling in all the little crooks and crannies. Mere minutes later, he removed the tray from my mouth and showed me an absolutely perfect impression of my top teeth! It was amazing, in just a few minutes, and without any pain, we had created an exact replica, He then did the same thing for the bottom teeth, producing the set of molds that Invisalign would later use to construct my mouth in 3d. We took pictures of my teeth from the front and sides, I’m assuming for a before and after comparison type photo, and I was out the door and on my way just minutes after starting the process.
My Dentist send the molds of my teeth and the pictures that he took to Invisalign, who created a perfect digital replication of my mouth in a computer modeling program (some kind of CAD-system) that both predicted, and showed exactly what needed to be done to straighten my smile. Two weeks later I went back for a consult where my Dentist and I reviewed what he called my ‘case’ (treatment plan), by watching a time-lapse like transformation of the planned movement of my teeth.
Each time he clicked his mouse, the treatment plan (like a power-point slide, but far more sophisticated) advanced by a week, showing us exactly where my teeth would be during each step of the straightening process. It started out with my horribly disfigured and disgusting smile (see it here), and by the final slide, I had the smile of a Hollywood celebrity. My teeth looked absolutely perfect! I’m being honest here in saying that a weaker man might have cried for joy just at knowing that it was possible to have a perfect smile. My Dentist assured me that he had the expertise to get me through the process effectively, and that we could get it done without causing me any pain or discomfort that couldn’t be treated with regular advil. I was amazed!
The Dentist sent back verification to Invisalign that I wanted to proceed with their treatment plan, and two weeks later he received all 34 sets of the custom plastic aligners required to straighten my teeth. As I mentioned earlier, Invisalign aligners are created with a soft, comfortable, yet durable thermoplastic material that very gently, but steadily and altogether comfortably nudges your teeth in a certain direction.
Each aligner forces your teeth to make very slight movements (the word force should be read more like ‘suggests’ since there is literally no pain involved) of about a milimeter in whatever direction is required. Every two weeks, you swap out the old aligners for a new one, and the process continues for as long as it takes to get you the perfect smile. In my case, it’s going to be a long one, with 34 aligners taking 68 weeks.
My Invisalign Review
It’s only been about two months since I began the process (I’m only wearing my third set of trays), but I’m already noticing significant changes! Although I’m still nowhere near “the perfect smile”, I have noticed that my teeth are already shifting into the positions that will allow them to be placed exactly where they need to be. My smile seems fuller, the bent-backwardsness of my two front teeth seems to have been ameliorated at least a bit, and I can see good progress on virtually every tooth.
The thing is, it takes Invisalign (or traditional braces for that matter), quite a while to accomplish anything. My teeth are only supposed to move about 1mm per set of aligners, so it will be quite some time before big changes are noticed, but I’m fairly confident that that’s exactly what I’ll witness over the upcoming weeks and months. To better inform everyone else about how the process works, I will be posting a picture of my smile in this post each week, so that you can follow along with my treatment plan.
To get back to a description of how the aligners work, and how convenient they are, let me continue with what I’ve experienced during these first two months of wearing the Invisalign trays.
One of the biggest benefits, and so far my favorite part of the Invisalign system, is that whenever I need to, I can simply remove my aligners! Try doing that with traditional braces (without dying from blood loss). I’m still able to go to fancy dinners at nice restaurants, barbecue meals that take hours to prepare, and enjoy eating free of pain, inconvenience, and stress that I feel I would be facing while wearing traditional braces. Obviously, it would have been easier for me if I hadn’t had to get attachments placed on my teeth (which help the aligners ‘grip’ my teeth better for the spinning action that has to take place), but after the first couple days, they haven’t caused any real inconvenience.
Invisalign aligners are supposed to remain in your mouth for 20-22 hours per day, which hasn’t been an issue for me, even when I’ve been traveling, camping in Catalina, and vacationing in Palm Springs, where I’ve eaten restaurant meals multiple times each day. I do carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with me everywhere now, because I don’t want the trays to get dirty, but it hasn’t been an issue at all to simply brush my teeth after each meal.
And, since the Invisalign trays are so comfortable, I don’t have any problems keeping my aligners in throughout the course of the day-through conference calls, sales meetings, and even exercise (I run about 5 miles twice a week). The trays don’t cause me any discomfort, or embarrassment, and as I mentioned earlier, they haven’t even given me a lisp of any sort. People I work with are still surprised when I tell them I’m wearing aligners- literally no one notices them!
The only time I do remove my aligners is when it’s time to start eating, when I’ve just finished cooking, or when the food’s arrived at the restaurant table. You cannot eat with Invisalign aligners in your mouth- not only because it would likely destroy them (with filthiness), but also because it’d be impossible to actually chew anything. Biting down on the trays with extreme force, like you do when you chew steak, or tough bread, could cause them to lose their shape, rendering them ineffective.
I am pretty much certain that Invisalign’s aligners are significantly stronger than the company lets on, because during my first week I forgot they were in my mouth and bit down on them with extreme force while chomping down on a Camelbak spout, but it didn’t seem to cause any problems with their shape. It certainly felt strange to bite that hard with the plastic on my teeth, but after the incident I did continue to wear the trays for another entire week. When it came time to swap them out for the next set, my teeth were perfectly positioned for the transition.
To be perfectly honest, the only time I’ve really felt the trays annoying in even the slightest bit is when I just want to have a beer, or when I feel like some juice of some sort. You’re really not supposed to eat or drink anything other than cold or room temperature water with them in, so when you just feel like relaxing with a glass of wine, you will have to remove the aligners before imbibing. This can be a pain, depending on your lifestyle and your situation, but it’s one that I’ve been happy to accept due to the fact that the Invisalign diet is the most powerful weight loss system that I have ever experienced!
In the first two weeks alone, I lost five pounds of fat. And I’m not even close to being overweight! I’ve heard of other people losing significant percentages of body fat while wearing Invisalign, all because it makes you think twice before chowing down on those fattening candy bars, or drinking those unhealthy sodas. Invisalign aligners are the line in the sand between you and your unhealthy eating and drinking habits- they will provide you, both mentally and physically, with the support system that you need to be able to say “No, I don’t think I’ll have any of that”.
I now eat no more than three times per day, I tend to eat my food a little bit faster than I used to, but I also eat significantly less of it. I reach for healthier options, since I need to eat foods that will give me efficient nutrition, rather than short-term bursts of energy. I’m eating far less carbohydrates, and far more protein, vegetables, and fruit than ever before! I haven’t had a candy bar in months, and I was able to completely stop drinking both sodas and coffee. But the best part about it all is that I simply feel better.
In an age when everyone seems to be opting for extreme diets, liposuction and lap band surgery, I see Invisalign as a much more effective, less expensive, and far more efficient system of helping people overcome their problems with over-eating, at the same time as it straightens their teeth. I had been prone to overeating, though I was no major abuser, with far too many sweets and sugars in my diet, but after starting Invisalign my problem-food intake has been reduced to virtually nothing.
Gone are the days of simply snacking my way through work, eating candy bars, flaming hot cheeto’s, and drinking sodas to fill my belly with empty calories. I’ve lost weight, I look better, I feel better, and I have more energy than before I started. But the best part of the entire deal is that as I continue to eat healthier, and as my teeth continue to get straighter, there’s no telling how much better I’ll look and how much more confident I’ll feel. Invisalign is giving me far more than just a new set of teeth, it’s giving me an entirely new image!
I hope you’ve found some value in my review, and that you’ll give the system a look yourself. I promise to continue updating this post, and creating others, throughout the process. I’ll do my best to offer a comprehensive, honest, and reliable review of Invisalign’s system, so that those of you considering using it can enter into the process with a better idea of what to expect.
Thank you for reading, please share my post with your friends, and be sure to come back soon!