Should I get my teeth fixed? Do Invisalign braces really work? Will people think I’m self-obsessed?
If you’ve been going backwards and forwards over the above questions, then you’ve come to the right place. When I began researching the idea of invisible braces, I could not find the answers I was looking for. Before parting with such a substantial amount of money (we will come on to the cost of Invisalign braces a little later) I wanted to hear a real experience from a real person rather than a thinly veiled sales advertisement.
Since finally taking the Invisalign braces plunge, I am hoping that within this post, you’ll find all of the answers you are looking for.
How bad do teeth need to be for Invisalign braces to work?
I have hated my teeth for as long as I can remember. Not only did I have that one ‘proud’ (as my aunt aptly named it a few years ago) tooth on the bottom row, both the upper and lower sets were crowded and wonky in various places.
The first thing I noticed when I looked in the mirror were my teeth. As I talked, I assumed that everyone was looking at that one ugly tooth that stood out from the rest. Rather than getting used to my teeth as I got older, I was becoming increasingly self-conscious. In addition to that, they were proving difficult to keep clean and I was getting tooth ache on a regular basis.
When my dentist kindly informed me that they were likely to get worse as I got older, I began researching options. Five years later, I finally took the plunge.
The misalignment in my teeth were ideal for Invisalign but if you need more reconstructive work or teeth removed, Invisalign will not be suitable.
What do Invisalign braces look like?
Invisalign is a set of invisible aligners that have been moulded to fit the shape of your teeth. Your dentist will be sent enough invisible aligners to provide you with a new set every ten days for as long as you need them. Each aligner will be slightly tighter than the last one.
What I didn’t know was that you will also have small enamel coloured ‘attachments’ that are glued on to your teeth (removable at the end of the treatment) to keep the aligner in place. You’re unlikely to have one on every tooth but you won’t get away with having none. My teeth were not considered that bad but I have six attachments on the bottom and six on the top. I think that this is fairly standard.
Although they aren’t unsightly as such, they do stick out and if you’re unlucky, some will be on your front teeth making it look a little more like you’re wearing a regular (albeit clear) brace.
How does Invisalign work?
As with a regular brace, each new aligner shifts the teeth in the direction that they should go, even rotating the ones that need it. I had a very twisted top tooth and this had completely shifted after 6 months. Your dentist might also need to do a little ‘shaving’ between the teeth when you visit. I’ve only had this done three times and it isn’t painful, just a little uncomfortable.
You will have a new aligner every 10 days (some dentists say 7 days to speed up the process and others say 14 days).
Do Invisalign braces work for everyone?
The short answer to that question, is ‘no’. I got an assessment at a local orthodontist and she gave me the different options available based on the level of work that needed doing. You will only be offered Invisalign if it’s likely to work for you.
From what I understand, Invisalign only works if you don’t need major work (ie your jaw breaking or teeth removed) and the issues are largely cosmetic – teeth just needing to shift position.
Will wearing the clear aligners affect my every day life?
I think that everyone’s experience is likely to be different but I have not found them too bad. Initially I was very nervous about taking them in and out (they should only be removed for 2 hours out of every 24) and actually found it pretty difficult. I was scared that my teeth might come out with the aligner – for the record, they won’t! As the weeks progressed, I found it easier to take them in and out.
It is not recommend that you drink anything hot wearing the Invisalign braces so I only ever drunk clear, cold liquids (wine and gin included!). Your teeth should be cleaned after every meal in order to prevent build up (not always easy on a night out). You must wear your aligner at night and occasionally that has been uncomfortable – usually on the first day of a new aligner when it feels very tight.
How long will I need to wear the aligners for?
I was told that my treatment would take 12-15 months when in reality, I was wearing the aligners for a full 18 months. I think it can be anything from 6-18 months, depending on how your teeth are at the start and how they respond to treatment.
When will the Invisalign braces start working?
These photographs were taken before the treatment, after 3 months and then 6 months. As you can see, after 6 months the top teeth were pretty much completely straight. The bottom ones had a little way to go.
What does it feel like to wear Invisalign braces?
Initially, wearing the clear aligner feels extremely weird. My mouth felt so dry all of the time and I was constantly thirsty. This feeling did calm down after about 2 months.
Occasionally, one of the aligners had a sharp edge to it, causing ulcers on my tongue and gums. I ended up trimming the sharp edge off and this helped.
People don’t seem to notice when I am wearing the aligner as they’ve had no effect on my speech at all.
One thing worth noting is that as your teeth begin moving, they will sometimes feel wobbly. Don’t panic! I was told that this is normal and that once they are fixed in a position, they will firm up again.
How much do Invisalign braces cost?
My treatment has cost a little under £4,000. Most dentists will do a payment plan spread across the year and occasionally you might find some special offers for the treatment. I was quoted just short of £5k by another local practice, so prices do vary.
Will my teeth be perfect when the Invisalign treatment has finished?
The teeth are still your real teeth, not veneers, which means that they will never be perfect. I think that’s something to be proud of by the way!
The treatment took a full 18 months for me and although not perfect, I am really pleased with the end result.
Will the changes last forever?
I am told that the changes will last forever as long as I wear my retainer every night for the rest of my life – time will tell!
Is it worth it?
I think the answer to this question depends on how much you hated your teeth in the first place. Yes I was glad when the attachments finally came off and I no longer had to consider when/how to remove my aligner without grossing everyone out but overall, the experience wasn’t too bad. After 25 years of wonky teeth, they are finally straight!
Hopefully this has covered all your questions but if you’ve got anything else you’d like to ask, then feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it.