Should I get my teeth fixed?
Do Invisalign braces really work?
Will people think I’m self-obsessed?
If like me, you have been going backwards and forwards (for about 10 years!) over the above questions, then you’ve come to the right place.
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 (who knew that your teeth “fall in”?) I began researching options. Five years later (that old procrastination creeping in again) and I am now 8 months into wearing Invisalign braces.
When I was researching the idea of Invisalign, I could not find the answers I was looking for. Before parting with such a substantial amount of money, I wanted to hear a real experience from a real person rather than a thinly veiled sales advertisement.
So this is the reason for my post today: honest answers to all of the questions that I had.
What do Invisalign braces look like?
They are a set of clear aligners that have been moulded to fit the shape of your teeth. Your dentist will be sent enough 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 has 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 twice in 8 months 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 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 have progressed, I’ve found it easier to take them in and out.
It is not recommend that you drink anything hot wearing the Invisalign braces so I have only ever drunk clear, cold liquids (wine and gin included 😉). Your teeth should be cleaned after every meal in order to prevent build up and that has been difficult if 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 them for?
My treatment should last 9 months but I think it can be anything from 6 months-12 months, depending on how your teeth are at the start.
When does it start working?
To give you an idea of the progress that my teeth have made so far, these photographs were taken before the treatment, after 3 months and then 6 months in. As you can see, after 6 months the top teeth are pretty much completely straight. The bottom ones have a little way to go.
What does it feel like wearing them?
Initially, wearing the 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 has a sharp edge to it, causing ulcers on my tongue and gums. I ended up trimming the sharp edge off and this helped. Other people do not 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 am told that this is normal and that once they are fixed in a position, they will firm up again.
How much does it 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 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. The experience for me hasn’t been too bad. Yes I’ll be glad when the attachments are off and I don’t have to consider when/how to remove my aligner without grossing everyone out 🤢 but overall I’m really pleased with the progress so far.
I think that has covered all the questions that I initially wanted answers to. If you’ve got anything else you’d like to ask me then feel free to leave a comment here.