by Terri, ArchWired.com reader
I’m in my late 40’s with three teenage boys (two are still in braces, one has finished). My dentist has advised that I get braces for several years. Although my teeth don’t look out of alignment, they don’t meet correctly and are crowded on both the top and bottom. My bottom teeth overlap and I have an overbite. The crowding has caused some unusual wear and potential gum problems. The lack of meeting correctly resulting in a fractured tooth that required a crown.
Finally, after years of encouragement and the very expensive crown, I decided to seek an orthodontic opinion. I had the regular impressions and photos taken. I did talk with two different orthos before selecting one (our children’s ortho doesn’t take adults). My ortho reviewed my case and told me I was an Invisalign candidate. I could also do metal and ceramic. I choose Invisalign because of the cosmetic benefits.
The Pros of Invisalign In My Opinion:
- They are nearly invisible. After the first week, no one has noticed that I’m wearing them. Family, friends, co-workers are completely unaware that I’m having my teeth corrected. I haven’t had any wear problems of conventional braces — torn cheeks or tongue, mouth sores, etc. I like being able to remove them for brushing and flossing as well as “special occasions”. I remove them for all meals. I try to average 20 hours of wear per day. It isn’t difficult. As a plus — my snacking has been reduced substantially — it just isn’t worth taking them out to snack and then brush my teeth to put them back in. Like most folks who wear braces, I’ve brushed by teeth in some really tacky places.
- The other part of Invisalign that I really liked was knowing how long it would take and how things would look at the end. When you get the aligners back from the factory, they are marked 1 of xxx number — which indicates the number of aligners for your treatment (you wear each aligner for 2 weeks). It’s easy to calculate how long things will take. Naturally there is some flexibility depending upon how quickly your teeth move but my experience is that the estimate is right on the money.
- Additionally, they send a computer simulation of how your teeth will move during treatment so you can visually see what they will look like along the way as well as at the end. I was really motivated by the animation. My ortho mentioned that it’s different than conventional braces in that Invisalign moves the back teeth first and finishes with the front teeth. If you looked at my smile today you wouldn’t see any difference, although my bite and how my molars meet is very different than just a few months ago. I can hardly wait for my front teeth to move so I can see some actual results.
The Cons of Invisalign In My Opinion:
- They are more expensive. For me, it was about $500 more than ceramic. My ortho said that they might add a couple of weeks to my treatment over conventional braces but nothing substantial. My treatment time is one year.
- There was also a 6 week delay between impressions and receiving the aligners. The ortho sends the molds, xrays and treatment plan to Invisalign. Invisalign then creates the computer simulation and sends it to the ortho for approval. The ortho approves or modifies the plan. This process takes time — which can be frustrating, after all, once we’ve finally decided to do it — let’s do it!
- The impressions — conventional braces use a 30 -60 second silly-putty stuff that sets up real quick. Invisalign requires a mixture that takes 5 minutes to set. Five really long minutes (each for upper and lower) of icky stuff dripping down your throat. I had problems which meant they had to take the uppers twice — 10 minutes is a really long time when you have that stuff in your month.
- The lisp — the first week or so, my speech was really affected. People noticed that I was talking differently and asked if I had dental work done. After the first week, no one has noticed, although I still think I talk a little weird. I think some of that it just me being self conscious. I do alot of public speaking — no one seems to be aware of any change.
- Attachments. Some Invisalign cases like mine, require attachments to various teeth. I have four. These are small “bumps” that are glued to the outside of your teeth like braces. They put some stuff on your tooth and harden it with the light. They help the aligners rotate teeth. They are invisible and don’t really cause any problem. I don’t know how it will be to have them removed.
- Each new set of aligners (which are changed every two weeks) produces tooth pain. The ortho calls it “pressure” — baloney — it hurts. I’ve learned to change into new aligners at night after taking two Advil — by morning it’s not too bad — although I eat soft foods for two or three days after moving to a new set My ortho sends me home with 3 sets of aligners — I see him every 6 weeks for a progress check. Removing the aligners after the first couple of days of a new set is a trick — they fit really tight and “snap on”. After several days they loosen and things are easier, but it’s tough until you get it figured out.
So far, I’m pleased with the cosmetic look and comfortable fit. I can also notice the changes in my teeth as far as how my bite has changed. I’m looking forward to seeing changes in my smile. My ortho has told me that I’ll probably need to wear retainers at night forever — I can’t count on my teeth maintaining their new alignment without help — he said this was the same regardless of the treatment I selected.
Best of luck with any orthodontic treatment. Personally, I’m very satisfied with Invisalign.