For people like me who are terrified of how I will look with braces on their teeth, the road toward Invisalign seems like an obvious one, right?
Invisalign is clear aligner trays that are "invisible" on your teeth, not leaving you with that "brace-face" look. They are known for having shorter treatment time periods than standard braces. Treatment lengths can go anywhere from a few months to years, and I say years, because I am currently going on my fourth year of treatment.
When I first started Invisalign, my main issue was that one of my front teeth was really crooked (some of the teeth on the bottom were a little crooked as well, but that didn't concern me as much). I started Invisalign in December 2014, and my doctor said that my treatment would only take one year--party time! I was excited to not have braces, since I was in my junior year of high school and didn't want to look any weirder than I already did. Oh, but little did I know that this would be one of the most excruciating experiences of my life.
When I went in for my first appointment, I really didn't know what to expect. They had to put this mouthguard with the worst thick, foamy gunk in my mouth to get a mold of my teeth; honestly, that was the worst part. Then, when they sent the information to Invisalign and got my trays back, that's where it got interesting.
The nurse mentioned that I was going to have "attachments" on my teeth. Up until that point, I had never heard the word "attachment" used in a conversation about Invisalign and was naturally curious. Apparently, the number one thing that Invisalign leaves out in all of their marketing and on their website is the use of attachments.
Attachments are small bumps that are placed on your teeth to serve as extra grip for the aligners to correctly move your teeth. So, basically, they are like brace brackets, but, they're not metal and are the same color as your teeth. I had one (or more) on every tooth in my mouth except for my back teeth. The use of attachments make your Invisalign more visible. What's worse is when you don't have your Invisalign trays in, you constantly get asked, "What's all over your teeth?" and told, "You have some food stuck on your teeth."
The daily life of having Invisalign is not as perfect as they paint it out to be. They market the product as "not interrupting your life," which, in my case, is all it has done. When you have Invisalign, you have to wear it for 20-22 hours every day.
Every time you want to eat or drink something, you have to take out your trays & brush your teeth afterwards, which can be a little tedious if you are like me and like to snack and drink coffee throughout the whole day. When you don't wear your trays long enough each day, the trays won't fit your teeth, and your Invisalign treatment will be longer. The true reason why my treatment has taken almost four years instead of one is based solely on the fact that there were times I did not wear my trays enough. (But having inconsistent doctors certainly didn't help either.)
Having Invisalign can be really difficult if it goes on for a long enough time and you are unfortunate enough to have three different doctors, like I did. I had to get four refinements for my teeth, which is when your trays don't fit correctly, or you need to add extra trays onto your plan.
The first doctor I had was perfect and is the best Invisalign doctor in Minnesota (Dr. Fehrestis). After him, I had two other doctors, but the last one was by far the most frustrating. I wouldn't come in for that many appointments in between trays, and, when I would, I wouldn't even get to have my doctor look at how the trays were fitting on my teeth. I would just get my new trays, and come back in four to six weeks.
That's when I started getting inconsistent results, and my trays were starting to not fit my teeth. I went in for what I thought would be my last refinement, but things got complicated. My doctor at this point told me that I wasn't allowed to get another refinement without paying (our plan had all extra refinements covered, no matter how many I needed to get), because I was not wearing my trays enough or using the "Chewies" she gave me. Chewies are these little rubber tubes that you can use to properly set your Invisalign trays onto your teeth, and I didn't have them until this last doctor.
She told me that I had to use them when I would put a new set of trays on originally, but, at this appointment, she informed me that I had to use the Chewies every time I put in my trays. So, a lot of miscommunication was happening, and not having appointments where I would have my doctor actually check on how my teeth were doing turned out to be a big problem.
I am finally back with my first doctor (Dr. Fehrestis), and my Invisalign treatment has been going smoothly. The key to having success with Invisalign is making sure that you wear your trays all the time and have constant check-ins with your doctor to ensure that your trays are sitting correctly. Also, just consider getting braces--you can't forget to wear those, and those sought-after straight teeth will become a reality sooner.