Getting Invisalign is life-changing in two ways.
First, there’s the permanent effect of having a more beautiful smile, although that comes after the treatment is done.
What’s more immediately life-changing is the fact that you’ll have to make a few adjustments to your lifestyle while undergoing treatment.
Before I begin to share my experience, here are two things I need to introduce:
Attachments. These are tiny tooth-coloured blocks bonded onto the teeth at the start of the treatment. They provide the grip for aligners to move the teeth.
Aligners are the invisible braces in the Invisalign treatment.
These two things are going to live with me for the next one year (maybe nine months if I’m very diligent) and I have to adapt my life around them.
Now, my initial experience.
I spent more than an hour at the clinic having the attachments glued to my teeth and then going through a practical session learning how to wear and remove the aligners.
When it was all done, my mouth felt distressed with all the extra guests in the house. It felt strange and uncomfortable. And I worried about taking the aligners off on my own when I had to eat next.
The first thing I did was look in the mirror and smile. I was really surprised at how inconspicuous it was. No one would be able to tell I was wearing anything in my mouth unless they were like 10 inches from my face and studying my teeth whenever I smiled too widely.
The amazing invisibility of Invisalign
I couldn’t stop salivating. Dr Poon said that was going to last a few days. She also gave me three strong painkillers, each supposed to work an entire day. She said the tightness would hurt four hours later.
So I went home and braced myself. When it was dinner time, I sat in front of the mirror and started picking at my aligners. You can’t possibly imagine how tough it is to remove them until you’ve tried it yourself. I certainly wasn’t prepared for it to be that tough even though Dr Poon had repeatedly warned me about it.
“Don’t get a manicure,” she said, “You will definitely break your nails.”
She also said it would take about 10 minutes to remove it in the beginning.
She was almost right. I took eight minutes and broke one nail and almost got into a panic when one side came out and the other side refused to, so it was just dangling halfway in and out.
They are definitely not like dentures, which you can pull in and out as you please. They have a life of their own and will cling on for dear life.
I trimmed my nails shorter after that and told myself I was just going to have one meal a day for the rest of the year.
Eating was a task. The attachments made me feel like I constantly had food stuck in front of my teeth. The inside of my left cheek had gotten swollen and I kept biting it when eating, causing it to bleed a bit.
The clinic had anticipated that. They had given me ulcer cream.
Later in the night, it still didn’t hurt or feel the slightest bit tight. I just felt uncomfortable and my jaws felt tired from not being able to close my teeth together fully.
I woke up the next day and still didn’t feel any pain like I was expecting to. Worried that it wasn’t working as it should be and I might be wearing the aligners for nothing, I rang up the clinic to ask. They said it’s normal.
I had my first meal of the day in the early afternoon. This time, it only took me three minutes to remove the aligners. What an achievement. A few teeth hurt in the process because the aligners pushed against them quite forcefully as they were being yanked out.
At this point of time, I think the teeth are beginning to become sensitive from having started their journey to their newly assigned place in life.
I ate quickly and put the aligners back on. Teeth and gums hurt when snapping the aligners on. Really hurt. So I took a painkiller (which had a mildly drowsy effect) and then went to sleep for eight hours, waking up at midnight.
Sleeping was a luxury because then I didn’t need to feel the discomfort. I didn’t like the feeling of my teeth being trapped in a case. My gums itched all over. My jaws were still tired. I was swallowing saliva every five seconds. My ulcers were annoying me.
The only thing I expected to have which I didn’t actually have was pain. I guess the painkiller took care of that.
My jaws stopped feeling tired, having acclimatised to their new position. The aligners felt slightly thinner (this is purely psychological, as the body adapts). There was only very slight pain whenever I removed the aligners, and a stronger pain when I snapped them back on, but at a level at which I didn’t even consider taking a painkiller. The pain would go away very quickly on its own.
The only thing that bugged me were itchy gums and saliva. My gums drove me crazy and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I just sat there and swallowed saliva most of the day, tried to dissociate myself from my gums.
I ate two meals.
The first meal, I still kept biting that swollen bit in my cheek, so I chose to eat ice cream for my second meal.
Ice cream is great. It numbs the itchy gums, doesn’t require any painful chewing, fills you up and is delicious!
That’s today. I’m beginning to believe that I can eventually get used to this. The aligners feel even thinner today, my gums itch less and saliva production is almost at a normal level. The pain of removing and putting on the aligners is insignificant and I only bit the swollen cheek once today.
It takes only a minute for me to remove the aligners now, although I still hate doing it and try to put off eating as long as I possibly can. I also still don’t like the feeling of the attachments in front of my teeth while eating.
But, looking forward, what’s going to be challenging is caring for my teeth and aligners when eating out. I’d have to remove them and put them on in a public restroom. I’d have to brush my teeth in public. And I’d have to take care not to have too long meals so that I won’t have to have the aligners out for two long.
The recommend duration of wearing them is 20-22 hours a day, so that means you can spend two to four hours a day eating and cleaning your teeth. You have to brush your teeth each time before putting the aligners back on.
The best thing about all this is that I’m going to be healthier. Sure, I’ll become skinnier than I can technically afford to be, what with trying to eat as little as possible, but it does mean I’ll be healthier because I eat junk food most of the time, anyway, and my body can certainly do with less junk.
When doing Invisalign, you stop snacking because it’s just not worth going through the hassle of removing the aligners and brushing your teeth just for a little snack. Plus you want to wear them as long as possible every day so that your treatment can be over faster.
And that’s all good, right?
I’ve read online that many girls actually get Invisalign as a weight loss tool. Haha. I think it’s a really good deal. You get a slim figure and a beautiful smile at the end of your treatment.
For this, I have Neuglow Dental and Dr Poon to thank!
Neuglow Dental sponsors my Invisalign treatment and Dr Poon is my awesome orthodontist, very patient and kind, taking the time to explain everything properly.
Will do an Invisalign FAQ next time so ask now if you have any questions!