On Oct 25th I took the big plunge and had my first Invisalign aligners installed.
Invisalign braces, unlike the more common metal ones, are nearly transparent. They straighten your teeth using clear customized aligners you wear over your teeth.
They gradually and gently shift your teeth into place.
You’re given a set of aligners that you insert every two weeks (or one week on accelerated program.)
What is Invisalign?
Here’s a short video that demonstrates the basics:
I’m sharing my Invisalign journey with you because I want people to know that it’s never too late to care about your teeth.
In my first consultation with Dr. Raper, I was told I have a malocclusion, a condition where the teeth aren’t aligned properly.
My upper teeth are colliding in the front – hitting edge to edge. Over the years of use, the teeth (and my wallet) have suffered as some have cracked and broken.
I first mentioned the problem to Dr. Raper during a regular checkup over a year ago.
I could feel my teeth colliding and worried they would chip.
Dr. Raper likens proper alignment to a shoe box where the lower teeth are the bottom edge of the box and the upper, the lid.
When there is a malocclusion, the lid of the box doesn’t fit onto the bottom of the box.
Instead of it sliding easily onto the bottom, the lid is colliding with the sides of the box. There are different ways that the lid can fit – each of describe a different malocclusion.
Class 1 malocclusion is the most common. The bite is normal, but the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.
Class 2 malocclusion is called retrognathism or overbite. It occurs when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth.
Class 3 malocclusion is called prognathism or underbite. It occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward. This causes the lower jaw and teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth. (from Malocclusion of teeth medlineplus.gov)
Invisalign will ensure that future restorations will have a greater success not having to be repeated.
My box lid will finally fit (instead of flip.)
So how’s it been so far, Ray?
Glad you asked.
It’s only been a couple of weeks, and I’m doing pretty well.
If you’re like me and who like routine, there will be adjustments.
Inserting the aligners without having to put your whole hand in your mouth only takes a couple days.
I have it down now to a few seconds.
The trick for my lower aligner was to insert my thumbs between my teeth and lip. This avoids your lower lip from getting trapped under the aligner. I did have a few “ouch” moments on the first day.
Pedro, Dr. Raper’s assistant was helpful by sharing tips with me.
Below is an animation of how my teeth should change over the 25-week procedure.
A few tips for living with Invisalign.
What sets Invisalign apart from the metal straight-jacket braces people have worn since the Inquisition is they’re not obvious and have minimal impact on your daily habits.
Given the need to wear them 22 hours a day, it’s very convenient they’re so easy to apply and maintain.
A side effect that will forever endear you to your dental hygienist (hello, Karine) is you’re doing a complete cleaning at least three times a day.
This is because you have to brush and floss every time you put your aligners back in.
Maintain oral hygiene
The aligners are easily removable, so you can continue to brush and floss your teeth as you normally would. As for the trays, simply brush and rinse them in lukewarm water.
Although there are some softer foods you can eat with the trays in (Always rinse immediately if you do), it’s recommended you remove the aligners each time you eat.
To make sure I have them in the required 22 hours, I allot half hour in the morning for breakfast, half hour for lunch and an hour for dinner (wine and dessert). When the aligners are out, I eat normally.
One unforeseen consequence is that I no longer snack throughout the day or have coffee after breakfast.
Straighter teeth, slimmer waist. 🙂
Water water everywhere.
Pedro told me that water will be my best friend and he’s right.
You’ll find yourself doing a hard rinse with water frequently – especially if you snacked with your aligners in.
Because your teeth aren’t regularly being rinsed with saliva, any cavity inducing food or drink will stay longer on your teethe and gums.
BTW – If you’re going to grab a quick bite with your trays in, it shouldn’t be anything hard or sticky.
Remember, your teeth are covered in plastic. This makes it hard for your teeth to cut into anything.
In the evening (and after every meal) I thoroughly brush and floss my teeth and brush and rinse with warm water my trays before reinserting them.
Do you have questions, comments or stories to share?
If you currently are wearing Invisalign or have in the past, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Just drop them in the comments section below.
If you’d like more information about whether Invisalign is right for you or have questions about my experience with Invisalign, leave them below for Dr. Raper or myself.
Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for Image-24.com.
My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions.
Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture.
You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call