For most of my life, I was fortunate to have straight teeth, not even needing braces as a teenager. But seven years ago, things started to shift. My dentist blamed it on our old friend gravity, which can push the jaw forward as we age. Thanks a lot.
As my teeth became more crooked, I found myself very self conscious. I hated smiling for pictures, and said hello with a closed mouth greeting. My front tooth was pushed so far back it looked gray.
|My crooked teeth, the day I started treatment.|
I finally made an appointment with my sons' orthodontist, and after a consultation, he told me I was a candidate for Invisalign. I was surprised, as I didn't think Invisalign was an option for adults. Although I did plenty of research before starting treatment, I've learned a lot in the last twelve months, so today I'm sharing the pros and cons. Let's start with the good news:
- The most obvious pro is that the aligners are invisible....sort of. While it's true that I don't have a mouth full of metal, necessary attachments and elastics are noticeable if you're close to me. But generally, they're fairly invisible.
- The aligners are removed to eat and drink. This makes it super easy to clean your teeth, and there are no restrictions on popcorn or sticky foods.
- Speaking of which, oral hygiene is improved, which is extra important as we get older. My dentist loves me right now, since I'm flossing and brushing at least five times a day.
- Advances in Invisalign treatment now allow for correcting other issues besides crooked teeth. Overbites, underbites, open bites and gapped teeth can all be improved with Invisalign.
- Since my teeth started shifting back to their correct position, I've experienced a significant reduction in the number of migraines I get. While this isn't true for everyone, my orthodontist has seen this in many of his patients.
- You can see what your teeth will look like when everything is complete. Called ClinCheck, it's a computer simulation that shows the changes as your treatment progresses, and the final results.
- The aligners have to be worn 20-22 hours a day for the entire treatment time. In my case, that's 2 - 2.5 years. It's tempting to remove them and leave them off sometimes, so you have to be disciplined and compliant.
- The attachments and elastics are a pain in the butt. Attachments are just that: composite material that attaches to your teeth to help the aligners do their job more efficiently. Elastics are used if there are any bite issues, which I have. Both are uncomfortable at first, and clearly visible to others.
- Invisalign is expensive. It varies depending on where you live, but in the Seattle area, total treatment cost is about $5500. In my case, however, the cost of traditional metal braces would have been the same.
- The aligners are painful and hard to get used to in the beginning. I never found it too terrible, and ibuprofen did the trick. Aligners are changed out every few weeks, and the first two or three days are the most uncomfortable. As my teeth have gotten straighter, this isn't as much of an issue. It's an awkward challenge to remove the aligners at first, but you quickly figure out a routine that works.
- There are some things that have to be given up during treatment. For those who like to sip on coffee or tea all day, traditional braces might be a better fit. Only cold water is allowed while the aligners are in, as other beverages can warp or stain the trays. I also haven't been able to find a lipstick or gloss that doesn't rub off on the aligners.
THE FINAL WORD
It's a year into my treatment, and I'm about halfway done. During the first few weeks, I wondered if I'd made a huge mistake. I was in pain, the aligners were uncomfortable, and every time I wanted to eat something I had to go through a routine of flossing and brushing. But I think the results so far speak for themselves.
If you're thinking about Invisalign, I say go for it. In the end, the pros outweigh the cons, and a confident smile can say so much. I still have a while to go, but I have no regrets. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!