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My Invisalign Journey

You read that right, this is finally me sharing my full Invisalign journey.

top: upper trays, tray 1 and tray 50 | bottom: lower trays, tray 1 and tray 50

Let’s get started, shall we?

I never particularly liked my smile. I wasn’t like some people who always hide their mouths in embarrassment. I smiled when I was happy or for a picture (I’ve never figured out how to “smize”), but I always hated when I would see the picture that someone took. Crooked teeth front and center.

I’m pretty sure that no one loves going to the dentist but, after a long stretch without dental insurance, I finally saw one in February 2018. I sure as heck got an earful about my flossing habits (spoiler alert – I didn’t have any) and got a lecture about my calculus buildup. I explained that, with the way my teeth were overlapped and crowded against each other, I couldn’t floss correctly and my dentist recommended that I speak to an oral surgeon about scheduling my procedure to remove my wisdom teeth. This, I was told, would make more room on my jaws so that an orthodontist could adjust my teeth properly to relieve the crowding towards the front of my mouth.

So, in March of 2018, I got my wisdom teeth removed. Let me just say it was a disappointment to my mom that I didn’t have a reaction to the medication like all those funny viral videos. Nope, this lucky lady ended up with a type of bone spur called a bone spicule in my jaw about 6 weeks later – which I found out is something that is a bigger risk for those who get their wisdom teeth removed in adulthood rather than as a teenager. That was pretty painful and I did reach out to my oral surgeon about it but, eventually, it resolved itself.

Once my mouth was all healed up, I buckled down and committed myself to a proper oral hygiene routine. I began carrying a toothbrush, my silk floss, and toothpaste with me in my purse every day. I brushed and flossed after every meal – even in the bathroom at work. It was an interesting way to keep me from snacking so much.

I spent the next few months making sure that the brushing and flossing routine was becoming second nature while I researched different orthodontic treatments and which one would suit my lifestyle. I loved the idea of Invisalign but I wasn’t sure that I would be a good candidate for it, so I also dreamt of winning the lottery to be able to afford lingual braces so I wouldn’t be a metal mouth since I had just been moved to the front receptionist desk at work.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and reached out to Invisalign on their website to book a consult and speak to an orthodontist about my options. I booked an appointment through their site with one of their preferred orthodontists in my area, I approved time off with my manager to go to the appointment, and when I showed up I found out that the appointment had been booked incorrectly and the orthodontist was at their other office about 50 miles away. I’m really lucky.

So I contacted Invisalign and arranged another appointment with another preferred provider in my area for a few weeks out, right before my birthday. I even confirmed it directly with the provider ahead of time and I was pumped and ready to see what was going to happen.

The day of the appointment I left work early, got to my consultation appointment with the orthodontist, and I was feeling great. The office took my insurance information and got some scans of my mouth. (I am so grateful for the iTero scanner instead of needing those goopy trays!) The orthodontist told me that I would be great fit for Invisalign treatment and that they would reach out to me in a couple of weeks about officially getting started.

A few weeks later, I got a call from the office – they can’t accept my insurance at their office. At this point I’m thinking that I’m doomed to have a smile I hate until the end of time. But they let me know that their partner office down the road does accept my insurance and they’ve forwarded all my information and scans. Phew.

So I waited until the new office (lucky number 3!) called me in so that I cound meet their orthodontist and go over the details of the treatment and sign all the official paperwork. Finally! I met the doctor and his team and they reviewed my scans and took a few extras for good measure. The treatment coordinator reviewed pricing for me based on my insurance – I could have Invisalign for $4950.00 or traditional metal bracket braces for about $4200.00. The difference to upgrade to Invisalign and not have to deal with “brace face” comments seemed worthwhile to me, so I agreed to the quoted 18-month treatment with Invisalign. They sent my impressions and scans out to get the trays made and told me they’d be in touch. I was told to expect the call around the beginning of May (2019).

Flashforward to May 1st – I got a call from the orthodontist saying there was a miscommunication with Invisalign and the trays were sent to one of their other offices. I was about ready to scream. Luckily the office my trays were delivered to was around the corner from my office at the time. I asked them if I could just switch all of my appointments to this office, as it was more convenient for me. They made the arrangements and, on my lunch break, I went to get my very first Invisalign trays!

very first trays, after about 5 hours in

After the first round of trays (16 sets of trays at two weeks per set), I was told I needed attachments on some of my more troublesome teeth. So I had my first adventure with my teeth being ground and filed and shaped to fit the attachments – that was fun. I’m so grateful I don’t ever have to do that part again because it gave me massive heebie-jeebies. Let me just say, having the attachments was the least fun – I couldn’t wear any sort of lip gloss or lipstick because my lips would brush across those attachments every time I moved my mouth. Annoying. Then I had to go through another round of scans and photos to mark how my teeth had shifted and the new shape of the teeth with the attachments on so I could get new trays.

Unfortunately, I hit another hiccup, when I went back to the orthodontist to pick up my next round of trays, they advised me that my trays hadn’t been made yet and to give them a few more weeks. That made me a little anxious because I was worried that the trays wouldn’t come back in time and that I’d be thrown off in my treatment. But I’m also an overthinker, so that’s a “me” thing. Once my trays were finally delivered and I was back on my schedule, I was feeling much better. This second round of trays ended up being 19 sets of trays, at two weeks for each set of trays again.

When I finally got my new trays and was ready to see some of the big movement happen, The Virus hit and everything shut down. Here’s where my overthinking tendencies started up again – I panicked that this would mean I would forever have those damn attachments glued on my teeth.

Luckily, about 8 weeks into everything being on lockdown, my orthodontist reached out to me and instructed me on how to take proper photos of my progress so far and email them to him. This allowed him to see if everything was on track without having to call me into the office when everyone was supposed to be socially distant. Once he approved my progress photos, he scheduled a time that I could swing by the office and one of the staff would bring a baggie of my next trays to the car. I was really happy that I would be able to keep moving forward with my treatment even if everything was shut down. I was even allowed to speed up my tray swap, changing every 10 days instead of every 2 weeks.

By October, I was excited by how much my smile had changed since the start of my treatment. November 1st 2020 would mark 18 months of treatment, but I knew that the shutdown and the SNAFU with the late trays had put me off track from the quoted timeframe. My orthodontist gave me another round of trays (15 trays, swapped out every two weeks) and said that, once this round was done, he would be able to better gauge if I was going to need further refinements or if I was finally at a good place. The next 6 months flew by pretty quickly and I was hoping that this would be the finish line and that I would finally get the damn attachments off.

May 2021 rolled around and my orthodontist approved my final results. On the 12th, I finally got the attachments removed and the fixed lower retainer placed behind my front teeth. Another set of scans and x-rays happened so they could have my upper retainer made and I was told to come back in two weeks to pick it up. And let me tell you – I was on top of the world when I got that upper retainer! It was so nice to actually see the results and see my new smile. I was told to still wear the upper retainer for as much time as possible every day – preferably at least 20 hours.

me celebrating the departure of my attachments

December 1st I had a check-up with the orthodontist just to be sure that everything was going well. I am now in the clear to only wear the upper retainer to bed and I got some pointers on how the heck floss threaders are supposed to work because wow those are awkward.

I will have at least one more appointment around the one-year mark since I had my retainer put in. My orthodontist just wants to be sure everything is still where it’s supposed to be, then I will be free to live my life. Unless something horrible happens to my retainer. Knock on wood.

So a quick rating of the basic points:

Length of Treatment: 4/5 – I know that a lot of the hiccups were out of my control. I would have loved for everything to have been done in 18 months, but it didn’t take so much longer to the point that I’m mad about it.

Pain: 3/5 – A lot of people will say that changing the trays hurts for the first day or two because they’re so tight and constricting until your teeth move but, for me, it was a dull pain for a few hours after putting the new trays in. When my lower incisors were still really crowded, it did feel like I was going to rip my teeth off of my jaw every time I took my trays out to eat. That sensation and the absolutely horrible feeling I got during the interproximal reduction and shaping are probably the most painful aspects of the treatment, but since they weren’t a constant throughout the treatment I’ll give it a middle-of-the-road answer.

Price: 4/5 – I don’t think that the price was that bad. It certainly was more expensive than traditional metal braces but, like I said, it wasn’t outrageously expensive in comparison. And I know that there are all the at-home kits like byte and SmileDirect that are half the cost, but I felt more comfortable going in and talking with my orthodontist along each step of my treatment.

Results: 5/5 – I never expected to have that perfectly straight white fake-looking smile with teeth that look like Chiclets. My teeth look straight and healthy and they’re white enough to look nice without looking like Ross from FRIENDS. I love my smile now.

If you are considering Invisalign, I definitely recommend reaching out to an orthodontist for a consult. I know that I had a lot of bumps along the way, but I love that I got my teeth straightened like I’ve always wanted and didn’t just leave it to “someday I’m going to…” like I do with pretty much everything else.

I will be doing another post about this after my last appointment with the orthodontist, just to update everyone when I’m finally done for good.

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