My Invisalign Tips

It’s been over 2 years since I started wearing Invisalign, and now that I’m in the retainer phase (which I will be at from here on out), I figured I should share my top tips. Some are pretty obvious, but others I learned the hard way.

  1. Seriously, wear your aligners. Like, whenever you’re not consuming things other than water, wear them. They recommend 22 hours per day, so try to stick as close to that as possible. You’re already paying a ton for this treatment, so why not get the best and quickest results instead of farting around and complaining about having this amazing opportunity to improve your smile? Snarky? Sure. Truthful? You’re darn tootin’.Duh Napolean Dynamite
  2. Brush and floss your teeth [and brush your aligners!] at least twice per day. I mean, this is just what the American Dental Association recommends, but many people still don’t follow these suggestions. I never flossed (except the day of dental appointments) until I had Invisalign. And even then, I honestly couldn’t floss with the ribbon floss; my fingers just don’t work that way and I can’t unhinge my jaw like a snake in order to reach my molars. So I tried floss picks and my life has been changed. Seriously, try them out.
    • Note: Now, I may have been a bit excessive in brushing and flossing literally after every meal before putting my aligners back in. But you know what? I came out of this experience with only one teeny tiny cavity that was caused by my tooth having a little crevice in it. It wasn’t between my teeth because I let food and gunk build up while my aligners encapsulated said gunk and bacteria harvested and rotted my teeth. If brushing your teeth is not a plausible option in a certain setting or situation, eat an apple or chew some sugar free gum before putting your aligners in. Don’t just not put them back in because you can’t brush and/or floss [see tip #1].happy tooth smile
  3. Following step #2, bring a small baggie with a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and your aligner case with you everywhere. This way you’re ready post-meal to at least try to keep your mouth healthy and clean. I kept a kit in my bag during grad school, then in my drawer at work so I was always prepared.toothbrush kit
  4. Only drink water with your aligners in. For real. And, whatever you do, DO NOT try to chew or even just have gum in your mouth with your aligners in. Seriously, this will not be good when (not if, when) the gum gets adhered to your aligners and gets stuck everywhere. Trust me. Not worth it.No drink, food, gum
  5. When inserting your aligners, make sure to really push them on your teeth. It’s not enough to just get them on, make sure they are on as snuggly as possible. I think this is part of the reason my aligners became so ill-fitting [see picture below] as my wedding approached; I was putting them on, but never really pushed them as securely as I should’ve. Luckily, they just rescanned my teeth after my wedding and got me a new set of aligners, but this is not a quick process and will set your treatment time back.Ill fitting aligners
  6. Just hang in there for the first day or so of new aligners. They used to give me headaches because of the pressure they put on my teeth. And yes, it may feel like you’re about to rip your teeth out when you take a fairly new set out before eating and whatnot. Your teeth aren’t going anywhere. Trust me, it’ll hurt for a bit, but the benefits will be greater than the pain. So just pop a Tylenol and focus on something else. Maybe have a dance party to take your mind off of the discomfort.You can do it waterboy gif
  7. Glass attachments (for your aligners to grip) and metal buttons (for rubber bands) pop off. You will probably swallow them. It’s okay. They initially put on more glass attachments than necessary because the chance of them falling off is high. It’s an easy process for them to put on a new metal button. It won’t ruin your treatment, just call your orthodontist, let them know this happened, and they’ll schedule you to come in within a day or so to pop a new one on. Which brings me to tip #7…Invisalign metal button glass attachment Toronto Braces
  8. Choose an orthodontist that you like and trust, but also one that is nearby. You don’t want to have to travel so far just for a small metal button to be put on in under 3 minutes. Trust me. When I moved from the Upper West Side to Long Island to Brooklyn, my orthodontist’s office remained in Midtown. Luckily, when I was in LI, I still worked in Brooklyn, so I would schedule appointments right after work or over long breaks because 2 hours is just not worth the trip.

Alright, I think those are my top tips when wearing Invisalign. If I think of any more, I’ll definitely chuck them in here. And if you have any, please leave a comment to share!

Invisalign Before & After Photos!

Before and after pictures – yay!!! Finally! These are always really cool to look at, but it’s even cooler when they’re yours!

Granted, I look like a criminal in all pictures, but it’s really awesome seeing how much better my teeth look!!!!!!! How many exclamation points can I use to show you how pumped I am?!!!?

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Invisalign Journey (15): Retainers

Okay, okay so my last post seemed like the official end of my Invisalign Journey. But, I just got my retainers today, so I wanted to share some info about them because I feel like they are just as important to the process as everything else.

I never understood and still don’t understand why people don’t wear their retainers after spending tons of time and money on braces. Classmates, friends, and students I’ve taught had traditional metal braces for years and years as kids to achieve straight, beautiful teeth.

They would complain and complain that they couldn’t eat certain foods (popcorn, anyone?) or chew gum (although most broke this rule). They hated smiling because of the metal in their mouths. God help them when their cheek or lip got caught and cut on a piece of their braces. They were pumped when the day came that they could finally be rid of the metal tracks and wires. Other than the monthly change of rubber band colors, braces were a topic of disdain.

And as soon as the braces came off, they were always talking about how they never used their retainers. And after only a few months, it was obvious because their teeth started shifting back to a more crooked (albeit not as crooked as before braces) position.

I forget who said this to me, maybe it was Dr. Jacquie herself, but teeth are meant to be in a certain position. She compared it to our hair: even when you straighten naturally curly or wavy hair, as soon as it gets wet, it’s going to kink right back up. (You could also use the same analogy for straight hair and curling it). The same goes for teeth; they have a predetermined place, and even if you straighten them with braces, without maintaining that position (with a retainer!!!), over time they will shift right back to where they started.

I have been wearing my Invisalign almost every day for the past 2 years now. For the past two months, I’ve worn my aligners at night as retainers because I don’t want all of the amazing work to be undone just because of my laziness or dislike of having aligners in. Plus, they weren’t cheap, so I don’t want to just throw that money away!

I mentioned in my last post about getting retainers. Sure enough, I purchased 4 sets of retainers by Vivera through a Black Friday deal that my orthodontist’s office sent out. The retainers came out to $800 for 4 sets (4 uppers, 4 lowers) which is amazing since two sets is normally about $1500. I went to Dr. Jacquie’s office in midtown earlier in December to get my teeth rescanned so my retainers were up to date with my current teeth alignment. Two weeks later, the office called to tell me my retainers were in. So quick!

They asked if I wanted the thinner or thicker retainers; the thinner ones were just like the aligners I’ve had throughout this entire process. I chose the thicker retainers because I figured they will probably hold up better and last longer. You can see the difference in opacity of my most recent aligner (right) and the retainer (left).

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And the color – ew. It’s pretty gross since I brush the aligners every single night before I put them in. That just shows how much they stain even when you are cleaning them and only wearing them for (optimistically) 8 hours every night for about four months. The set of retainers came with a few samples of Invisalign’s aligner cleaner, so I’ll try those out. I contemplated but never tried a denture cleaner with my aligners before so we’ll see how that works out.

I got a new case too, which is nice since the original two are over two years old and have gotten grimey even with cleaning.

retainer

A note: the reason my old upper aligner is shorter is because I had a temporary crown put in about two months back, and they told me not to use my Invisalign with it. I wasn’t about to just not wear my aligners, so I cut the back two teeth off so my aligners didn’t affect the temporary crown.uppers lowers

So this is it. For real this time. These aligners will hopefully last me a couple years. Feel free to ask any questions you have about the process, or just check out all of my other Invisalign posts…there are 14 more of them!!!

My Invisalign Journey (14): Officially done.

Alas, here we are. At the end of the journey. It’s been a little over 2 years since I first looked into Invisalign, and a little less than 2 years since I received my first set of aligners.

I’m happy to report I would do it all over again and recommend it to anyone looking into straightening their teeth. I’m happy with the results, it wasn’t super hard to keep up with wearing them and brushing after meals, and the discomfort of new aligners every 10-20 days was manageable.

Buuuut I’m seriously glad it’s over.

I’m hoping to get my official after photos soon – I’ve emailed Dee but haven’t gotten a response, so I need to try again. For now, here’s an idea of the difference. [Left: Dec. 2011; Right: Oct. 2015]

beforeafter

It’s been a little over 6 months since my last appointment, and I’ve had the same 2 duplicate sets of aligners since then to wear full-time. I admit, I was a little more lax about these last 6 months than the rest of the time, but I still wore them pretty much all the time. I didn’t take a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss with me wherever I went like the previous 18 months, but I still wore them every night and brushed in between [most] meals when I could.

I recently bit the bullet to get a crown put on that tooth with the filling because it was starting to bother me again. Not, like, aesthetically because who sees that deep into my mouth? No, it was starting to feel a bit sensitive like when you have a cavity. Obviously not a good sign when you already have a filling.

So, about 3 weeks ago, I had the filling taken out and a temporary crown put on the tooth…and hated the entire experience. So. much. blood. And discomfort. And the sound of drills. Oh! Awful.

My dentist told me not to use my Invisalign with the temporary as it’s made of plastic and could just pop off when taking my aligners out. I didn’t want to stop wearing my aligners, especially with my upcoming final appointment, so I cut the last two teeth pockets off of the top aligner so that the affected tooth wouldn’t be bothered or compromised.

Two weeks ago, I had my FINAL appointment at Dr. Jacquie’s office in midtown. I got to see my favorite technician, Dee, whom took care of me on my first few appointments as well as a bunch throughout my time there. It was actually bittersweet. We caught up a bit on life: I told her about my JV girls volleyball team going undefeated in the regular season, she told me how much happier she is after a particularly hard time she had last year. I kind of just wanted to go out for coffee with her to extend our time together and our conversation. Is that weird? Maybe.

I showed my cut up aligners and explained the situation with my temporary crown. She said it was good that I was still wearing my aligners but that I should get a retainer within the next 2 months because teeth move in such a way to touch other teeth. So without the aligners keeping the last two top teeth (crowned tooth and molar behind it) held in place, they might actually start pulling downward to touch the bottom teeth, throwing off my bite which could lead to problems like TMJ.

Teeth are weirdly needy.

Before leaving, Dee spoke those beautiful words I’ve been waiting two years to hear:

You only have to wear the aligners at night.

HELLZZZ YEAHHHHHHH

So until I get my retainers, I don’t need to wear my aligners during the day. And once I get said retainers, it’s the same deal: only nighttime wear.

I got my permanent crown put on the following day (again, not a pleasant experience since my original tooth is practically non-existent anymore) so that’s one less thing to worry about. I will be getting the retainers towards the end of November since she said there’s a deal around Black Friday that sounded way too good to pass up. And I won’t have to deal with a crazy mob of people, so that’s cool.

It’s been a fun ride. Sure, I had pretty awkward looking teeth for awhile there. Sure, it was a pain the arse having to brush and floss after meals to put my aligners back in. Yeah, it’s expensive up front.

But.

In the end, I’ve now gained a smile I smile about. I’ve gotten a bunch of compliments on my teeth since going through this. I now am not [as] embarrassed when I have to take out my aligners before meals. My jaw hurts less because my bite has been aligned. It’s been an investment in me, my confidence, and my happiness. To me, the price, the time spent brushing and flossing, and even those awkward few months of buck teeth was and has been worth it.

My Invisalign Journey (12): Back to the Invisalign life!

After 4 months without aligners, I am back to the Invisalign life. Since getting married, I have not had anything on my teeth during the daytime, so it’s been weird getting used to having aligners in all the time again. It’s been two weeks since my appointment and I’ve noticed how difficult it is to go back to brushing and flossing after every meal. Especially as a teacher because there is only so much free time to do so.

And the holidays! I mean, I want to just keep eating everything, so why should I bother wasting toothpaste and time just to take my aligners out soon after?!

So needless to say I’ve been slacking pretty bad on keeping my aligners in for the recommended 22 hours per day during these past two weeks. During workdays, I probably only wear them 18 hours because of the lack of time after a meal to get to the bathroom and properly brush and floss. I mean, it usually takes the better part of 5 minutes – we don’t have that kind of time between classes!

So when I went to my orthodontist and sat down in the chair to get my aligners put in, I thought I was getting the whole shebang – attachments, metal buttons, aligners, and rubber bands. I thought for sure I would be there for about an hour for the whole process.

But when my technician got my aligners out and I put them in, they felt amazing! For the past few months, I’ve only been wearing my last set of aligners to bed to make sure my teeth didn’t shift from their new starting position.

My last set (pre-wedding) didn’t fit properly in August, and because Dr. Jacquie polished my teeth during my last visit in September, my old aligners were like clown shoes on my teeth. Not like putting actual shoes on my teeth because that’s just silly, but the way they fit were like…you get the point. You can actually see a picture of it in my last Invisalign post here.

So it was awesome when they snapped on and were totally unnoticeable when I looked in the mirror. Dee, my trusty technician, said, “Okay that’s it. I’m going to give you 11 sets so you won’t have to come back for 4 months.”

That’s it? Really? She said that I was done with my attachments and now it was just about small shifts in my teeth. Hallelujah!!!!

So after about 5 minutes in the chair, I was done. Just like that! And no one has noticed at all because they fit so well! High five!

My next appointment isn’t until the first week in April, so hopefully we’ll see a difference! My teeth look great at the moment (not to brag, but compared to what they looked like before Invisalign, I think I can say it) but they are still a little off-center when I smile, so they just need to shift to fix that.

My Invisalign Journey (9): A Tiny Rant

Alright so if you want to catch up on my entire Invisalign Journey, you can start at #1 or go to my Invisalign Journey page and go through whichever posts your heart desires.

I wanted to give a quick update and tiny rant about my current Invisalign situation. I have an appointment this Thursday to get my glass attachments taken off and have a whitening for my upcoming wedding. Unfortunately, I am not too pleased with how my aligners have been fitting the past couple months.

Ill fitting aligners

So as you can see by the picture, the side two top teeth are not even close to fully fitting into the aligner. And I’m frustrated because they should be so much more even with my two front teeth, but instead they are still a lot shorter. And the left side is even shorter than the right! Ugh.

I kept telling myself to check in with the doctor, but then I kept talking myself out of it. I mean, last time I was in the office, I brought up my concern of a gap between my tooth and the aligner to the technician, but she said it wasn’t that big of a deal. She gave me one of the spit-sucker attachments (is there a more technical term? haha) to bite down on to make sure the aligners were tight on my teeth. Well, that hasn’t helped.

Another argument I had with myself was whether they  would even make new aligners to fix the gap? Since I wear them as I should, I’m not sure how it could be my fault that they aren’t fitting well. My top left side only has 2 glass attachments left, so maybe the aligners haven’t had enough to hold firmly? So is there a rule like, we can’t make new aligners once you’re in the process? I don’t think that seems fair, but I don’t know.

If they were willing to rescan my teeth, would they even be able to make new aligners to fit my teeth properly before it’s time to take everything off for the wedding? Would it even be worth it? I hope they can fix this…

Happy couple

I know that it’s maybe not as noticeable to others; obviously I notice these things because it’s my mouth and my teeth and I’m up close and personal with the mirror. I’m wearing my aligners in this picture too, so as you can see, it isn’t as terribly noticeable from a bit farther away. But I just feel like someone wearing some crazy huge clown glasses or clown shoes…something that just does not fit properly and that catches everyone’s eyes.

And because of this, I’ve found myself consciously not smiling while my aligners are in because the gaps between the aligners and teeth are substantial. Like, hello, isn’t the point of invisible braces to feel more confident while fixing your teeth? Plus, I’m getting married and was hoping to have my teeth looking as they were supposed to for pictures.

Yes, I know there are worse things in the world. But when I’m paying as much as I am for these things, I expect them to give me the results I expect/want. Tom keeps reassuring me that it’s not that bad. He reminds me of how great my smile looks and how much straighter my teeth are since I got the braces.

So that’s the end of my rant. I’ll update you after my appointment this week and let you know what they are going to do (if anything) to fix the situation.

My Invisalign Journey (4): Thoughts, Tips, and Complaints

Read posts one, two, and three to get an idea of the beginning steps of the Invisalign process!

Now that I’ve had my aligners for over a month, I have a few thoughts and tips to pass on. I also figured you might want to hear my complaints, so I included those too; if not, oh well.

Thoughts:

  1. I have been snacking less (see Complaint #1) which is good because I am a snacker.
  2. My teeth have whitened dramatically! Seeing as I have to brush my teeth after every meal, there is no room for coffee or other food stains, or plaque/tartar build-up.
  3. I feel as though people are looking at my mouth a lot more while I talk, which makes me self-conscious. Can they tell I’m wearing aligners? Do I look dumb? Do I sound like I have plastic in my mouth? I’ve mentioned this to a few people and they said that I’m probably just more aware of where people are gazing. Or that I’m just paranoid.
  4. This may also be a paranoia thing, but I feel like my face looks puffier with my aligners in.
  5. It’s cool when the aligners start popping on and off more easily. The tight fit of a new aligner is uncomfortable and lasts for the first few days. By day 5 or so I can tell that my teeth have shifted because the aligner is not as tight and difficult to get on and off.

Tips:

  1. Listen when they tell you to brush your aligners. This may sound silly, but when they tell you to brush your aligners, really brush your aligners. The first few times I went to brush my teeth and aligners after eating, I kind of just ran my toothpasted toothbrush along the aligners and popped them back in. However, the third or fourth time, I held them up to the light and realized that gunk had built up in the crevices and along the edges. Your mouth has so much bacteria, no matter how good you brush your teeth or how many times per day, so make sure you really scrub the aligners inside and out, paying attention to the little divots in the teeth imprints.
  2. If you’re going out for an evening or event that you know you’ll be consuming food and drinks on and off the majority of the time, just leave your aligners at home. I went to Boston to visit a friend the first weekend after getting my aligners and it was such a pain. We went out Saturday evening for some drinks, so I just left my aligners at her place since I wouldn’t be able to keep them in if I was going to eat or drink anything.
  3. Stock up on travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrushes. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.

Complaints:

  1. Having to brush your teeth every time you consume anything but water is annoying for a few reasons:
    • Knowing you have to brush your teeth and aligners after eating means you need that extra 5 minutes after a meal/snack.
    • A bathroom is a necessary amenity after eating to brush your teeth and aligners, so this can limit when and where you can eat. When I was in Boston, we were at Quincy Market during lunch time on Saturday. If you’ve ever been to Quincy Market, you know there are literally hundreds of food choices there. However, they only have one public bathroom…and the line was literally 50 women long. So we had to pick a restaurant with a bathroom that I could use to brush my aligners. And go pee.
    • Small treats and impromptu snacks are less of a pleasure knowing you can’t just pop them in your mouth when you want and be on your merry way.
  2. Having to bring your aligner case, a toothbrush, and toothpaste everywhere. I put them all in a small ziplock bag which I’ll call my “bag of goodies” or BOG.
  3. See Tip #2. If it’s just a couple of hours, just leave them at home.
  4. I can be forgetful sometimes, so making sure I have my BOG with me when I know I’ll need it can be trouble.
  5. Exhibit A: Tom and I went to have dinner at our friends’ place two weeks ago and I forgot my BOG, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. Before eating I took my aligners out, rinsed them in the bathroom, wrapped them in a tissue, and stuck them in my purse. After dinner, our friend said, “Holliday, you have Invisalign, right?” I thought it was a random question until I noticed he was holding one of my aligners. Turns out that their dog likes to rip up tissues, so as soon as he saw the tissue peeking out of my purse, he went for it. Thank goodness he doesn’t like ripping up plastic teeth aligners. We found both of them unscathed, I rinsed and wrapped them again, and then zipped them in my purse so no puppies could get them.aligner case
  6. My mouth has been very dry because of the frequent brushing, so I’ve been drinking more water.
    • Pro: That’s healthy.
    • Con: I’ve been going pee a lot. But if you know me, that’s pretty normal.
  7. The first couple days of a new aligner are usually filled with headaches and toothaches; the tight fit and pressure just make for an achy head and mouth.

I have my next appointment today, so I will let you know how the whole ‘attaching-the-attachment-for-rubberbands’ process works out. And hopefully I’ll have some sweet glow-in-the-dark rubberbands to show off. Do you think they come chocolate-flavored?

I’ll also ask to see if I can get my hands on those pictures she took of my teeth and bite since I haven’t taken any!

My Invisalign Journey (1): Yes to Invisalign and Finding a Provider

I started using my first set of Invisalign liners yesterday! I figured I would document my journey with them so maybe I can help someone decide they want to give them a whirl. And also because I’m so pumped to see my teeth and bite transform and improve and become beautiful!!

So let’s start from the beginning: my choice to get Invisalign and the process of finding a provider.

I’ve been wanting braces since I was in middle school. Back then, everyone was getting them. But they were expensive and I never had dental insurance, so it was not an option. I guess I would say my teeth aren’t horribly crooked, but they aren’t straight. And my two front top teeth are noticeably larger than my other teeth because of the crooked way they are positioned.

Aside from their purpose in straightening teeth and correcting bites, the other great thing about those braces were the fun rubberbands. Do you remember how cool the rubberbands seemed as a kid? I was always jealous when one of my friends came to school with a new set of colored rubberbands! They usually coincided an upcoming holiday (green and red for Christmas) or they were the person’s favorite color. And don’t even get me started on the glow-in-the-dark ones!

And then, in high school, people started getting their metal braces taken off, revealing straight teeth and beautiful smiles. As if the rubberbands weren’t enough, the end product of years with braces made me even more jealous.

Since middle and high school are deemed “normal” times to have metal braces, after graduating from high school, the idea of metal braces was out of the question for me. I know there were those “tooth-colored” ceramic braces and they have come a long way over the years, but they still weren’t ideal.

I remember a teacher in elementary school with these “clear” braces, but they actually made her teeth look really yellow. And they still had the metal wire, so there really was no concealing the fact that she had braces. Nowadays the ceramic braces come with white wires to make them less noticeable (see comparison below) but they’re still kind of obvious.

Luckily within the past 10 years, the creation and improvement of clear aligners makes straight teeth without metal or an off-white appearance an option.

Except it’s still expensive. I have encountered a few people throughout the years who have been able to afford the multi-thousand dollar service and have said that it was totally worth every penny. But realistically I just could not afford it. Other than improving my self-confidence, they didn’t seem necessary.

But through the years, I knew that I wanted to have straight teeth for my future wedding, whenever that actually happened. So when I got engaged this summer, it was time to seriously contemplate whether I was going to take the plunge and get Invisalign. Tom and I talked about it and agreed that I should do it, so I began doing my research of local Invisalign providers.

“Coincidentally,” Groupon actually sent me a deal for a certain amount off an Invisalign treatment. As tempting as that was, I figured it would be a good idea to look further into this “deal”. I found a bunch of negative reviews and “buyer bewares” from people:

  • the provider offering the discount was not a recognized Invisalign provider (Invisalign “trained” instead of “certified”)
  • the provider offering the discount was new to the field and was pretty much trying to get more patients
  • treatment might not even use Invisalign liners
  • provider might try to push other services before actual Invisalign treatment is allowed

Check out this article I found about avoiding Groupons for Invisalign treatment. Among other things, the author explains that “it’s illegal for orthodontists and dentists to engage in fee-splitting activities…”

So I decided against the Groupon thing; these are my teeth and I don’t want to mess with them just to save money. So I went to the Invisalign website and looked at New York City providers. Providers are rated based on how many Invisalign patients they have treated (Elite, Premier, Preferred, and General Provider) as well as whether they are included in the top 1% of North America Invisalign providers.

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I chose one of the best: Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling. She is an Elite Preferred Provider as well as in the top 1% of providers, so I figured if anyone could give me a great smile, she could. Plus she had multiple offices throughout the NYC and Long Island area, so I figured that multiple locations meant that this lady knew her stuff and was doing really well in the world of orthodontia.

Further research of her proved my assumptions: everyone had nothing but great things to say about her, her team, and their successful treatments.

I contacted her office and scheduled my consultation with her midtown office. So (as long as I felt good about Dr. Jacquie and her team, the price wasn’t too extreme, and it seemed do-able) I had a provider!

My next post will be about my consultation and first official appointment, so keep your eyes posted!