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!

My Invisalign Journey (13): Almost done?!? + Photos

Hey, hey! It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my Invisalign and I’m pretty sure I’m nearing the very end! My next appointment is less than a month away and I think it’ll be my last, so I don’t really know what to expect.

Since my last post, I have gotten into the habit of smiling at myself in the mirror more when brushing my teeth because they are so stinking straight! I’ve taken a couple pictures of myself (and I’m not one for selfies) to show the difference and of course I’m hypercritical of myself and can point out the fact that my right canine tooth is longer than the other, and my top teeth kind of slant in terms of how long they are yada yada yada. BUT, comparing what they looked like almost 18 months ago in my initial photos to now is phenomenal.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t needed to use rubber bands, so it’s been a lot easier dealing with the aligners these past couple months. One of the pictures below is with my aligners and the other is without…can you tell which one is which? It’s probably easier having pictures that are up-close and personal [don’t mind the nose hair – we all have it. At least it’s clear of foreign stuff.]. I’m sure if they were farther away you wouldn’t be able to tell.

Smiles

I will say how awesome it is that no one can tell that I have braces. There have been so many times at school when I have to run to the bathroom to brush my teeth and students ask why I have toothpaste. When I tell them I have braces and need to brush after every meal, they’re surprised because they couldn’t tell. Score!

The aligners haven’t been too uncomfortable on the first couple days of each new set. But I have noticed that my teeth are kind of sensitive when I remove the aligners; it’s almost as if the repeated motion of pulling them off the same way hundreds of times has worn down some of the enamel, causing some sensitivity upon removal. It’s like the discomfort when you drink something cold and your teeth hurt for a few seconds afterwards. Make sense?

That’s all until my next appointment in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed and thumbs up that I’ll be finished with getting new aligners and will only have to use them at night as retainers!

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 (11): Re-scanning and polishing my teeth!

Holliday Harrigan smile wedding Invisalign

I have not had aligners in during the day for over a month now. Let me tell you, it’s been great!

Without wearing my aligners, I can have a snack whenever I get hungry. I don’t have to spend an extra 5 minutes in the bathroom after each meal to brush and floss my teeth, and then brush my aligners. And obviously it’s great being able to just smile and talk to people without them looking at your aligners or rubber bands.

But at the same time, I have been itching to get back into the office to get my teeth re-scanned for new aligners. The longer I go without them, the longer my treatment will be. I’ve been wearing my last aligner every single night so that my progress doesn’t move backwards and I got beautiful wedding photos with fabulously white and straight teeth. And now I’m ready to finish out my treatment so that I can just be done!

Tom and Holliday Harrigan wedding smile aisle husband wife

So today’s visit was my post-wedding re-scan because the aligners I wore in the months leading up to the wedding became progressively more ill-fitting – you can read about that in my 9th Invisalign post.

I was greeted by Dee, my usual technician, and she asked how the wedding was and if I had pictures with me. I didn’t have them handy at the moment, so I said I would show her next visit since I would be back very soon. Then I went back to the patient rooms/spaces to get the procedure started.

Dr. Jacquie came over and congratulated me and asked to see pictures. I had had a bit of wait time to pull some up from Facebook, so I showed her and she requested I send her a couple so that she could post them on her website. Cool! (Also, shout-out to Jon Baek for his amazing photography skills!)

She said that they were going to re-scan my teeth (so the same procedure that I went through before getting my aligners) but that she wanted to polish my front few teeth first. I thought she meant clean them, like they do at the dentist. But basically, she reshaped my front teeth, so I no longer have little divots and chips in them! I’ve always noticed them growing up, but never thought that anything could be done without ruining my teeth.

Polished front teeth

I’m still getting used to them because I’ve always been used to seeing the rounded teeth with little bumps and grooves, but I honestly think they look great!

After that, one of the technicians did the scanning and then took pictures of my smile, similar to the initial photos they took in the beginning of my treatment. My new aligners should be in within the next month, so I’m excited to start it back up…especially because I have been snacking more but hitting the gym less!

My Invisalign Journey (8): Six Month Update (with pictures!)

Alrighty so I’ve had my Invisalign aligners for over 6 months now, so I figured it would be a good time to show how my teeth have changed since the beginning. If you haven’t already done so, check out all of the posts documenting my Invisalign journey!

My initial pictures show the crookedness and overlapping of my teeth as well as my severe overbite. All of my teeth seemed to point forward and inward, except my front teeth which pointed to the back of my mouth.

Holliday Initial pictures

Now you can see how my teeth have spaced out; I actually have small yet noticeable spaces between my front top teeth and huge spaces between my back teeth. The most visible change has to be the upper central and lateral incisors (top front four teeth) and how much straighter they have become. The picture below is a close-up of my smile – you can see my glass attachments as well as how much straighter my teeth are!

Close up smile

The pictures below show a big difference in my teeth; my teeth are much straighter and have been pulled forward significantly. The picture on the left is from March 2011 and the one on the right was taken just a month ago (April 2014). [I will point out that we both still look like teenagers although neither of us were teenagers in either of these pictures. Story of our lives…]

T&H

I have to say that my teeth look kind of big for my face at the moment. My top teeth seem to be the only teeth I have because my lower jaw is still not fully aligned yet, and therefore I still have an overbite. Sometimes, I look downright chipmunk-esque; you can judge for yourself in the pictures below. I noticed that this happens when I have my aligners in my mouth versus when they are out. All three of these pictures were taken while my aligners were in and rubber bands were on…bet you couldn’t tell!

chipmunk pictures!

I don’t return to Dr. Jacquie again until the first week of August, so there should be a lot of change between now and then! I will also be getting my attachments off and my teeth whitened at that appointment for my wedding, so that’s super exciting!

My Invisalign Journey (7): Quick Update

Go to my Invisalign page to check out all posts on this journey!

I just wanted to give an update because the metal button on my left side has come off twice since my last post! It’s pretty frustrating when I have to make an “emergency” (AKA unexpected and I need it within the next couple days to keep my progress on track) appointment to fix the same problem. Multiple times!

I don’t know whether it has to do with the way I put in or take out my aligners each time. Maybe they rub on the left side and wear the bonding material down. Maybe there’s pressure put on it or something, causing it to pop off. Who knows?

The first time it happened, I had only had the metal buttons for about 4 weeks. The popping off occurred at some point between the time before dinner when I took my aligners out and after dinner. So I’m not 100% sure, but I think I may have swallowed it while eating my cheeseburger.

I went in after work the next day and my usual technician, Dee, put in another one. I don’t know if she was aware, but she ended up putting a larger button on than the original one. This one had a small hook to hold the rubber band in place, compared to the other one which was a a simple metal piece that stuck out a bit to hold the rubber band on.

Now, exactly 2 months after the original buttons had been attached, my left button fell off while I was sleeping! I woke up in the middle of the night feeling something moving around in my mouth, and sure enough my button popped off. Luckily (but potentially not!) because it was a bit bigger I didn’t swallow it, and the rubber band was still attached because of the way the hook holds it in place.

So I made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon to get this fixed. I will bring the button since I was able to save it, and I’m kind of curious to see whether she wants to use the same one or whether she’ll want to use a small one like on my right side.

Overall, I’m still seeing progress in my teeth; the gaps are still widening, but my teeth are also becoming straighter. As mentioned in my last post, I have also noticed that the glass attachments have been getting stained and discolored. It’s probably from drinking coffee every day, but I brush and floss my teeth after every stinking thing I eat or drink, so I don’t know why they’ve become so discolored. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the whitening treatment before my wedding!

My Invisalign Journey (6): Metal buttons, rubber bands, and initial photos!

If you need to refresh your memory or are new to the journey and need to start from the beginning, check out my Invisalign page to catch up!

It’s been a bit over 2 months since my last appointment, and only one of the glass-like attachments have come off. Everything else has gone smoothly though. I will, however, complain about the glass becoming a bit discolored, giving my teeth an off-white appearance. Boo.

Also, because my front teeth are crooked and crowded, my back teeth have been moving like crazy to make room for straightening out the front ones. This has caused such large gaps between my top molars, so I’m itching to floss after each meal. Not to be super graphic or disgusting, but you wouldn’t believe the size of some of the stuff I pull out from those gaps. I mean, if for some reason I needed to, I could probably hide a small rodent back there and no one would know.Upper jaw

Needless to say, my new best friends are Dentek floss picks; they come with travel containers, which are really convenient when you’re on the go. I now floss after every single meal; that’s at least 3 times every day. I think I’ve flossed more in the past month than I have in my entire life. It’s annoying. Hygenic, but annoying.

The holidays have made it quite difficult to keep up with the whole “wear your aligners for at least 22 hours” daily ideal they set. Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, birthday parties, Super Bowl Sunday, going out to dinner…when it comes to events or gatherings like these, I simply take my aligners out at the last possible minute, right before food or drink is ready to be consumed, and leave them out until the festivities are over. And most of time, this can be 2, 3, or even 4 hours of not wearing my aligners.

Before my last appointment, Dr. Jacquie herself came into the lobby and called me in; “Holliday, come on in, beautiful,” she said. She asked if I was wearing my aligners before she started, to which I replied that I was. “When you smiled before, I couldn’t tell!” Either she was just saying that or she really couldn’t tell, which is the whole point of these things.

She said that my aligners were fitting perfectly and that my teeth were looking good. Today, they were going to be attaching “buttons” on my teeth and giving me rubber bands to start working on my bite. Dee, my favorite technician, came in to do the whole procedure. She was teaching a new technician the procedure, so it was nice because I was getting the information as well and knew what was happening and what everything was doing. She pretty much did the same procedure as the last appointment, with the adhesive and UV light, but instead of glass-like attachments she was putting on two small metal “buttons” that would hold the rubber bands on my bottom teeth. She attached them to my first molars from the front of my teeth, so they aren’t noticeable unless I pull my lips back.

Once the buttons were attached she explained the easiest way to put the rubber bands on. So there is a slit in the top set of aligners on each side that I hold the rubber band on as I slip them on my teeth. After I put the bottom aligners on, I pull the rubber bands down and attach them to the buttons on my bottom teeth. Voila, easy as pie!

And to my (happy) surprise, you can’t even tell I have rubber bands on! Unlike traditional braces, my rubber bands are clear. Like me, you’ve probably Googled images of people with rubber bands and Invisalign. The ones I’ve found are on teeth near the front, so just opening the person’s mouth revealed the rubber bands. Luckily mine are tucked more in the back, which is great and way less conspicuous!

Dee gave me two little baggies full of rubber bands – one was a bag of 1/4″ and the other was 3/16″. She said if the 3/16″ was too tight, stick with the 1/4″ for awhile, but the sooner I could use the 3/16″, the better since they’re tighter and will start working quicker.

My teeth were extra sensitive the first two days with the new aligners and the rubber bands, but I honestly can’t complain; the buttons themselves don’t hurt, and I’m getting used to the feeling of the rubber bands in my mouth. They gave me my next 10 sets of aligners as well as the two bags full of rubber bands, so I’m set for 3 months.

Also, before I left, I asked Dee if it was possible to get my “before” pictures. She emailed them to me so here they are! The top three kind of look like mugshots, so that’s embarrassing. And I have a filling, hence the huge gray part of my tooth. It’s kind of gross looking at someone’s mouth, but it’s great because I can actually see a difference already!

Holliday Initial pictures

Check out my 6 month Invisalign update where you can see how much my smile has changed – some pictures feature my braces with rubberbands, but I bet you can’t tell!

My Invisalign Journey (5): Attachments and Quick Update

Last month I went back to Dr. Jacquie’s office to get “attachments” put on my teeth. Since I’ll be needing rubberbands to fix my bite and a few teeth need to be moved more than the rest, there needs to be a bit stronger grip for my aligners to hold onto my teeth. The attachments are made from a glass-like material that is tooth-colored, so no one will be able to tell that they’re there, except for really up close.

I finally remembered to take pictures right before I put in a new set of aligners recently, so here they are! I took them with my phone so they aren’t the best quality, but that’s what I’ve got so far. I’ve taken a few of my teeth (with aligners, rubber bands, and metal buttons) but they are so unflattering and embarrassing, so I’m [not] sorry you won’t see those.Invisalign aligners

I didn’t get my usual technician, and unfortunately I wasn’t too happy with the one that I did get. She was not as personable and seemed very distracted the entire time I was there, which was kind of disconcerting and frustrating due to the nature of my appointment.

After 10 minutes of waiting for her to get things together, she started filling an aligner with this glue-y glass stuff that would end up attaching to my teeth. It was time to put the aligner moulds on my teeth so that the glue-like glass composite could be bonded to my teeth. She spread some stuff on my teeth, I assume some sort of bonding agent for the glue to take hold of, and then put the moulds in. A special UV light was held to the spots where the attachment was placed, and this was probably the most frustrating part. The light gets kind of hot, and it’s hard to hold your mouth and lips open for a long period of time, especially because of the placement of the attachments.

All of that with the fact that the technician was distracted made for a painful experience. She kept looking out the door and watching whatever was going on out in the hall rather than paying attention to this hot tool she was holding to my mouth. And of course it moved on occasion because she wasn’t watching, so my lips and gums felt like they were getting burned! When I moved and made a pained face, she would look back to me and said, “Hold on; just a little longer.” She finally decided to hold my lip away from the light, and then at one point she said, “Wow, that is hot! I just touched my finger to it!” Oh, really?!

After this, it was time to remove the moulds to make sure the attachments stayed on my teeth. I thought it would be as easy as removing a regular aligner, but it was so difficult! I felt like I was going to pull out my teeth, so she helped me a bit. When they finally popped off, my teeth felt so strange, like there were rocks on them. And they hurt. When I would bite down there were some parts of the attachments that I was biting down on, so I asked whether they were going to break off. She had Dee, my regular technician, come in and check; she reassured me that although they felt bulky now they would wear down with time. “Dr. Jacquie also prescribes more attachments than you need, so that way if one does come off, you don’t need to come in for an emergency appointment.” She explained more in 30 seconds than the other girl did in 15 minutes!

So then I put my new set of aligners (#4) on my teeth and the girl was ready to get me out of there. She gave me my next 6 aligners, so I wouldn’t need to come back for two months. I made my new appointment and talked wedding with Dee for a bit before leaving. On my way home I realized nothing was mentioned about rubber bands…

Later than evening, when I took the aligners off for dinner, one of the attachment pieces came off; it’s a good thing Dee told me it wasn’t a big deal. I called about rubber bands the next day and was informed that I wouldn’t be getting rubber bands just yet.

Here’s a picture similar to what my teeth look like, except it’s much better quality than any of the pictures I’ve taken; you can see the circled areas are the attachments.

Invisalign glass attachments

I am currently wearing aligner #6 and I can tell a difference in my teeth! Unfortunately, it’s mostly because there is now a huge gap between my back molars on the top left side. And food notoriously gets stuck there now, a problem I did not have before. Floss is my new best friend.

I have also noticed that I have been clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth more since getting the aligners (not sure why, but I think it’s just the new-ness of the aligners), causing frequent jaw pain and difficulty opening my mouth. Like, it hurts to fully yawn because my jaw hurts and sometimes locks at a certain point when opening my mouth. I looked into getting a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent this, but they all caution not to use if you have braces or other dental hardware. Bummer.