January 1, 2017

The Challenge of Invisalign: What no one tells you

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, getting Invisalign is the end of your life as you know it. I am starting to think Invisalign is just as challenging as regular braces. Here is what my experiences have been so far.

  • You have to wear the aligners at least 21 hours a day (Note: Optimal wear 22 hours/day). This means the only time you do not have them in your mouth is when you are eating.
  • When you have the braces on, you can only drink cool clear liquid. Water only! You cannot chew with them in. You cannot drink colored liquid because that will discolor the braces. You cannot drink anything with sugar in it - if anything gets trapped in the braces, you will have bad breath and develop cavities. You cannot drink anything hot - it will warp the aligners.
  • You have to brush and floss  after every meal. Even a snack. Again, if anything gets trapped on your teeth under the braces, you will develop cavities. I had to create me a "dental paraphernalia kit" - a toothbrush in a case, toothpaste, floss, an aligner case, lip balm, and hand lotion. I have it on me at all times, like a mad toothfairy. However, as the result of this regiment, your gum health should theoretically improve. With all that brushing my receding gum line is a major concern for me. I do not want to ever go through another dental graft surgery again. So I try to limit the number of times I eat during the day and brush very very lightly going around my mouth no more than three times. I definitely do not brush for the recommended 2 minutes when I use a manual toothbrush, only in the morning and at night, when I use my electric one.
  • People will notice. The attachments are visible, so you do look like you are wearing braces.
  • It takes awhile to get used to having trays in your mouth. They are sharp at the edges - you will have cuts and sores in your mouth, especially the first couple of days of each new set. I was advised to try and file them with a nail file, but it does not make much difference.
  • It definitely does take awhile to get used to. You will go from drooling out of the sides of your mouth one minute, to having a dry mouth the next. Caution: when the aligners are dry they squeak.
  • It takes awhile to get used to talking with the trays in your mouth. It is a mouthful. I had a lisp for the first three weeks.
  • Forget fancy manicures. Removing the trays is a chore all in itself. You have to use your nails, so keep them short. The aligners fit so tightly - they pull off fillings and loosen crowns. Good news - they get easier to remove after about a week, once your teeth start moving.
  • Stock up on hand lotion. All that hand washing before sticking them in your month to remove or put on the braces will dry your hands out big time. I keep lotion everywhere. 
  • Get ready to break out. A lot. Taking the braces out + putting them back in = touching your face constantly. Even with all that hand washing you are bound to gunk up the skin around your mouth and chin, which inevitably leads to zits.
  • Stock up on Chapstick. Seriously. I go through tons and tons and TONS of that stuff. On the positive side - it gives me an excuse to try every kind of lip balm that is out there. Just make sure it is clear.
  • Forget lipstick or any other colored lip stuff. It gets into the groves in the aligners and gunks them up. Makes them even more visible and gross. 
  • Stock up on floss. I was pretty well stocked even before this endeavor, but now I am obsessed. Yup, also an excuse to try every kind of floss that is out there.
  • Normally, I just rinse the braces before I put them in after eating. It's only saliva, right? However, after just a couple of days somehow they still get all gunked up and look very cloudy with yellowish tint. So I have a spare toothbrush that I use specifically to lightly brush the aligners. It helps, but they will never be the luminously clear as when you first open the package.
  • Once you are done with the set, you are supposed to keep them for awhile, in case something happens to your new set (lost, broken, etc.). I simply put mine back in the plastic pouch that it came in, so I can keep track of which set is which. I seriously have to warn you - do not open and - especially! - do not smell that pouch. It reeks like something died in there. Literally. I guess saliva (or the DNA that's in it) decomposes. 
  • As with all braces, you will have to wear retainers at night for the rest of your life to prevent your teeth from returning to their original position.

Yup, Invisalign is definitely a commitment, no matter from what angle you look at it. It requires some stellar willpower and discipline. However, considering how much it costs, I am fully committed to taking care of my investment. Just as I am fully committed to looking like a superstar in 18 to 24 months.  :D 

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