I’ve been waiting a whole year to write this post. That’s how long I wore my Invisalign…just over a year.

Putting the trays in…they feel strange and you’ll probably talk funny until you get used to them.

Like most teenagers, I had braces and then a retainer. A few years ago I had a failed root canal which resulted in the tooth being pulled. I dragged my feet on getting an implant, and as a result of that hole my teeth moved! If I had realized this would happen I probably would not have procrastinated!

My top teeth were fine, but one of my bottom teeth was starting to jut out and I wasn’t okay with that, so I opted to fix it with Invisalign.

Your dentist or orthodontist uses a special machine to take images of your teeth. They are sent to Invisalign and in a couple of weeks you go back to the dentist. They install some hard bumps on your teeth that impact how your teeth move. They also make it really hard to get the trays off, at least at first. That first day, learning to pry them off, was really frustrating! You can see the bumps or “attachments” on my teeth in this photo:

You’re supposed to wear the trays 22 hours a day, but I’ll be honest, I doubt I ever did. That only gives you two hours each day to eat, drink colored/hot beverages and brush and floss your teeth. I adjusted my schedule as much as possible, like brushing my teeth before cleaning up the dishes, but I still doubt it was 22 hours.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Find some snacks you can eat without removing the trays. You’ll appreciate only brushing and flossing three times a day. I would eat plain yogurt, milk, peanut buter and light-colored smoothies.
  • Drink a lot of water. You’ll be very thirsty the first few days as your body adjusts to the trays.
  • Soaking they trays in a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half water works well to clean them. You typically only wear them two weeks but they still get gross and need more than just brushing.
  • Costco sells tooth brushes, dental floss, and hydrogen peroxide. Plan on using a lot of both! I think my electric toothbrush helped save my sanity.
  • A friend recommended saving the last two sets of trays as a way to make sure your teeth don’t move back. I’ve now got permanent retainers, so this isn’t necessary for me (keep reading).
  • Just because your teeth look straight doesn’t mean you’re done. I probably spend the last three months of this process working with my dentist to get my bite correct.

I can’t speak to the Invisalign alternatives, since I don’t have experience with them, but I will say that my dentist worked hard to make adjustments so my bite would be correct. An improper bite can cause you other problems, like loose teeth, so it’s important to get it right. He shaved millimeters off between my teeth to give them space to move, altered the length of time I wore each set of trays (sometimes I only replaced one), shaved milimeters off spots on my teeth so they would not hit when I chewed, and at the very end he shaved the molar portions off my trays to allow those teeth to keep moving while my front teeth stayed put. It was a long process, but as you can see in the before (top) and after photos below it has made a big difference.

Now I’m wearing permanent retainers to prevent my teeth from moving again. It’s a stainless steel wire cemented to my front teeth on the inside. It feels a bit strange, and it’s impacting how I talk, but I’m sure I’ll adjust again. Since I cannot floss those teeth the regular way, I’ve purchased myself the same waterpic I got my braces-wearing teenager a year ago. Because let’s be honest, if flossing involves threading the floss in a needle-like thing it’s just not going to happen as often as it should.