(click the picture for full size)
Now that I’m on my sixth set of Invisalign® aligners, I figured it was time to answer some frequently asked questions about the treatment process! For those of you who missed my last posts (read those posts here), I'm currently receiving complimentary Invisalign treatment in exchange for sharing my experience, once a month. Talking to friends who already went through / are currently going through the process has helped me and kept me enthusiastic, so I’m hoping that I can do the same for anyone else who is interested in learning about it. If you have any additional questions, please let me know.
How much does Invisalign cost?
This is one of the questions I get asked most frequently, but since it varies according to the provider and individual treatment plan, it’s also the most difficult one to answer. According to Invisalign’s official FAQ page, it ranges from $3,500 to $8,000 in the US, with a national average of $5,000. I also found out that dental insurance typically treats Invisalign just like traditional braces (up to 50% of the cost may be covered) and Flexible Spending Health Savings Accounts can also be used.
Do aligners cut up your cheeks/gum/tongue?
Does Invisalign work on both minor and complex teeth issues?
I have friends who have gotten Invisalign to correct incredibly minor issues, requiring a much shorter treatment length, and I know others who have made drastic changes with the very same treatment. I used to think that Invisalign was only meant to correct slight imperfections, but that’s simply not true! I’ve seen smiles that were completely transformed by the treatment. It’s best to meet with an Invisalign dentist or orthodontist and find out if it will work for you.
How long will it be before you notice a difference in your teeth?
My orthodontist, Dr. Jenny Zhu at Manhattan Bridge Orthodontics, told me that I would start to notice a difference within a couple of months, but I would say that I noticed a minor change within a couple of weeks. My teeth still have a long way to go (I’m wearing them for about a year), but the first thing I noticed was a positive change in my bite. Ever since I got the attachments put on, I’ve been noticing more of a shift in my front teeth. I was really excited (but played it cool) when my friend Christine said my teeth are already looking straighter! If you’d like to see the intended progress of your teeth, I would recommend that you ask your doctor to see the computer simulation, which shows how each set of aligner trays will shift your teeth.
How do you clean your aligners?
You can just use some lukewarm water and a toothbrush (my doctor suggested adding regular soap), but I have had the best results with Fresh Guard soak (for nights and mornings) and the wipes (for on the go). So far, they have kept them as clear as possible. Note: don’t use hot water, or you might warp your aligners!
Do you wear them for the full 22 hours, as suggested? What happens if you leave them out for too long?
I wear them as much as possible, and actually prefer having them in, now that I have the attachments. But the truth is, there are days when it’s more like 18-20 and not 22 - and there have been a couple of times when I left them out for longer than intended. If you leave them out for an extended time, they might feel a little tighter when you put them back in, and there’s a chance you’ll have to wear them longer if you keep slacking. It’s important to wear them as much as possible, in order to let them do their work! It also pays to go for your regular checkups, so your doctor can make sure everything is on schedule. So far, mine are right on track.
Can I eat/drink with them in?
You can drink as much water as you want, but eating and drinking anything other than that is a no-no while wearing your aligners. But that’s not a problem, because they’re easy to remove. I carry along Wisps (those tiny toothbrushes) and floss to clean my teeth before putting my aligners back in, and always rinse the trays themselves. If you’re unable to give them a proper cleaning, the aforementioned wipes are very handy.
Do the aligners hurt?
They don’t hurt but there’s a bit of pressure whenever I start a new tray, so my doctor recommended putting the new ones in at night, before I go to sleep. By morning, the tightness has usually subsided. Dr. Zhu also said my first set with the attachments would be the most uncomfortable, but they didn’t bother me. My second set (pre-attachments) was the only one to give me any grief, because my jaw was adjusting to my new bite.
What are the “attachments” and why are they necessary?
Attachments are tooth colored enamel bumps that are fixed to specific teeth, in order to help the aligners fully grip the teeth and help them in their movement. It seems like most of my friends didn’t need any attachments, because their teeth required less movement, but mine required a total of 12. They’re mostly on the sides, but I have one right in the front. Click the photograph to see it full size, so you can get a better idea of what it looks like. When my aligners are out, they’re less visible (they’re in, in the photo). I have to admit that I was really worried about the attachments - and I was prepared to go home and cry in the dark when I got them - but they aren’t as noticeable as I thought they would be. Immediately after my appointment, we went to the Jazz Age Lawn Party - and as you can tell by my smile, I wasn’t very self conscious about them! Talk to your doctor and find out if and where you will need them, because it completely depends on the individual.
What do I do with my old sets?
My doctor recommended that I always keep the previous set of aligners, just in case I lose my current ones or need to backtrack in my treatment. So, I have two cases: blue for current and red for previous. I should also note that you need to keep them away from your animals, because they love to chew them up. Luckily, Miku has zero interest in them, but I’ve heard and read about dogs getting ahold of them. But if that happens, wear your previous set until you get a replacement.
p.s. If you are interested in Invisalign® treatment, you can request more info, here.