Is Invisalign the magic, no-braces answer to perfect teeth? Yes and no. There are a lot of things to know about Invisalign before you start treatment. In this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know before you start.
You must wear your aligners for 22 hours, every day
Your aligners must be in place for a minimum of 22 hours a day, every single day, until your treatment ends. This means that you will wear them every moment of the day, except for meals, drinks other than plain water, and cleaning your teeth.
If you regularly spend an hour over one meal of the day – like a leisurely dinner – expect that how you approach meals will have to change.
You will need to clean your teeth any time you eat something
Every time you eat anything, you will need to clean your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This means carrying a toothbrush with you, and being mindful of when and where you eat during your day. If you are unable to clean your teeth prior to putting your aligners back in, then you are putting the health of your teeth at risk.
Water will be your best friend
Coloured drinks will stain your aligners very quickly. Sugary drinks will lead to the demineralisation of your teeth, plaque build-up and stinky breath. This means cordial, soft drink, sports drinks, and even juices will be out of the question, unless you take your aligners out and clean your teeth afterwards.
Sorry, wine lovers! Even white wine will stain your aligners.
Lipstick and lip gloss will stick to your aligners
Anything waxy like lipstick and coloured lip gloss can stick to, and stain, your aligners. So, if you’re a person who loves to wear lippie, you might want to rethink whether or not Invisalign is for you. Or, if it is, think about whether you want to risk getting cosmetic product on your aligners.
You may need to wear a retainer for life
As with ALL orthodontic treatments, including braces, your teeth’s first reaction when treatment is complete is to return to their starting positioning. This is overcome by having bonded wire retainers on the insides of your front six teeth and wearing a clear plastic retainer at night time. You’ll need to do this every night initially, but it will taper off to one night a week indefinitely.
You may have attachments
Even though you may think that having Invisalign won’t require brackets and wires, Invisalign uses things called attachments. These attachments are white shapes varying in shape from rectangular to ‘tear-drop’ that are bonded to your teeth. The attachments act as arms for the aligners to grip on to, allowing for more control over the tooth’s movement.
Will you need attachments?
It depends on your teeth and the nature of your particular treatment. Some Invisalign patients require a small number of attachments; some require a larger number. Your orthodontist will be able to give you specific information.
It can be uncomfortable, at the start
The first time you wear aligners you may find yourself in discomfort. Your teeth may become sore or sensitive. When you change over your aligners, the tightness of them may also cause headaches. It’s common, because of the nature of the treatment. But it does ease off over time as you become used to wearing your aligners.
You can’t whiten your teeth until treatment is over
It is unfortunate, but true. You will have to forget about any teeth whitening treatment until your Invisalign treatment is finished. You could instead consider whitening prior to having Invisalign treatment. The only downside is that you will have to get a new set of custom whitening trays after your Invisalign treatment is complete as your smile will be completely changed.
Hot drinks will warp your aligners
If you’re used to drinking hot drinks like tea, chocolate, or lots of coffee, be prepared to take your aligners out and brush your teeth every time you have a cup! Not only will these types of drinks stain your aligners, but the temperature may warp them.
Your attachments will stain really easily
It’s not just your aligners that stain easily. The margins around your attachments will stain too. This means that if you’re a coffee-lover, you need to be prepared to brush your teeth every time you have a cup of coffee. Otherwise, you might end up with what looks like brown flecks stuck to your teeth! Yuck!
You may develop a bit of a lisp, temporarily
When you first get your aligners, you may find it odd to talk around them for a little while. Be prepared to discover that you sound like you have a bit of a lisp! If your diction is very important to you, perhaps because of a job that you have, this may be an important consideration before you decide whether or not to go down the Invisalign road.
Aligners with attachments are not easy to remove
Some people use their fingernails to remove their aligners. But there is also a tool called an Outie that will help you to get your aligners out. While Invisalign looks like it’s simple to remove, it may not be that easy for you. Be prepared, just in case.
The aligners will might make your mouth feel dry
Saliva will catch in the aligner trays, and a natural result of this is that your mouth may feel dry. You will need to keep your fluids up to counteract the dryness. You may also find that your lips also seem drier than before.
Invisalign may require refinement aligners
Once the initial Invisalign treatment is completed, you may require refinement trays. The refinement aligners are a way of fine-tuning things to make an excellent result even better, getting you closer to that perfect smile.
In some cases, if you haven’t quite monitored the aligner fit closely enough, refinement aligners are a great way to go back and pick up the teeth that have not tracked the way they should have. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced Invisalign provider who will be able to help you understand the actual extent of treatment, and can help you to set accurate expectations before you start using Invisalign.
The right practitioner is more important than the device itself
Invisalign is a fantastic tool for straightening teeth but it truly comes down to the Invisalign provider’s experience. Not everyone is suitable for Invisalign. By extension, not every Invisalign provider is suitable for helping you achieve your perfect smile. Having Invisalign isn’t the same as buying an identical car from multiple dealerships: Every provider may end up with a different result.
An experienced orthodontist is a great starting point. Orthodontists have studied an additional three years, full-time, to get a Masters degree that allows them to become specialists in straightening teeth, correcting bites and in turn, creating healthy perfect smiles.