Warning: You’re about to see a lot of photos of my mouth
At a glance, my teeth looked great. In fact, I’d received compliments on my smile frequently. However, my teeth remained one of my biggest insecurities and I refused to take photos from my “bad side.” I decided to do something about it.
Flash back to middle school: I had braces for 11 months. Just like most teens, I failed to wear my retainer after getting my braces removed. Years later, I joked with my orthodontist that he never stressed the importance of wearing a retainer to me. He rolled his eyes. I knew he told me to wear it, but at the ripe ol’ age of 14 I wasn’t going to listen.
So there I was, 25-years-old and looking for a solution. I had a pretty serious gap on the left side and my teeth weren’t aligned to the center of my mouth. It was effecting my day to day, and resulted in me covering my mouth when smiling. I noticed it the most when looking at our wedding photos and refusing to share any image that made my gap visible.
So, I decided to begin Invisalign after seeing my mother’s results. She used Invisalign a year before me and I was shocked by how discreet her aligners were.
I called a Denver orthodontist, Dr. Joanna Levin of Levin Orthodontics. I didn’t have to go into the office often – but I loved my visits every time! I highly recommend her!
The First Month
My changes were minimal but still required 9 months of Invisalign (or so I thought — it ended up being more like 13 months). I was stunned by how truly invisible the aligners were. No one knew I was wearing them (or at least they didn’t tell me they knew).
The pain from the aligners is different for everyone. My first week was a little rough, similar to getting braces for the first time, but Advil did the trick. I held myself to a strict schedule, trying my best to hit the 22 hours of recommended wear a day. I brushed my teeth after every meal and flossed regularly. My teeth never looked better. I was on my way to a straight smile!
My first two months were great. Then, I got my pesky tooth attachments. Tooth attachments are little bumps the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to give your aligners something to hold on to. They’re tooth colored and strategically placed on your problem areas (ie. right in the front for the world to see).
After getting my attachments I was devastated. I told my husband, “They’ve ruined my smile, I won’t smile with my mouth open until they come off.” Unfortunately, that’s fairly accurate. I smiled with my teeth closed, covered my mouth with my hand while laughing and did everything I could to hide the monstrous bumps across my beautiful teeth.
Let me clarify — the orthodontist was totally upfront about the tooth attachments. I knew they would be added to my teeth three months in to the treatment and I was able to see beforehand where they would be placed. I just didn’t realize how self-conscious I would be with them added.
At this point, I was comfortable with my Invisalign trays. I had a great system in place. I put a new tray on every Monday night before going to bed and woke up not noticing the minimal pain that came with a tighter set.
Note: the orthodontist instructed me to start a new set once a week, this may not be the standard for other plans.
I did notice my aligners getting foggy by the end of the week and was thrilled to start a new set each time. If I had a big event going on that weekend, I’d soak my aligners in 50% water and 50% white vinegar. I avoided coffee (I’m not a big coffee drinker anyways) which kept my aligners from staining. WARNING: Never ever drink anything other than water with your aligners in.
I also read a horror story about a woman who wore bright lipstick with her aligners on and ended up with a red smear across her top tray. I’ve avoided lipstick all-together when I’m wearing my aligners, just in case.
Five months in and the tooth attachments still bothered me. They weren’t as noticeable from a distance, as you can see in the photo above, so that was nice.
I started to get more confident in photos, however, because I was seeing a change in my smile. Normally, I would tilt my head a bit to make my misaligned teeth less obvious, by month five I was smiling straight on and found myself forgetting which side was my “good side.”
I did notice that my teeth were less white than when I started, but I was a pretty regular Crest Whitestrips user before Invisalign. I was worried that I would end up with strange looking teeth if I used the Whitestrips with my tooth attachments in place so I held off until they were removed.
At seven months, my Invisalign journey felt like an eternity. Just a few months to go; I felt like I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have Invisalign.
I met another Invisalign patient and we bonded over our frustrations. Her boyfriend assured both of us that the only time he noticed the “bumps” on our teeth was when he was close-up and staring at our mouths (not something that usually happens in casual conversation). At this point, no one had asked what “those things on my teeth” were.
The end was near. I could see a more drastic change in my teeth.
At nine months I went in for one of my last few appointments. There were a few small corrections still to be made – a slight shift here, a little gap there. My orthodontist wanted my smile to be perfect, and wouldn’t settle for pretty good. I was now looking at about 12-13 months with Invisalign total. Hey, for a lifelong beautiful smile – I’ll take it!
I was banking on being done with Invisalign before our Europe vacation, that wasn’t the case. I still had a month or so following our trip before I would switch to only wearing retainers in the evening.
At nine months, my attachments were removed and something surprising happened…not a single person noticed that they were gone. Not even my husband! I had to point out to him that my front teeth were no longer bumpy.
I guess my grandpa was right when he said, “People are far too concerned with themselves to worry about you.” That always sounded like an insult, but he makes a pretty great point. Turns out I wasted a lot of time being self-conscious over something that no one noticed.
After thirteen long months with Invisalign my tooth attachments were removed and I was given the OK to switch to a retainer — one that I will wear every. single. night. forever. Hey, I’ll take it! It’s better than a 3rd trip to the orthodontist!
Here’s the final before and afters:
Conclusion – My Thoughts On Invisalign
All in all, I’m very happy with my results and would recommend Invisalign to anyone who wants to straighten their teeth discreetly. If you have minimal changes, you may be eligible for Invisalign Lite, which will only take about 7 months. Read more about the variations of Invisalign here.
Pros of Invisalign
- Relatively quick – About one year to a straighter smile
- Invisible from a distance
- Removable trays make it easy to eat/drink/brush your teeth
- Accurate – the trays are designed off of real 3D imagery of your entire mouth
- Independent – I was given several months of trays at a time, and only had to go into the orthodontist every few months
Cons of Invisalign
- The attachments were very obvious on my teeth, making me self-conscious for a good 10 months
- The trays get foggy after 5 days or so, and cleaning them is a little inconvenient
- The price is high, but comparable to that of traditional braces (it’s a myth that they’re drastically more expensive than braces).
Thanks for reading,