Invisalign – What I Wish I Knew to Prepare Myself

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At the tender age of 45, I thought it would be a great idea to get Invisalign. I quickly learned that there is a very good reason why most people get “braces” when they are children. Children are still growing and their bodies are fluid. Their jaw bones, teeth, and gums are pliable and easy to move between the ages of 8-18. Adults, especially adults over the age of 40, have tissue that is not so pliable. With my only experience of Invisalign being watching my teenage son go through treatment with little complaining and only mild discomfort, I really had no idea what was in store for me.

I wish I were more prepared for the full Invisalign experience. I am sharing my experience with you so you know what to expect if you choose to take the journey. As you read through and consider all of the things might happen in your experience, keep in mind that I would still choose to do Invisalign again. I am so happy with how my teeth look, and it was worth the discomfort, pain, and inconvenience.

The dentist will put “buttons” on your teeth.

This came as a surprise the day I showed up to get my Invisalign. The dental assistant will place little “buttons,” similar to brackets for braces on your teeth. Not every tooth will need a button. Some teeth may need two buttons, some teeth may need one button, and many teeth won’t need any buttons at all.The buttons are white; they are not invisible. They feel like cement blocks stuck to your teeth and the feeling will likely bother you at first, especially when you are eating. You will get used to them after a week or two.

The first 48 hours are the hardest.

It actually took me five weeks to get used to the Invisalign. Each week, you change your aligners. Each time you change them, it feels like starting all over again. After the first five weeks, the process didn’t feel as painful.

Your face will hurt.

I wish I could describe it differently, but it’s the truth. My whole face hurt. My jaw bones ached, my neck and shoulders felt tense, and my gums throbbed. I took Aleve around the clock for the first 36 hours and that helped. As time progressed, I found that massaging CBD oil into my jaw, neck and shoulders helped, too.

The inside of your mouth will feel swollen.

For me the swelling happened almost immediately. I couldn’t see the swelling, but I could feel it. The inside of my mouth felt large, and the inside of my lips kept rubbing against the top of the aligner. This made the inside of my upper lip raw and sore. I solved this problem after 48 hours of being in pain. I went to CVS, bought orthodontist wax, and had instant relief. The wax was a life saver! Be sure to have some at home so you don’t have to run to the store when you get your aligners.

Your speech will likely change.

Perhaps this is related to the swelling inside the mouth and perhaps not everyone will have swelling like I did. While the aligners appear to be thin and hardly noticeable in your hand, when you first put them in your mouth it feels like you are wearing a huge mouthguard (like the ones football players wear). I could no longer enunciate my words; I spoke with a lisp. Being a Pilates and yoga teacher, this felt like a huge problem. How could I teach if people couldn’t understand me? 

Your ears may act funny.

My ears kept plugging up, and it sounded like I was under water. I learned that the jaw bone is intimately close to the ear canal, so when you start to move your jaws and teeth with the Invisalign, you might notice a change in your hearing. Save yourself a trip to the ENT and know that it will get better over time.

Sleeping may be disrupted.

Wearing the Invisalign felt a bit like wearing Hannibal Lecter’s mask when I was sleeping. It was hard to relax, and I often felt tight and tense when I woke up in the morning. This could be in part because I grind my teeth when I sleep. Wearing the Invisalign did not prevent the grinding, so things really tensed up at night and I often felt grouchy and sore when I woke up.

Invisalign is worn for 22 hours each day.

At best, I think I got in 20 hours per day. This amount of time didn’t seem to interfere with the process. Each time I went in for a check up, my dentist was quite happy with how well my teeth were moving and responding.

Water is all you can consumer when wearing your Invisalign.

If you drink anything else, there is a chance it will stain the top of your teeth or seep into the aligners and rot away your enamel. To keep your teeth healthy, it is important to have discipline and not break this important rule.

Plan to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

You need to rinse your aligners each time you take them out of your mouth to eat or drink. You need to brush your teeth after eating and drinking before you can put the aligners back into your mouth. I used more than my fair share of public restrooms during my treatment and have vowed that I will never again brush my teeth in a public bathroom. I am grateful that I had my aligners before COVID-19 because I couldn’t imagine brushing my teeth in a public restroom now.

You may feel grouchy.

Our mouths are directly related to our ability to relax and feel peaceful. When your mouth is tight, tense and hurting, it might effect your ability to be happy and peaceful. Have some tools on hand to help ease your discomfort and support your peace of mind.

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