So, if you read my cautionary tale
several months back about not doing anything that involves your body on the cheap, you’ll know that last year I got ‘invisible’ braces and didn’t complete the treatment because the dental surgery went bust from all their cut-price deals, destroying my dreams of straight teeth in the process. As it turns out, not only did the surgery go bankrupt, so did the company who actually made the braces. So in terms of failed treatments there’s no hope of ever finishing, nice job, CiCi.
It wasn’t all bad, my top teeth were nearly there when it ended. The bottom are still hopeless (above!), just not now ranking on the Picasso scale of teeth appearing in parts of my gums they shouldn’t. But they still bother me and I hate smiling with my teeth, so I’ve taken the plunge for a second time to try to sort them out once and for all. And this time, it’s the proper Invisalign treatment rather than a copycat company that Invisalign sue and ultimately shut down (i.e. my first provider).
And as I embark on this mission again, it occurs to me I’ve learned a fair bit during my experiences with this kind of ‘invisible’ brace. So much so that I might even have a bit of advice for anyone considering it…
10 reasons why Invisalign could work for you
And I’ll start by saying I’m in no way being endorsed by Invisalign, so this is the honest – and let’s face it, sometimes disgusting – truth. I’ve seen other blogs write-up treatment lately but I don’t feel like they’ve presented enough of the cons alongside the pros. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing way to straighten your teeth and I can’t wait to see the end results, but it’s not going to be for everyone.
It might work for you if…
1. You can afford it
This seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t know quite how expensive this treatment is. In the UK, expect to pay a minimum of £3,500 for full treatment. I’m in no position to pay for this all in one go – and I wouldn’t these days anyway as it’s much more risky (eh-hem
) – but most surgeries will offer finance plans. You’ve still got to be able to pay instalments though, so it really needs serious consideration. Unless you’re a millionaire, in which case, if you feel like paying for the rest of my treatment and
yours, be my guest.
2. You’re prepared for not quite invisible
Look closely at the teeth in the above picture… notice anything about one of my centre front teeth? No, my tooth isn’t bumpy, or at least, it wasn’t until two plastic ‘attachments’ were stuck to it. Invisalign keep quiet about this aspect of this treatment in a lot of their marketing paraphernalia, but pretty much everyone who has the treatment has to have these things stuck on to help rotate the teeth. I got REALLY lucky because not only do I have 18 (!) of them, two are on one of my most prominent front teeth. It takes the ‘invisi’ out of ‘invisible’ when the shiny braces are bouncing the light off your lumps. It’s still subtle enough most people probably won’t notice, as they’re tooth-coloured, but just be prepared for this likely eventuality. They will glue them on with what smells like super glue and is a darn sight tougher. The only way those things come off is by being filed off.
3. You’re able to get to schedule your entire life around bathroom breaks
One of my closest friends spends literally all day at work in meetings. Others have social lives that involve, you know, going out and eating meals/having drinks with people. My parents seem to constantly be having more fun than me on last-minute mini-breaks in Europe. If any of these conditions where you have a busy life apply, having to clean your teeth 3+ times a day every time you want to eat or drink anything other than water, before you can put the braces back in, is really going to be a huge pain. Your life with these braces is a giant schedule of bathroom breaks – at the start it will be both to take the aligners out (see dribble point below) and to put them back in… These aligners are supposed to be in 22 hours a day – I’d say anything less than 20 and you’re in trouble… and it’s amazing how quickly the minutes add up after eating (and you can loose nearly half an hour just on one cup of tea), but especially if you’re out and about or otherwise occupied.
4. You don’t get distracted easily/aren’t forgetful
If you lean towards scatterbrained, you’re going to find it hard to remember to put your braces back in straight after eating – I’m not, and I still lose track of how long I’ve had them out. That’s not really an option with these braces, don’t wear them enough and your teeth won’t move enough – it’s pretty simple.
5. You can handle a bit of pain and/or painkillers – and having your teeth sawed
Don’t get me wrong, invisible braces are probably one of the least invasive methods of orthodontics out there. I mean, you can take them out – surely that says it all. But there’s a rumour that I wouldn’t be surprised if a certain large invisible brace provider started that this treatment is virtually painless. Nope. Whenever you’re moving teeth into places they had no intentions of going themselves, it’s going to hurt. It’s definitely worse when you put new aligners in – every two weeks – and after a day or two it’ll settle down. And if you’re really lucky the rough edges of the brace will give you a mouth ulcer or two. Oh, and if you’re trying to get teeth into places they physically can’t go because there’s no room, your dentist might whip out a miniature hand-saw and file your teeth down in the gaps between. While this shouldn’t hurt, it is as terrifying as it sounds. If you can’t handle dentistry, make sure you understand exactly what each stage of the process might involve. And yes, there’ll be at least ten minutes of having your mouth stuffed full of goo to create the brace molds.
6. You don’t travel lightly
Say hello to my travel dental kit. If I leave the house without this now, I literally have a panic attack because without it I can’t eat. It also means I have to have a bigger bag to carry it around in… Fortunately I’m someone who looks like they’re going away for a week when they’re just going to the post office, so it wasn’t too much trouble to find a space for it, but if you like a tiny day bag you’re in trouble. At all times you’ll need to carry with you: the braces’s case, a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, mouthwash (ideally), mouth spray, intensive lip balm and a bottle of water. On the latter two: your mouth can get really dry with these braces in which is a weird side effect that again doesn’t get talked about lots.7. You have, or can live with having, short nails i.e. no falsies!
Neither time I’ve embarked on this dentistry has the dentist responsible checked to see whether or not I have long/false nails. MASSIVE oversight. If you have false nails, these braces will destroy them. Long nails and it’s gonna break ’em. They can be incredibly difficult to get out, especially if you have lots of attachments. The only way I’ve managed to unhook the plastic from the attachments is to use my now very short, but strong, nails to inch it off. Nail varnish won’t last a minute, either. This is worst at the start of a new set of braces, but as they change every two weeks you quickly give up on having nice nails until it’s over. In total I’ve had 7 months of these braces already and although you do get a bit of a knack for maneuvering them, I’d be surprised if anyone’s technique doesn’t involve the ‘nail wrench’.
8. Having a bit of a ‘monkey mouth’ doesn’t bother you
Not saying this particular phenomenon is especially visible here, but it is a tiny bit as I know what my face looks like (I see enough photos of it doing this blog!). The braces are thin but they can alter the way your bite/jaw sits and if you’ve got attachments on your front teeth, you might notice your lips are puffing out a bit. I not-so-fondly refer to this as my monkey mouth. It’s probably barely perceptible to anyone but me, but I’m the one who has to look at myself in the mirror every day, alright?! Monkey mouth also manages to ruin several outfit photos I try to take for this blog, these days.
9. You can also accept the world’s worst morning breath and a bit of dribble
I’m sure this isn’t just a side-effect of invisible braces, but as I’ve never had the ‘normal’ kind I’m just going to put this out there anyway for anyone who doesn’t know… Your morning breath will be potent enough to knock someone out. Just started a new relationship? You might want to wait a while… Oh, and be prepared for dribble. LOTS of dribble. You’ve never known dribble until you’ve spent ten minutes at the start of your treatment trying to prize one corner of a new aligner off of your teeth. Tip: if the dentist asks you to demonstrate removing the braces in front of them, firmly decline or at least accept the fact you will transform before their very eyes into an horrendous, over-sized baby with no control over your saliva whatsoever.
10. Once you start something, you will darn well finish it!
This is probably the most important advice I can give you of all. If you are someone who can’t commit to things, or gives up easily, this really isn’t for you. Most treatment takes over a year – I’ve heard of it taking almost two (mine will be 13 months + 2 months of retainers daily, so 15). You will have to make it part of your daily routine and you will have to schedule some of your life around it to make it work properly. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, a permanent, fixed option would be better for you. Or don’t do it at all!
Any of you ever thought about having cosmetic dentistry before? In the UK, you might get straightening on the NHS when you’re young, but they don’t insist. Someone wriggled out of their NHS orthodontic appointment because they thought having frizzy hair (this was pre-hair straightening technology), glasses, puppy fat AND braces aged 15 might have been one too many boxes ticked on the ‘Reasons I’ll never have a boyfriend’ list…