Sets 12 & 13 Of My Invisalign Braces

I had reached a point with my Invisalign braces somewhere around set 10 where I felt so comfortable with the whole process that I was almost coasting through to the end of my first run of 17 aligners for my upper arch. I felt that I knew what was to be expected with each set, I had mastered the whole insertion/removal/cleaning palaver, and I wasn’t anticipating any surprises.

Then came set 12. Like some of my earlier aligners these were extremely difficult to insert the first time, particularly on the bottom arch. However, usually with each new set I have half an hour or so of minor discomfort, then a gentle pressure for the next 12-24 hours, and then they feel like an old comfortable pair of trainers. But not these babies. 5 days after first inserting them they were still tight despite 21+ hours of wear per day. It felt like being back in the early days of set 1. Not only were they tight, but I was able to feel exactly which teeth they were moving. My upper arches are definitely being expanded outwards and the my right front tooth is being pushed backwards into the correct alignment, as is the ugly old crown next to it. In fact, my crown has become slightly wobbly over the last couple of weeks.

This isn’t as alarming as it sounds as I don’t think the crown itself will fall off and leave me gappy and toothless(but watch this space!); rather, the root feels like it is moving around inside the gum due to the pressure. Looking at my clincheck I can see that this tooth has undergone some fairly significant shifting in the last 6 months so I’m not altogether surprised that it has some movement; it does feel slightly odd nonetheless. It reminds me of being six years old and the temptation to worry it with my tongue and try and increase the wobbliness is almost overwhelming!

Set 13 have also been difficult. In fact they are so hard to remove that they have developed a fairly major split where my bottom stray tooth is. When previous sets have done this (although to a much lesser extent) my orthodontist has been fairly relaxed and just advised that I keep wearing them as long as they are able to be worn, so that is my policy with this set. I can still feel them putting pressure on my teeth so hopefully they are doing what they are meant to. I’m sure I’ll find out when I try and insert the next set!

I’d be the first to admit to my hypochondria- in fact I almost certainly have several life threatening conditions as we speak- but I am coming to the conclusion that Invisalign may be giving me migraines. It’s not that I have headaches on a daily basis, but with the tighter sets I seem to get fairly serious headaches for the first couple of days. I have read elsewhere that other people take a couple of painkillers on the first day of each set of new aligners as a matter of course. Due to my crohn’s disease (and my hypochondria) I’m not fond of painkillers so I’ve never done that- perhaps that would have solved the problem. I’d be interested to know whether other people have found this though, or whether it is just the product of my overactive imagination.

One of the dire warnings that my orthodontist gave me at the beginning of this process was to always put my aligners straight into their case as soon as I take them out of my mouth so that they don’t get lost or accidently thrown away. Of course, if I could consistently remember to take my cases with me wherever I went this would be exactly what I would do. The problem is that I constantly forget them, so my aligners end up deposited in the most sanitary place I can find. Usually this will be inside a paper napkin, and there have been several times where I have had to chase waiters across a restaurant or cafe to root through the remnants of a meal looking for the discarded napkin that contains my braces. Classy. Last week though I surpassed myself. I had taken my daughter to soccer practice at 8am and in all the confusion of lost shoes and unbrushed hair had made it out of the door without any breakfast. Luckily soccer practice is near a bakery so I bought myself a cheese croissant, merrily tucked my aligners into the brown paper bag it came in and ate my food. You can guess the rest. I offloaded my rubbish to my husband who immediately screwed the brown paper bag into a tight ball and shoved it into his back pocket. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes later that it suddenly dawned on me that my braces were now not only wrapped, but scrunched up. I’m not saying that that necessarily has anything to do with the huge crack in set 13….

One thing that is starting to worry me is that my teeth look SO much better with my aligners in. Not only do they look straighter, they look whiter too. My whole arch looks bigger and seems to fill my mouth more with my aligners in, so I wonder whether I’ll ever manage to be happy with my natural teeth at the end of this. Much as I haven’t minded my aligners through this process I was hoping to be rid of them at some point in the future…during the days at least. Hopefully as I have only 4 sets left on my uppers they will transform in the next 8 weeks and I’ll feel differently. I think taking the attachments off will help.

I’ll post more pictures in the next couple of days. My teeth are looking much better from straight on, but my bottom teeth are still a long way back so my overbite is still pretty huge. Only 21 more trays for that arch…..

6th Set of Invisalign braces- A silly thing to try and treat with Invisalign!

I chose my Orthodontist after a long and arduous search for the right Invisalign doctor. One of the factors that helped me to choose him was that he is a lecturer in orthodontics at a prestigious Australian University. It never crossed my mind though that I might become the basis for one of his lectures.

Apparently though, that is the case. I don’t mind that at all- as far as I am concerned if my teeth can help other orthodontists to improve their Invisalign technique I will be delighted. It is more the title of the lecture that bothers me. My orthodontist cheerily informed me yesterday that my teeth are the basis for a lecture he is giving next week, entitled…”Silly things to try and do with Invisalign braces” That makes me feel so, so much more confident! My only consolation is that he might need to provide an update to the students in the future, so perhaps this will encourage him to do his best work… How much do I wish I could be a fly on the wall and hear what he has to say!
Other than that, my 6 weekly visit was short and uneventful. I asked my query about flouride and he said that as we have flouridated water here now flouride probably isn’t necessary for most patients. However, in patients with large amounts of fillings (i.e. me) it can do no harm. He actually suggested a weekly flouride rinse. His only stipulation was that it should be a ph neutral one.
I picked up three more sets- sets 6, 7 and 8, and immediately put set 6 in. They are tight. For the first time since set 1 at the beginning of this process I actually felt I really had to take a painkiller. I should probably explain something here. I have crohns disease which is an inflammatory stomach disorder. As a consequence I have a lot of stomach ulcers and try and avoid painkillers as much as possible. When I do take them I try and stick to paracetamol. So I don’t take them lightly, taking one maybe 2 or 3 times a year (as opposed to 2 or 3 times a week like my husband!). Lots of people, I know, always pop a painkiller when they put in a new Invisalign tray in, but generally I haven’t found it necessary. This time though the pain became so much that I had the sense that it was going to give me a migraine, so I decided to preempt that. It seemed to work because by next morning they felt a lot better.
I have had the usual difficulties of removing them with the attachments, and have noticed that there is a tiny crack in the side of one of my molars on the bottom arch. I am ignoring this unless it gets worse as it doesn’t seem to be compromising the strength of the tray. I know that probably I should call my orthodontist, but I know that he will only have two options- to order a new tray, which I don’t want to wait for, or to push me forward a set, which I don’t want to do. So, I am going to try and wear these as long as I can of the two weeks. If they get weaker or snap I will, of course, call him.
I live in Australia, having emigrated here four years ago. Consequently all my family are still in the UK, and haven’t yet seen my Invisalign. They are all arriving next week, and I am particularly looking forward to the comments from my Mother In Law who utterly despises me and will no doubt have some interesting things to say about my braces-I’ll keep you posted!

4th Set Of Invisalign Braces

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.Charles Darwin
Well, Darwin would be proud of me this week. Not only have I managed to get used to my new Invisalign attachments, I have almost forgotten they are there. Which isn’t to say that I like them, of course, rather that I am learning to live with them in all their visible glory.

Set 3 were diabolical to remove, but now, three weeks into my life with attachments my Invisalign aligners are almost as easy to remove as they were before the dreaded buttons were put on. I can whip them out fairly quickly, and regularly do it surreptitiously in public eating places all over Brisbane. Nobody seems to notice, or perhaps they are just too polite to stare, in which case I am eternally grateful to them. I have still have the problem of my attachments catching occasionally on the side of my cheeks when the aligners are out of my mouth, but even that problem is diminishing as my cheeks toughen up.
Set 4 were tight at first, particularly on my front teeth which were tender for the first 24-36 hours, but not so tender that I couldn’t eat. It was the kind of tender that I have actually come to almost enjoy as I know that it means that my teeth are moving towards their new improved positions! I had some trouble with a sharp edge in place that had never rubbed before, but 24 hours and some sly manoeuvres with a nail file sorted out that problem.

I find now, and yes, it is somewhat pathetic, that I get a little bit excited as changeover day approaches. In the second week of wearing an aligner I get that feeling you have in a job when you have already given your notice. You are just marking time and going through the motions, mentally you have already moved on. I can now understand why people try to speed up their Invisalign treatment time by cutting the time of wearing each aligner to 10 days. It is tempting. You know what though? After $6300 dollars, and all that it has taken to get here, it is not that tempting.

Bring on aligner no. 5….

Set 3 of my Invisalign braces-Invisalign attachments!

Having just got my new Invisalign attachments I think my love affair with Invisalign braces may already be starting to wane.

I’m not sure what possessed me, but I scheduled my appointment to get my Invisalign attachments an hour after I was due to drop my 5 year old daughter off for her first ever day at school. By the time I had realised, it was too late to reschedule, unless I wanted to wait another 2 weeks for my next set, which I certainly didn’t.

So, I arrived at my appointment red eyed and sorry for myself after a morning of blubbing and was perhaps feeling a little more fragile than I might otherwise have been. You should probably bear that in mind when reading this account!

My teeth though, were in great shape. I had a quick chat with the ortho about the bleaching which we agreed had been reasonably successful. I mentioned that after 3 consecutive nights of use it had made my gums crack and bleed, which he said noone else had told him before, so maybe that is just me?

He had a quick look at tray 2 in my mouth, and examined the crack (read about that here). He could immediately see the problem, and upon examining the other aligners he had waiting for me we could see that some of them cover my stray lower tooth completely, and some just cover the top of it. He wasn’t able to give me any explanation other than the that the Invisalign robot was having an off day but he decided it was unnecessary to cover that tooth, and took all the future sets away and filed them down. There was also a small area that irritates part of my gum that I have had to file on my last two sets, and he filed that on all the future sets too which was a great relief.

By the time I got to this appointment, 4 weeks into my Invisalign treatment I could get my trays in and out almost without thinking about it. It wasn’t quite at the point where I could pop them out with my tongue as I have read some other people discuss, but it was certainly easy. I told my ortho this, and he chuckled and said “wait until we get these attachments on” with an evil glint in his eye, and what I thought might be a cackle under his breath…


Teeth With Invisalign Attachments

The Invisalign attachments or buttons are small clear ‘blobs” that are fixed to your teeth to give your aligners better grip on the tooth that they are attached to. They are, in my case, all oblong shaped, although apparently there are other possible shapes. Depending on the movement they are designed to help with, they can be put on either vertically or horizontally, and can go on different positions on each tooth to help create different movements. I have 5 attachments in total as you can see on my clincheck.

The process of putting them on began with my ortho showing me 2 sets of my third aligner. One of them was a template set, made of a much finer and softer plastic than the normal aligners, the other was the standard aligner for use after the attachments were fixed. The template aligner was fitted to my teeth to check for fit and was then removed again. The ortho then used some kind of powered drill to ‘rough up’ the surface of my tooth. It was a sensation not unlike sandpapering and not altogether pleasant. He then filled the attachment gaps in the template with some gel and reinserted it on to my teeth. The gel would be what ultimately would form the attachments, and was hardened by him shining a blue light on each one in turn in a way very similar to when you get a white filling.

The next bit was slightly fiddly as he then had to remove the template, which involved lots of pulling and the use of his dentists pick, but eventually it came out without the attachments or any of my teeth!

He then took what sounded like a drill and filed off any excess bits that had become attached to my teeth, and also smoothed around the attachments so that they would not irritate my mouth. This was the part that I REALLY didn’t enjoy. It was very similar to having your tooth drilled in preparation for a filling, and although I knew that they weren’t actually drilling into my tooth, it felt as if they were, and was almost bordering on painful. The only positive was that it was over relatively quickly. If you have a dentist or filling phobia it may be worthwhile having a stiff drink or a valium for this bit, it is the bit I have enjoyed least of the whole process thus far.

I was then ready to go! The orthodontist reinserted the softer template tray and told me to wear that one until the end of the day. His reasoning for this was that it can be extremely difficult to remove the trays the first day after attachments are put on. The template would therefore help to move the teeth a bit whilst still being flexible enough to allow it to be more easily removed. This would give me a chance to practice before inserting the normal one that evening. I’m not sure whether this is standard procedure from Invisalign, if not, all hail my ortho, as it seemed like a great idea!

Of course, when he said that the template would be easier to remove than the normal tray, he meant easier, not easy. It still took me about ten nail-breaking minutes to remove each aligner, and I began to seriously doubt whether I would actually ever be able eat again.

There is a moment when you reach a certain point of frustration trying to remove these things, when your fingers seem too big and clumsy to fit in your mouth, and you just want to scream. I spent most of the day like that with one of the aligners stuck half on and half off my teeth and my fingers down my throat. I was so panicky that I wondered whether I can do this or whether I will need an aligner hook.Apparently a lot of Invisalign patients swear by them although they are hard to get hold of in Australia.

I switched to the standard aligners that evening, and noticed two things. Firstly, that the attachments make them WAY firmer- they certainly do increase the grip- and also that my ortho wasn’t kidding about how much more difficult they are to remove. Even a week on I am still struggling- not as much, but there is no sense of just ‘popping’ them in and out, it really is something of an ordeal. They are also so much tighter than set two, almost to the point of pain. The old cliche of be careful what you wish for certainly applies in this case.

Aesthetically, I am also not a great fan of the attachments. I was prepared to concede that Invisalign braces are fairly invisible when you don’t have attachments, but, I think the attachments effectively double their visibility. The strange bumps on your teeth are way more noticeable than the extra glossiness that you get from the aligner. Of course, that being said, they are still a substantial improvement on even clear standard braces, just not truly invisible.

The only other thing I dislike is that when your aligners are out of your mouth the Invisalign attachments feel very rough inside your cheeks- it gives you sympathy for how people with standard braces must struggle. They also feel like food becomes easily caught on them.

Of course, having said all this, I still on balance feel that they will be worth it- if I do end up with great teeth at the end!

For those of you who might be interested there is a great video on youtube showing the attachment process. I think it was helpful to me to know what to expect.

I’ll let you be the judge of how visible my Invisalign attachments look:

Invisalign attachments with aligner in