Invisalign refinements….Freedom for teeth!

After 9 months of confinement inside their clear plastic Invisalign prisons my top arches are finally free; the only thing is, at times I have almost missed my braces!
After 17 aligners and 34 weeks I have finished the first run for my upper arches. I still have 17 aligners left for my bottom arch however, so I wear the lowers full time and the upper ones only at night. That in itself is proving to be something of a challenge. Whilst it was easy to remember to put my braces back in when I was wearing both sets- my teeth felt strangely naked without them- it is much harder to remember to put only one aligner back in. My teeth seem to have quickly adjusted to the naked feeling on the top arches; wearing only lower aligners is nowhere near as intrusive. That means, however, that I never get the sensation that used to remind me to put my braces back in and consequently I have been skipping a few hours here and there.
It was strange at first not to have to wear them after all this time. The only way that I can describe it is as similar to the time when I gave up sucking my thumb as a child, my mouth felt strangely empty and my tongue almost throbbed with some unmet need. However, that quickly passed thankfully and I am now fully happy with my 12 hours a day wear. My orthodontist has told me that that is the ideal balance between the need for retainment and the need for my top aligners to last intact until my refinements arrive.
Arggh, refinements. Those of you that have read this blog from it’s earliest days will remember my confident proclamations about how I didn’t require perfection, only improvement in my teeth. Funny how these things change. Whilst my teeth are enormously improved there are still a few minor tweaks that I now deem absolutely necessary for my orthodontic happiness. As discussed a couple of posts ago in my “invisalign set 15 -ugly photos”my front tooth is not yet in complete alignment, although it is pretty close. Similarly the left hand side of my upper arch has not widened as well as the right side and the length of the teeth is mismatched when viewed both from the front and the side. Fortunately my fabulous orthodontist agreed 100% with my assessment of this as well as picking up a couple of other minor points and thinks that we can fix it in about 6 additional aligners including an over correction. The great thing is that this will be done at the same time as my lower arches are still on their first run so won’t add any additional time to the process at this stage.
My orthodontist was happy with how things are progressing otherwise. We agreed that I wouldn’t get my crown completed until I have finished refinements on the upper arch in case when things moved it needed redoing again. I am keen to avoid paying the $1500 charge for a new crown twice.
Here are some pictures of my upper arch pre refinements. Feel free to let me know whether there are any additional tweaks that you think I need. Bear in mind that we are only talking about the top ones though, the bottoms are only halfway through…

Invisalign Braces- A day in the life

I thought it might be interesting to keep a diary for a single day of my braces; how often I remove them, number of times I floss, brush etc. Of course, having written it I can see that it really isn’t that interesting at all- yes, my life really is this boring! However, it might be useful for people considering braces to see how often you have to remove them and it has also been useful to me, in showing me that I am really not achieving the twenty two hours a day. I would love to tell you that ordinarily I am much more compliant but the sad truth is I think this is probably fairly indicative of the amount of hours that I manage to wear these things. Must do better…..

  • 6am Alarm, get up and shower. Braces stay in.
  • 6.30 Go downstairs. Remove Invisalign and toss them on the kitchen bench on paper towel-yick! Have breakfast then spend 40 minutes chivvying children and brushing hair.
  • 7.30 Children leave for school and husband and I grab a quick coffee on our back deck.
  • 7.50 Brush teeth, floss and give braces quick clean before putting them back in. Yikes. 1 hr 20 minutes out. I think I would have convinced myself it was about 30 minutes if I hadn’t checked.
  • 8.10 Check emails and do some work on my computer.
  • 9.15 Get peckish and remember box of Cadbury’s Favourites in the pantry. Braces out and on the kitchen bench (new paper towel!)
  • 10.15 Box of chocolates almost finished and braces still out. Realise and panic. Dash upstairs to brush/floss and put braces back in. Another hour. Whoops. Total time out so far 2hrs 20 minutes
  • 10.40 Glass of water- Aligners can stay in.Yay!
  • 12.20 Lunchtime. Sandwich, crackers and a banana. Eat it on my deck in front of my laptop. Brush, but don’t floss.
  • 12.37 Aligners back in. Total time out so far 2 hrs 37 minutes
  • 4.00 Arrive home from kids after school activities. Remove aligners and throw them on the kitchen bench. Grab a snack.
  • 4.24 Realise aligners still out, swear loudly, do rudimentary brush and throw them back in. Total time out of mouth 3 hrs 1 minute. Gulp
  • 5.54 Husband arrives home and serve dinner. Take aligners out- you guessed it, paper towel on the kitchen bench. Eat dinner fast as have to go out.
  • 6.27 Brush and put aligners back in. Total time out. 3 hrs 35 minutes
  • 9.00 Out watching Midsummer Nights Dream. Grab a glass of champagne in the interval. Hide in a corner of the room and remove my aligners. Put them in case in my handbag.
  • 9.15 Queue for the toilets too long so can’t brush or would miss second act. Put aligners back in. Total time out of mouth 3 hrs 50 minutes.
  • 10.45 At home. Take aligners out and put them in Steradent solution whilst I brush and floss.
  • 10.52 Aligners back in. Go to Bed. Total time out of mouth during whole day. 3 hours 57 minutes.

As a quick summary what I can see is that I brushed 6 times during the day but only flossed 3 times. Whoops. That my aligners were in my mouth for 20 hours and 10 minutes. Just. Also that I really, really need to wear my aligners more. But you knew that already.

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…..