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This week was another milestone in my treatment as it was time to remove my Invisalign attachments or buttons. I have now reached 30/34 on my first run of lower Invisalign braces (only 4 more to go!) and set 9/9 of my first run of Invisalign refinements on my upper arch- in other words, the first run of my upper refinements are now finished! To mark this momentous occasion I had a long appointment with my orthodontist to evaluate how my upper teeth are now looking, and also, joy of joy, to remove my upper Invisalign attachments.
For those of you as yet unfamiliar with all the details of Invisalign, attachments are small tooth coloured blobs of material that are glued or cemented onto teeth during Invisalign treatment. Their purpose is to provide additional “grip” for the aligners so that more difficult or complex tooth movements are possible. They can be used on any number of teeth, depending on the preferences of your Invisalign provider and what movements the teeth need to make. Some lucky people have none, some have a large number, I have 5. You can see some of mine in the picture below:
Throughout my treatment, whilst I haven’t enjoyed having attachments exactly, I have easily tolerated them to the point that not only didn’t I feel them in my mouth any more, I didn’t see them when I looked in the mirror either. So I was fairly relaxed about having them removed- I was happy to do it, but I wasn’t yearning for it exactly. In fact, given that they have been solidly attached to my teeth for the last 15 months and have endured all manner of brushing, tugging and scraping and still stayed resolutely attached, I was afraid that getting them off might be a minor ordeal.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that let I let my orthodontist lower me back in his dentist’s chair, one hand adjusting his medical face mask, the other brandishing a large, sinister looking dentist’s drill. My fear wasn’t allayed by him telling me, with only a little relish in his voice, that this was going to be noisy.
I don’t know whether you have ever had any fillings, but my teeth are riddled with them. So I am pretty familiar with the feeling of the dentist’s drill and the vibrations that go through your head as they buzz and scrape noisily through your teeth. This was what I was expecting with the removal of my attachments.
I am relieved and excited to report however, that it is really not that bad. Yes, there is a little of the same sensation of vibration as the attachment is drilled, but because it is on the outside of your tooth and the drill is not contacting with any of your tooth’s own structure, the vibrations do not travel through your head in the same way. Also, the removal of each attachment seemed to take no more that 15-20 seconds of drilling, compared to the 30 minutes to an hour that I have endured with some of my larger fillings, so although there was some vibration it had barely started before it finished. After the initial drilling was completed, my orthodontist switched to a smaller polisher and ran it across the tooth’s surface where the attachment had been, just to remove any last traces of the cement- and it was finished! The whole process of removing my attachments was over in less than five minutes start to finish.
As my orthodontist adjusted my chair back into the upright position and told me to rinse my mouth I was so surprised that it was over that I told him “well THAT was remarkably painless” to which he looked at me bemused, and replied “Well what did you expect?”
I didn’t really like to run him through the scenarios that had been coursing through my head prior to my appointment – if you google remove Invisalign attachments very little shows up, so I had filled in the details myself.
The attachments removed and my teeth in all their naked glory we were able to get onto the important business of discussing how my teeth look. Removing the attachments has altered the way they appear (see pics below) but hasn’t changed how I feel about what needs to be done. I told him all of my concerns (explained with pictures in my previous post about set 29 before and after pictures) about how the front tooth needed to rotate a little more and how I think the molars have been thrown into shadow.
He listened patiently, had a very thorough examination of my teeth from every angle, and then told me that he could see what I was talking about, that he agreed that my arch could be widened a little more by moving out my molars, and that we could look at it in the next refinement. He did caution that as my teeth have already moved so much that there was a limit to what could be done whilst still keeping my teeth in the jaw bone, but that he would do his best. One of the things (other than experience) that I think is so important to look for in an orthodontist is their willingness to listen to your opinion. I think I have been very, very fortunate with mine that not only is he willing to listen, he will happily rethink his approach if you tell him that you would prefer to do it another way.
Within my Invisalign contract I have the original run of aligners included, plus three runs of refinements. I have used one refinement correcting my upper arch whilst the bottoms were still completing their first run, so my orthodontist and I agreed that we would wait until I have finished my lower arch first run of aligners before we start the next set of refinements. That means that both arches can be tackled simultaneously in the same series of refinements. In the meantime, over the next eight weeks I will be wearing my upper aligner only at night whilst wearing the lower one for the usual 22 (ahem) hours a day for the next 10 weeks. According to my orthodontist this is the best compromise between keeping the upper aligner intact and still wearable whilst not letting my teeth relapse too much until the next series of aligners. All in all I am thrilled with how my teeth are now looking and excited to get them finished off. Roll on 10 weeks time.
Look no upper attachments- shame about the molars in shadow and the ugly crown at the front that needs replacing though…