I feel like my life has been one big smile-saga, can anyone feel me on that?! It all started when I was born with the not-the-best smile ever – I’m talking a GIANT gap in between my two front teeth, some teeth were too high, too low, too close, too far apart…needless to say, there was a lot of work that needed to be done. I got standard braces in middle school & got everything all straightened out! Surprisingly, my bottom teeth were straight – so I only needed braces on my top teeth, which I guess was a plus!
Back then, I was loving my newly straightened smile, and didn’t really have any issues until college. I noticed that my once-straight bottom teeth were shifting, and I wanted to make some minor corrections to make them as straight as my top. I got clear correct for my bottoms, but didn’t commit to it as much as I should have. I think I really just wore the retainers at night – a major no-no!
Which is why, the past few years I have seen my bottoms go back to shifting a little bit. It wasn’t anything terrible, but it was a pet peeve of mine that I knew could be corrected. The past couple of years, I also have noticed my top teeth shifting a little bit. Again, nothing major – but why not fix it if you can?! Up until I got Invisalign this past year, I still slept in my retainers every night…but apparently that wasn’t enough. So, I scheduled a consult with my orthodontist to talk all things Invisalign to finally make those small corrections I wanted to make to my smile.
After a painless & easy consult that just consisted of some photos & scans of my current smile, making a mold for my retainers & setting a timeline – I was officially an Invisalign patient and was ready to start my journey. My orthodontist said that it would most likely take 14 trays to get my smile to where we wanted it to be – most trays only being worn once a week. Compared to other patients with major corrections needed, he said this was a fairly short & easy process!
One thing that made me nervous at first – was when my orthodontist told me he wanted to “reduce” some of my teeth on the bottom, in order for them to have enough room to align & straighten properly. “Reduce” realistically means shave down the sides of your teeth…which sounded TERRIFYING to me! But, I trusted him so I agreed to it.
The day I went in to get my first set of trays, was also the day my orthodontist was going to attach the “buttons” to my teeth – which are small, tooth-colored tabs that go on several of your teeth to “lock” the trays in place. Without buttons, you won’t see the results you want. That was also the day we had to reduce my bottom teeth. To say that I was nervous was an understatement! All in all, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, my bottom teeth looked a little weird at first & I had small gaps because of the reducing, but it only took about a month or two for them to push back together. The attachments were annoying at first, but like everyone says – you get used to them.
I started my journey in June 2021 & just wrapped it up in December 2021 – so all in all, it was about a 6 month process for me! Overall, I wouldn’t change a thing and I was so happy with my results. I’m working on getting official before & afters from my doctor’s office, so I will add those in to this blog post as soon as I do!
I thought it would be easier to answer some of the specific questions you guys had, along with sharing some of my tips & tricks that helped in a Q&A format, so here we go!
How much did it cost? Did insurance cover any of it?
Because I’ve already had (multiple) orthodontic corrective treatments that were covered by insurance, this round of Invisalign was not. In total, it cost about $5,000 – including all of the trays, treatments & aftercare. You can set up monthly payments, or pay in full!
How many trays did you have to have? How long did you wear each one?
I had a total of 14 trays. A few of them, I had to wear for 2 or 3 weeks, but most of them just one week. I would switch out trays every Monday evening!
Did you have to get attachment buttons? How many? Were They Annoying?
I was actually surprised at the amount of attachment buttons I had to get! I can’t remember the exact total number, but I’m pretty sure I had about 10-15, throughout the backs & front of my top and bottom teeth. I even had two on one of my front teeth. At first, I *hated* them and panicked – I thought they would be sooo obvious. They were definitely more noticeable at first when they were fresh, but as they were on my teeth for a while, they smoothed out & blended well with my teeth and were the exact same color as my teeth. You could only notice if you were talking to me up close & personal without my trays in! Although they kind of suck, you get used to them – and like I said, you only see the results you want if you have the attachments.
How much pain were you in during the process?
From things I had heard, I was fully expecting to be in a lot of pain as I moved through the trays…but surprisingly, I never was! Sure, there was some tightness and discomfort a few times after switching trays, but I always adjusted and got used to it a day or so after. I think I didn’t experience a lot of pain because I had such small adjustments to make. I would recommend popping two Motrin the night you change trays – that way you sleep through some of the initial pain and the meds help, too!
How often did you really wear your trays?
Ohhh, the controversial question! So my orthodontist recommended and stressed that I should be wearing my trays at least 22 hours a day – only taking them out when I am eating or drinking anything but water. Well, I’m here to report that I did *not* follow that rule perfectly – and I still got great results. Honestly, I would say that on most days I wore them about 18-20 hours a day. I got lazier towards the end, too. The 7-8 while I was sleeping was easy, and I would obviously take them out for my meals. I also never wore them when I was out with friends or somewhere where I had to talk to people, haha! Sometimes I could get by with just wearing my bottoms in public, and didn’t have that big of a lisp. I also had special events – like weddings…where I would go a whole day or two without wearing them. Obviously, wear them as much as you possibly can – but I would say don’t stress if you don’t hit that 22 every single day.
When you were wearing the trays, did it impair your speech?
YUP! It got better, but even when I got used to it – I still had a minor lisp. Which is why I never wore them out in public when I was talking with people or had to film for work!
How did you keep your trays clean?
This was so important to me – there’s nothing worse that gross trays! Luckily, you only really wore each tray for a week, so you were getting fresh, new trays frequently. But, I still cleaned them every single day. Every morning after I woke up, I would take out my retainers, fill up a cup of water with one of these retainer cleaning tablets, and let my trays soak for an hour or so while I drank my coffee & ate breakfast. Using the tablets every single morning kept the trays fresh, clean and stain-free. I also loved this on-the-go foaming retainer cleaner if I was out and about and they needed a refresh!
How often did you brush your teeth throughout the day?
I was a CRAZY brusher lol! I work from home so it was easier, but I brushed my teeth literally after every single thing I put into my mouth. It grossed me out to have any food left over in my teeth and putting the trays on. If I was on the go, I used these little disposable tooth brushes/flossers and tried to clean my teeth the best I could before putting the trays back on. Surprisingly, when I went in for my one & only cleaning during my Invisalign journey, my hygienist said my teeth were cleaner than ever due to all of the brushing, haha!
Can you still whiten your teeth during Invisalign?
I did! I used the Lumineux non-toxic whitening strips, toothpaste, mouthwash & brightening pen all throughout my journey to keep my teeth white. The non-toxic formula is great for people with sensitive teeth, which was great during Invisalign. I would use the strips about 1x a week. Use my code: STEFANY30 for 30% off your Lumineux order!
Did you have to wear any additional/extra trays than you planned for?
My orthodontist told me at the very beginning that while he said it would only take 14 trays, that almost all of the time, patients get to the end & find that there are still minor adjustments to be made. I was fully expecting to have more once I thought I was “finished” – but I was surprised to find out that I didn’t! I guess I was one of the lucky ones!
What’s the last appointment like?
THE BEST DAY EVER! You get all of your attachments taken off & your teeth feel smoother than ever. I also had my doctor file my bottom teeth across so there were no grooves or ridges, and they were all the same height.
What does life look like after you are done? How do your teeth stay straight?
Once I completed all of my trays, my doctor gave me two options. Wear a retainer for 6 months to a year around the clock as much as I can, and then just go to wearing it while sleeping. That option had a higher probability for future shifting, though. The other option, the one he recommended the most – was to get permanent retainers (a small, thin metal bar) placed behind my teeth, top & bottom. This would really prevent future shifting. With that option, he recommended I still wear my plastic retainer at night. That was the option I chose! I spent all this money, I didn’t want to have to go through this again! The bars are not that bad, you get used to them, you can’t see them at all – but flossing is definitely tricky. I will say, if I see the health of my teeth suffer from the bars, then I’ll get them off – but for now, we are good! This special floss and water pick have been great to keep my gums & teeth clean and healthy with the permanent retainers.