Thank you for staying tuned with my Invisalign journey. So far I have covered details about the initial consultation, the first fitting and the unexpected first weeks of Invisalign. In this blog, I would like to continue with this Invisalign journey but share details that are more unknown at the start of the treatment. This blog will reveal how long my Invisalign journey actually took as well as covering all the Invisalign maintenance aspects too. If you are considering getting Invisalign or are at the start of your treatment, this is a must read!
Let’s begin with the Invisalign maintenance side of things first. I have already covered the brushing aspect here but as a quick recap, you are expected to brush after every meal. Additionally, you are expected to wear your aligners 22 hours a day. The main other aspect that I have not yet discussed in detail is the changing of the aligners.
For me, I was told to change my Invisalign aligners each week. I make sure to do this at night to minimise pain. This is said to be quite often as others are told to change theirs every other week. It must depend on the individual treatment plan. In some instances, depending on your provider, your dentist may make us of the My Invisalign app. This is where you would send photos of your teeth and your dentist will assess and let you know whether you are ready to move onto the next set of aligners. I have not really made use of this app but do have fairly regular check ups.
I feel very fortunate that I am able to change my aligners weekly (in most instances). This is because the longer the duration, the harder Invisalign maintenance is. The aligners tend to build up quite a lot of gunk and they lose the clear colour. I have been provided with cleaning tablets as part of my cleaning package. All you need to do is soak the aligners in water with this tablet for 10-15 minutes and they make a world of difference. This article is useful if you want further details about cleaning.
The reason I have stated “in most instances” above is because there is one key variation to this. Refinements.
This is a key part of the Invisalign journey, well for me anyway, that I was quite unaware of beforehand. The first treatment plan did not go to plan for me. One of my bottom teeth did not move as expected and ended up getting stuck in an unwanted position. This is where refinements come in. It is essentially like starting again.
If you have regular check ups or check ins on the app, the dentist should be able to identify when this will be needed. I was also able to tell after a while. It is where the Invisalign aligners have a gap between the aligners and your teeth. A very small gap is normal for your teeth to move into but once there’s a fairly noticeable gap, you know refinements are needed.
I am very thankful for my dentist Ghiz who instead of making me finish my full treatment plan, stepped in and started refinements earlier.
In terms of how it actually works, for me I would go to my regular check up appointment, get told (or after a while agree refinements are needed), then I would get my teeth scanned. This is the exact same 3D scanner as per the initial consultation and the first treatment plan.
Your aligners would then get made from the scan and a new treatment plan is put together. As you go through your Invisalign journey, you would expect the number of aligners/weeks for the next set to reduce. My first treatment plan was 21 weeks. After 6 refinements, I am on a treatment plan of 6 weeks!
This is where the waiting comes in and where cleaning is very important as the aligners can get VERY dirty. Due to COVID there was an instance I had to wait eight weeks until my next set could get made and delivered to the clinic. This was honestly horrendous and annoyingly slowed the treatment down. However, it was of course not the fault of the clinic and was circumstantial.
Once ready, this is where the worst part of Invisalign comes in also known as the sanding/shaving of teeth. I cannot even explain how horrible and painful this was. In hindsight, this was worse because I was not flossing regularly and my gums would bleed easily. I do not actually think it is meant to be that painful as the sanding itself does not hurt the teeth. The amount of sanding required depends on your new treatment plan and how much space is needed to be created.
How Long Is Invisalign Actually?
If you have been following my journey, you will be aware that I first got Invisalign fitted in December 2019. It is now July 2021 so just over a year and a half later. Given the first treatment plan was 21 weeks, I am very surprised I still have Invisalign. Six refinements later but i am hoping it does not end up being seven. If you are wondering, I do wear the aligners for the recommend daily time period although I am a slow eater so it might be out slightly longer.
One thing I did not do as much and wish I did sooner was using the “chewie”. This was provided with the aligners. I was told to chew on this for about 10 minutes each day or so. Having not used this early on but then using it later, I did find that it does actually make a difference. It really pushes the aligner into the teeth and forces them to move.
Join my journey to see my before and after photos as well as to find out about the retainers and whitening process!