If you’ve been considering getting Invisalign to straighten your smile, keep on reading. I’ve got the scoop on whether it’s worth the hype, if it’s a total teeth-torture, how long it takes to get results, whether it’s a lasting love affair, and of course, the burning question: Does it give you a funny lisp? Get ready to dive into my Invisalign journey.
As a kid who experienced a lot of teeth trauma, from having numerous teeth pulled to a retainer that you had to crank to widen your teeth, braces, rubber bands… you name it, I probably went through it in my childhood and teenage years. I’ll never forget my orthodontist telling me to wear my retainers or he’d be seeing me back in his chair someday. As luck would have it, 20 years later, I found myself pulling into the same orthodontic office to get a consult to get my teeth back to straight.
The Great Debate
Funny story time: my mom was the first in my family to get Invisalign. When we were talking one night, she had expressed that she had always been a little insecure about her teeth, and I briefly mentioned Invisalign as a potential solution. My mom ended up going in for a consult and getting Invisalign, and I got to watch her experience. I honestly hadn’t been considering Invisalign personally until I went to the dentist, and she made a comment about how my teeth were crowding more and more over time. After she said it, I couldn’t unsee it. I hopped onto Instagram and asked you guys for advice, and I got a lot of differing opinions, but there was a ton of women in my community who had had positive experiences with Invisalign. That, coupled with seeing my mom’s smile transform, made me head in for a free consult.
Let’s just say that technology has changed a ton in the last 20 years. I called my local orthodontist office — Arrowhead Orthodontics, the same one that had given me my braces as a teen — and signed up for a free consult. It was important to me to make sure I was seeing an orthodontist with extensive Invisalign experience rather than a general dentist since that can greatly impact the treatment and results. My childhood orthodontist happens to be rated as a top 1% Invisalign provider in the country and the most experienced in the Twin Ports region, so I knew I’d be in good hands! I went in, and they used this camera to scan my teeth so that we could see my current smile and talk about the timeline, options, and what the experience would look like. The consult was super quick and easy, and it was wild to see how fast they could get a mold made of your mouth. After the consult, I talked to an orthodontist about what Invisalign would look like for me personally: the timing, the attachments, the refinement, etc. They were able to show me the finished product and express how long it would potentially take to get there as well as the financial investment required.
Going All In
I debated for a few weeks but realized that time was going to pass regardless, and I’d never regret investing in my smile. So, I officially became an Invisalign girl. I learned more about the lingo and the process, so let’s walk through the things I really had no idea about.
1) The Length of Treatment: Since my teeth were relatively straight, I only had to do it for about 8 months. I initially imagined only doing it for my bottom teeth since my top teeth appeared to be straight, but I learned that in straightening my bottom teeth out, they had to make space with my top teeth to keep my bite aligned. The average length of an Invisalign treatment can obviously vary depending on the complexity of your issues. A typical Invisalign treatment lasts for about 12 to 18 months. However, my orthodontist also offers a Smile Touch Up Program which allows patients to achieve treatment goals with Invisalign in as little as 3 months. Your orthodontist will be able to give you an estimate when you go in for a consultation!
2) The Financial Investment: On average, Invisalign treatment in the United States can range from approximately $3,000 to $8,000. Again, the cost of Invisalign treatment can vary widely depending on several factors, including your location, the complexity of your orthodontic issues, the experience of the orthodontist providing the treatment, and the treatment plan developed specifically for you. Some insurance plans can help cover the cost of treatment, and many providers offer payment plans.
(Keep reading to the end of this post for a special offer from my orthodontist, Arrowhead Orthodontics)
3) Attachments: I had always envisioned Invisalign just being these clear retainers that straighten out your teeth, but in reality, you need what are called attachments that serve as anchors to help your teeth effectively move. Attachments in the context of Invisalign are small tooth-colored bumps or shapes that are temporarily bonded to specific teeth during your treatment. While they might look a bit like tiny buttons on your teeth, they are designed to be discreet and blend in with your smile. I was able to get by with fewer attachments just because my upper teeth were fairly straight.
4) Day-to-Day Wear: One thing I was worried about was daily use, especially since the nature of my job is talking. I was worried about having a lisp, having it interfere with my work, and that it would look funny. One of the most critical aspects of Invisalign success is wearing your aligners for at least 20-22 hours a day. It’s recommended that you only remove them when eating, drinking (unless it’s water), and brushing and flossing your teeth. I wore mine most of the time and removed them when I was recording for the podcast or out and about. I definitely wasn’t the perfect patient in this part but I stayed on pace with my weekly aligner switch, and my teeth stayed on the timeline, even with fewer than optimal hours.
5) The Refinement Period: Once you finish the initial planned-out treatment plan, you enter the refinement stage. This is when you’ll do a second scan of your teeth and make any final adjustments or tweaks to get your optimal smile. This can last weeks or months depending on your level of refinements. For me, this added a few additional months onto my treatment but helped get my smile exactly where we wanted it to be.
6) Completion: After I finished refinement, I finished my treatment first by going to my dentist and fixing a few small things with my smile. She fixed my chipped front tooth (I should have done that forever ago) and evened out my bottom teeth so that they were all a uniform height. We did this part of the process before I got my final retainers that I still wear every single night. These retainers are very similar to the Invisalign trays, just a little more heavy-duty!
My Biggest Questions
I had a lot of questions about the process that maybe you’re pondering, too. Like does it hurt? The answer: No, your teeth can feel tight when you switch your new aligner each week, but it’s very mild compared to when I had braces and had to drink my meals for days on end. I was also worried about how it would affect my speech. I honestly quickly got better as I wore my aligners more. The first few days I had a slight lisp, but over time, I sounded like my normal self. I was also worried about the amount of time I’d spend doing appointments but unlike braces, you only have to go in a few times during your treatment. In total, I had five appointments: initial consult, application, two check-ups mid-treatment, final remover, and retainer pick up. It was far less time-intensive than I had expected.
The End Result
I can honestly say that I am so thankful I did Invisalign. It was way easier than I expected and went way faster than I was thinking. It feels amazing having straight teeth again, and I can feel a shift in my confidence. I’ve gotten other family members to do it because I naturally can’t help but share about it. If you’re someone who has felt insecure with your smile or considered a form of orthodontics to straighten yours, this is an incredible option for you! It’s easy, discreet, relatively painless, and it works.