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    17 Things Anyone Considering Getting Invisalign Should Probably Know

    Yes, your teeth will shift back if you don't wear retainers.

    by ,

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to ask us β€” two Invisalign wearers β€” any questions they had about what life with Invisalign is like. Here are their great questions and our responses:

    Note: Neither of us is an orthodontist or a licensed professional, and we can only speak to our lived experience. Always consult with your dentist or orthodontist before doing anything related to your teeth!

    Shelby completed her Invisalign treatment in 2019, and Pablo is currently wearing his aligners. And no, this isn't a sponsored post.

    1. "I want to know what it cost everyone! My insurance will cover some of it, but not all, and I’m curious how much the price ranges!"

    An itemized bill stating that I, Pablo, owe $4,350 for Invisalign, which is paid out in $165 monthly payments
    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: I remember my treatment being somewhere in the range of $6,500. Since I didn't have dental insurance at the time, I paid for mine completely out of pocket! But what's nice is that most orthodontists will put you on a payment plan to make the cost a little more manageable with monthly payments instead of one lump sum. I also put down $2,500 up front as a down payment, which lowered my monthly payments quite a bit and helped SO MUCH. If you're going into it without insurance or are just worried about cost, I highly recommend saving up some money to pay right at the beginning if you can.

    Pablo: Prices can definitely vary from ortho to ortho and city to city, but my total came out to $6,350 for a treatment plan that would take an estimated 12–18 months. I am in Los Angeles, which may have affected costs as well. I am privileged enough to have dental insurance that also covers up to $2,000 of orthodontic work, so my responsibility ended up being $4,350 β€” of which I'm paying in $165-per-month payments for 20 months. I paid a down payment of $1,050 on top of a $250 nonrefundable deposit. So as Shelby said, if you're going to explore Invisalign, it would be helpful if you have money saved up for this initial payment. And if you have insurance, always check to see if they cover any orthodontic costs!

    2. "Does it hurt?"

    Shelby holding her jaw in pain saying, "Put my new Invisalign trays in yesterday and my mouth is still mega sore"
    Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: Yep! But not forever. The first tray I ever put in was a NIGHTMARE, but over time, the pain and soreness got more manageable. You have to remember that the aligners are literally forcing the bones in your mouth into a different position, so it's not always going to be pretty. For me, the first one to two days of every new tray meant lots of soreness, but everyone's pain tolerance is different. I was usually able to just pop an ibuprofen and move on. Plus, I actually ended up kind of liking the pain because it meant my teeth were moving.

    Pablo: I always popped new trays in at night so that I would sleep off any initial pain. I don't know if that actually worked or not, but I can say that I have only dealt with the mildest of pain in the process. I thought I was going to be absolutely miserable, but the only real pain I've had is some soreness on my front teeth and some sensitivity on my back teeth when eating hard foods. Other than that, I've luckily never had to take any pain meds. The only thing that really scared me was the fear of losing teeth each time I pulled a tray off because it certainly felt like they would come flying off. I'm happy to say I haven't lost any teeth thus far. *Knocks on wood*

    3. "What's the average amount of time they're worn for?"



    Shelby: The recommended amount of time is 22 hours per day β€” so basically, 24/7. Since Invisalign is a very independent process, you pretty much get to decide how often you wear them. But wearing them less means your teeth might not shift properly, and your treatment will last even longer. I wanted my Invisalign treatment to be done ASAP and wasn't messing around, so I was super diligent about wearing my aligners.

    Pablo: My ortho recommended wearing them 20–22 hours a day, which obviously means that I'm not taking three-hour lunches and dinners with them off. As Shelby said, the more hours you stick to wearing them, the faster you can get it all over with, so it's worth the sacrifice and commitment. As for total time, I will (allegedly) be done with my treatment in April, which means I will only need the Invisalign for eight months, which is four months earlier than my initial projection.

    4. "Do you have to go through a dentist, or is it something where you do the trays at home?"

    Three Invisalign trays in their plastic bags with dates on them
    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: Once you get your trays in the mail or from your orthodontist, you pretty much do everything at home! I would generally see my orthodontist every four weeks to check on my progress and get my new batch of trays. Once that happened, they'd send me on my merry way until my next appointment.

    Pablo: I had the initial consultation with my orthodontist, waited a little over a week, and then went into the office to get my attachments glued on and be given enough trays to last me a month before I had to go back into the office again. So aside from the monthly visits, you are largely accountable for doing it yourself at home.

    5. "Do you think it was worth the money versus cheaper competitors?"

    Pablo's tooth progress in six months, in which his teeth straightened out
    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: YES, YES, YES!!! I could shout from the rooftops how much more worth it Invisalign is compared with the cheaper aligner companies that keep popping up. Yes, Invisalign is obviously more expensive, but it also guarantees the care of a licensed orthodontist who actually wants to improve your smile and oral health. I heard so many horror stories from employees at my orthodontist's office about patients coming in after using the competitors with their teeth shaking and literally falling out. The cheaper competitors are just shady, IMHO.

    Pablo: I'm with Shelby on this one. This was obviously a big investment, but I think the money was worth my peace of mind. In doing my research, I also heard about the horror stories involving Invisalign knockoffs, and although they seem cheaper, I would have had to pay more for dental implants in the future on the off chance that the competitor brand caused my teeth to fall out.

    6. "How bad is the lisp?"

    Dorothy on Golden Girls saying, "What are you saying?"
    TV Land


    Shelby: Oh god, the lisp, lol. Something nobody warned me about! I remember it being really prominent my first two weeks using the trays, and pretty much gone by the end of the first month, with the exception of the occasional "sss" sound. Once you get used to having the trays in your mouth, it either disappears or becomes much more subtle.

    Pablo: I'll be honest β€” I'm about seven months into my process, and I don't think my speech is entirely the same. Is it noticeable right now to others? Not at all. Do I notice it? Yes. The initial noticeable lisp that happens at the beginning of treatment was pretty audible for about two weeks before my tongue retrained itself, though.

    7. "Do you switch trays often?"

    8. "I know you have to brush your teeth after eating a meal, but do you have to brush your teeth after eating anything?"

    Four packs of dental floss on a desk
    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: OK, so, this is where things got a little dicey between me and my Invisalign. The orthodontist pretty much told me that, yes, you should brush your teeth after eating pretty much anything. I was pretty good about it in the beginning, but I also did Invisalign in a pre-pandemic world, which made it A LOT harder. I eventually stopped snacking as much when I was out because half the time it didn't feel worth it, and when I did, I would just swish my mouth with some water and call it a day. Once I confessed this to my orthodontist, they said that was also fine, although brushing is obviously better.

    Pablo: I, however, am doing this in a pandemic world in which restaurants are closed and my home is my office, so I have the ability to floss and brush my teeth after anything I eat. I'm a big stickler about it because I'm very prone to cavities, and having a piece of plastic trap food particles onto your teeth makes them easy targets for decay-causing bacteria. So brushing is definitely vital, but if you can't, swishing your mouth with water can hopefully at least rid you of some of that food before you get a chance to brush. Either way, getting a portable toothbrush/toothpaste or a disposable toothbrush can save you in a pinch.

    9. "How is it adjusting to sleeping in them? I had braces as a young teen but didn't wear my retainer ever and now need to bring my front upper teeth back in. But I'm worried I won't be able to sleep with stuff in my mouth."

    Baby Yoda sleeping

    β€”Johna S.

    Shelby: Sleeping with them was honestly NBD for me! Since I was wearing the aligners 24/7, it got to a point where I didn't even even know they were there. In fact, it started to feel weirder if I didn't sleep with them in.

    Pablo: I had a weird anxiety about sleeping in them prior to getting them. I'm someone whose nightly routine has to be just right for them to fall asleep (shoutout to my white noise machine), so throwing a piece of plastic (and a rubber band) in my mouth wasn't on my agenda. Would I accidentally swallow the rubber band? What if the whole tray came off in my sleep? I am happy to announce that I've slept comfortably throughout this entire journey and nothing has fallen off or become loose! After a while, having them on felt like a little security blanket for my teeth.

    10. "How long are you supposed to wear the retainers after it's done?"

    11. "Is the fitting process similar to that of a night guard? Does it do anything for teeth grinding?"

    A dental employee scanning a patient's teeth using a big white wand
    Dental Boutique / Via


    Shelby: I've never been fitted for a mouth guard, so I can't really speak to what that process is like. But for me, getting fit for Invisalign involved the techs shoving a long, skinny camera in my mouth and using it to take photos of my teeth to create a sort of 3D rendering to send to Invisalign HQ so they could make my trays. I actually grind my teeth in my sleep, and I found that my Invisalign did help a little bit with my grinding, and the night aligners that I still wear also help a ton. With that being said, I'd recommend talking to your ortho about getting fitted for an actual night guard after you finish treatment. They're thicker and can handle more grinding while also acting as a retainer.

    Pablo: I also don't use a night guard, but from what I know, night guards are typically made by getting an impression of the teeth using a plaster cast. I'm sure there other methods, but that's what I know. As for Invisalign, my process was like Shelby's in that my teeth were digitally scanned by a big white wand during my consultation. That took about five minutes at most, no slime involved. Their Invisalign program then immediately showed me how my teeth looked and how they would look after treatment. As for grinding, I'd definitely ask your ortho!

    12. "What did you do to get rid of air space between your teeth and aligners? Did you have to bite on a chewy/bite stick throughout the day to help with the space? Or did you go back to your orthodontist? And if that’s the case, what did they do?"

    Pablo chewing down on a Chewie
    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: I remember being super worried about my aligners feeling loose/not fitting when I first put them in, but that's just because my teeth hadn't shifted to perfectly fit the aligners yet. A brand-new aligner is always going to feel loose. That's normal! My orthodontist gave me chewies to bite down on, and I'd use those for the first two to three days of every new aligner until it fit better.

    Pablo: When I first got my aligners, the trays were super tight and I noticed a tiny gap between my aligner and gumline, which I thought was super weird. My orthodontist assured me that they would eventually snap into place once my teeth shifted to fit the mold, but biting down on chewies was essential in making that happen. So I got into the habit of biting down on them whenever I watched TV or just scrolled through TikTok. Just be sure not to almost swallow them, as I have 😰. That being said, if the aligner still isn't fitting properly after a few days, please consult with your ortho.

    13. "Does it take long to get an appointment and then the trays?"

    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: In my experience, I had the initial consultation where I spoke with my orthodontist about cost and had X-rays taken of my teeth. Then, about one to two weeks later, I went in again to get my teeth fitted from the trays. From there, it took about four weeks for me to receive my first set of aligners. So overall, the whole process took about a month and a half between my first consult and me putting in my first tray.

    Pablo: My first consultation was on Sept. 11, and in it I spoke to the ortho and also got my teeth X-rayed and digital scans taken. On Sept. 25, I went back and had my first tray in and went home with a month's worth of trays. I think these dates depend on both availability of your ortho and your location, since Invisalign trays need to be mailed to your ortho's office.

    14. "How do you correct an over-/underbite?"

    Pablo's mouth, which has a rubber band connecting his top and bottom teeth with the use of hooks
    Pablo Valdivia / BuzzFeed


    Shelby: I personally had a cross bite that needed correction, so I can't speak to exactly what's needed for an over- or underbite. What I do know is that for my bite issues, my orthodontist had me wear rubber bands to help correct them. I wore as little as one and sometimes up to four! So if there's a pretty serious bite issue, like mine, you'll likely be wearing rubber bands for most of your treatment.

    Pablo: I had a slight cross bite and no overbite, with front teeth that were clashing together, which was all fixed by the use of one rubber band on the right side of my mouth. My orthodontist put this in place by attaching a tiny baby metal hook to one of my top molars and having a small hook built into the bottom tray. After six months of wearing the rubber band, I am now able to go without one for the duration of my treatment because my bite is fixed. I will, however, be finding stray rubber bands throughout my room for the rest of my life.

    15. "I am doing Invisalign myself, and I want to know, if you don't brush your teeth every single time before you put your trays back in, how bad is it really going to be???"

    An X-ray of teeth with fillings
    Science Photo Library β€” Pasieka. / Getty Images


    Shelby: As I mentioned before, I started out being really good about brushing my teeth and then basically switched to just swishing with water. Speaking from experience, I'll say that if you're not planning on brushing your teeth before you put them back in, you HAVE to floss at least once a day to make sure you get out all the gunk that got stuck in your teeth/aligners throughout. I didn't do this at first and had some cavities to show for it. And also, if you're at home and it's convenient, just brush your teeth. Don't feel like you NEED to do it when you're out, but if the sink is right there, it's probably worth it in the long run.

    Pablo: For me, the most annoying aspect of having these on is not being able to eat a bite of a cookie without feeling like I need to floss and brush. That being said, always brush when you can, and when you can't, chew sugar-free gum or swish your mouth with water or mouthwash to rid your mouth of food particles. The last thing you want is food to get all up on your trays and teeth. Cavities are NEVER fun. But again, I'm no orthodontist, so please ask them how often you should be brushing.

    16. "I’ve been seeing a bunch of TikToks of people putting in their retainers after not wearing them for a week and then wailing in pain 😢. What’s that about?"



    Shelby: OMG!!! I don't think I've ever gone an entire week without wearing my retainers. But I've definitely gone two to three days because I've forgotten to pack them for a trip or something, and yeah, they were hella tight when I finally put them back in. The bottom line is that you have to wear your aligners and retainers consistently. It sucks, but it's just the reality if you want to prevent your teeth from shifting back.

    Pablo: From my understanding, your teeth are gonna want to shift back to their usual place when the Invisalign or retainers aren't there to tell them what to do. I've noticed that if I go more than an hour without my trays in, they will feel pretty tight upon popping them back in, which tells me my teeth were making a run for the hills and I had to corral them back in. So while I haven't seen these specific TikToks and don't wear a retainer (yet), I imagine that a week without one will just make the tray super tight and uncomfortable. TL;DR: Don't go a week without it!

    17. "Do your teeth move back after you stop wearing them?"



    Shelby: YES. It's pretty much the same situation as traditional braces, and I think we've all heard plenty of stories from people who stopped wearing their retainers post-braces.

    Pablo: To quote Invisalign themselves, "Most doctors recommend that anyone who has completed orthodontic treatment, whether with braces or Invisalign treatment, use a retainer to prevent teeth from gradually shifting back toward their initial position." So yes, your teeth will move back unless you force them not to. And as I said two seconds ago, even not having the trays in for a few hours causes my own teeth to begin moving back. Teeth are weird.

    Do you have any questions about Invisalign or want to share your own experience? Share them in the comments!

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