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    18 Things They Don't Tell You About Having Invisalign, From Someone Who's Had It For Two Years

    Rubber bands. Rubber bands everywhere.

    Hey there. I'm Shelby, and I've had Invisalign for about two years.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    I made the decision to get Invisalign as an adult because although my teeth have always looked pretty OK cosmetically, I've had continuous issues with my bite and jaw. Plus, I noticed my teeth started to shift rapidly once I entered my twenties. So, I decided to bite the bullet (pun intended!) and get some adult orthodonture.

    Invisalign is an orthodontic system that uses plastic aligner trays to straighten and correct your teeth, much like traditional braces. The aligners are custom-made and fit directly onto your teeth, shifting them into position. They're kind of like retainers, except you wear them all day as opposed to just at night.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    The cost of Invisalign can vary depending on where you live, your insurance, etc.

    I was pretty excited when I found out I qualified for Invisalign as opposed to traditional braces. Mostly because the aligners are clear, and Invisalign markets itself as providing a lot more freedom than braces (more on that later).

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    But there have been a ton of things I didn't expect throughout my Invisalign journey that I think are worth sharing, especially for anyone considering treatment as an adult. So without further ado, here's everything I've learned from wearing Invisalign for two years straight.


    1. It's going to HURT sometimes.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    I'll never forget the way my mouth felt wearing my first-ever set of Invisalign trays. After driving home from the appointment thinking, "this is great!", I soon found myself curled up on the couch, my teeth so sore I didn't even know what to do with myself. Putting the trays in was a nightmare. Taking them out was a nightmare. CHEWING was a nightmare!! I was worried it would last forever.

    Luckily, it didn't. But soreness is still a very normal part of my Invisalign routine. Invisalign works when the plastic aligner trays you wear start to shift your teeth into proper position. And, well, having your teeth shift around inside your mouth...tends to hurt. Whenever I put in a new tray, I can count on it being tight and my teeth feeling sore for the first two or three days. The level of soreness depends on how much shifting happens. More often than not, some ibuprofen does the trick. But other times, it's pretty painful.

    2. And you're going to get canker sores. Sorry 'bout it.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Another thing I was NOT prepared for when I started Invisalign was the canker sores. Since the trays are basically foreign objects, it takes time for the delicate parts inside your mouth to get used to the sharp edges, not to mention any rods you might have had inserted to anchor your rubber bands.

    As a result, I got some HUGE canker sores in the beginning that really enhanced how miserable my first few weeks were. These also went away over time, once my mouth got used to the trays and built up some scar tissue. However, I still get canker sores if a part of my treatment changes or if I'm just plain irresponsible, like the time I went to a music festival with my Invisalign and basically drank no water, causing my mouth to get so dry I got FOUR canker that were so huge I could barely speak or eat for two weeks. But that was more of a ME problem than anything else.

    3. Your speech might be a little funky at first.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Again, Invisalign trays are a foreign object in your mouth, and talking is a big part of using your mouth, sooooo you can imagine there might be an issue here. My first month or so with Invisalign, I had a major lisp because speaking with the trays felt SUPER foreign and weird. You kinda have to retrain yourself how to move your mouth. Although I feel like I've tackled this obstacle quite well, I still catch myself with a slight lisp on certain words with very powerful "ssss" sounds.

    4. You'll essentially be wearing them 24/7.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    The recommended wear for Invisalign is 22 hours per day. That means if you aren't eating or drinking, you should have 'em in your mouth. This was DEFINITELY difficult for me to get used to for a number of reasons (i.e. the fact that I like to be eating all the time), and I stressed a lot in the beginning about having them out for too long. Luckily, my orthodontists let me know that if I don't wear them as much as I should one day, I can wear them for an extra day and it should be fine.

    BUT I personally prefer to wear my Invisalign as much as possible. Why? Because not wearing your Invisalign means longer treatment and more trays, and I've had mine for LONG ENOUGH.

    5. Your Invisalign case quickly becomes your lifeline.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    If you don't have your Invisalign case on you when the desire to eat or drink strikes, then you're pretty much S.O.L. Sure, you can wrap them in a napkin or something like that, but do you REALLY want those expensive little trays exposed to the elements? I sure don't! Plus they look kinda gross just sitting there covered in slobber.

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen something I wanted to eat, realized I didn't have my case with me, gone looking for it, finally found it, walked back, and FINALLY taken out my Invisalign when I could've been happily eating that entire time. As a result, I've learned to take my Invisalign case everywhere with me, and I get pretty anxious if it's not around. One of the top three phrases I say on any given day is: "Where's my Invisalign case?"

    6. So does this little chewy guy.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    "Chewies" are these little tubes of plastic you chew on to help set your Invisalign. You bite down on them and the sheer force of your bite is meant to help the trays fit better and properly hug your teeth. My orthodontists have given me differing feedback on how often I should use them. One said they're only necessary the first few days after putting in a new set of trays, while the other told me to use them every day, every time I put the trays back in my mouth. I've taken to doing the latter because I think it gives me better results, but it's still pretty annoying. I've had a handful of close calls where I nearly choked on a chewy and had to spit it out in a panic.

    7. You can basically kiss random snacking goodbye.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    By far the largest (and most devastating) adjustment I've had to make having Invisalign is that I can't just "take a bite" of anything anymore. Before, if someone asked if I wanted some of their doughnut or I randomly felt like crunching on some chips, I could do that!!! Which is so nuts to me because if someone asks me if I want a bite of something now, I need to have a whole conversation with myself where I ask if that Hot Cheeto is worth me taking out my rubber bands, taking out my trays, taking a bite, swishing my mouth with water, possibly brushing my teeth, rinsing out my trays, putting them back in, and snapping my rubber bands back on.

    And that's why the phrase I say even more than, "Where's my Invisalign case?" is: "I can't have any, I'm wearing my Invisalign."

    8. Ditto on drinking (kinda).

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    It's highly recommended that you don't drink anything other than water when you have your Invisalign in, especially coffee, beer, and sugary beverages like juice and wine. This is because the darker liquids can SUPER stain your teeth, and the sugary stuff can sit in your trays and completely rot your teeth.

    The one caveat my orthos allow is that if I must drink these things while wearing my Invisalign, I can drink them through a straw. HOWEVER, it's also recommended that I swish my teeth with water immediately after. I've tried carrying a straw around with me, but most of the time I'll either take out my trays or just be bad and drink with them in, which looks a lot like this: *takes sip* *swishes with water* *takes sip* *swishes with water* *takes sip* *chugs water* and so on and so forth.

    9. You can't exactly eat ANYTHING you want.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    One of Invisalign's main selling points is that it offers a lot more freedom that braces in terms of what you can eat. You can have caramel! You can have apples! All you have to do is take out your trays! Rejoice!!!

    I'm not here to tell you that's false, but I'm not here to tell you that it's true, either. In my two years wearing these little plastic trays (or "Invizzies," as I sometimes like to call them), there are definitely foods I've learned to avoid. For example, I don't really eat super chewy foods like caramel, gummy candies, energy bars, etc. Why? Because those foods get hella stuck in your teeth and if you don't get them out before putting your trays back in, they'll damage your teeth. So I've all but given up on soft, chewy foods except on special occasions. So long, RX Bars!!

    10. Events with lots of eating/drinking become a real judgment call.

    Daniella Emanuel/BuzzFeed

    As I mentioned before, you're expected to wear your Invisalign all day every day. You also need to take them out whenever you're eating or drinking. SO, you can imagine the moral quandary that happens whenever I'm doing something where eating and/or drinking is the main focus. I've had to navigate many food festivals and nights out where my internal monologue looked a lot like this:

    "OK, so should I just not wear my trays? No, that'll mess with my treatment!!"

    "But do I really want to keep on taking them out and putting them back in every five seconds?? Ugh, that's such a hassle."

    "Did I remember my straw? Nope."

    "Alright, if I drink all four cocktails with my trays in but swish with water after EVERY sip, I should be fine, right?"

    Sometimes I take my Invisalign out for a few hours while I'm eating and drinking and hope my teeth don't shift too much. Other times I leave them in and take my chances with the sugary/alcoholic beverages. But neither decision is ever ideal. It's a lose-lose.

    11. You need to clean your teeth and trays before putting the trays back in.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Not cleaning your teeth before putting your Invisalign trays back in your mouth means food will get stuck in your teeth and trays, leading to possible cavities and gum decay. In a perfect world, I'd be brushing my teeth after each meal and snack, but I tried doing that in the beginning and it was a real pain. I had to carry a toothbrush with me at all times, find a sink, etc. etc. So now, I simply swish with water. My orthodontists said this is fine, although brushing is always the better choice.

    It's also recommended that you clean out your trays, especially if you see any food particles stuck in them. I'm not as diligent about this as I should be, but I always make sure to give them a rinse if I see anything super suspect.

    12. If you don't floss already, you're gonna want to start.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Part of the reason tooth decay happens when food gets stuck in the Invizzies is that there's no longer any saliva flow between your teeth. The trays block that from happening, which means the food just sits there, and your gums get weaker and weaker. It took an insane number of cavities and some gingivitis (which was luckily caught early-on and removed) for me to realize if I wanted to keep my gums and teeth in semi-decent shape, I'd have to start flossing. Now I do it pretty much every night without fail. It's actually really satisfying!

    13. There's no guarantee you won't have brackets (or as they're called in Invisalign land, "buttons") on your teeth.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    One of the things that really sold me on Invisalign was the fact that the aligners are clear, which means they tend to be less noticeable than braces. Something I DIDN'T realize was that depending on your treatment plan, you'll have plastic buttons put on some of your teeth to further help the shifting process.

    Normally patients only get one or two, but because I was a particularly special case, I had buttons put on pretty much ALL of my teeth, and didn't have them removed for about a year and a half. And let me tell ya, they sure looked a lot like brackets. People would always tell me they didn't notice them, but as you can see from the picture above, they were clearly lying.

    14. And you might also have rubber bands.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Since my treatment involves correcting my bite quite a bit, I've worn orthodontic rubber bands for the majority my time with Invisalign. This isn't a guarantee for all patients, but my relationship with rubber hands has really run the gamut. Sometimes I've had to wear two rubber bands, sometimes just one. There was a brief period where I only had to wear rubber bands at night (so, so nice). Right now I wear four, two on each side. The bands can be attached via rivets carved into your Invisalign trays, or metal rods attached directly to your teeth. I currently have rods.

    Having the rubber bands adds an additional step (or in my case, four) to the process of taking out the Invisalign and putting it back in. This makes me EVEN MORE hesitant to take out my Invisalign unless I absolutely have to.

    15. And those rubber bands. will. be. EVERYWHERE!!!

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Orthodontic rubber bands have completely overtaken my life. They're so tiny that they can easily just snap right out of my fingers and go hurling into the abyss. I find them everywhere: on the floor, in my bed, in my pockets, at my friends' houses, in my hair, the list goes on. The other day, I found a lone rubber band just chillin' on the trunk of my car. What was it doing there? Beats me!!! All I know is that thanks to me there's probably hundreds of little rubber bands out there, lost and afraid.

    16. And chances are, the rubber bands will also snap.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    I've had rubber bands of varying sizes, and right now I'm wearing the thickest rubber bands available because my orthodontists are hellbent on getting my back teeth to finally touch. And these very thick, incredibly tight rubber bands like to snap off in my mouth. A LOT.

    My favorite is when they constantly snap off while I'm just trying to put them back in my mouth. I'll get all four of them in and then a second later one will snap off, and I have to start the process all over again. There have been times where I've spent five minutes or more trying to secure my rubber bands, over and over and over and over again because ONE in the back just couldn't anchor itself. In these moments, it takes all the strength I have not to fly into a rage, break my beloved Invizzies in half, and throw them straight into the garbage. It's honestly the bane of my existence.

    17. You'll probably end up having Invisalign longer than you ever hoped or intended.

    Paramount / Via

    The first day of my Invisalign treatment, my orthodontist's office told me my projected timeline would be about six months, with the possibility of one six-month refinement that would bring me up to one year, max.

    Well my friends, that was over TWO YEARS AGO and I gotta say, I've been strung along quite a few times. I'm coming up on finishing my FOURTH refinement and chances are I'm still going to need more. I've entered that super lovely period where every time I go in for a checkup, my orthodontists swear up and down that the next round of trays will be my final set. Come the end of those trays, I'm hit with the "ooooh, looks like we're gonna need to try one more time." It's maddening. I've been going through it for over a year. I've given up on thinking each set of trays will be my last, but my frustration still mounts with every passing fakeout.

    18. But in the end, they're still pretty worth it.

    Shelby Heinrich/BuzzFeed

    Despite all the (sometimes very) annoying aspects involved with my Invisalign treatment, I don't think I would've made a different decision had I known then what I know now.

    Does having Invisalign present an inconvenience to me on an everyday basis? Yes. Am I absolutely aching to be done with it after all this time? You betcha. But has it also greatly improved my smile, bite, and alleviated some jaw pain? 100%. I think the pictures above speak for themselves.

    I still don't know when I'll be finished with my Invisalign (hopefully soon??), but I do know that I don't plan on quitting. After all, I've made it this far. What's another two years, right?? 😬😭

    Note: please consult with your dentist/orthodontist before deciding to pursue Invisalign or any other orthodontic treatment.