My Invisalign Treatment - The Refinement Stage
Before and afters
It’s now been about a year and a half since I got my Invisalign treatment, which means I am now in the refinement stage. I finished all of my aligner trays, but my teeth still needed some work. They were significantly better, but I wanted perfect teeth (especially when you’re paying for it!). First, the dental assistant shaved off my 11 attachments. For those that are unaware, it is possible that the clear aligner trays are not enough to correct crooked teeth on their own. When this is the case, the orthodontist will use attachments (or buttons). These small tooth-colored pieces of bonding material provide additional grip for the clear aligners as well as working as anchors to help shift crooked teeth.
After that, the orthodontist filed down the tips of my teeth to make them more even (this was pretty painful). The sound was maybe the worst part, though. I just wanted it to end! Apparently, the orthodontist may need to shave parts of your teeth due to overcrowding. When this is the case, shaving creates extra room for the teeth to shift properly. For people who are thinking of Invisalign to correct gaps in their teeth, this is less common. It is apparently done more with overcrowded teeth.
After this procedure, I had a new molding done. My orthodontist didn’t use the clay version, but rather had a camera that took 3-d images of my mouth for measurements. It took about a month for the new trays to come in. During this month, I would wear my old tray at night, and go without the Invisalign during the day. This meant I could eat and drink whatever I wanted-it was the best!
When the new trays came in a month later, I was disappointed to learn I needed more attachments. It turned out to be 11 more in total. They were on different teeth than last time, but because they were on many of the front teeth, I felt they were a bit more noticeable. Obviously this is still better than having traditional braces in your mouth, however is a bit more of a hassle than just the clear plastic alone. To add to the "noticeability", they also put the rubber bands in my mouth this time around. I honestly didn’t even know that was prescribed with Invisalign, but apparently it sometimes is. Needless to say, I hated them. People can see the rubber bands every time you talk and it makes eating much more difficult. I would consider myself someone who likes to snack throughout the day so this was a nuisance. I now had to take out both the Invisalign and the bands, whereas before it was just the Invisalign. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was bothersome.
This time around, the orthodontist gave me 28 aligners. The good news is I had to change to a new set every week versus every 2 weeks (last round), which meant I would be done in 7 months. I was hoping for a 4 to 5 month treatment time for the refinement stage, but what can you do? I knew upfront that everyone responds differently to the process and even if they give you an average time of 1 year, it’s impossible to determine. Truth is I have already seen amazing results, and it’s not even complete. From the first day I put them on to now, it is remarkable. I literally have no complaints about how they look or feel. They are beautiful…
One other procedure I’m going to have done is shaving my gums. It’s apparently a very popular procedure, especially for people who have traditional braces. The purpose is to make your gums more even and have your teeth look bigger. I plan on having this done as soon as I’m done with Invisalign. If you’re like me, having crooked teeth had always been a source of grief for me. I wouldn’t say I was depressed about it, but I was definitely self-conscious. I would always cover my mouth when I would laugh and it affected my sense of well-being. I would take pictures at certain angles because there were better and worse angles for me, but even now without being done, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. It is a big relief.
One thing I’d like to mention is the second round of clear aligner trays hurt more than the last ones. Maybe it’s because I went an entire month without wearing any during the day or because they’re changing them more frequently now. Whatever the reason, it has definitely been painful. It has gotten to the point where the pain has given me headaches. I can say it has gotten better as the days have progressed and it helps thinking that the pain means it’s working. Again, I’ve had Invisalign for a year and a half, and this is the only time I can say it’s been painful.
Overall both of my Invisalign journeys were positive. The refinement touched up everything my first go at it couldn't. I don’t understand the people who claim Invisalign does not work. In my view, they were probably lazy with it and didn’t wear their Invisalign trays. With that said, if you’re considering Invisalign, you should know that it is a commitment. It’s not something you can do when you feel like it. You must wear your aligner trays every time you’re not eating, and the less you wear them, the more you revert back to crooked teeth. I think this is the reason why I have seen such positive results. For me, I made the investment and have been committed the entire time. I’m almost at the finish line now and couldn’t be happier with my straight teeth.