A few weeks ago I posted about getting Invisalign braces. Well, I finally got them! I thought I would share with you all a little bit about my experiences so far.
First, a quick introduction as to what these things are. Invisalign is a series of clear plastic trays that fit over your teeth. Each one is slightly different to provide a slow shift. The number of trays you need will vary depending on how much movement is required. Personally, I have 66 trays in my series; some people only use about 24.
My teeth are not noticeably all that crooked. I have a few that are defiantly out of place, but to the untrained eye, they actually don’t look too bad. However when you look closer you see that all of my teeth are turned towards the inside of my mouth, I have a large under bite, and my front teeth are turned inward towards each other. My teeth are actually quite the mess.
So I went to my dentist and asked him about the Invisalign. While he said that I was a good candidate, the price alone was what has held me off all these years. When I explained to him that I just didn’t have thousands of dollars lying around to do this with, he showed me the payment plans. They allowed me to pay about $400 up front and then pay the rest in monthly installments! WONDERFUL! I set up my appointments to get my scan done, and now here we are.
I went to the appointment and sat down for a 45 minute one on one lecture about how to put the trays in, take them out, clean them, store them, file them, and timeframes. They give you these little rubber things called chewies that help push the trays down on your teeth. Chewies are my new best friend. The pressure that the trays put on your teeth is a little overwhelming at first. When you bite down on the chewie, it helps relieve the pressure.
I got through the lecture and FINALLY got to put in my trays. Ouch. The doctor told me to go ahead and take some Tylenol and that I would likely need it every time I changed trays for the first day. (I change them weekly after the first 3 sets which are changed bi-weekly).
Have you ever had a piece of chip or popcorn kernels get stuck in your teeth and you feel it cutting the side of your mouth or tongue? Well, when I popped those suckers in for the first time, I had a sensation that there was something scratching the edge of my tongue. The nurse had told me that if there were any sharp edge, to file them down with an Emory board. I had no idea that I would need it so fast.
By the time I got to dinner on that first night, the right side of my tongue had been sliced to shreds. Apparently there are very sharp edges on these things that are known to irritate your mouth. Every set of trays might have a different sharp spot. Ouch.
I woke up miserable. My head was pounding and my jaw hurt. My ear on my right side felt scratchy and my sore too. It was bizarre.
Eating lunch I felt every piece of food and drink burn the cuts in my mouth with fury. I had a difficult time eating lunch and eventually gave up to go brush my teeth. (I now brush them every time I finish eating, before I put the trays back in.)
About this time the pain had become too much to bear. My tongue was swelling from the cuts, the side of my mouth was swollen and my lymph nodes were swollen! I started looking up Invisalign sites on the web. Surely, the swelling in my mouth and throat couldn’t just be from these trays.
I was so surprised to see the numerous boards and support sites detailing the same exactly symptoms that I was dealing with. People were sharing tips and tricks to keeping the trays clean, side effects, and how to avoid the cuts by the sharp edges. Several people recommended getting “periodontal wax”. It goes over the sharp parts of your braces and helps keep your mouth from getting too cut up. This stuff was near impossible to find, but Oh goodness has it helped! (Try Walgreens, neither CVS, nor Walmart had it in stock near me)
The swelling is so bad now that it hurts to swallow. Every moment feels like torture to my mouth. I have truly started questioning why I decided to do this. My throat and lymph nodes are swollen so tightly as my tongue and cheek and puffy and squishy. I look like a puffer fish.
Time to start antibiotics. I can’t even go to work like this. It hurts to think, breathe swallow. I can’t function any more than to turn my head to the left or right and drag myself to the bathroom occasionally. How am I going to do this for the next 69 weeks?! I am ready to give up. I spent the whole morning crying from pain.
Day 4. Today
Today is a completely different feeling that yesterday. Yesterday I thought I might just curl up and die. I could barely function. Today though, the swelling has gone down, the pain in MUCH less intense, and thanks to the dental wax, I am not being cut any longer.
So, my best advice for anyone who is thinking of getting Invisalign braces is this:
-Buy our dental wax BEFORE you pick up your first set of trays. You will want it immediately
-Get some inexpensive Emory boards. Cut them in half lengthwise and use those suckers to buff the sharp edges into a soft curve.
-You are going to have a lisp for a few days. I still have one. My clients like to giggle at me.
-Keep Tylenol on hand.
-Google the heck out of Invisalign. There are tons and tons of support groups and boards online that talk about all of these things I had never imagined happening with plastic trays on my teeth.
-Talk to your dentist about ALL of the side effects. Tell them what you experience and make them hear you. Don’t let them brush you off.
-Stay tuned for more updates on this saga. While I am glad the swelling is going down, I am worried about what will happen when the antibiotics run out. I am still getting a headache and the spot on my tongue isn’t totally healed up.