15 things to know before you get Invisalign {braces} as an adult

When I was a kid I was given the choice to get braces or not. My dentist didn't think that I really needed them and my parents were OK with letting me make the choice if I wanted them or not.

I did not.

I was happy that I missed out on that rite of passage as a kid, but the older I got {I'm blaming it on late erupting wisdom teeth}, the more my teeth started to bother me.  I had this tooth in the front that seemed to keep moving and shifting further and further over and my bottom teeth were getting quite crowded.  

I was starting to spend more and more time in the orthodontists office as my three kids started treatment, and I flippantly mentioned it to my husband one afternoon that I was considering getting braces. I was only really going to consider it if I qualified for Invisalign {clear aligners that you wear over your teeth instead of traditional metal brackets}.

When I was making an appointment for one of my kids consults, I asked if I could be seen for a consult as well.  Our insurance paid for a quarter of the treatment, we had money in our HSA account and I got a {small} family discount from the orthodontist since we would have three members of our family in treatment at once.  I signed up and got started in March.

I've worn Invisalign for almost 9 months now and am at least half way done with treatment and I have learned a few things that I wish I had known before or in the beginning.   If you are considering adult braces, here are a 15 things you should know.

1. There are brackets. I had no idea that I would be getting {albeit tooth colored} brackets adhered to my teeth. I guess I just never asked. These brackets help the movement of your teeth and you may end up with more than you bargained for.  Most people won't notice these, but if you have your aligners out to eat, you may get a friendly nudge telling you that you have something on your teeth because people really have no idea what those buttons are!
2. You might have rubber bands. This is one of my least favorite parts of wearing Invisalign. I had no idea that I would need to wear rubber bands all of the time, but I do. And well, while I don't think that the Invisalign is super obvious that I am wearing it, the rubber bands are a dead giveaway if the brackets don't scream adult braces.
3. You will brush your teeth fifty hundred times a day. If you just ate, food can get stuck between your aligner and your teeth making it even worse to have spinach stuck on your tooth where it can't even move it than it is when something gets stuck between your teeth. I try to brush after I eat something every time because it just feels cleaner. When you have the aligners on, they change the ph of your mouth and you don't want to feel scuzzy. 
4. You will realize that you snacked. A lot. I honestly had no idea I was eating so much throughout the day until I got Invisalign.  Costco at lunch time with all the samples used to be one of my favorite places to go, now it just feels mean. Sure, I can pop out the aligners to grab a snack, but pulling them out to eat is sort of gross to do in public and then where do you put them? And you can't brush afterwards unless you want to go to the public bathroom and rip out your travel toothbrush. No thank you. So now, I'm more choosy of my snacks and have found that I pass them up more often than not.
5. I've become a binge eater. Not in a way like I need treatment, but if I have my aligners out I will eat and eat and eat, and then when I am finished I will brush. Where as before, I would maybe grab a piece of cucumber and pop it in my mouth as I made the salad, or if the kids offered me a piece of the candy they were eating I would pop it in. I never realized how often I hear "try this" until I got Invisalign. Now it's a process to take the aligners out, so I just eat as much as I can while they are out and try to turn down snacking at other times.
6. The aligners start to turn colors. I brush my aligners every time I brush my teeth and I try to soak them at least once a day. Regardless, after the two week wearing period it never fails that the aligners have turned a nice shade of yellow. It's gross.  And usually at day 10 of 14 I start to count down the days until I can pop in a new set.
7. I've gotten sick far more. I rarely get sick. I'm normally really healthy, but now, when I take my aligners in and out, my hands are constantly in my mouth spreading germs. I wash my hands often, but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. I am just chalking this up to a downside of Invisalign.
8. Even though I'm told my speech doesn't sound different, I think it does. There are times when I switch to a new aligner that I notice I talk with a lisp for a bit, but then it usually gets better after a day or two.  My husband however, has reassured me that he doesn't notice a change in my speech.
9. You are more mindful of the clock. It's recommended that you wear your aligners for 22 hours of the day.  That doesn't give you a lot of time not on the clock. Especially, since you can only drink plain water with them in. Forget about your leisurely coffee or lunch date. I know some people will just tack on the time that they had them off and wear the aligners for 15 days instead of 14 days, but for Pete's sake, I want to get out of them as soon as possible.  I'm not adding time to these bad boys!
10. Removing your aligners is an art form. I got Invisalign right before I went on a work trip to a developing country for nearly two weeks. There would be no running water and no public restrooms. It never fails that when you remove your aligners there is always this awesome spit line trailing it. That's not super awesome in front of your family let alone people you are working with.  I usually excuse myself to the restroom to remove the aligners to spare people the gross site.
11. Your teeth will be more sensitive. In the beginning I was brushing me teeth every time I took my aligners out. Now, not so much. If I'm at Costco {darn you Costco!} and gorge on samples {see #5}, I no longer head to the restroom to brush my teeth like I did religiously when I first got them. I'm just not interested in spending half my day and my time in the bathroom.  Especially a public one. That said, I have noticed if I eat something sugary and then pop in my aligners, my saliva, that normally takes care of the extra junk left on your teeth, can't do it's job. So, your teeth become more sensitive.  I usually brush as soon as I can if this happens, but I will say, it took me about a month before I realized that this was what was happening.
12. You can't use your teeth to open things or bite your nails. O.k. so the not being able to bite your nails isn't really an issue of mine, but I would occasionally nip at a hangnail or two and now I can't even do that.  And I have to grab scissors now to open things and can't use my teeth.  Less barbaric? Yes. More convenient? No.
13. Your teeth will feel loose. The whole point of wearing braces is that your teeth are moving and shifting, but that moving and shifting makes your teeth feel loose. It's not really a big deal unless you are eating something really sticky {like taffy} or hard {like hard candy...sue me, I like sugar.}. I find less enjoyment when eating those kinds of things, which really may not be a bad thing.
14. They are fairly pain free. I have read that some people feel discomfort when they switch trays and my kids in traditional braces talk about pain after an appointment, but I have never had any pain. Sure, the morning after I switch to new aligners, I will feel a bit sore but more like you are sore after a workout sore, not really sore, like it hurts and is unbearable sore. 
15. They may be cheaper than traditional braces. I was surprised when I was quoted the price for traditional braces and for Invisalign.  The Invisalign was actually $500 less expensive than traditional braces and the treatment time was the same, so it really was a no brainer. 
Hopefully I've shed some light on wearing Invisalign as an adult.  I'm glad that I have them, and will be glad to bid them adieu.  Are you considering Invisalign? Or have you had them? I would love to hear if you have anything to add.

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