Amber’s Adventures in Invisalign: Part 1

A couple of people on Twitter have asked me about the Invisalign clear brace I mentioned a few weeks ago, and as yesterday was The Big Day, i.e. the day I got my first brace, I thought now was the perfect time to update about it. Yes, all I need is the encouragement of TWO PEOPLE, and off I go! Hi, both of you!

So! Yesterday I got up bright and early and headed off to the dentist to have a large lump of plastic inserted into my mouth. As Monday mornings go, I’ve had better, but I’ve also had a whole lot worse, it has to be said. The visit started off with an in-depth examination of my teeth and, bizarrely, of my chin and neck. “This is just to check for cancer!” said the dentist brightly, massaging my lymph nodes. Clearly he didn’t get the “Amber is a hypochondriac” memo, but it’s OK, I got the all clear. Phew!

Next we moved onto the insertion of the brace, and actually, it all went much more smoothly than I was expecting. I’d been a little bit worried about how easy it would be to insert and remove the Invisalign: I had images of me standing tugging at it for hours, and ending up with the thing wedged half-in/half-out of my mouth, but while it’s a little bit fiddly, and will obviously take a bit of getting used to, I managed it without too much trouble. Phew, again!

Having got the thing in, I was really impressed by how, um, invisible it is. “Where is it?” asked Terry when I got back into the car after my visit and bared my teeth at him like a vampire. “Are you not wearing it?” Which is really all the evidence you need that yes, it really is unobtrusive. You’d have to be standing really close to me to notice it, and you’d also have to be actively looking for it, so it does live up to its name and reputation in that respect. This is a very good thing, because having spent the past few weeks thinking things over while I was waiting for the brace to be made up, I decided to go ahead and have one on my upper teeth, too. Well, in for a penny and all that…

The good news is that I won’t actually need to wear it for as long as I’d initially thought: the dentist reckons six months will be enough, give or take a few weeks to allow for my three week holiday in June, plus the fact that I wasn’t able to get appointments exactly two weeks apart. (You’re supposed to get a new brace every two weeks, but it’s a really busy dental practice, so some of mine will be longer than that.)

The bad news is that it is a bit of a lifestyle adjustment. So far the brace isn’t causing me any discomfort: it feels a bit odd, sure, and it’s kinda weird to think that I’ll be wearing it 22 hours per day for the next six months (I can’t stop running my tongue over the top of it and thinking, “I wonder how long NOW until I can take it out?”), but hopefully it won’t be too long before I get used to it. No, the main issue is the coffee. Yes, coffee. You see, the Invisalign has to be removed when you eat, and when you drink anything other than water. Now, I’m not too concerned about the eating: I’m actually not much of a snacker (although, having said that, it’s amazing how often since I got it I’ve found myself thinking “Hmm, I think I’ll just eat a… oh.”), and because I work from home, it’s not too big a deal for me to remove it for my main meals and then put it back in.

But the coffee. Oh, the coffee! Coffee is a big no-no when you’re wearing Invisalign, because not only is it likely to stain the clear plastic, the hot liquid could also damage it. But I’m a bit of a caffeine addict, so giving up is going to be hard. I’m determined to do it, because I want straight teeth more than I want a cup of coffee, and also because I’m paying too much for this to not follow the instructions to the letter, but it will be hard. Luckily I don’t have to go totally cold turkey: I can still drink coffee when the brace is out, I just can’t have my usual multiple mugs of the stuff during the day. This will be good for my health, if not my sanity.

Other than that, so far, so good. Well, otherĀ  than the fact that when I was getting ready for bed last night I was so busy focusing on the important business of removing the brace (to clean my teeth) and then re-inserting it that I totally forgot that other important part of my night-time ritual: removing my contact lenses. Ouchy.

T minus six months to go…