Oh my holy hell.
After a few weeks of wearing my Invisalign brace on my lower teeth, I thought I was totally prepared for the first tray for my uppers. Sure, the first week or so had been harder than I’d anticipated: while the brace wasn’t painful, it had taken me a while to get used to the sensation of having something in my mouth all the time, and at first I’d frequently found myself thinking I was going to gag (I didn’t). After about a week of this, though, I was completely used to it, and was barely even thinking about it any more, so I headed off to collect the next tray for my lower teeth and the first set for my uppers feeling fairly confident that this would be a fairly easy transition.
I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Wearing Invisalign braces on both sets of teeth at the same time is very different to wearing just one set, on the lower arches. In retrospect, I’m actually really glad I did this the way I did, and had the lower braces only for a few weeks before moving on to both (I will only need a few braces on my upper teeth, so it was possible to do this without extending my treatment time) because I think starting off with both at the same time would’ve been too much for me.
The first thing I noticed was the slurring. To put it bluntly, when I left my appointment, wearing both braces for the first time, I was speaking like a drunk person, and I continued to do this for the next couple of days. By that time, my teeth had already started to move, which meant that the brace was fitting more snuggly to the roof of my mouth and no longer clashing with my tongue every time I tried to speak. Those first couple of days were amusing for everyone else, though, but not so much for me.
Then there was the drooling. No one tells you about the drooling. It’s now more or less under control, but I spent the first two days clutching a tissue to my mouth much of the time, and I ended up with very chapped lips into the bargain. Nice!
Then there’s the pain. For some reason, my upper tray seems to exert much more pressure on my teeth than the first lower one did – although the latest tray for my lowers is also exerting a fair bit of pressure, and is therefore more noticeable to me than the one before it. At first, getting the braces in and out was a challenge: they’re a snug fit, and when I remove the upper tray, I always feel like I’m going to take a few of my teeth with it. When they’re on, I can feel a lot of pressure on my teeth, even now, four days later. It’s not unbearable, but I do very much look forward to mealtimes, so I can take them off!
When I do take the braces off, however, I have another problem to contend with: namely, the fact that the teeth underneath are feeling very, very tender. For the past few days, I’ve basically been on a “soft foods only” diet, because biting down is quite painful, and just not worth the hassle. I’m told this will ease off soon, but as I said, I’m on day four, and still finding it hard to chew!
With all of those negatives out of the way, however, I feel I have to present the positive sides of Invisalign:
1. It’s working.
My upper trays are being used purely to close a gap between two of my teeth and, as unbelievable as this sounds, by the end of the first day, I could already see a huge difference in that gap, and this is backed up by the “before” photos I took of it. It’s not quite closed yet, but it’s already a huge improvement, and that alone would be worth the downsides I’ve mentioned above. So far I don’t see any noticeable changes in my lower teeth, but they are more complex, and require a much longer treatment time, so I don’t expect to see a visible change for a while yet.
2. My teeth look whiter.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m brushing so much, or because I’m drinking less coffee, but when I take the braces off, my teeth look whiter than they did before I started the treatment (as confirmed by Mr Dollface).
I possibly shouldn’t describe this as a “pro” because I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but it is a known side-effect of Invisalign, and I have lost a few pounds since I started. I was actually really surprised by this because, although I knew many people do experience weight-loss when undergoing treatment, I feel like I’ve been eating more or less the same amount (up until the past few days, obviously!), so I didn’t expect to see any difference there. I guess I must snack a lot more than I realised!
Overall, the past few days aside, I’m really pleased with the way things are progressing, and I think that the end result will be worth what is, after all, a fairly minor inconvenience. With that said, I’m lucky in that I have a comparatively short treatment time: some people do have to wear the braces for a couple of years, and I suspect the thought of that would be too much for me. I’ve been reading a lot of Invisalign forums and blogs since I started, and I’ve heard a few people say that they’ve become so used to the braces that they actually prefer having them in. At the moment I can’t imagine feeling like that, but who knows what the next set of trays may bring!