“A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.”
Have you ever wanted straighter teeth? A prettier smile? If you have, what are you waiting for? Clear aligners make the whole “braces” process very simple and without having to have a wire mouth. You can continue to eat corn on the cob, chew gum, and even take family pictures showing off your pearly whites because you can’t even tell that you are wearing clear aligners. If you are considering tweaking or fixing your smile, I cannot recommend why you should get clear aligners enough! See below for expectations, tips, and tricks!
Disclaimer: This is post is sponsored by Impressive Smiles. As always, all opinions are my own! If you are considering getting clear aligners (or brand name: Invisalign) you should 100% look into it and ask your dentist for a consult! I also cannot recommend Dr. Barsoum and Impressive Smiles enough!
Why am I calling it Clear Aligners vs. Invisalign?
A lot of people recognize clear aligners as “Invisalign” but Invisalign is just a brand name of clear aligners (similar as “Kleenex” is to “tissue”). Whenever I would tell people I had clear aligners they would correct me and say, “Invisalign”? My clear aligners were not Invisalign, so throughout this post I’ll reference to them as “aligners”.
My journey to straighter teeth.
I never had braces when I was younger. In fact, I used to want them because all of my friends had them! My bottom teeth were crooked, but my top teeth were surprisingly straight and made the fact that I didn’t NEED to have braces. Fast forward to my mid-twenties, I took advantage of my Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and got Invisalign. I opted for a wire behind my teeth vs. a night retainer thinking it would keep my teeth straight. Fast forward again to 10 my mid-thirties, my bottom teeth that were not connected to my permanent retainer started to shift inward which also caused a shift to my upper teeth. I’m a little smile obsessive, so I took advantage of getting clear aligners again!
My clear aligner process:
- My first appointment to begin the process was an appointment to make my aligners. Dr. Barsoum is always on the forefront of technology. He used a tool that scans each individual tooth to create a 3D computer image of my mouth that creates my aligners. I loved this process because when I originally had Invisalign 10 years ago, they used a goopy material to create the molds and it tasted horrible and would make me gag. Dr. Barsoum made this process fast and comfortable!
- Once my aligners were made, I was called in for another appointment to receive little button-like anchors that keep my aligners in place. Then, I was given my first few sets of aligners that I can change at home.
- I was told to wear my aligners as much as possible and at least for 22 hours per day. The only time you should be taking them out is for eating, brushing your teeth, and for cleaning them. I wore my aligners for 2 weeks and then would switch to the next set. When switching aligners, the pain was moderate and most noticeable during day 1 or 2 of the new aligner. I would change them at night and pop a Tylenol to ease some of the discomfort.
- I would visit my dentist about once a month to make sure my teeth were on track and to receive my next few sets of aligners.
- After two months of wearing my aligners, a few of my teeth were polished on the sides to make more room for movement. This may happen as needed.
- My last appointment my buttons were removed, and I received my final aligner (without the button indentations) to wear at night. This was my last appointment!
- Now, I only wear my aligners at night time and soak them during the day for cleaning.
Clear Aligner Tips and Tricks
Get a couple cases for storing.
During the first few weeks, I would always lose my aligners and would spend at least one part of my day hunting for them. You have no idea how many times I’ve found myself searching my car, purse, toddler’s room trying to them. What helped me was getting a couple cases for storing them. One for your purse, one to keep in your kitchen, one for your bathroom, etc… This is helpful because no one really likes to see your aligners next to their food AND you don’t want to lose them (they are clear).
At one point, I did lose a set of my aligners and when I talked to Dr. Barsoum, he told me to move forward to the next set of aligners. Thankfully I was nearing the end otherwise we would’ve needed to wear my previous step aligners and wait for the lost ones to come in. The best thing I did was immediately put them in a case (I have even used sunglass cases for storage) so I’d be able to find them again.
Remove your trays in private.
As much as I tried, there was nothing I could do to make removing my aligners graceful. I always had spit, bubbles, or a string of saliva connected to my aligners when I tried to remove them. Best to cover with napkin, or better yet, run to the bathroom, remove, and do a little rinse-a-roo in the sink before putting them in a case for storage before eating.
Switch trays at night (and maybe pop some Tyenol).
When you are switching to your next set of aligners, do it at night. Hopefully, you can sleep through some of the initial pain. I didn’t have to do it that often, but sometimes I would use some pain relievers so it would ease some of the pain.
Clean while you eat or brush your teeth.
Your aligners get pretty gross. No matter how many times you brush them or soak them, they still don’t appear (or smell) sparkly new. That being said, be sure to pick up some denture tablets or retainer cleaners so you can clean them. I used denture tablets, such as HERE, and used half a tab at a time and it cleansed away. I have also used fluoride rinse before to do a quick wash and would brush them like crazy. Good to carry a packet of cleaning tablets and toothbrush with you in case you feel the need to do a quick rinse.
Get the buttons.
I’ve heard to some people having the option to get the buttons or not. These really lock your aligner in and make you teeth shift like they are supposed to. Not going to lie, it does hurt when you have to switch to your next set of aligners, but the pain only lasted me 1-3 days and wasn’t unbearable.
WEAR THEM AND DON’T FORGET!
This is obvious, and your dentist will stress because you are supposed to be wearing them up to 20 hours a day but it’s so easy to forget, or to just not do it. You are investing in getting a straighter smile – so do the work. Time flies by and the moment of you wearing clear aligners flies by and you don’t want to have to extend your need to wear them longer because you haven’t been compliant.
A bonus of being compliant and wearing them as you should, might also escalate the process. When I originally started, I had them for two weeks at a time and would switch trays after the second week of wearing them. However, my dentist said that I could switch and only wear my aligners for one week before switching to a new set. This escalated my process by a month or two!
Set up an appointment for a consult!
I think this is the hardest step to move forward, so if you are curious, do it! Also, if you’ve read it this far into my post you are interested so definitely do it! Most dental offices offer free consults so if you are at all curious, make an appointment and check it out! The number one question I got was how much it cost. Every case is different (type of insurance, how long you’ll have to wear them, depending on your teeth placement, etc…) so best to go in and ask directly.
Take advantage of FSA or HSA!
Clear Aligners (or Invisalign, whatever you want to call it) are basically the same price as metal braces. Price always varies as it depends on your individual case. BUT if your insurance offers a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account, definitely take advantage of those pre-tax dollars as braces, clear aligners, Invisalign DOES qualify for you to use it!
If you’re in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, you need to go to Impressive Smiles!
It’s weird to love your dental office because everyone associates dentists with pain, but my family and I cannot recommend this office enough! Everything is top of the line and cutting edge. Dr. Barsoum is always up to date on the cutting edge of dental technology, he is a speaker + teaches other dentists about innovative services, and his staff is the best! A few years ago, I unfortunately needed two crowns and during the same appointment; my molds were made for my crowns and during the same day, I was double crowned! This was the closest I’ve ever come to becoming a princess.
My whole family goes to Impressive Smiles, in fact, my toddler keeps asking me when he gets to go back to the dentist. I repeat, I cannot recommend them enough and promise you would not regret it! For more information and to check out Impressive Smiles, click HERE!
Mention “Midwest Dimples” and get a free ortho consult and take-home whitening kit from Impressive Smiles! That’s something to smile about…now, if only my teeth were whiter than my legs!
Have you thought about getting braces or clear aligners? What are you waiting for? Have you had clear aligners, any other tips or tricks you would add? Thank you for reading! xoxo, Rachael