For a long time I told myself that having sticky-out, wiggly bottom teeth added character to my face. But about 18 months ago, and after a ton of research, I finally took the plunge and decided to get Invisalign. To the uninitiated it’s a series of clear plastic moulds of your teeth which you wear for 2 weeks at a time to gradually straighten them out (you can read about it here). Whenever friends spotted my new braces they had lots of questions about the process. Did it hurt, could I still eat apples and how did oral sex work? (Yes, Sometimes and With Practice if you’re interested). Along the way I learned a lot of hard lessons, so if you’re considering getting Invisalign, here are some things I wish I’d known…
1. The first 24 hours are torture
For the whole of the first day and night it feels like every single one of your teeth is making a desperate break for freedom. Your mouth is a ball of pain. Although my lovely dentist Rhona did warn me to “expect some discomfort” it turned out this was dentist speak for “it hurts like hell”. Take a couple of paracetamol and feel comforted by the fact this phase passes pretty quickly. Although each time you put a new set in it feels a little bit tight, it’s never as bad as this again. Thank god.
2. You drink tea while wearing braces
So the official line is to take your braces out for eating and don’t drink anything other than water while you’re wearing Invisalign. But as a serial snacker and tea-sipper this was never going to happen and I can now report that it’s totally fine to have your morning brew (and your 4pm green tea) with your braces in. Tumeric lattes are best avoided though – unless you think bright yellow teeth is a good look.
3. Toothpaste is your NBF
A mini tube of Colgate and toothbrush are now as essential to a night out as your phone, purse and lipstick because you’ll be brushing your gnashers and your braces after Every. Single. Meal. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get used to foaming up at your work communal sinks, especially when one of the side-effects of all that brushing is your teeth become Simon Cowell-levels of pearly white.
4. You will have no shame
Eventually, you’ll get so used to whipping your Invisalign in and out for meals, that you won’t think twice before clicking them out at the table, even if a wad of spittle occasionally flies out and hits your dining partner. So nonchalant will you be, you’ll be happy to stuff them into your bag, pocket or even just tuck them in your bra (don’t judge me).
5. Dogs are not your friend
The great thing about Invisalign is it’s clear and plastic so when you’ve got them in people barely see them. This is also the same quality that makes Invisalign so easy to lose. I’ve had them cleared off a table when they were placed in a napkin, accidentally thrown them in my own bin (and had to frantically search through coffee grinds to find it) and even found my friend’s cockapoo casually chewing on a brand new set. Avoid this by carrying them in the plastic case your dentist gives you. I learnt this one the hard (and expensive) way.
6. It’s not just about vanity
OK, I’m not going to lie, the main reason I got Invisalign was cosmetic (and many an hour has been spent looking at photos of my old crooked teeth and my new straight ones and feeling smug). But post-treatment my teeth are also much easier to clean which means less fillings in the long run, so this is basically a medical reason, OK?
7. When it’s all over it’s not actually over
It’s worth knowing this now, because some dentists can be coy about the long-term game plan after treatment ends. But your teeth will move back to where they were unless you do something to keep them in this straighter, happier place. My dentist placed a wire along the back of my bottom teeth and I’ll wear retainers at night every night for the rest of all time. But by now I’m so used to it that popping them in becomes as much a part of my bedtime routine as setting my alarm. And it’s much less painful.