Every other Friday, I get to pop in new Invisalign trays and it feels pretty much like Christmas morning. I’ve talked about my jaw pain on the blog before but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m halfway done with an Invisalign treatment! I’ve had TMJ issues for about 6 years now and when we lived in Charlotte I saw an amazing physical therapist who almost completely eliminated my pain with massage, stretching, and some dry needling. After a few years it started to come back and I mentioned it to my new dentist here in California. She told me that she’s had a few patients who tried out Invisalign, and 3 out of 5 of them had less jaw pain by the end of their regimen. My insurance covered a lot of the treatment, so I decided to give it a go.
So far I feel like my pain has subsided significantly—I still probably need to get back to PT or get the monthly neck and shoulder massages my therapist had recommended but I never ended up getting, but overall I’m really excited about how much improvement I’ve seen just from four months of Invisalign. I briefly had braces in high school so my teeth were pretty straight, but I did have a couple little cosmetic things that have also been a really nice secondary benefit to the TMJ relief.
I got a few requests from people on Instagram asking me to share about my experience in a blog post, so I asked for specific questions that I could answer. Most of the questions I got were something to the effect of the ones I’ve included below, so I’ll go ahead and get to them now!
How long did it take for you to speak normally? Or was it never an issue?
I definitely felt like I had a lisp for a few weeks. I was still teaching Pure Barre at the time and the day after I got my first aligners I had to get on the mic for two back-to-back Saturday morning classes. Everyone said they couldn’t tell, but I kind of think they were just being nice—I really felt like I sounded unlike myself. But I got used to it and now you can’t even tell!
On a similar note, it was so weird having something in my mouth constantly, and the inside of my lips even got a little irritated. After a few days that got better, but I noticed that every time I put in new trays the irritation would come back. Now that I’m well into the treatment that’s not an issue anymore, but it was something that surprised me so I thought I would include it!
How long have you had Invisalign?
Four months! I started in January.
How long does it take? Is it just retainers or brackets on your teeth too?
I think this depends on your goals and how your teeth are currently—I only have to wear mine for 10 months but I’ve heard of some people having them for a lot longer. Because I’m doing it for TMJ and not necessarily to straighten my teeth, my dentist is actually considering letting me finish up about six weeks early, because the final 3 trays/aligners are apparently a bit more aggressive about “pulling” your teeth in, and she doesn’t want my bite to get too tight and possibly irritate my jaw.
Some people just have the trays/aligners/”retainers,” but I think most people get little brackets on their teeth. I have 8 or 9! They’re called “attachments” and they’re just enamel-colored bumps made of dental bonding that line up with the Invisalign trays. If you look closely in the above photo to the left you can see them on me. They really bummed me out at first because I thought they were really noticeable and I could feel them when the trays weren’t in, but I got used to them really fast. (I will be happy to see them go, though.)
What is the cost, pain, maintenance?
I think the price varies (a quick Google search says the average rate is between $3,500 and $8,000). My dentist charged $5,000 and our insurance covered more than half of it, which is the only reason I decided to do it.
The pain is not too bad. Your teeth definitely feel tight and sore the first few days of a new tray, but by the end of the two weeks you barely even feel a thing.
You’re supposed to wear them for 22 hours a day, which I think is aggressive, but basically you take them out to eat and then you’re supposed to pop them right back in. If I drink water or tea or even coffee sometimes I’ll keep them in even though that’s probably gross, but I feel like I have an invisible clock going every time I take them out so I try to keep them in as much as possible. You brush them and you can also get these cleaning crystals for them but I’ve only used them once or twice. Two weeks per tray is not very long, although they do get a little raunchy by the end of that time.
Once you’re done with your plan, they make a retainer for you based on the final trays and then you just wear those at night. If you have the aligners, they remove those so your teeth are smooth again. I’m excited to be done but I’m also really glad I did it!
Have you done Invisalign? What was your experience like? If you have more questions let me know, I’d be happy to try to answer them!