Many westerners may find it surprising, but wonky or ‘yaeba’ teeth in Japanese culture is actually a fashion trend. Unfortunately unless you live in Japan the embarrassment of a crowded smile can effect not only your oral health, but also self confidence and relationships. This Invisalign review will post details about my journey which started five years ago to correct uneven teeth using invisible retainers.
How Much Does Invisalign Cost?
Maybe it was due to terrible braces my friends had to wear during our teenage years, but I swore to myself that I just couldn’t do regular braces. Seeing I was working in a corporate culture where banter occurred everyday, the thought of walking into work looking like a wire fence had invaded my mouth scared the hell out of me! It wasn’t until I googled teeth straightening solutions that I came across ‘invisible aligners’ for the first time. This made me realised I might have another option to repair my uneven smile. Within a week of finding this ‘new solution’, I’d booked an appointment with a Sydney orthodontist and quoted $6,500 for a 15 month treatment. I know it sounds crazy seeing I’d waited my entire adult life for a smile that I could be proud of, and within a week I’d paid for the treatment. There was no time to waste!
What Was Included In the Price?
- Lifetime checkups by my orthodontist
- Lower teeth metal retainer fitting once the Invisalign treatment was finished
- My upper teeth required a night splint due to bruxism which also managed keeping my teeth straight
- Upper teeth Invisalign aligners for 15 months
- Lower teeth Invisalign aligners 6 months
My Orthodontist’s Verdict
My consultation at the orthodontist went really well. Seven days later Invisalign provided their ‘Clin Check’, a graphical animation from my dental impressions showing how my smile would look once their treatment was finished. I needed to be creative with the ClinCheck result to imagine how my smile would look seeing the attachments covered parts of my smile that I’d really like to see! I’ve always suffered from grinding my teeth during sleep, so my front teeth were very worn with uneven edges. My orthodontist recommended repairing the worn teeth by fitting porcelain veneers after my Invisalign treatment was complete. Invisalign’s projected ‘final state’ drawing therefore made it difficult for me to tell exactly what the end result would look like, seeing veneers would make my teeth ‘straighter’. Look at the pictures below to see what I mean, it’s not exactly a smile that you’d pay $4,500 for!
Another complication was the fact I suffered from an overbite. You’ll notice my upper teeth overhang from my lower jaw. I’ve got no one to blame but myself seeing I sucked my thumb as a child. My little 2 year old daughter must have best oral health at her child care centre after all the dental mistakes I’ve made!
Unfortunately my orthodontist wasn’t comfortable using Invisalign to correct the overbite. This seems to be a grey area with corrective retainer treatments. I’ve seen friends of mine and others patients report their ortho’s don’t mind using Invisalign for overbite correction.
What Was it Like Wearing Aligners?
Wearing aligners did feel quite strange for the first few weeks. If you’ve ever worn a mouthguard during sport Invisalign feels very similar. Seeing my aligners also required attachments, buttons – or ‘lugs’ as I called them, they didn’t look as invisible as I hoped. I also developed a slight lisp, with headaches also common during the first 24-48 hours after starting each new aligner (you’ll usually change aligners every 2-3 weeks). Over my 15 month treatment I only needed to wear one set of aligners for longer than 2 weeks. This was because I took a 2 week holiday in South Africa with friends, and due to the vacation lifestyle I only wore the retainers overnight. When I arrived home my orthodontist suggested I wear the aligners for an extra 2 weeks as my teeth hadn’t moved the necessary distance for the next set to function properly.
Nice Side Effect – Improved my Oral Health!
One of the positive side effects wearing aligners 24/7 was my oral health improved 150%. It was very easy developing a habit of brushing or rinsing my teeth after each meal. Foods like salads and savoury snacks trapped underneath the aligners felt terrible! During each checkup with my dentist they commented how much my teeth and gums health had improved.
Do I Have Any Regrets?
My only regret was not exploring alternative orthodontists who were prepared to use Invisalign to treat my overbite. Overall the whole treatment was pretty much what I expected. Aligners aren’t as ‘invisible’ as the marketing department makes them out to be, especially if you need ‘attachments’ like I did. I thought the attachments created an ‘air bubble’ appearance which was quite noticeable. Don’t get me wrong, no one ever commented on the aligners during my 15 month treatment, but occasionally I noticed people take a double look at my mouth while speaking. In my experience most people are too polite to mention anything which was good.
Final Result – My Smile Before and After
I’m so much happier with my smile since finishing my aligners. My porcelain veneers have been fantastic and something I would highly recommend for anyone who’s worn away their teeth by grinding (Bruxism). Just a word of warning for anyone considering veneers. Dentists shave the surface of your teeth away, and fix the porcelain fittings to the base of your teeth. If your veneers fall off you’ll need to arrange replacements quickly, without the veneers you’ll look like a meth mouth victim!
Preventing my lower teeth from slipping back to their previous state, my ortho fitted a wired retainer. It’s worked like a charm, over the first couple of weeks it felt a bit strange, having a cold piece of steel under my tongue. This feeling quickly disappeared and my teeth have remained perfectly straight ever since.
Managing upper teeth alignment is my nocturnal bite plate. I needed to wear a night plate to control my teeth grinding so this worked out well seeing it didn’t cost any more money. For more information about teeth grinding read my guide and treatment suggestions in this post.
Would I Do It Again?
Treating my uneven smile is one of the best things that I’ve ever done for my self confidence. Rather than hiding at birthday parties and family events when the camera comes out, now I can smile and not have to worry about an embarrassing smile. If you can relate and your crooked teeth are making you feel down, take action and see an orthodontist asap!