A number of cosmetic procedures has been on my list since my late teen years, and it’s only recently that I can truly afford getting them done. By cosmetic procedures I don’t mean actual plastic surgery, but I do mean things like getting my teeth straightened out and eyesight corrected.
Today, I will focus on the procedure that is happening in my life right now, being the teeth straightening. I am using Invisalign aligners and this post will cover everything that is not included in their adverts.
Obviously, I was not happy with my teeth. But since my mouth reacts to metal poorly, traditional braces were a no-go. So plastic it is. The second reason is that I work in a somewhat superficial environment looks-wise and I am ‘client-facing’. Something discreet therefore was a must, and a wire across my teeth just wouldn’t do. Third reason, my teeth are a right ole pain to clean thoroughly and straightening them out should make the daily care just a little bit faster.
Finding the dentist
My key requirements were that the dentist of choice is an Invisalign specialist, aesthetics focused, in a convenient location AND has done heaps of treatments on other people. Price was my very last requirement – my total budget was £5000 for both the top and bottom arch, including the imaging and any post-treatment dental work such as bonding. I visited 7 dentists and settled on one located near my work, in London Bridge area. The consultant working with me in the dental practice specialises in cosmetic dentistry and I would recommend that if you are getting braces as an adult, look for a practice that specialises in cosmetic work for optimal effect.
The consultation is free. Invisalign is not cheap and I strongly urge you to speak to more than one professional and if they charge you for an initial consultation, go see somebody else. Costs vary across the board, but you’re in general looking at around £1200 – £2000 per arch for a treatment.
My costs looked like this, for a total of 19 aligners:
£400 – the cost of imaging being taken, sent to Invisalign and a treatment plan production, plus teeth whitening
£3100 – the cost of all 19 aligners, check-up visits, teeth filing, aligners cleaner, travel case, chewies etc
My £3500 spend does not include any teeth removal (I declined to have any taken out and opted for some teeth filing instead), bonding or fillings. My dentist estimated that those will come in at maybe £200-£300, depending on just how much bonding my teeth will need after the treatment. I don’t need any other type of fillings, despite my teeth being a pain to clean, I do clean them very carefully.
Starting the treatment
It takes 2-3 weeks to receive treatment plan from Invisalign from the date your teeth are scanned. the scan usually is digital, without physical impressions of your teeth being taken. My dentist also included some alterations to the plan Invisalign originally proposed, which extended the timeline to close to 4 weeks. Once I was happy with the projected results, the aligners order only took around one week to fulfil.
My first week with the aligners consisted of just wearing the first set of ‘trays’ but without the attachments on my teeth to allow my mouth to get used to it. The additional goal was to start moving my front teeth gently so that when the attachments are added, the potential gap between the tops of the two teeth is smaller. This was followed by adding the attachments in the 2nd week. My trays change weekly which is what Invisalign now recommends, making the treatment faster than traditional braces.
What they don’t tell you in the adverts
You will lisp for the first day or two, a lot.
The braces are not entirely invisible and if you have a lot of attachments on your front teeth, they are only marginally less discreet that standard braces.
The aligners will cause some rubbing, chaffing and discomfort in your mouth.
There is a lot of pain involved, same as with traditional braces.
You can only drink water with the aligners in, and for the first week you will be constantly thirsty. You will drink gallons of cold or lukewarm water without thinking much of it. Be prepared- have water available.
If you want to eat, there is a whole elaborate cleaning routine that follows every meal. This makes snacking such a hard work that you stop snacking.
The website says that if you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, rinse your mouth with water, but this advice is terrible, so brush your teeth after every single meal and avoid sticky food.
Attachments are sharp so when your aligners are off, don’t be rubbing your tongue on them.
Don’t use whitening toothpaste – your teeth are covered with filling material as attachments and you’ll only whiten the parts which are not covered.
Your teeth might need to be filed on their sides, which is one of the worst experiences – think nails on a chalkboard times 10.
If people notice that you have the braces on, it’s a pretty good conversation starter.
You get used to your aligners quickly, by week two you pretty much forget that there is plastic in your mouth. You will get really good at oral hygiene and your teeth will look great at the end of the treatment. In my case the treatment is also a lot faster than traditional braces would be, if potentially more painful. It is also cheaper and less fussy, even with the constant brushing and flossing.
A rumbly video on how my first week of wearing the aligners will be on my YouTube channel on Saturday morning. Enjoy!
Next week – how to budget for the whole year.