Today I started treatment with invisalign. My dentist recommended it not for aesthetic reasons, rather for functional/health reasons(although I do have crooked teeth because I didn't properly wear my retainer after braces as a teenager). The main culprit is a lower incisor that juts to the outside of my top teeth, a classic cross bite. My bite doesn't align properly, my teeth are starting to get ground down in weird ways, and I was having TMJ issues. After hearing my dentist's speech about how these symptoms will evolve in the long term, I was convinced.
I am set up with 32 aligners (clear trays that progressively move your teeth), each of which I should wear for 22 hours a day. I will switch to a new aligner every two weeks, bringing with it some soreness as my teeth adapt to their new position. So best case scenario I'm looking at about 16 months of treatment.
By far the hardest part of invisalign will be wearing the trays for 22 hours a day. You only remove the aligners to eat and drink, and no snacks or coffee or gum or anything between meals. You also have to majorly step up your oral hygiene game and brush and floss your own teeth, and as well as clean the aligners after each removal.
My dental visit today was a bit traumatic, as they had to shave down about 10 of my teeth in order to open up space for them to move into their new position. On my top teeth they had to create .3mm gaps, and on my bottom teeth they had to create .5mm gaps. Half a millimeter is a huge amount to shave off a tooth. Because dentists and jewelers use many of the same tools and processes, I not only was very familiar with the rotary drill and diamond disc, I could imagine exactly what was being done to my enamel because it's exactly what I do to metal every day. I really think this is a case where ignorance is bliss. It also hurt, but I am a baby with very sensitive teeth.
I also have 18 attachments (also called buttons) on my teeth now, basically little knobs of tooth-colored material that helps the plastic trays grip your teeth and get them moving. Some people require no attachments and no tooth filing...I got "lucky" and was prescribed a pretty heavy dose of both. What's worse is you can totally notice them, especially with the trays in, so my invisalign is far from invisible.
My initial feeling when seeing my mouth with the aligners in was regret. I feel ugly and awkward and have a little bit of a lisp (they say it gets better after a few days once your tongue adjusts to the aligners). I am dreading being in social situations that call for removal of the trays. I can't even contemplate dating with these babies in the mix, although that's not on my radar at this point anyhow so I suppose cross that bridge when I come to it. I am trying to keep the long-term perspective that this is a sound investment in my health, and that a little bit of suffering now will be worth it to avoid serious problems down the line. But today I just feel blah.