I have wanted to get braces for years but, just like so many other people that I’ve spoken to, I had a bad experience with a dentist when I was younger and it did nothing short of scarring me for life.
When I was about 12 my dentist (the same one that scarred me) said that I needed braces but there was NO WAY I was going back there!
I remember hiding the appointment cards that came through the post from my mum and dad. I literally waited for the postman every morning so I could snatch that card and dump it before any one else got to see it.
Yes, I was that scared to go back!
Years later, and hiding those appointment cards is one of my biggest regrets.
Having straight teeth and a smile that I’m proud to show off is something that I’ve wanted since I was old enough to feel self-conscious and awkward in social situations where I wanted to smile but always held back because of my smile.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I recently turned 30 and figured that the time had come to finally fix something that had bothered me for so long.
That longing to smile when I wanted to without having to get the right angle or cover my mouth finally got too much for me and I needed to grow up a little and get over my fear.
I knew I wouldn’t like sitting in a dentist’s chair. I knew I’d hate the noise of the drills and that distinctive dentist smell.
I knew that all them bad feelings that put me off for so long would come flooding back at some point or other.
But, above all else, I knew that I had to get it done.
Braces Options: Metal vs Invisalign
I’d spent years researching braces.
From the different kinds, the advantages, the disadvantages, and before and after pictures to the cost and the average length of treatments, I read countless articles and watched endless videos as it was something I desperately wanted to know about but was just too afraid to take that first step and actually see a dentist.
Based on my research and the fact that I like to travel (a lot!), there was only one option that ticked all the boxes for me. That was Invisalign.
Since posting some pics and updates about starting out with Invisalign on Facebook, I’ve got a lot of questions about the treatment, travelling with Invisalign and how much it costs, so I’ve decided to answer some of them below.
The following are all questions that I had when researching and I found it difficult to get specific answers to some of them, so I hope you find some of the info useful.
Invisalign: Why it was the best option for me
This posed a problem for me as I knew that I’d never be in the one place long enough to get traditional braces as they require routine 6-week visits.
My only other option was to get Invisalign, and I figured that if I could find a dentist close to my home in Ireland that would allow me to travel for a few months at a time and take my trays with me, I’d be able to travel while wearing braces.
It sounded like the perfect scenario for me and I thought it might be too good to be true so I scheduled in some consultations with a few orthodontists and dentists in Sligo and Galway.
Finding the Best Orthodontist in Sligo
I went to four consultations in total and while all four said that I could in fact travel with Invisalign, some made me feel slightly uncomfortable about it, and one dentist in particular made me feel like he just wanted my money and wouldn’t care if he never saw me again!
Not a good vibe to give off.
Finding the best orthodontist in Sligo (30KMS from my hometown) was really easy in the end and after the free initial consultation with Jenny from West Coast Orthodontics, my search for the right orthodontist was over.
She made me feel super comfortable (which was hard considering my obvious fear) and she said that travelling with Invisalign wouldn’t be a problem, as long as I came home every 2-3 months or so to get check-ups and collect my next set of trays (most Invisalign patients are seen every 8 weeks).
I signed up, paid, and I felt elated that my journey to getting straight teeth was about to get underway.
What is Invisalign?
I’m not going to go into too much detail here as you’re probably already aware of what Invisalign is as it’s become one of the most popular types of braces in recent years.
To put it simply, Invisalign is the clear way to straighten teeth without having to wear traditional metal braces. The treatment requires patients to wear a set of clear aligners that are both removable and virtually invisible.
The aligners must be changed every two weeks throughout the treatment process.
For more info on the process, see here.
**It’s important to know that Invisalign isn’t for everyone so if you want to find out if you’re a good candidate for the treatment, you’ll have to book a consultation with your dentist/orthodontist.**
Travelling with Invisalign
Invisalign doesn’t interfere with my travel plans. I’m currently 4 weeks into my treatment and I’m in Vegas, where I’ll stay until the end of September.
I’ve got enough trays to do me until I go home at the beginning of October and I’m looking forward to my progress check and collecting a fresh batch of trays that will keep me company in Budapest until I go home for Christmas.
Invisalign means you can travel while wearing braces. Thank you technology!
Is Invisalign painful?
Ok, let’s get to the nitty gritty questions. I guess this one can be answered in 2 parts and you’ll have to watch the video below to see my answer/s.
Is Invisalign really invisible?
No, in my opinion, the trays are not totally invisible.
That said, lots of people don’t know that I’m wearing braces until I tell them.
From a certain distance and in pictures, they are virtually unnoticeable but they’re not 100% invisible.
If you’re lucky enough to avoid having to get attachments (I had to get around 17!), your trays will be even more unnoticeable as you won’t have any lumps or bumps.
Attachments are small tooth-coloured dots of dental bonding that are placed on certain teeth to make them move quicker. I hated mine in the beginning but I don’t mind them now as I know they’re serving a good purpose!
For more info on attachments, check this out (scroll halfway down the page).
How much does Invisalign cost?
Invisalign prices in Ireland average in at around €3,000 to €6,000.
Each person’s cost for treatment will vary depending on the length of treatment, what kind of movement is needed and whether trays are needed for both the top and bottom teeth etc.
My Invisalign orthodontist in Sligo quoted me €4,400. Taking the fact that both my top and bottom teeth need straightening and my treatment will take almost 18 months, I felt that price was extremely reasonable.
Jenny was running a promotion at the time of my consultation which meant that my fee for treatment would be reduced by €500. I was ecstatic as that was a huge reduction in price.
West Coast run this promotion from time to time so keep watch on their FB page if you want to avail of a big discount in treatment cost by getting in at the right time.
Some Invisalign providers (mine included) offer monthly payment plans if it’s something you’d be interested in.
Snacking with Invisalign
In order for the treatment to be successful, patients MUST wear their Invisalign trays for at least 22 hours every day.
That only leaves 2 hours for eating and while that might sound like a lot of time, keeping an eye on the clock and planning when and how long I’m going to spend eating is a bit of a nuisance.
Before starting my treatment, I was a serial snacker and I knew that my eating habits would change dramatically.
4 weeks into my treatment and I snack no more, which is definitely a good thing in the long run!
I take my trays out for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and to brush before bed and that’s it.
Some people have lost a lot of weight during their treatment process, with some labelling the cause of it ‘the Invisalign diet’!
I definitely find myself eating less crap as my meal times are limited and because I spend most of those two hours eating proper meals, I’m usually too full to go shoving chocolate in my mouth.
Also, because of the cleaning process that comes after eating (we’ll talk about that next), it’s just not worth taking the trays out for a cookie.
How to Clean Invisalign Trays
This is something that’s rarely talked about in blogs and videos online.
Keeping the trays clean isn’t difficult, but it’s important to have your essentials and be meticulous with your cleaning if you want to maintain that non-cloudy plastic look which makes the trays transparent.
Here’s what I do:
- As soon as I take the trays out before eating, I give them a good brush using lukewarm water (with no toothpaste) and a soft bristled toothbrush (to prevent scratching).
- If at home, I leave the trays steeping in lukewarm water while I eat and when I’m out and about in a restaurant or somewhere, I put them into my carry case.
- Once I finish eating, I give them another quick brush under running water before popping them back in.
As mentioned, I’m 4 weeks into my treatment and this has worked out really well for me. When my two week period is up, my trays are always clean and bad breath or smelly trays (ew!) is something that I haven’t had to deal with.
Some people do use denture cleaner, Invisalign cleaning crystals or Retainer Brite to keep their trays clean. I haven’t used any of these yet but I’m interested in trying out the official Invisalign crystals over the next few months.
**Remember** You must brush and floss your teeth after EVERY meal before putting the trays back in.
Drinking Alcohol with Invisalign
Again, this is a question that I had but found it hard to get a straight answer to.
While drinking alcohol with Invisalign isn’t exactly recommended by dentists (it’s recommended that you ONLY drink water with the trays in), a lot of people do it.
Some people drink beer though a straw to prevent staining and they rinse regularly whilst on a night out. Others stick to clear drinks like vodka and tonic and again, drink through a straw to prevent the liquid from lingering too long in the mouth.
White wine spritzers are another favourite alcoholic beverage of choice for Invisalign patients.
As the trays are changed every two weeks, many people tend to become less obsessive when they know that they’ll be changing to new trays in a day or two and from what I’ve read online, all kinds of alcoholic drinks are ago when that’s the case!
I thought that Invisalign would put a huge spanner in the ability to have a good night out.
I figured that if I could only leave the trays out for a total of 2 hours in any one day, how was I going to enjoy a night out with the girls when that usually involves more than 2 hours of drinking!
Having been on 2 nights out since starting my treatment, I now know that it’s not such a nuisance.
I stuck to drinking a clear drink (Malibu and soda) with a straw and I made sure to rinse my mouth out on numerous occasions during the night with water. I also made sure to brush my trays and brush and floss my teeth when I got home.
Next morning, my trays weren’t stained, my breath wasn’t smelly and I was really happy that I could enjoy a night out with Invisalign whilst not missing out on fun with friends.
Drinking Tea and Coffee with Invisalign
I still drink tea and coffee but not whilst I’m wearing my trays.
If I were to drink tea or coffee with the trays in, they would stain really bad and the temperature of the liquid could warp the plastic and leave the tray totally ineffective.
I’m drinking less tea and coffee since starting treatment but sometimes I’ve just got to let lose and go through the hassle of taking the trays out, cleaning them and brushing and flossing my teeth just for a cuppa.
It’s always worth it in the end!
Because the attachments are made of bonding, drinking a lot of tea and coffee could stain your bonding leaving an ugly yellowy tone behind. Drinking through a straw is a way of getting around this.
I don’t use straws when drinking tea or coffee and thankfully, it hasn’t happened to me (yet!) and I drink at least one cuppa every day.
And that concludes the questions!
If you’ve made it this far into the post (well done!), you’re most likely interested in getting Invisalign too. If that’s the case and you have more questions, just comment below and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
It’s still a long road ahead for me but I already know that making the decision to get Invisalign is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I will be sharing my before and after pics in a couple of months too and I’m documenting the changes by taking photos of my teeth regularly.
I’m already seeing minor changes which makes me super excited about the months ahead and I literally cannot wait to finish the treatment and start smiling without thinking again.