Welcome to Geri's Corner!
Are you considering Invisalign?
Have you ever thought about having your teeth straightened? Did you have orthodontics years ago and have not been happy with the results? Or do you notice that as the years have passed, your teeth are shifting? Have you been told that you have a poor bite? Misaligned teeth can lead to many problems including periodontal disease, premature wear, and TMJ issues just to name a few. These are all reasons to look at the Invisalign system of repositioning your teeth.
My name is Geri, and I am a practicing hygienist at Ayan Dentistry with over 30 years experience. I have decided to take the Invisalign plunge, and I am inviting you to take it with me. I am going to blog about my Invisalign experience to help anyone out there who might be considering Invisalign... but are not sure what to expect. I will chronical my case, and I will show you some examples of other cases we have treated in our office, Ayan Dentistry, as we move through treatment. So, stay tuned... and let's begin!
Welcome to my blog about Invisalign! I am about to embark on a journey... and I hope to inform, help, answer questions, and give you a taste of what it is like to go through Invisalign treatment. A little background about me: I have had orthodontics twice in my life already. Originally, I had braces in the late 1960's (yes, I'm dating myself) and then again when I turned 50. I am not unhappy with my smile; however, my bite is not functioning properly and I am starting to lose bone around my lower front teeth. I did NOT want to go through braces again, so I thought I'd try Invisalign.
So, what exactly is Invisalign? Invisalign is a system of moving teeth that involves wearing clear aligners that are changed every two weeks according to a plan that is individually devised for each patient. It is ALWAYS best to have a dentist who is certified in Invisalign to check on these aligners to make sure all is going according to schedule. My dentist, Dr. Darlenn Ayan at Ayan Dentistry, is certified in Invisalign. There are do-it-yourself aligner systems out there that don't require checks by your dentist. I would NOT recommend these systems because movement can get "off track" and create problems. It's very important to be monitored by a professional. All of the Invisalign patients at Ayan Dentistry are closely monitored through-out treatment.
Believe me, I had many reservations about jumping into orthodontics for a THIRD time. You might have these concerns as well: for instance, I'm older now... am I too old for this treatment? Is this going to hurt? Am I going to be uncomfortable through this treatment? Are people going to think I'm talking funny? Can people tell I'm wearing the aligners? I will answer all these questions as I go through treatment myself. Hopefully this will help anyone who is considering Invisalign. You can also e-mail me any questions you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Step: The ScanThe first appointment begins with a computer scan of my mouth. This scan takes the place of conventional impressions of the mouth that we used to take with the goopy trays. The dental assistant waves a wand in my mouth and the impression of my teeth shows up on a computer screen. No more messy impressions! YAY! By the way, the scan itself takes about 10 minutes, and is totally painless.
A week later I reviewed my scan with my doctor, Dr. Ayan. The scan demonstrated the position my teeth are in now... and then showed how my teeth would turn out at the end of treatment. I learned that I would need about 20 aligners. I was informed that if I wear my aligners every day and change them every two weeks as instructed, I would be finished in about 10 months. I was very pleased with the way the scan illustrated my final result... soooo I said yes to the Invisalign treatment plan and I'm ready to begin my adventure! Here are some pictures below of the initial scanning appointment... easy breezy!
Day one of treatment:I was so excited to begin! Dr. Ayan's office had informed me that my aligners had arrived, and it was time to have the small plastic buttons placed on my teeth that help the aligners move the teeth. I have included pictures of this appointment, so you have an idea about this process.
This appointment takes about an hour, depending on the difficulty of your case. Dr. Ayan applies these tiny CLEAR buttons to the teeth with resin material. The material is cured with a blue light, so that they will stay in place. These little buttons are very important to help the aligners move the teeth into the correct position. This is also not a painful appointment. After all the buttons are in place, my new aligners are given to me. Dr. Ayan and her assistant give me instructions on how to take these aligners in and out of my mouth. When I try them in for myself, I notice a tightness and a slightly uncomfortable feeling... but in an hour or so that feeling went away. I was instructed to wear my aligners 20 to 22 hours every day. I am to remove my aligners when I eat and be sure to brush my teeth (if possible) before I place them back in my mouth. I make a mental note to myself that I will need to carry a travel toothbrush in my purse for those times when I may not be at home. I think that the most important thing to remember is to wear the aligners as much as you can during the 24-hour period. This enables the next aligners to engage properly, and your treatment plan will run smoothly.
TIP: if you know you have NOT been wearing your aligners as much as you should during that two-week period, then don't move into the next set of aligners. You may have to make up some time and wear your last set of aligners for a few more days. If your next set of aligners doesn't fit properly, be sure to let Dr. Ayan know. She is there to help you stay on track!
I am given a travel case for my aligners and some cleaning crystals to help keep them fresh. I am finished with Day one and ready to go!
Two weeks later...
I am ready to change into my new set of aligners! I have been wearing my first set for about 20 hours a day for the last two weeks. What did I experience? Several things:
My bite was different. It started to feel different after the first few days, so I knew things were beginning to change already.
I want to clench down on my aligners. From what I understand, this is a common feeling and I try to be aware so I can stop myself clenching or grinding on the aligners during the day. I think it's a response to my shifting bite.
My joint in my jaw (TMJ) feels better... it seems to have some relief from my bite changing.
My teeth were not uncomfortable.
My speech was fine! (my biggest worry)
The aligners were not hard to get in and out.
Overall, I have to say so far so good. I notice I am brushing my teeth more... and that can't be a bad thing... right?!
When Bad Things Happen to Good Aligners
I am several weeks into my Invisalign treatment, and I wanted to share how I've had experiences where I have nearly lost my aligners! Yikes! This is not uncommon, and I wanted to remind you that these aligners are small and clear... which makes them great candidates to disappear into thin air (much like my socks in the dryer!)
My first episode happened at a restaurant with my girlfriends. I had removed my aligners and placed them in a napkin on my lap. We laughed and talked through dinner... and when we got up to leave, of course I had forgotten that the aligners were neatly folded in my napkin. Luckily I remembered them as I walked to my car... and even luckier that the table had not been cleared off as I ran like a crazy person back into the restaurant. The moral of this story is to always try and have your aligner case with you...or even a small clear bag. Place your aligners in the case and keep it close to you: either in your purse or in your pocket and a restaurant disaster can be avoided!
The next episode happened with my sister-in-law. She is going through Invisalign the same time as I am... and we are having fun sharing our experiences. She has a beautiful Australian Shepard named Rosko and he loves her. He loves my sister-in-law so much that he couldn't resist her aligners because they smell so much like her... So he ate them! She had them on her bedside table... and then they were gone! Rosko was fine... but she was in a panic!
At Dr.Ayan's office we tell our patients that if the aligners are lost, the patient is to wear the last set of aligners and call the office immediately so that we can order a new set. We tell our patients to always hold on to the last set of aligners when they begin wearing a new set, just in case of an emergency like my sister-in-law encountered. Again, this is why it is always important to have a doctor and an office involved in your treatment... strange things can happen to aligners!
How Can You Tell if Your Aligners Are Engaged?
I thought I would talk today about an important part of Invisalign treatment which can make or break how well the Invisalign process advances properly. It's all about making sure that your aligners are engaged fully when they are placed on the teeth.
What does engagement mean? Well, it is spring and there are many weddings happening right now... but I am talking about a much different kind of engagement! When you place your aligners on your teeth, be sure that the tips of your teeth are fully in place to the top of the aligner. This proper alignment can be attained by giving your aligners an extra "push" and checking in the mirror to be sure you don't see any space.
I've included two pictures that demonstrate good aligner engagement versus bad aligner engagement. If you can't get your aligner to engage properly, then it is time to call our office so that we can evaluate the situation and see if your treatment is off track. By making sure you have proper engagement each time you place your aligners, you will reduce the risk of your treatment plan being compromised.
How do aligners become off track? Most of the time we discover that aligners get off track due to the patient not being aware that they haven't been making sure that the aligners are truly engaged. Another reason may be due to the patient not wearing their aligners for the full 20-24 hours each day. If the aligners aren't worn, they do not engage properly, which leads to the treatment plan going off the mark.
All of this sounds like a lot of work! But it really isn't... just a quick check in the mirror every morning to make sure you have the aligners in place. If you have any questions for us please don't forget to email me at Info@ayandentistry.com
The Mouth Body Connection
Modern research has revealed that there is a strong connection between oral health, and overall health. See this helpful video for more information.