Here is an honest review of Invisalign treatment by our founder, James. This review will suit men who are on the fence about Invisalign. And women I suppose, but I drink a lot more alcohol than most women… and that changes things, for example – did that stain my retainers? Well you’ll find out below. Full disclosure; this is a long read with no advertorials, I found it hard finding out some of the answers in here, hopefully it helps you out. Also… content.
Why is this the year to do it? Well actually last year was because of punitive face mask mandates hiding the Invisalign aligners, which by the way aren’t invisible (more on that below of course…) but wearing a mask to disguise them is an idea.
A bit of background…
…or you can just skip to the tips below. So why did I personally do Invisalign? You probably don’t care, why would you? Lets sum it up with a bible verse and move swiftly on.
”Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity…”
Yep, all to get that Hollywood, or in my case, Pinewood smile.
Here’s some photos of my progress.
I will answer some of the questions that a man might want to know about Invisalign treatment. I know I struggled to get these answers when I first started looking it up; so here we go, starting with the most asked questions.
- How Long Does Invisalign Take?
- Does Invisalign Actually Work?
- Is Invisalign Invisible?
- When Will You Notice a Significant Difference?
- Will Invisalign Show up in Photos?
- Can I Drink Alcohol with Invisalign in?
- Will Coffee Stain Invisalign Retainers?
- Can You Eat With Invisalign In?
- How to Clean Your Retainers?
- Do They Smell?
- How Long Can You Really Leave Them Out?
- What The Hell are Black Triangles?
- How Tough are The Aligners?
- Unexpected Side Effects?
- Was it all Worth it?
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
Who knows! A bit of a caveat here, my orthodontist only worked a couple of days a week at my local dentist – I’m not sure if this is typical but this factor added weeks onto my treatment as they were often fully booked for weeks on end meaning delays to my treatment; something which you may want to keep in mind for yourself. I also couldn’t attend certain dates due to work, so my treatment was delayed significantly at times. Lets see…
I was told my treatment would last approximately 9 months. I first had my initial consultation in November 2018. I was told it would take 6 weeks for the retainers to arrive – after a scan of my teeth with a special machine. Then my dentist went on holiday after that 6 weeks…. I finally got my retainers in February 2019 I was looking forward to having them out by Christmas with brand new shining straight teeth.
Well its now May 2021 and all I need now is the clean/whitening promised in the price and my post treatment retainers fitted – yes you will need to use retainers nightly for the next 6 months at least (you can also buy a fixed/more permanent one).
The delay was partly because my teeth weren’t tracking as initially thought – so new aligners were sent off for … and then Covid hit in 2020 and that was it for about 6 months – where I had to wear aligners nightly; which was quite nice in hindsight as it meant I had straight looking teeth by that point, and I could eat normally in the day!
Another cause of delay was the time I had to have the each aligner in. Initially I started having my retainers in for two weeks at a time – which was, mercifully reduced to 10 days. You can even do a week at a time apparently – it depends on your dentist. In fact, my dentist changed half way through my treatment and basically said that two weeks was too long per aligner. So that’s more weeks wasted!
Taking away all of those caveats from my personal situation; around 6 months to 1 year seems like a typical time span for the treatment; but even without global pandemics, be aware that it may be a lot longer.
In hindsight – this service was quite shoddy for the 3k price tag. I would advise you to go with a dentist who works full time at your practice!
Does Invisalign Actually Work?
You’ve probably guessed by now but, YES. When at the end of my treatment I exclaimed ‘it’s amazing that plastic can do this’ my dentist replied ‘no, we did this’ … nice. But, my first dentist was, originally, overly optimistic on the time scales as you read above (to be fair Covid hasn’t helped with this). I remember reading some other articles which mention that their projected Invisalign treatment was also overly optimistic. Remember, your dentist is selling you something here so it’s likely they don’t want you to be thinking of spending the next 1-2 years wearing plastic in your teeth…
Ultimately you have to do your due diligence for expensive products, which you are – by being here. Obviously it is a case-by case thing when it comes to timescales, but bare this in mind guys; it may take as much as twice as long than your original timescale.
Putting, admittedly well made, plastic in your teeth is not an exact science as it turns out – all though there is plenty of tech which the dentist uses to facilitate the programme and design of your personalized retainers.
Is Invisalign Invisible?
No! The problem with the marketing is that they use models with very straight and clean teeth to model a fresh aligner.
Obviously they are less conspicuous than traditional braces, but it is not invisible. How observant are your friends? To be fair, when I first wore them to the pub (more on drinking in aligners later) some of mine didn’t notice, and some did right away. When I got the dreaded pegs, they became decidedly less invisible – but more on that later.
When Will You Notice A Significant Difference?
For me, it was about 3 months into the treatment – that was about 6 aligners worth. Suddenly my left incisor had moved into a straighter position and the effect was strikingly obvious to me and strikingly less obvious in photographs.
For the last 6 months of the treatment – I had a noticeably straighter smile in photos (apart from the pegs – again, more on that later)- it was just the smaller, stubborn adjustments that were taking a while – the kind of adjustments that are more noticeable in person, in daylight.
Will Invisalign Show Up In Photos?
I am inclined to say not really. But, it will depend on a couple of factors. 1. how clear are your photos? 2. If you have pegs on your teeth yet.
Lets talk Pegs…
Pegs or ‘buttons’ suck. My dentist didn’t actually mention them a lot during the consultation… which I presume is good salesmanship… Because telling someone they will have pegs annealed to their teeth doesn’t exactly scream ‘invisible’. About 3 months into my Invisalign treatment I got pegs glues to my teeth – to help the aligners move my teeth horizontally. They are a typical part of the treatment.
Below is a good representation of what pegs look like with aligners in and out. Suddenly Invisalign is not so invisible now.
How good are your photos? I mean, unless your friend is taking closeups of your mouth. Nobody is going to notice. In fact, it almost white washes them. Especially if you’re in a bar or somewhere which low lighting (see below).
Can I Drink Alcohol with Invisalign Retainers in?
This is a big fat YES. Beer, whiskey, rum, vodka & red bull, white wine (emphasis on white), I drank all of these multiple times with my retainers in and they did not visibly stain. I did make a semi-conscious effort to drink more colorless alcohol than I usually would. What you will notice, however, is the next day the retainers will have a build up of white plaque within them. Due to the sugars from the alcohol presumably. I personally avoided red wine, due to how red wine stains your normal teeth and tongue whilst you are drinking it. However – I have drunk red wine with my retainers in (at the end of that particular aligner set i.e I was changing them over that night or the next morning), I swilled my mouth with water every couple of sips and they weren’t stained the next day. So if you are desperate for red wine, you can get away with a an evening of drinking it in my opinion.
The above iPhone photo is probably the 4th hour of slamming down rum and coke and playing mini golf just before Covid. You can see no staining on the retainers at all. Granted, it’s not a professional photoshoot but you don’t need to be overly self conscious about them turning brown after drinking alcohol – it doesn’t happen.
I did make a conscious effort to swill my mouth with water when I remembered during the night out – which by the way meant less of a hangover. But honestly, it doesn’t make a big difference. Go and enjoy your night out.
Will Coffee Stain My Retainers?
Yes – but not as much as you might think. I am a coffee fiend. Get into the habit of having a small glass of water with your coffee. You will need to toilet a lot more with this method…
But again, if you are a couple of days away from changing the aligners for the next one in the set, and you aren’t massively shy, then I wouldn’t worry. That was my philosophy. Obviously, the mask wearing in the last year has made this somewhat easier… I also made a shift to caffeine tablets, which to my surprise, actually worked (beware of caffeine headaches).
Can You Eat With Your Invisalign Retainers in?
Of course you can, BUT DON’T! Okay that was hyperbolic, you can’t eat with them in really. I mean, you can technically, but they will stain immediately if you eat, for example, a vegetable samosa like I did once after a long day. The retainers immediately stained yellow and it was pretty hard to eat. Luckily I was changing them out when I got home for a fresh aligner.
This is a major disadvantage to Invisalign if you work in the field, as I often do. One tip I used before going out in the field was eating a high protein breakfast, usually with meat and eggs in a wrap. I read or heard somewhere that this promotes a hunger-suppressing hormone – which appears to be true if you search online. It certainly worked for me. Another benefit from starting this year is the ability to work from home for some.
How To Clean Your Retainers
A soft toothbrush – i.e. a cheap one – and soap. Does the soap have to be colourless? It didn’t make a difference. I had some blue hand soap for a couple of months and used it to give my retainers a quick clean and they never turned blue. I also bought retainer cleaning tablets – but when I was able to switch to changing my aligners every 10 days – retainer cleaners wern’t really that necessary as they didn’t get that dirty with plaque. Even pounding coffee for 10 days doesn’t stain the retainers that much – especially with occasionally swilling your mouth with water. At the time of the below photo, the below aligners had been used for 10 days with barely any staining.
Do Invisalign Retainers Smell Bad?
If you don’t wash them daily – yes. But don’t worry, this is easily done if you follow the above cleaning routine. If you don’t wash them everyday, then they will smell disgusting…
How Long Can You Really Leave Invisalign Retainers Out?
This varies depending on what day of a new aligner you are on. I would avoid leaving them out too long on a fresh set of aligners, however after a few of days when your teeth have sett into the new aligner it’s not as bad.
In general, any more than 3 hours and you will feel a slight tightness when you put them back on again. The longest I went not having them in was about 7 hours on a night of eating and partying (and similar extended periods over Christmas) before slipping them back in again. They felt tight when I put them back in.
After a couple of hours of not eating, most food in your mouth has been digested or washed out). Sometimes I carried the head of a tooth brush I chopped off; which fitted inside the aligner case with the aligners – so I could give my teeth a ninja brush in the bathroom on a night out. Most of the time though, I just put the aligners back in and cleaned them when I got home.
These cheeky moments are obviously not advised, your dentist would probably advise you keep them in for about 19-20 hours of a day in total.
Luckily, my dentist never noticed, it appeared that occasionally having my aligners out did not impact my treatment overall. However, I did avoid these circumstances, and I mostly kept to the schedule. At a guess, on average I probably had my retainers in for about 19 hours of a 24 hour period. This was not fun, it meant constantly having to take out my aligners, eat, clean aligners and teeth and put them back in.
Are scary. You suddenly notice that where your teeth were previously crowded, black gaps have formed when they become uncrowded by Invisalign. Interestingly, mine actually disappeared again as the treatment re-arranged my teeth to such an extent that they were moved closer together, which I guess is the whole point of the treatment. This eliminated the prevalence of black triangles. If you have very crowded teeth – make sure you factor this in for your treatment so It’s not a shock to you.
How Tough are Invisalign Retainers?
Pretty tough. I only ever broke one pair, near the back of the aligner – when I had them in long-term (as a result of having to wait for an appointment; I had to keep the last pair of an aligner set in for an extra couple of weeks).
Unexpected Side Effects
You mouth has changed shape. You will notice this for a short while, and sometimes you can accidently chomp down on a tooth and scrape it a bit – ouch! It always sound and feels worse than it is so don’t worry. I did occasionally slur or have a small lisp at times as well; but this was a rare occurrence, and hasn’t happened for a while now my brain has figured out where my teeth are now.
Was Invisalign Worth It?
Yes. Confidence is priceless and humans, including yourself, will judge you by your cover. Your cover just got a bit better. However, if I knew it would take as long as it did, I might have considered different options.
Thanks for reading, It was fun writing this article, if you have any questions about Invisalign, I’ll answer them honestly – in the comment section below.