Is getting Invisalign really worth it?

Written by Shannon Peter

If you’re considering getting clear braces, no doubt you’ll have come across Invisalign. But is the treatment really worth it? Stylist beauty director Shannon Peter shares her experience.  

I should preface this piece with the fact this isn’t my first orthodontic rodeo. No. When I was 12, I was lucky enough to experience the pure joy (ahem) that is train track braces. While I was desperate to change my crooked teeth, nothing could have prepared me for the torture that ensued for the next 18 months. The sharp metal tore welts into my cheeks and left my tongue red raw. Their sheer bulkiness made it hard to even shut my mouth properly, let alone speak. And that’s before I’ve even mentioned the absolute agony those fortnightly trips to the orthodontist for wire tightening would leave me in.

You’d think, after putting in such a stretch of effort, that I’d have done absolutely anything to keep my teeth in their shiny new and super straight position once the day came to have the metal removed. Think again. I quickly got sick of my lisp-forming retainer and one night without it quickly led to two. And then a week. And before I knew it, it no longer fit and my teeth were pretty much back to square one. So let’s just say, I don’t have a particularly glowing track record when it comes to orthodontic commitment. 

But as I entered my adult years, my teeth began to bother me more and more. I like to think I don’t subscribe to such strict beauty ideals, yet I longed for that flash of white, super-straight teeth once more and so I began to explore my options. I could, of course, have revisited my train track days but I’m still haunted by those tiny elastic bands. So that’s what led me to Invisalign, the so-called invisible clear braces that promise to straighten your teeth in a fraction of the time and with far fewer trips to the dentist.

Sounds epic, right? Spoiler: I’m thrilled with how Invisalign worked out for me – particularly under the capable supervision of my wonderful dentist, Dr Krystyna Wilczynski at the rather swish White & Co clinic in Battersea, London – but it wasn’t all plain sailing. So if you’re considering clear braces and wondering if Invisalign is worth it, let me share the highs (and lows) of my personal experience. 

The consultation

If you’ve ever had orthodontic work before, you might be used to having moulds taken by having to chomp down into what can only be described as blue Playdoh (gag) yet Invisalign dentists use a clever camera that can capture the exact contours of your mouth. During this initial visit, I was able to explain to Dr Wilczynski the results I was after, and she could also get real with me about what would actually be achievable. After I left the consultation, she got to work designing my finished smile via Invisalign’s impressive software that plots out just how long the course of treatment would take (I was predicted to need 14 aligners for two weeks each) and how each aligner would gradually move my teeth. She later sent me this as an animation, so I could firstly garner some kind of idea of how the course of treatment would go, but also to make sure I was happy with the project results. Needless to say, I was thrilled. 

The prep

This is the bit I don’t think is spoken about enough. Clear braces are flagged as the near-invisible alternative but one thing that definitely makes them more visible is the attachments. These little tooth-coloured hooks are added to certain teeth to give the aligners something to grab on to, and they’re placed on different teeth, depending on the movement you require. At first, Dr Wilczynski thought I’d have to have them on my two front teeth, but – and I’m so grateful for this – she managed to tweak my treatment so I only needed them on my canines and premolars, making them less obvious.

What wasn’t so great, however, was having to have a few of my teeth filed down to make extra room in between. We’re talking less than a millimetre but the sensation of a file grinding up against your teeth? Yeah, it’s not all too pleasant. However, it’s sacrifices like this that speed up the treatment time, so if I would definitely say it’s worth it. 

Shannon saw quick progress with her Invisalign treatment

The aligners

Once all prepped and re-scanned, the aligners arrived, and at first, I was given just one set to go home with. Dr Wilczynski stressed the need for commitment; I’d have to wear them for at least 22 hours a day, taking them off only to eat and drink and ensuring I brush my teeth before I put them back on. But the laborious maintenance was the easy part; the worst part was the pain.

Now, they definitely weren’t anywhere near as bad as my teenage train tracks but at the beginning, every time I changed my aligners, I felt like my teeth were going to fall out. The pain, I’m assured, is normal. The aligners loosen up the teeth from their desired position, and once I was on aligner number four, the initial changeover pain had totally subsided.

While at first I found the aligners affected my speech, once I’d got used to them (by around aligner three), my speech went back to normal too. 

The progress

I genuinely couldn’t believe how quickly my teeth moved, although I did get a fright when I started to notice my teeth moving further apart in the first instance. But this was all a part of the plan to make more space in my mouth, and it didn’t take long for everything to fall back, quite literally, into line. What made it even better, was that if any issue cropped up or if I had any questions, I could slide into Dr Wilczynski’s DMs and she’d quickly put my mind at ease.

Shannon’s Invisalign journey wasn’t all plain sailing

The re-scan

Once I’d reached the last of my aligners and went back to see Dr Wilczynski, we decided there was still room for improvement, so she rescanned my teeth, worked more magic on her special software (you should know, she’s an absolute perfectionist) and came up with a shorter course of only five or so aligners to finish off the process.

The retainers

One key thing to know about Invisalign is that it isn’t a quick fix that will set your teeth for the rest of your days; they will still want to move back to their original position. That’s why you still have to continue to wear a retainer every night. Mine feels like a slightly sturdier version of an Invisalign aligner but I also have a fixed wire attached to the back of my front teeth for extra help, something I’d thoroughly recommend. Think of it this way: if you’re going to invest in Invisalign, you want the results to actually last, right?

The results

Shannon’s teeth before (left) and after (right)

My Invisalign journey ended up lasting just short of a year, but I’m certain it was well worth the wait. My teeth are far straighter without being too perfect (if that even makes sense?) and I’m way happier with my smile than I’ve ever been before. The key, if you ask me, is to find an Invisalign dentist that really gets you, so you can be sure you’re going to achieve the results you have your heart set on.

Yes, it was a commitment and no, Invisalign isn’t cheap, but it was far more comfortable than train tracks and I appreciated the fact that if I really needed a moment without them (for a photo or an important meeting), I could simply take them off. But not for too long, mind.

Invisalign treatment at White & Co Dental starts from £1,750;

Images: Shannon Peter

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