Invisalign Day 1

Early in the morning I got notification that both schools would be closed due to snow. Luckily Steve wasn’t going into work as the conditions were worse inland, so he offered to come and look after the children while I went to my dentist appointment. I didn’t bother putting F in nursery, even though it was open, as both boys were home anyway, so all three kids ended up at home.


My appointment for fitting was at 10:05. The first thing they had to do was fit the attachments. These are little lumps of cement that stick to your teeth and provide additional force when the braces are on to get your teeth into the right spot. I have about 12,000 of them. Many more than I’ve seen in other photos, including over my front teeth.

Attachments make the aligners more obvious – I’ve seen them without any and then they really do blend in well. In my case, because of all the lumps and bumps, my braces are more Visalign than Invisalign, but nevermind. I was never under the illusion that people wouldn’t see them and I don’t really mind that part so much.

Sticking on the attachments is a fiddly process with glue, tweezers and a template that they have to take on and off. It was around 30 minutes of lying in the chair with two people working in my mouth. They had to put vaseline on the sides of my mouth to stop their rubber gloves from chaffing my skin, but I’ve still got a split on the left side at the corner of my mouth (not my dentist’s fault – the weather is so cold my skin is dry as sandpaper so prone to cracks).

Once that was done I got a small break while they prepared to file my teeth. During this time I can tell you that the attachments felt like little spikes. Talking and smiling made them rub horribly against the inside of my mouth.

Because of my crowding I have a fair bit of IPR (interproximal reduction), which is basically another word for filing down the sides of your teeth.

When the dentist did this I was convinced I would have nothing but stumps left. It felt like a drastic amount of filing, but afterwards I couldn’t really see much change, which was a relief.

Finally she pushed both my upper and lower aligners onto my teeth and I was done. It turns out I only have 17 aligners to work through, and I change them every two weeks, so that means that I only have to go through the new aligner discomfort 16 more times and if all goes perfectly (which it may not), my teeth will be in the right place by 25th October.

I’ll post a pic of them in place asap – it’s too dark this evening to get a clear one from my phone.

When I got out of the dentist’s chair it was like trying to talk with a mouthful of machinery. It all felt enormous. Then I got to have a go taking them in and out. The top one wasn’t too bad, but the bottom one is fixed so tightly I almost bent my thumbnails back trying to get it off.

The aftermath

I went to the shops, stocked up on food (pending snowstorm), and went home. By 13:30 I had a stonking headache and part of the top aligner was rubbing on my inner lip. I stuck some orthodontic wax on it, which did the trick, and took two paracetamol, which barely made any difference.

The plastic in my mouth made it feel dry and sticky so I was constantly swigging away at water to try to ease the feeling of dryness.

I was also starting to feel a bit sick because I was so hungry, but the thought of eating made me wince because I knew it would mean taking the aligners out, being exposed to the attachment spikes, chewing with teeth that ached and then a massive clean and floss job before putting them back in for more pain.

I may not be eating very much over the coming days.


I finally caved and made lunch at about 14:15. I prepared everything in advance and made enough food that I wouldn’t need to eat for at least 4-5 hours (bean and veg soup, 2 slices GF bread with nut butter and avocado, banana, 2 GF biscuits and a cup of decaf tea):

Getting the aligner off the top wasn’t too bad, aside from drooling everywhere, but the bottom one kind of shifted and then snapped back into position because my nail wasn’t strong enough to leverage it. Unfortunately it also caught a tiny bit of the skin on my lip and trapped it between the bottom of the aligner and my tooth. Oh lordy. It hurt SO much that I wrenched the damn thing off to free my lip and stop the pain. I need to work on my technique there, I think.

Eating with all the attachments cemented to your teeth makes it feel like you have eaten half a pack of digestives and left all the crumbs stuck in your mouth. I kept running my tongue over my teeth to clean them, but none of it was coming off. I also have a weird attachment that sits at the top of one of my teeth so that when I bite together, the first contact is between a top tooth and the attachment. Kind of like a permanent fruit pip stuck to your teeth. I had to chew really gently because a) I was afraid of knocking it off and b) my teeth are sore and I didn’t want them to chomp down on the cement.

Then I did the entire clean-up, floss, clean the aligners job and put them back in. My headache subsided after that, so I think it was actually a hunger headache more than anything else.

I needed two more balls of wax on sharp bits over the course of the afternoon, and wasn’t really fit for anything other than making the kids all watch TV with me. If I’d been on my own I would have just gone to bed and slept. My teeth felt like they were in a vice. I cannot wait for this to wear off – I know it does, it’s just so horrible waiting for it.

To be honest, I really could have done with the children all going to nursery/school instead of staying home due to snow (Thursday is normally a work day for me). I swear – when your teeth ache as much as mine have today it’s not an easy job being a parent. They were all in bed by 18:45 because I couldn’t take any more. If I’d had the option I’d have gone off somewhere by myself for the weekend to watch distracting videos and sleep off the aching. I can imagine that if you have the free time to do this (i.e. you aren’t a parent and you can take a holiday from school/work), then Invisalign really isn’t too bothersome at all.


I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t get hungry and I could just go to bed without eating anything, but I’m just not the kind of person that can forgo food, so I had to go through the whole eating thing again. Oh man. It’s horrible taking the aligners on and off when your teeth are so sore. Getting them off the second time was probably the most painful point of the day. Everything else was more of an ache. The second removal actually made me cry out as I tried to prise the aligner off the back teeth. My teeth felt so sore in the jawbone.

I had a shop-bought veggie curry and boiled some brown rice (thank goodness for soft food). Then I cleaned the aligners, cleaned my teeth, flossed my teeth (much easier where the dentist shaved off some enamel!), used interdental brushes on my teeth, checked my teeth in the mirror and put them back in. I filled a hot water bottle, washed my face, and went to bed early. Day 1 done.


I’ve been meaning to write this post up for ages, as it’s been an ongoing thing in the background for some time, but I’ve only just gotten around to it as tomorrow (tomorrow!) I am being fitted with my Invisalign braces. That is, of course, assuming that we aren’t snowed in in the morning. We’ve had amber warnings of snowfall and you may be aware that everything closes, and nothing in this country works, if we get more than 2mm of snow.

A bit of background

The main problem with my teeth is the crowding at the bottom front that has slowly, over a period of years, resulted in a single tooth getting pushed further and further forward, and sticking up higher and higher. For a long time I have mentally referred to it as my ‘tombstone tooth’, because it stands up proudly above the others and is visible when I talk. The light glints off it in a most disconcerting way (in my opinion anyway).

The thing is, my actual smile is quite neat and tidy because then the bottom teeth are hidden behind the top ones. It’s only when I talk that the bottom teeth really stand out.

It has been painful to bite on the tombstone tooth for a long time. I have to bite into hard foods (like snappy biscuits), using the side of my mouth because I can’t put that much pressure on the single tooth that sticks up from the bottom. And also the amount of build-up I get around the back of my crowded lower teeth just isn’t funny.

I also have some misalignment (and a smaller tooth) on my upper right, which historically hasn’t really bothered me, but I have noticed of late that it is also getting more prominent with the gradual movement (twisting, in my case), of teeth that seems to occur as you age.

I did have metal braces on my top teeth as a teenager, to correct a mild cross bite. How I wish I had worn my retainer forever! 20-odd years on, my teeth have jostled around into a new mish-mash of positions and I have been self-conscious of them for quite some time now.

I had read about Invisalign and in the back of my mind had kind of decided that at some point I was going to do it. Last year a local practice was running an information morning that included a free 3D scan, so I booked and went along.

This is why my mouth has been under such scrutiny recently.

Well, tomorrow is the big day. I am excited and nervous, all at once. I know exactly what to expect in terms of soreness, abrasion and all that other stuff, but on top of that Invisalign comes with its own set of rules about immaculate oral hygiene to ensure that the plastic covering the teeth doesn’t turn into a bacterial incubator. They require 22 hours wear a day, which doesn’t leave a huge amount of time for eating and cleaning. I am a grazer, and pick at food on and off all day, so that’s going to have to stop. Eek.

But I am so excited at the thought of taming the tombstone tooth and bringing it back down into line to play nicely with the others. I’m paying for private treatment, so if you’re curious about costs I’m having top and bottom aligners, totalling around £3,500 (you can just have top or bottom, but in my case I needed the top ones to create space for the bottom ones to straighten). I will also need a retainer at the end of treatment that will be a further £500. Yeah – I know. It’s a lot. But I think about that tooth a lot too, to the point that sometimes I lose track of what I’m saying because I’m too busy thinking about my tombstone tooth flashing away while I speak.

Passing comment

About 5 years ago I was chatting socially to a group of people and one of them was a dentist. She was talking about her patient and how her braces had tracked her teeth into a beautiful smile and she was really pleased with progress. Someone asked about how bad her patient’s teeth were to start, and she explained that she had some crowding at the bottom. I said “Oh, like mine,” and the dentist frowned said…

Not as severe as yours… but yes.

Oh man. Ouch. I was all ready to show her my teeth to see if they were the same as her patient’s, but a) she’d already clocked them and b) she’d already assessed them as being worse than someone she was currently treating.

I felt so embarrassed and self-conscious. I was already aware that the crowding was visible when I talked, but that was the moment, five years ago, that I knew I had to get them straightened.

So here we are.

Wanna see some pics?

Of course you do.

So this was was caught in passing, but it shows my tombstone tooth on the bottom quite nicely, as well as the slightly gappy top bit:

Invisalign before

Here are some I took today:

Invisalign before Invisalign before

Excuse my poor, dry winter skin. This time of year plays havoc with it.


When you go through all the prep for Invisalign, you get a treatment simulation, which is frankly brilliant. They are not 100% accurate, as physiologically everyone’s mouth responds in a different way, but they are a guide to how your teeth will be moved.

It’s displayed as an incremental movie that shows the teeth moving into place. With a bit of basic photoshopping, here’s the beginning and end frames:


Now, I can’t imagine that my teeth will end up as perfect as they are on the right – but even halfway between would be a big improvement on the bottom teeth.

I can’t remember how many sets of aligners I’m going to need – something like 19? or 22? You generally wear each one for two weeks, give or take, so I’ll be in them for the best part of a year, plus full time retainers for 3 months (I think) afterwards. Then it reduces to night retainers, and then gradually down to 3/4 nights a week. Don’t quote me on this – it’s from memory so may be slightly inaccurate.

Regardless, I am 100% happy to wear them for as long as it takes. Time passes so fast anyway these days that it’ll be Christmas before long and my teeth will be almost straight! I’ve waited so long to do this. There is a part of me that doesn’t quite believe any of it is going to work, and I will be stuck with my big bottom tooth forever, but we’ll see.

Here’s hoping the snow holds off tomorrow morning so I can get to the dentist and get them fitted!

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