Wearing Invisalign for 20 Hours Per Day

wearing Invisalign for 20 hours per day

There tons of blogs and forums out there with reports from people saying that wearing Invisalign for 20 hours per day is, “impossible.” Invisalign recommends 22 hours of wear per day, which I strive for, but many orthodontists confess that between 20 and 22 should do it.

How I Manage Wearing Invisalign for 20 Hours per Day

I personally haven’t found it hard to wear them as directed. My average wear time is about 22 hours and 23 minutes per day; my maximum time with the trays out so far has been two full hours, and my minimum has been one hour and fifteen minutes.

For me, it’s simple – I really want straight teeth and I invested a lot of money to achieve a smile I am happier with. This takes short-term sacrifice and diligence on my part. The trade off is easy.

At Home

At home, I pop my trays out, eat and drink, then take care of oral hygiene. During dinner, I place my trays in my ultrasonic cleaning bath (okay, seriously, it’s just a little tub with a motor – but that’s what they called it) with some Retainer Brite. After dinner, I’ll take a quick shower (and whiten my teeth with Plus White at the same time) while my trays are still marinating in the solution. Then, I get out, do the whole oral hygiene thing, and I’m good to go!

When I’m Out

Even with eating meals away from home, I do the following to keep them out as little as possible:

  • Order water to drink. If I want something other than water, I’ll wait to drink it until my meal arrives.
  • Keep trays in until food is about to arrive.
  • Be mindful of eating pace; I’m naturally inclined to be a slow eater. Invisalign is forcing me not to linger over my meals.
  • As soon as I’m done eating, go take care of oral hygiene. Frequently, if I’m out to lunch with coworkers, we leave shortly after and I just take care of this at the office.

At least half of my meals are consumed away from home – it isn’t that hard!

Stop the Excuses

Anyone should be able to average at least 20 hours a day and most people, I’d argue, should be able to achieve 22 hours per day wear at least half of the time. The complaints I read cited excuses that sound an awful lot like non-commitment to me.

But snacks!

Get over it. You just spent, directly or indirectly if you’re lucky enough to have insurance that covers them, thousands of dollars on orthodontic treatment.

If you eat properly at mealtimes you will be less inclined to snack. I’m not perched atop some high horse; my diet isn’t the model by which anyone should be basing their life. I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, and I need help; I use MyFitnessPal to record what I eat and to make sure I’m getting enough of what I need.

I’ve been snack-free since July 23rd.

You can, too.

Well I’m a busy mom and, like, it’s just *hard*

No doubt; I bet being a busy mom is hard! But no one said orthodontic treatment is a cakewalk. Being negligent towards your own orthodontic treatment sets a poor example, too; if/when your kids end up in braces or Invisalign, how can you expect your kids to take proper care seriously if you can’t be bothered?

I don’t have time to bother with wearing Invisalign for 20 hours per day! I have a life!

Here’s an unpopular truth: you have time. We all have the time. You just aren’t choosing to reserve some time for this, which you should have done before you committed to Invisalign in the first place. Part of the commitment is making the time to take it seriously; it isn’t like you’re just forking over a few grand to wake up the next day with a straight smile.

I need my coffee.

Join the club? Get up, eat something and drink a coffee. If you need to refresh your lifeblood coffee reserves throughout the day, the nice thing is that you shouldn’t have to floss. You can just brush (or even skate by with an aggressive rinse as long as your coffee of choice isn’t chock full of sugar).

The Bottom Line

Orthodontists don’t keep the requirements for wear a secret. Don’t choose treatment unless you can also choose discipline! I suggest going through the motions of what your life will be like with them before you commit. Can you eliminate snacks (or make the time to take care of oral hygiene after each snack)? Can you eat your meals quickly and remember to tend to your oral hygiene and reinsertion of trays with a sense of urgency? Will you be able to overcome the potential of a slight lisp? If you cannot commit to wearing Invisalign for 20 hours per day, consider other options.

If I, a 50+ hour-per-week working professional who eats more than half of my meals outside of my house, can manage to wear them for 22 hours a day, you should be able to wear them for twenty.

First Week with Invisalign

Aiming to correct my teeth - Invisalign

My first week of Invisalign flew by; I’m already on my second tray and a lot has happened.

First Tray – Tuesday, July 25

I went to the orthodontist’s office after work. An orthodontic technician came over showed me my trays and went over some of the minutia like:

  • Keeping trays you’re done with so you have back ups if anything happens to your current tray
  • Cleaning your tray(s)
  • Teaching me how to insert and remove them
  • Teaching me how to use Chewies

Then, the orthodontist came over and examined the fit, made sure I was good to go. We went back over my ClinCheck – by tray 25 (of 40) I should have what appears (compared to now!) to be straight teeth.

I was surprised to find, however, a space for the tooth I just had extracted. They offered to add something to it so that spot appeared to have a tooth, but since it is clear, the gap is tiny, and my lower teeth don’t show when I speak, I opted out of it. The spot for tooth 26 is there in my first through third trays, then is absent starting the fourth. It makes sense to me to have it extracted before starting treatment, but I’m not entirely sure I understand why there is a tooth-shaped space for it in the trays.

 

First Week with Invisalign

Read more…

Invisalign X-Rays and 3D Scans

On Monday, I mentioned regular content was returning next week. I have an Invisalign update for now – so here’s this for today, then we’ll be post-less on Friday, then back on Monday.

A week ago, I went in for my Invisalign X-Rays and 3D oral scan that are used by my orthodontist and Invisalign to develop my treatment plan. X-Rays were taken like any are, but the scanner – man, if you appreciate technology, this thing is neat.

Instead of taking impressions with a weird goo that you bite into for a couple minutes (which I would have had to do, had I opted for SmileDirectClub), my 3D scan was taken via an iTero Element intraoral imaging device. A tech uses a small wand to take high-resolution scans of your mouth; it then assembles them into a 3D rendering of your mouth. It is weird and awesome all at once. I haven’t had issues with impressions before, but apparently using the scanner is better for people who have gagging issues.

My orthodontist says based on experience, my case will run about 18 months, require a single extraction, and require attachments. Attachments are small, tooth-colored nubs that they will affix to certain teeth to facilitate the process. The clear aligners will fit over the nubs. Patients report varying degrees of visibility of them; regardless, I’m fairly unconcerned. Most people in my life, including people I work with, know that I’m pursuing this. I’m not embarrassed by that much.

I return to the practice in about two weeks to review my ClinCheck – that’s what Invisalign calls the progression of their treatment plan. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to get a head-start on adjusting my eating and drinking habits to support my soon-to-be-restricted eating and drinking regimen.

In support of that, I’ve started assembling a purse-friendly care kit. Because I 1) work and 2) can’t just eat breakfast and dinner and still be a reasonable human being, at least five meals a week take place away from home. I need to be prepared.

Read more…

Kidney Be Damned – I’m Getting Invisalign

Aiming to correct my teeth - Invisalign

I got my ducks in a row and have an appointment to kick off the (expensive) process to correct my teeth. I decided on getting Invisalign treatment; my case can be treated with conventional braces faster and cheaper, but the hassle isn’t worth it to me. Smile Direct Club never got back to me, but did spam the shit out of me with marketing pleas. I have since unsubscribed.

Nervous

I’m excited and thrilled to be finally pursuing this, but it isn’t without nerves. After all, it is a big investment. It will be physically uncomfortable. It is also at least eighteen months of my life that I will be shackled to a fairly inflexible routine. I can handle routine.

The Invisalign Routine

For Invisalign and other clear aligner systems to be effective, they need to be worn for as much of our 24-hour day as possible. Literature varies slightly but conventional advice, including that from my orthodontist, indicates that 20-22 hours per day of wear is necessary.

The only time(s) the clear aligners should be out is when you are eating and drinking or when you are brushing and flossing. When you brush or floss, you need to brush and rinse your aligners as well to keep them clean.

After my treatment, I will have a retainer to make sure things don’t revert to their old ways.

Not all Bad

The routine sounds challenging, but it isn’t all bad. Aside from straight teeth, I expect to get a lot out of it:

Less random snacking or, “grazing.”

Because eating ANYTHING requires that I remove my trays then brush and floss before I put them back in, snacking cannot be a mindless activity. Time-wise, snacking will be expensive!

Eating Better (in general)

Since I won’t really be able to snack unless I’m prepared to spend five minutes after the fact, I need to eat better! I need to eat nutritious things that will stick with me and keep me from feeling empty, longer.

Hydration

Drinking anything other than water subjects you to the same cleaning protocol as eating. I already drink a lot of water, which is good – but I’ll basically need to limit myself to having non-water beverages with meals.

The Plan

Next, I schedule an appointment with my orthodontist to take a 3D scan of my mouth. That scan is then sent to Invisalign. My provider works with Invisalign to develop a treatment plan that is returned as a digital time-lapse. I’ll then go back and approve it with my doctor. Once approved, they get to making trays and I get them a few weeks later.

My goal is to keep this blog updated with my treatment progress. Neither my orthodontist nor Invisalign know that I am a blogger or that I intend to document this process. There’s no incentive for me to document this beyond my own amusement.

Invisalign: It Costs a Kidney

Aiming to correct my teeth - Invisalign

Good News:

Despite my woefully complicated case, I’m a candidate for orthodontic treatment via Invisalign. This is largely due to having selecting a ridiculously experienced provider.

Bad News:

Unsurprisingly, it does kind of cost a kidney. Some language in my dental insurance policy includes (shockingly generous!) coverage for adult orthodontic treatment, but it isn’t clear if there is an age cap or not. My treatment coordinator and I are tag-teaming my insurance provider to get clarity on this; obviously, I can begin treatment sooner if insurance is in play.

What Happens at an Invisalign Assessment

I couldn’t be more excited about this practice, honestly. It’s a little annoying to get to, but is a pretty damn cute office and everyone I dealt with was lovely.

Unflattering Photo Ops

Read more…