Invisalign Update: Refinement

Invisalign Update - 34/36 - Refinement Trays

In April, I was scanned for refinement trays. I then had to wait nearly a month for them to develop the continued treatment plan.

In the Meantime

As a result of the month-long gap between the scan, developing a treatment plan, and fabricating new trays, I had to wear tray 36 for nearly five weeks. The orthodontist told me that, during this period of time, I could get away with wearing them for 16 hours a day instead of the 20-22 previously required.

Even though I take them out to eat and drink and even though I clean them religiously, the condition of a tray after five weeks of wear is not as pristine as a new one – or even one week of wear.


My refinement course resulted in seventeen trays being fabricated. That said, just like my original course (which was 39 trays, but they only had me wear 36), I may not need all of them – or they may want to redirect treatment.

During my appointment earlier this month, they did some additional light IPR by hand on my lower row to give them some more grace to shimmy into place. It was quick; I was in and out of their office in twenty minutes including an exam to confirm that my teeth were still where they ought to be.


At the orthodontist’s office, they had me pop in the first tray. It actually fit better than the 36th that I had been in for five weeks. It was noticeably thinner as well and was definitely closer to imperceptible than all of my previous trays had been.

My orthodontist explained that shortly after my initial course was printed, Invisalign changed the material and fabrication method. The trays, although thinner and lighter weight, have the same effectiveness as the thicker, more rigid plastic.

I’m thrilled – they feel a LOT nicer in my mouth! That says a lot since my original course definitely did not feel bad.


For now, all of my original attachments shall remain in place. I am a little bummed by that because we were hoping to remove 1-2 of them during refinement, but I’m not going to argue with necessity. Some Invisalign patients would have you believe that they are these HORRIBLY INTRUSIVE things, but they aren’t. Are they truly invisible? No, but they aren’t as visible as traditional brackets are.

The Plan

For now, I was sent home with 10 of the 17 trays, changing weekly. In July, I’ll go back and they will decide if I need to finish the 17 or not.

The Bottom Line

Some people are bummed about refinement. I knew I had a train wreck to tidy up, though, so I went in with more realistic expectations than I believe a lot of people do. The next two and a half months just mean more progress in fine-tuning my smile; I’m pretty excited.