So lets start from the beginning…
Years ago I had read about Invisalign online and liked the idea of it, (well as much as you can like the idea of any braces). If you’re thinking what on earth is Invisalign, they’re essentially a set of clear removable aligners that can straighten your teeth. Read more about them here (try and see past the 90’s web design, this is actually the most informative website on it I found!)
As a kid or teenager I never had braces, my teeth were not considered ‘bad’ enough. However, they’re not totally straight either. Sometimes I don’t mind them, other times I don’t like them – you know what it’s like. I enquired about Invisalign it at my dentist and they recommended that if I wanted to straighten my teeth I should have traditional braces, so I totally put the idea to bed there and then. I just knew that personally I’d be too self conscious about it.
Fast forward to earlier this year and a couple of people I know recently had Invisalign or consultations. I’d also watched a couple of YouTube videos where different people had good results so I was curious, again. I also felt that if I was going to do it at all I’d rather go ahead with it while I’m younger and I don’t have a commitment like kids. But first there were a few things I wanted to know:
1. I didn’t even know if Invisalign would work for me I had also assumed it was mainly for people who had already had traditional braces but their teeth had slipped back over time. I didn’t know if it could move the teeth I needed moving.
2. The cost – it’s not cheap The cost is definitely prohibitive especially as someone who lives in central London where dentists tend to be rather pricey anyway. The costs also seem to vary a lot, and most dentists say ‘from £x price’.
3. Timescale – I also assumed it would take about 2 years. When I looked at other peoples blogs/stories online I just came to that conclusion and that was a bit off-putting to me, because I didn’t think I disliked my teeth enough for 2 years of any treatment.
4. No idea what dentist/clinic to use. I’ve had some private cosmetic dentist work done before and I trust my dentist but they are expensive, especially for Invisalign. They also hadn’t done as many Invisalign cases as a lot of other clinics in London (you can look this up on the Invisalign website). There’s so many places in London that do specialise in Invisalign and orthodontic work, with good and bad reviews. It’s hard to know where to even start.
After lots of Googling I knew I’d only get answers if I went to some dentists. So in April I booked two free consultations at two different dentists to get opinions/costs/timescales. I chose both dentist practices based on the amount of cases they had carried out (as well as online reviews) because I wanted to go somewhere where they had a lot of experience. You can find the ones nearest to you here.
What I soon realised is because everyone’s individual teeth are so different, just because someones teeth look like yours on YouTube/the internet and may have had Invisalign, your treatment plan will most likely be totally different.
I was told Invisalign has come a long way since it started and can now fix a lot more issues with crowding/bite/gaps than it used to as the technology is constantly evolving. It can now straighten even severe crowing of teeth, which did surprise me. I asked the dentist loads of questions, including what it doesn’t generally fix out of curiosity. I was told what it isn’t so great for is rotating teeth – so for example if your teeth need rotating around to make them straight – traditional braces can be better for that type of movement. Also depending on how much your bite needs correcting, Invisalign isn’t always the best option for fixing that either. So in some circumstances traditional braces may be the better option for you, or even the quicker option. Anyway I digress. Now to the facts:
1. Actual cost both dentists I went to quoted me around the £3000 mark. Both quotes included retainers/whitening at the end of treatment and they both offered payment plans. The practise I went with also includes cosmetic shaping and had a discount of 10% if you paid via their 0% finance plan or if you paid up front. (Which when its such a big chunk of money is quite good). It was also possible to pay in instalments/chunks yourself if you didn’t want to take out finance.
2. Actual timescale I was told by both practices my teeth were a mild to moderate case in terms of movement needed, and that it would take between 6-12 months in total, most likely 9. This was way less time than I had imagined, and given how quickly time flies at this point I was ready to sign up. This also had a cost implication as it meant it would be cheaper than a more complex case. For example, at the dentist I have decided to proceed with a complex case is around £3500-4000, usually taking around 12-24 months. There are also variations in price at some practices between Invisalign (full) and Invisalign Lite (up to 14 aligners), my dentist doesn’t distinguish between the two but others do. Also re: timescale, take in mind that from your first appointment, it’s likely to be around 8 weeks until you even get your braces. So consider that. I’ll explain more below.
3. Which dentist? In the end I went for the clinic that ended up costing slightly more. I just got a more professional feeling from them including their staff, the buildings, all of it really. The location of their practices was also more convienient for me, and considering you have to go roughly every 6 weeks for an appointment that’s important.
4. Other considerations What I hadn’t even considered is that if there are any fillings that you need or ones that may need to be replaced within the timeframe of your treatment, you’ll need to get them sorted before you start Invisalign. This is because having your teeth covered in plastic for 22 hours a day can make you more susceptible to cavities. I had to get two fillings replaced before I started treatment (my normal dentist had told me I needed these doing within the next year anyway, so I knew it was coming…), so that’s another expense and something to be aware of.
So what next? How long does it take to get started?
After I had decided to move ahead with my treatment, I had to wait around 2 weeks to have my fillings and iTero impressions scan taken, as well as a professional clean.
Annoyingly, Invisalign asked for my scan to be retaken after my dentist had sent it on. I then had to have my scan retaken and was told this can happen in roughly 1 out of 20 cases. Unlucky. As of yet it hasn’t delayed treatment, it just meant going in again for another appointment.
Once Invisalign are ok with your scans they then create the Clincheck video, which is your treatment plan and this is the fun part! You get to see how your teeth will move and how many aligners and attachments you will actually need. Its quite fascinating tbh. Mine was sent to me around a week after my second scan. It said that I will need 14 aligners – so if changed every two weeks that’s around 6/7 months without any refinements that may be needed afterwards. (Refinements are additional aligners that are ordered after the first ‘batch’ to tweak things that haven’t moved as planned, and most people end up having them – though these are the final stage of treatment so hopefully do not take as long as the first set.)
This is my Clincheck of my teeth at the end which I had to approve to get my aligners ordered. I found it really hard to know what it should look like, but it looks fine to me. I’m not bothered about exactly ‘perfect’ teeth and still want some character.
So providing nothing goes wrong, I should have them fitted in the next few weeks.
All in all, it will have been just over 2 months from my first appointment to even get to the point of having them in my mouth. I think that timing is rather standard though because of the back and forth between your dentist and Invisalign. It does sound long if you’re a bit impatient, but it is best for them to get everything right/done properly and time has flown by anyway.
Once I get them ‘fitted’ I’ll update you on how it feels/actually impacts your daily life. I’m slightly nervous about the time they need to be in (20-22 hours a day), but on the plus side i’m hoping it stops me snacking.
Hopefully this post has been useful to someone. I wanted to document this as I did a lot of research beforehand and found other people’s blogs/reviews really helpful, especially when they actually gave costs, timescales etc. If you’ve had Invisalign/braces I’d love to hear your thoughts :)
P.S The photo at the top is my teeth now, obv. You can see I have one that does ‘stick out’ on the right. I rarely smile with my teeth in photos but that is a more flattering angle for me.