When most people hear the word braces, the image of the traditional “train tracks” will spring to mind.
It’s the wonderful rite of passage many teenagers, including myself, go through at some stage.
However, some very lazy people – again, including myself – don’t wear their retainers and their teeth move back. And perhaps some will never have gone through the awkward braces stage during their teens, but as adults are wanting a straighter smile.
Whatever your situation is, “train track” braces are not the only answer to achieving straight teeth nowadays, as I’m sure many people will know.
While clear aligners, specifically Invisalign, have been around for about 20 years now, they have become extremely popular lately.
And it’s obvious why – being able to get the perfect smile discreetly, without having a bunch of metal in your mouth for many months or even years.
The only downfall is the cost – Invisalign can cost upwards of $6,000 for a full treatment, and even more if it’s for a more complicated case.
However, cheaper options are now entering the market. I tried one of them, and here are the five things I think you should know before getting invisible braces.
You don’t have to spend a fortune
Getting clear aligners doesn’t have to you an arm and a leg if you go for a cheaper service like EZ Smile.
They’re an at home teeth straightening service which means there are no trips to the dentist involved – which is what reduces the price.
To kickstart the process, you answer an online quiz which determines whether you’re eligible, and if so, you then order an impression kit for $99.
When the kit arrives in the mail, you follow the instructions to make the moulds of your top and bottom teeth and send them back for your aligners to be made and a 3D treatment plan drawn up.
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Your treatment plan specifies what the end result will look like after around four to six months of treatment, and if you’re really ready to take the plunge and go ahead with the service, the invisible braces cost around $2,100 – or $41.35 per week.
Around three weeks later, you’ll receive your first batch of aligners in the post, and off you’ll be off on your journey to straighter teeth.
In contrast, with Invisalign, you begin your process by going for a consultation at the dentist, and then undergo a 3D scan with them – which is where the impression process for EZ Smile comes in – and then your treatment plan is drawn up.
Because you’re cutting out the middle man – the dentist – with EZ Smile, it means problems such as an overbite and underbite aren’t fixable with this process. Whereas with Invisalign because you’ll have regular check-ins with your orthodontist, underbite and overbite problems can be fixed.
In my particular situation, I was just looking to straighten my smile.
I was given the opportunity to try out the service, at the expense of EZ Smile, to correct my absolutely idiotic mistake of not wearing my retainers after my journey with traditional braces. I’m only nine weeks into my treatment, and I’ve already seen a noticeable difference.
While it’s been a godsend not to have train track braces on again as an adult, there have been some changes I’ve had to make in my day-to-day life whilst going through treatment.
While having invisible aligners certainly takes away the attention and visibility of having traditional braces, it doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park.
Committing to aligners for a period of upwards of six months is a big lifestyle change. You need to wear your aligners for around 22 hours a day, only taking them out to eat.
While it sounds easy, trust me it gets tedious when you just want to be able to have some of your colleague’s birthday cake at work without thinking about it.
You can also only drink clear liquid when your braces are in, and ideally it should just be water.
But, c’mon when it’s Friday we’re all always up for a drinks session at the pub with friends. Just make sure you stick to clear-ish drinks like white wine, prosecco or a gin and tonic.
For everyone, keeping your teeth clean is a must – brushing twice a day, for at least two minutes is a drill many of us will have had down to a tee since childhood.
However, just as it’s a massive lifestyle change wearing braces for 22 hours day, you also need to brush your teeth and your braces after every meal.
While it doesn’t sound that hard, believe me it can get to be very tedious.
If you continually put your aligners on over uncleaned teeth, it’s a breeding ground for plaque to build up, which is something you definitely don’t want to happen. Particularly as you won’t be having regular dentist visits with this service.
Just like normal braces, with invisible aligners you’re going to experience some discomfort depending on your pain threshold.
Generally, first putting in the aligners is the most painful part. They can feel very tight on your teeth, which is how it is supposed to be, but means it can also be painful.
After a few days, as your teeth get used to it, the pain goes away. However, when you swap to your new trays, the process begins again, although it will become easier and less painful each time.
Your treatment never really ends
Of course, your aligners will eventually give you the results of a straight smile which is fantastic.
However, it should be noted your treatment never really ends. After your reach the end of your treatment, you will need to wear retainers for the rest of your life to ensure your teeth don’t move back – a mistake which I made my first time around with my traditional braces.
There are other alternatives to retainers, which include a wire being placed on the back of your teeth to hold them in place, but you need to consult a dentist about such a procedure.
But if you’re looking to get a perfectly straight smile and you think invisible braces are for you, then all the inconveniences and changes will be worth it – right?
This reporter’s treatment was paid for by EZ Smile for the purpose of this review.