My Invisalign Experience

This post is a wrap-up of the blog series I began in January 2009. All the posts in the series are available below. The following are reactions* and suggestions for others in process or considering Invisalign.

* I will post an update after I receive my upper and lower retainers.

What is Invisalign?

“The Invisalign® system is the virtually invisible way to straighten your teeth and achieve the dazzling smile you’ve always dreamed of. Using advanced 3-D computer-imaging technology, Invisalign depicts your complete treatment plan, from the initial position of your teeth to the final desired position. Then a series of clear aligners are custom-made for your teeth – and your teeth only – to move them little by little. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before being replaced by the next in the series, until the final position of your teeth is achieved. Your Invisalign treatment time will be determined by your doctor, based on your specific needs.” source –


  • Me – An actor, athlete, blogger, manager, instructional technologist, workshop presenter.

Start – January 8, 2009

Complete w/o retainer – June 2010


  • Sporadic pain in my lower front teeth due to cramming that originated back in high school (1992ish) due to compacted wisdom teeth.

What does that mean? My lower wisdom teeth came in sideways and pushed all my lower teeth together. The end result was that the center lower teeth overlapped and pushed against each other exposing nerves which would cause me random pain when I ate something or even breathed through my mouth.



  • Full case
  • 11 upper aligners = 22 weeks = apprx 5 months
  • 16 lower aligners = 32 weeks = apprx 7 months

I was told to expect my first set of Refinement aligners within 4-6 weeks. They did not arrive for 8-10 weeks. SUGGESTION: After the new impressions have been taken for your Refinement aligners call your DDS office 1 week later and ask: “Was my refinement case accepted?” If it was, ask what the approximate delivery date is. If there is no update, keep calling every few days until there is.

  • Refinement Sets
  • Set 1 – 5 upper & 7 lower – 10 weeks & 14 weeks = apprx 2.5 & 3.5 months
  • Set 2 – 0 upper & 5 lower – 10 weeks = apprx 2.5 months

My case was extended due to a change at my DDS office. The dentist treating me sold his practice.



  • December 20008 – initial impressions
  • January 2009 – Began wearing aligners
  • Bullets attached one week after wearing aligners for 1 week
  • Received first Refinement aligners in October 2009
  • Final buttons removed – June 1, 2010 (lower)
  • Retainers (upper and lower) ordered June 1, 2010 delivered to address of choice


  • Wear your aligners every minute of every day excluding time spent eating & brushing.
  • Brush/Efferdent your aligner(s) at least once a day
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day
  • Rinse your mouth with Listerine at least once a day
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day

Ask your dentist to email you our ClinCheck. Someone from my dentist office called and ClinCheck staff talked them through the export process. I recommend asking for the front and back views in time lapse. They can also provide a rotating view. Unfortunately I was only able to get one view of my ClinCheck for whatever reason despite providing step by step directions to my DDS office. This was one of the more frustrating parts of my Invisalign process. This will be situational as Invisalign will not provide the ClinCheck to you. Your DDS office must do so.

Ask your employer about FlexPay. If you don’t know what FlexPay is, as your employer. If could save you lots of money. The quick – with FlexPay you pay for the procedure with pre-tax money income which means you will pay less in the long run.


  • Give up. There will be times when you want to say “I’m done with this.” Keep going! It won’t be long before you look back and say “I am so happy I did this.” It’s your time, money, and teeth. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
  • Think you can get away with brushing your teeth once a day. Cavities happen.
  • Think you can get away with not brushing your aligners every day. Cavities happen.

Unexpected experiences, benefits, etc.:

  • A slight whistle sound may occur as you reach the end of the 2nd week of each aligner – especially when saying words with s’s.
  • Shoulder/neck pain relief. Simply put, my headaches have decreased in frequency and strength. I don’t know if other things have been a part of this change but I believe it is worth noting.
  • Sharp teeth! After months and months of wearing aligners I found that my teeth felt extremely sharp when I took of my aligners to eat. It made perfect sense to me in hind sight.
  • Eating less is easy. When at work or visiting friends and family food is often available or offered… Because of the aligners it was easy to turn down food. The Invisalign Diet? Hmm. Maybe there’s something to the idea.
  • Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time makes the process much easier.
  • Weekends were rough because the weekday schedule went up in a poof of “Meh.”
  • I was incredibly grateful to my DDS for waiting one week before putting on the buttons. The first time I took off my aligners at work I thought I was going to pass out because of the pain in my lower center teeth. After he put the buttons on it was even more difficult to remove the aligners but the week without them made it much more bearable.
  • Remove aligners from the back with a twist not all at once. It will pop off (the buttons) one at a time alleviating pain, the last button or two that hold on to the aligner will still hurt but it is much less painful than trying to take the whole thing off at once.
  • Initial aligners may be painful for 7-10 days.
  • Refinement aligners may be painful for 2-4 days.
  • TIP: I was told that the Refinement aligners complete movement of the teeth after 2-4 days. You will notice that the Refinement aligners feel loose after 7 days. If you only wear Refinement aligners for one week you will speed up the final part of the process. Note, I suggest going through the first alignment process as you did the original aligners. If you reach 2nd or 3rd sets of aligners you may want to speed up things as I just mentioned.
  • Movement of the teeth during the Refinement stage is slight. Expect much less (if any) pain.
  • Acting was possible while wearing the lower aligner. It did not inhibit my speech and is hardly noticeable. Watch my performance in TIME’S UP from 03:14-05:07 to see.

ClinCheck Export Steps

Please note that you will have to position the ClinCheck view to the one you will want to export.

Click on “Utilities” –> “Save” –> “Movie”
You can then select “Course of Treatment” or “Spinning Jaw”.
The movies posted here are usually “Course of Treatment”.

Note: You can also select “More Options” to configure movie resolution, movie quality, movie speed, etc..
The doctor could also configure his Clinicial Information for the movie as well.

Finally, click on “OK” and choose a place to save the movie into.

Note that the movie will be an “avi” file and it could be rather large if you choose high resolution settings.

Are Invisalign Aligners Recyclable?

Update: 09/06/11 – I wrote to Invisalign recently and asked.

I recently completed my Invisalign experience and wonder if the old aligners, all were cleaned once completed, can be recycled.

Their response was: (emphasis added by me)

In regards to your question, please note that currently the aligners are not recyclable.

This may be a factor for the eco-minded individual out there considering Invisalign.


Did I miss anything? If I did post a comment.


Additional blogs/resources:


  1. I just wanted to thank you posting this. I was recently told I needed an additional 4 -5 months on the top refinement aligners and am not happy about the additional time, I swear my teeth on top look really good and I even tried the final set on briefly and I could only feel a little pressure on the side back of my jaw, so not even the “viewable” teeth. If they’ remove the ugly buttons, I wouldn’t mind so much. But after reading your post, I’m definitely going to push to speed up the process.

  2. So happy I could help in some way. Best of luck. =D

  3. Hi, Gary! I don’t remember being told by my ortho when to switch trays. Is there a standard time frame?

  4. To the best of my recollection the initial time frame was ~2 weeks when I wore my trays. I’d recommend checking in with your DDS office to verify. ⚽️? Best of luck with the experience, Colleen!

  5. Thank you for taking the time to shed light on this topic! As a dentist, I am very happy when a client researches on the procedure that he would want to undergo. It saves time for us to explain the more gritty details on the topic. I offer this type of service in my clinic and a lot of people are very happy with the results. Although, I still believe that Invisalign may not exactly be for everybody. It still takes a good dentist to assess the patient if he really needs it or not. – LagunaVistaDental

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