Invisalign: What to expect from the very start

Cosmetic Dentistry in Charleston

Did y’all catch my insta-story last week? If not, then the subject of this post probably threw you for a loop, but yes, I have Invisalign now! My teeth have had some crowding and I’ve also had an open bite for years, but it all just got worse with both pregnancies. It’s not something that bothered me like crazy, but I knew that it wasn’t going to magically get better on it’s own and would likely worsen with age. So I was really eager to look into fixing these issues with Invisalign. Today I’m going to chat with you guys about what to expect from the very beginning, from choosing a dentist, to the cost and length of treatment, to how it feels once you’ve got the aligners in!

I’m going to assume we all know what Invisalign is, but if you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically a series of clear, removable aligners that will straighten your teeth over time. It’s a great alternative to metal braces if you’re looking for a nearly invisible option. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, your first step would be to find a provider near you. For me, I chose to work with Dr. Vicki Tatum of  Tatum Dentistry—and for a variety reasons.

As y’all know, I live in Charleston and although I know the majority of you do not, I still have to gush for just a moment on how much I recommend Tatum Dentistry. Here are a few quick reasons why, then I’ll get back to the Invisalign chat. First, they are SO on their game with advanced technology. (More on that later, but they have all the bells and whistles you could ever need to make your experience at the dentist as pleasant and efficient as possible. You can read about some of the fun tech stuff they have here. I truly did not know my previous dentist was so behind the times until I saw Dr. Tatum!). Next, the office is just off the crosstown (with a parking lot!), so it’s very convenient no matter where I am in town. Also, Dr. Tatum has been in practice for 27 years and her practice has won “Best Dentist” by Charleston City Paper for 5 years in a row, so I knew they must be GOOD. Finally and most important, they are some of the nicest, warm and welcoming people! I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I don’t love going to the dentist, but going to see Dr. Tatum, Dr. Celeste Granger (their new associate, who is so incredibly personable and has Friday and Saturday hours!), and the rest of the team is honestly a really fun experience.

Once you find a dentist office you love (or maybe you are still narrowing it down), the next thing you’ll want to discuss is of course the price of your Invisalign treatment, given you’re a candidate. To determine pricing, your dentist will need to figure out the extent of the treatment you’ll need, so a consultation would be necessary. Tatum Dentistry will do a completely free, no obligation consultation and simulation where they will create a 3D image of your teeth in just minutes using an iTero scanner, a tool that has taken the place of those terrible impressions you may have had done when you had braces as a kid. This is technology that not all Invisalign providers have and it was honestly the coolest part of the whole process so far! Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was to not have to hold that giant tray of goo in my mouth for impressions. (I still have PTSD from that when I was 12 years old getting fitted for metal braces.)

Here’s Dr. Tatum using the iTero scanner, which simultaneously created 3D images of my teeth.

Just minutes after they scanned my teeth with the iTero tool, I was able to see a 3D image of my mouth. Then just minutes after that, I was able to see how my teeth could be transformed by using Invisalign.

Here’s the image that came up on the computer just minutes later.

Once your scans are complete, you can start chatting about price. Pricing of Invisalign is very similar to what you might expect with metal braces. It will vary from case to case, but you can expect it to start around $5,000 or so. You can pay by month or all at once and if you have orthodontic coverage with your dental insurance, you may find that your insurance will pay up to $3,500 for you. Your dentist will be able to give you an exact amount after that first consultation. And maybe you’ll strike it while the iron is hot after finding that your dentist is running a promotion on Invisalign, making it more affordable. For example, Dr. Tatum is running a special on Invisalign Lite right now, which is the “express” version of Invisalign (1-42 weeks of treatment). It’s on sale for $3,995 through September 15th, making it as low as $99 per month.

So by now, you’ve found your dentist, had your consultation and scans done, and determined the price. What’s next? For me, I waited a couple weeks for the team of professionals at Invisalign to analyze my teeth using the scans that were instantly sent over during my initial consultation and create my exact treatment plan. Then they fabricated my aligners and sent them over to Dr. Tatum!

This brings me to last week, when y’all saw me sitting in the dental chair on insta-stories. I was there to get my teeth prepared for putting on my aligners. What? You can’t just put them on your teeth immediately? For me, no… a couple things had to be done first. Dr. Tatum had to put attachments on my teeth. “Attachments” are tooth-colored ridges that stick to your teeth to help your aligners work properly. Some people need more than others and each person will need them in different spots. I have these little ridges on about eight bottom teeth and eight top teeth—the ones that would be visible from the very front were put on the backside of my teeth.  I’ve heard someone compare “attachments” to the door knob of a door. It’s a lot easier to open and close (or MOVE) a door (or tooth!) when you have a door knob to hold onto, or in this case, an attachment on your tooth. I mean, this makes sense to me? haha!

In this photo below, Dr. Tatum is creating the “attachments.”

After all the attachments were put on—an absolutely pain free process Dr. Tatum has perfected and made as seamless as possible, it was time for a little Interproximal Reduction. This is a fancy term for making your teeth more slender—and I mean ever-so-slightly more slender.  Since I have crowding, this was necessary to create a space for my teeth to move. It sounds absolutely terrible, but I promise it was nothing. Dr. Tatum had a special tool that accomplished this in just seconds and I didn’t feel any discomfort whatsoever.

Then we slid on my aligners and voila! Ready to go. Well, almost.

Dr. Tatum showed me how to use AcceleDent. Ok, what the heck is that? That’s what I thought too, but it’s actually the coolest little device that you use at home. AcceleDent is this little mouthpiece that gently pulsates just a touch and by biting down on it for 20 minutes per day, you can speed up your overall Invisalign treatment considerably, usually by half. It’s totally optional, by the way. There is an extra cost for AcceleDent, but if it will speed up the time I need to wear my aligners, then hello, sign me up! (I also found that it helped with the initial discomfort I had during those first few days of wearing my aligners as my teeth started to shift.)

Before heading out, we went over a few general tips, including how to take the aligners in and out (easy!) and I learned how important it is to wear the aligners for 22 hours per day.

Dr. Tatum and I also chatted about the importance of keeping my teeth as clean as possible, especially during Invisalign. She recommended a Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean Professional toothbrush and offered to give one away to all of you! It’s worth $270 and comes in black, pink, or white—the winner can choose! In addition, the winner will receive a Phillips Sonicare for KIDS worth $50! Watson is the proud new owner of one and actually gets excited to brush his teeth now. Both of these toothbrushes are enabled to work with an app that shows you where to brush and tells you when you’ve cleaned your teeth properly.

If you’d like a chance to win BOTH of these toothbrushes mentioned above, a $320 total value, find the giveaway posted on my instagram feed! All you have to do is follow my account and Tatum Dentistry on Instagram, like the giveaway photos, and leave a comment. Easy peasy! Also, you can leave a comment on this post telling me your instagram handle for an extra entry!

Ok. In an effort to spare y’all the lengthiest read ever, I’m going to stop here, but I’ll be sharing a few more informational blog posts throughout my journey with Invisalign, so stay tuned. If you have any questions or things you’d like me to address in these future posts, just leave that in the comments below! I definitely plan on giving you an update post sharing my experience once I’m a few months into my treatment. By then, I’ll surely have a list of tips and tricks for Invisalign and hopefully we can do an FAQ session with Dr. Tatum!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway here! And leave a comment here telling me your instagram handle for an extra entry!

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