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8 things you need to know about Invisalign before your visit a cosmetic dentist

Crooked teeth, overbite, or whatever your oral insecurity may be, clear braces are a great choice—but there are a few things to get straight first before you visit your cosmetic dentist.

1. Yes, you actually have to wear them.

It’s an all-too-true reality, but there’s no dancing it around it: You have to keep the aligners on for at least 20 hours a day or you won’t get the best results (22 hours is the rec, but you can boot two hours if it’s more realistic for your lifestyle. That means breakfast, lunch, and dinner become power meals.  Make sure you’re ready for that commitment.

2. It’s not the right treatment for everyone.

Invisalign can treat most orthodontic issues, like crooked teeth, minor over/under bites, or gaps. But for severe cases, it’s a question of how long you are willing to do the treatment. Patients with more complex problems(say, if you have too big of a bite) may get quicker results with metal braces surgery. To see if it’s right for you, you can take the Invisalign’s Smile Assessment.

3. You’ll have to limit your morning coffees.

In general, drinking anything that can stain your teeth—coffee, red wine, tea—will stain your Invisalign. So if you rely on a cup (or three) of java to fuel your mornings, be warned: You won’t get to enjoy it quite like you used to. You’ll have to factor it in to your allotted time to eat breakfast, or take it out before your second cup (and always brush before you put the trays back in). The same goes for post-work glasses of wine.

4. You might (accidentally) lose weight.

Midday snacks will never be the same, and mindless eating becomes obsolete. It’s the biggest blessing in disguise: After every meal, you have to brush your teeth. So when you get that 2 p.m. craving, you're forced to stop and ask yourself “Is it really worth it?” Most of the time, it’s not, and you quickly become aware of your senseless snacking. Just remember: When everyone else is eating cake for a colleague’s birthday, you may curse your Invisalign…until you notice your clothes start fitting better.

5. You can’t see them, but you can hear them.

There’s a reason they are called invisible braces—no one could tell you was wearing them. Luckily, it gets better with time—going from cringe-worthy mumbles to coherent sentences—and by the end, no one noticed a lisp, either.

6. Your travel toothbrush will become your best friend.

You’ll need to use one (with its companion, the mini tube of toothpaste) in between meals, so your cereal/salad/chicken doesn’t linger in your mouth longer than it needs to. Assuming you eat the typical three times a day, that means you’ll need it for 21 instances in a single week. That’s a whole lot of brushing; invest in a few.

7. It’s virtually painless.

Braces tightening can be tough on folks, but Invisalign does not hurt. No, you won’t be able to eat raw carrots on your first day, but it’s like a walk in the park compared to its metal counterpart. Kissing isn’t as much of a pain either. (You’ll never have to worry about that dreaded stuck-while-kissing fear you got with braces because you can easily take them out.)

8. Cleaning them with toothpaste is a no-no.

The only thing more noticeable than spinach wedged between your teeth is a murky, yellow Invisalign tray. This can happen if you don’t brush post-meal, but also because you’re washing it with toothpaste—as surprising as that maybe.