Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?
My research into Invisalign didn’t prepare me for the addition of four buttons to my teeth.
The buttons are very small dots that are nearly invisible and are attached to the front of my teeth. Dr. Shane Jensen, my dentist, adhered the tooth-colored buttons to the teeth that needed to move the most. He explained that small buttons give the aligners something to grab onto to allow those teeth to move faster. Some people need more buttons and some need fewer.
He explained that the additions provide torque for the teeth, which made sense to me. Each button is in a slightly different place on the tooth and is sized and shaped for maximum effectiveness.
The aligners themselves have small bumps that fit over the buttons. When I take my aligners off, I find that it’s helpful to grasp them at the edges near the buttons.
The buttons felt unfamiliar for the first few days, but I’m getting used to them. A few times, they have made biting into food a new experience when they scrape against my teeth. However, I’m confident that’s something I’ll get used to in time. Plus, it’s worth a few months of inconvenience to have a great smile for the rest of my life!
Can you see the buttons on my lower three teeth? I’ve added some contrast to the photo so you can see them better. I also have one on my upper left incisor (on the right in this photo). It’s harder to see.
When I finish my treatment plan, my dentist will remove the buttons and I’ll have straight—and smooth—teeth!
The Trouble with the Lipstick
For the most part, aligners haven’t changed my routine. Oh yes, just a little—taking them out before meals and some extra brushing. The biggest change is that my lips seem a little drier since I got my aligners. Not bad, just a little bit. My piece of advice for the first weeks: keep lip balm handy.
One of my favorite lipstick colors comes in a “creamy” blend with balm in the center that seemed to be the perfect solution. One my way to a meeting at work, I pulled out this enriched-with-conditioners lipstick and applied it on the run (a.k.a, without a mirror).
At the meeting, I noticed a few folks looking at me sideways. Finally, a friend said to me, “you have something on your teeth.”
I gave my aligners a swipe with my finger and discovered lipstick had deposited on my incisors. “Better?” I asked?
“Uh, worse,” she said.
I tried again.
“Now all your teeth are smeary,” the coworker replied.
With that I excused myself to the bathroom where I learned something new about my Invisalign:
Aligners + a thick swipe of creamy lipstick = smeary mess.
I had to wipe the aligners with a tissue to get the lipstick off. Note to self, put on a light coat of lipstick, and use a mirror!
Can I let you in on a secret? I love coffee. I cherish it. Having a cup of coffee is the first thing I think about when I wake up most mornings.
I savor my coffee, drinking it s-l-o-w-l-y. A 12-ounce coffee may last two to three hours.
Here’s the conundrum: It’s not recommended to wear aligners while drinking hot or colored beverages. It is recommended to wear aligners 22 hours a day.
You can see my problem. Either I remove the aligners every time I take sip of coffee, or I speed up my coffee drinking. Or I give up coffee.
You may have guessed this, but my coffee confession isn’t that I love coffee. It’s that I drink coffee while wearing aligners. It started as an experiment when I had only two more days to wear a pair of aligners. Now I do it frequently.
Yes, the coffee does slightly stain the aligners, but I was able to brush them clean.
Yes, I’m concerned about coffee getting stuck against my teeth inside the aligners. Essentially, my teeth would marinate in coffee, staining them and potentially weakening the enamel. As soon as I’ve finished my cup of coffee, I rinse the aligners and my mouth.
If you try this, don’t drink piping hot coffee or a hot beverage of any kind with the aligners in. The aligners are plastic, and it’s critical that they hold their shape to do their job of moving teeth.
While I’m at the confessional, here’s one more: I take communion with the aligners in. It would be super awkward to remove the trays in church. So I am just very careful when I drink the red communion wine and am sure to rinse out my aligners and mouth after church.