I just got back from vacation the last week and wanted to report some of my recent findings during the trip.
I went on vacation with friends I hadn't seen in a while but am very good friends with. I waited a full day of hanging out with everyone before talking about my Invisalign. All but one of them had no idea I had them in and I had been interacting with them all day long. I did not try to hide them and smiled in every picture like I normally do. These are close friends that would not be afraid of telling me the truth so I was happy that only one person noticed (out of 7). The one person that did notice said she only noticed when I was having a close personal conversation with her and she recognized them since her mother had them a year ago. I had close personal conversations with everyone else as well without trying to hide them and no one else noticed. So far she is just the second person to notice in the two weeks I've had them in and the other person that noticed was also less than two feet from my face when they pointed them out.
The entire trip I smiled big like I have my whole life and did not try to hide them the whole trip. I would look at every picture taken of me after and I really could not tell I had them in. Sure, on a couple of them when I zoomed in all the way on the picture on the computer I could see slightly the reflection of the ridges of the aligners at my gum line.. but who on earth does that. I am very excited that I won't have to look at these pictures 5 years from now and go 'oh that is when I had braces' and be ashamed.
I think I may have forgotten to mention in my first impressions that I definitely had a bit of a lisp in my speech. I think it was worse when I thought about it but it was there. I think in general my initial lisp has faded away and I have not actually had anyone point out anything about how I talk since those first couple days.
Now, I'm going to go into a discovery that I don't know if I want to endorse but I thought I'd share. I read on some random blog that someone actually have their ortho tell them they could drink any non staining drink while having their aligners in. I immediately posted that I didn't think that was a good idea since the sugar and so on could get trapped in the aligners and cause quick tooth decay. Then it occurred to me... would it be that big a deal if you drank a soda, or a beer, or some milk with the aligners in... then just brushed your teeth afterward? I mean... if the reason you shouldn't do it is for the health of your teeth why not just drink and then brush your teeth soon after? I understand if you drink coffee or Gatorade while you have them in you could risk staining not only your teeth but the aligners as well... but what about mt. dew? or a light beer?
Anyhow, I tried this out the whole vacation. I would drink my beer/shots/margaritas the whole night with everyone else with my aligners in and every few hours or whenever I used the rest room I'd just quick brush my teeth and rinse out my aligners then put them back in. It seemed to work just fine and I don't really understand the harm in this approach. It is certainly better than keeping the aligners out for 3 hours while I drink with everyone. The result seemed fine so I'll likely continue this approach with drinking unless I hear from someone a good reason why this won't work.
Overall my first vacation with Invisalign was a little burdensome but successful. I did constantly have to duck away to go brush my teeth and put my aligners back in and I did have one time where I forgot to bring my carrying case and had to put the aligners in a napkin in my pocket. My ortho specifically said to not put them in a napkin but I wasn't about to leave em uncovered in my dirty pocket while I ate. I also purchased a travel toothbrush and tooth paste. It was an 8 hour drive to our vacationing location so I had a few meals on the road and in the car. I actually brushed my teeth in the car twice, having to spit the toothpaste into an empty bottle.
One last thing I wanted to mention is the commonly talked about topic of keeping the aligners clean. I have been cleaning the aligners with hand soap and a tooth brush about twice a day or whenever it looks dirty. I have noticed in the latter half of the second week that the trays have gotten dirtier faster and have developed a foul smell when they are not clean. It's pretty gross... at one point when I put the trays back without doing a full cleaning I got that feeling you get when you put a dirty pair of socks on.
One last thing I wanted to talk about is that I have purchased a 35% peroxide whitening program off eBay for $20. This is a lot cheaper than the $150 program the ortho offered for their 10% peroxide treatment. It truly does sound too good to be true but the sellers feedback was very good and consistent. I just got it today and have used it one time so far but I will wait at least a week before reporting results. After I am done with the whitening treatment I will post some 'after' pictures of the whitening that you can compare with the before pictures.
I cannot wait until Monday when I get to put set 2 in. I plan on taking some Advil a couple hours before making the transition just to reduce any potential pain ahead of time.
I need to correct and clarify some stuff I wrote in the above post. First, the increased dirtiness and the 'foul smell' I reported in the second week was actually due to drinking beer with the aligners in. Soaking the aligners in diluted bleach did help but I have concluded that the very foul smell is a result of the beer. So, yes beer will stain your aligners and yes it will make them smell worse. BUT, they're only in for 2 weeks at a time and the smell and dirtiness can be reduced with advanced cleaning methods. Don't let beer drinking prevent you from getting Invisalign. I will still drink beer with my aligners in but just be aware there are consequences.