Living with Invisalign: Cost and Compliance
Aunt Agony shares her secret stash of pro-tips to help a reader cope with the cost and compliance of Invisalign.
Dear Aunt Agony,
There’s nothing I want more than Invisalign as a discreet, almost-invisible way to fix my crooked teeth. But I’m not sure that I can live with the price tag and the 22-hour daily wear requirement. How did you do it?
Almost Ready for Invisalign
Dear Almost Ready for Invisalign,
Are you a Charles Dickens fan? Whenever I’m asked about my Invisalign journey, this opening line comes to mind: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, Invisalign, for me, was really a Tale of Two C’s (cost and compliance), so your question tells me that you really are almost ready for Invisalign.
You rightly pointed out that, for all its pros, Invisalign does come with two ‘buts’ — it’s more expensive than braces (read this to understand why) and, while the aligners are #SlipOnSlipOff, you have to commit to wearing them for 22 hours every day. Here’s how I coped during my own 18-month Invisalign journey with i.Dental, an Invisalign Blue Diamond Provider in Singapore. Let’s see if my experience will be helpful to you.
1. Spread the cost out
I like my kaya toast with a thin layer of butter. I also like my big-ticket purchase items spread out as thinly as possible. Always ask your accredited Invisalign provider about their financing options! In my case, after making an initial deposit, I was able to pay for the bulk of the treatment in instalments without any add-on fees or charges. I made payment once every two months, since that was the frequency of my dental visits. Personally, I liked how this financing arrangement was offered by the clinic, rather than the bank, for several reasons.
First up, hire purchase plans by credit cards would usually mean that the full treatment cost is deducted from my credit limit even though the instalments are billed monthly. This would have meant less financial flexibility, especially if I had to make other large purchases during this period. You never know when your refrigerator will conk out, alright? #truestory
Also, since the financing arrangement was provided by the clinic, I could use (and optimise!) different credit cards each time.
2. Seek out perks
Almost every bank and every credit card offers perks, whether in the form of rewards, bonuses, or cashback. My bank offers bonus interest on my savings account if I spend a certain amount on my credit card — and this is on top of my usual credit card rewards. While this is no reason to be spending more than you already would, making the most of it did help me save a pretty penny.
3. Use compliance to manage costs
This is one where cost and compliance can go hand-in-hand. As I’ve previously shared, Invisalign treatment turned out to be a surprisingly good way to kick bad habits for me. I cut out my mid-day coffee and snack because I was admittedly too lazy to deal with an additional round of brushing and flossing. I didn’t realise it then, but if I had tracked the amount that I saved from doing so, it would have paid for a portion of my bimonthly instalments! It just goes to show that you can trim excess expenditure, get healthier, and still pay for your treatment.
4. Practice the art of subtlety
The 22-hour daily wear time was intimidating for me too, until it became second nature (it will, trust me). For the first two months or so, I watched the clock every time I took off my aligners. To save time, I would only pop my aligners off just before I was about to eat — think: food, cutlery and drinks all set and ready on the table. Now this took some practice, especially in public, with people who didn’t ask to see your molars.
Personally, I found it more discreet to use a dental appliance remover than my fingers. The appliance is basically a skinny stick with a hook. I would cover my mouth with a napkin and use it to dislodge my aligners before pulling them out and hiding them in their case, which I always placed on my lap and out of sight. Many a meal companion was none the wiser! My dentist was fascinated by this because most of her patients don’t use the appliance even though it is gifted to them as part of the i.Dental Smile Starter Kit. It’s definitely something you want to ask your Invisalign provider for.
5. Bend the rules, then make up for it
Did you realise that, in my earlier tip, I didn’t rinse my aligners before storing them? The aligners get a little gunky if they’re left to dry up, saliva and all, but that was a trade-off I accepted in order to save time and stay compliant, especially when I was eating out and the nearest sink wasn’t near at all. To make up for it, I would be sure to brush my aligners well before putting them back on.
After I got used to the aligners, I also started bending the 22-hour rule. On average, I gunned for 20 to 22 hours a day while compensating for lower wear days. For example, if I clocked 20 hours today thanks to a long wedding dinner, I would aim for 21 hours tomorrow by keeping to a simple lunch at home.
Basically, my rule of thumb was that, if I were mostly compliant, then the occasional exception wouldn’t throw me completely off track. Plus, you can tell immediately if you’re bending the rules too much when your aligners start feeling tight again. When that happens, go back to your best behaviour and stay there!
Aunt Agony is neither an accredited Invisalign provider nor a trained dental professional. Her views are based on her personal experience with Invisalign treatment at the i.Dental Invisalign Dedicated Clinic, and should not be taken as professional advice. It’s always best to speak to an accredited Invisalign provider as every patient’s condition is unique and every treatment plan is customised.