Orthodontic treatment can improve your mental, physical, and emotional health.

You have probably heard the term “self-care” a lot recently, but it’s not always clear what qualifies as self-care and what doesn’t. Self-care is a pretty broad category that can include almost any enjoyable activity that you actively plan in order to care for your mental, physical, or emotional health. It’s not something you dislike doing, force yourself to do, or must do to fulfill your basic needs. In other words, a quick “spit-bath” isn’t self-care, but relaxing by soaking in the bath certainly is. By that definition, then, can Invisalign be on your self-care list? Absolutely! Everyone is different, but orthodontic treatment usually hits at least one—but usually all three—of the areas self-care aims to improve. Here’s why Invisalign can function as self-care.

It improves your self-confidence.

Our smiles help us convey a surprising range of emotions to the people around us, but they’re also tied closely to our self-confidence. We’re acutely aware that other people form impressions about us based on our smiles, so we tend to double down on our evaluation of our own smiles. If you’re self-conscious about your crooked smile, you may find yourself thinking negative thoughts when you look in the mirror or see pictures of yourself; some people are so self-conscious that they avoid showing their teeth when they smile in public.

Straightening your smile isn’t vain, and it doesn’t mean you’re caving in to beauty standards; it’s about making you happier with the way you look. It can give you a boost in self-confidence, enabling you to smile without worrying about what other people will think and helping you to be more positive when you look in the mirror. You likely smile nearly two dozen times a day, so your increased confidence can have a lot of small impacts on how you view your interactions with other people throughout the day. You might be surprised at how much boosting your self-confidence can improve your mental and emotional health.

There’s no awkward phase where your confidence can suffer.

Braces are so noticeable that the treatment usually involves at least a few blows to your confidence or self-image; many people end up counting the days until their braces come off, just hoping the results are worth it. This is especially hard on working professionals, who have the added stress of feeling like their braces may interfere with them being taken seriously at work or in job interviews. Since Invisalign is almost invisible, few people will be able to see it on your teeth unless they’re actively looking for it. The aligners’ unobtrusive nature means you can go about your day just like you usually would. You’ll also be able to see and benefit from the positive changes in your smile as they occur.

Invisalign positively impacts your oral health.

Your self-confidence isn’t the only area Invisalign can help you improve; straightening your smile is also good for your oral health. Crooked teeth are harder to clean properly, so straightening them out lessens your chances of getting cavities or gum disease. Invisalign also keeps crooked or overcrowded teeth from wearing each other down over time, saving you from expensive treatments in the future that you may otherwise need to reduce tooth sensitivity and restore the function and appearance of worn teeth.

It can actually change the way you feel on a daily basis.

If you suffer from frequent headaches or jaw pain, you may notice that your jaw pain is gone or that you experience fewer, less severe headaches once you’ve completed your Invisalign treatment. This is because misaligned bites can actually cause these symptoms—sometimes quite regularly. By shifting your teeth into the proper position, Invisalign can change the way you feel on a daily basis.

Invisalign has little negative impact on your daily life.

Braces are notorious for being high-maintenance and requiring strict dietary changes, like cutting out popcorn and caramel. Put simply, braces are divas; you have to reorder many of your habits to suit them, and you need to invest a good chunk of time in carefully cleaning them—and your teeth—at least twice a day.

Invisalign, however, is exactly the opposite. All you need to do to clean the aligners is brush them with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. It’s quick and easy to fit into your existing oral hygiene routine. Since the aligners are removable, you can continue to eat all of your favorite foods throughout the treatment process; just pop your aligners out, chow down, and brush your teeth before putting them back in. Just don’t forget to put them back in when you’re done eating; they need to be worn for at least 20 or 22 hours each day to do their job properly.

Invisalign won’t interfere with other self-care activities.

Self-care involves a range of different activities that improve your mood, relieve stress, and help you stay healthy. Unfortunately, braces can get in the way of some of these activities. While you can certainly still exercise and play sports with braces, you will need to wear specialized mouth guards because the metal wiring can cut or scrape the sensitive skin in your mouth. In addition to being uncomfortable and clunky, these mouth guards can make it difficult to speak.

Braces can also make playing instruments, like the trumpet, difficult. Most people adapt after a few weeks, but you may need to buy specialized equipment that will help you play better if it remains a challenge. Since Invisalign is smoother and thinner than braces, it’s more comfortable, won’t cut your mouth, and doesn’t get it the way of playing music nearly as much; worst-case scenario, the aligner can be removed for short periods of time, such as for an important performance, if you feel it interferes with your ability to play.

Braces and Invisalign provide similar long-term results, but the process of getting Invisalign is much more enjoyable; it isn’t something you have to force yourself to go through. This, along with the boost in self-confidence and the benefit to your oral health, makes using Invisalign a great way to practice intentional self-care and finally get the straight smile you have always wanted.