Dr. Wedell was hopeful when I started blogging for him about Invisalign that I would also be willing to try Propel. Propel is a technique that, when added to braces or Invisalign, significantly reduces the amount of time in treatment. While it definitely accelerates braces, that acceleration means more adjustments, which means more frequent trips to the orthodontist. With Invisalign, after Propel, you simply change your aligners every week rather than every other week. What that means is that Propel can cut your remaining treatment time in half with Invisalign!
So far, I have been handling my Invisalign just fine, but there are times when I’m annoyed by them. I’ve noticed additional pressure on my teeth for a couple of days after switching to newer aligners. I still occasionally catch my tongue on the ramps behind my two front teeth, which pinches. And my attachments points only bother me when my aligners are out—they are rougher than the aligners, so I notice them then.
When Dr. Wedell asked if I’d like to try Propel, I wasn’t dying to get done with my treatment plan, but I was bothered enough that I decided that given the chance, yes, I’d like to be done faster.
Propel visits start off much the same as other visits. I went to the treatment area where Dr. Wedell first checked the fit of my current aligners—which was perfect! After swishing a special mouthwash around in my mouth, he applied a topical anesthetic, which had to sit for 10 minutes. Then, it was time for Propel!
In layman’s terms, the Propel technique requires holes to be made around and sometimes in the target tooth in order stimulate your body’s inflammation response. This is why a tooth that is knocked out can often be saved by putting it back in—Propel harnesses your body’s natural healing response to tooth trauma to get your teeth to move more quickly.
Dr. Wedell targeted 4 of my teeth with the Propel treatment—a lower right, lower left, upper right and upper left. These are the teeth that for me have the greatest distance to move to be in the proper position. That meant he started on my upper right, then moved to the upper left, and so forth. My guess is he started with the tooth needing the most movement first, since that one took the longest.
Nothing special was needed to hold my mouth open. Dr. Wedell just used a dental mirror to peel my lip back and then the Propel device to make the punctures. This was a little weird. There was a lot of pressure, and the tool itself looks a bit like corkscrew, so there was pressure while he was screwing the top (and squeaking his gloves). There were a couple of times when I felt a pinch as well as the pressure, or like my tooth was hyper sensitive. Overall, this was not nearly as bad as having the attachments put on for me, but I bet this is different for everyone.
After the procedure, I was really numb, including my tongue and lips. Some of the anesthetic got on my tongue but we think my lips went numb ‘cause I got up to check out my ClinCheck video with Dr. Wedell after the local anesthetic. Since I couldn’t spit or have my saliva sucked out, it came into contact with my lips. (Don’t worry, he won’t do this to you.) I was practically drooling, and had to type questions for Dr. Wedell on my phone because I couldn’t talk.
I had a couple of errands to run after my appointment, so by the time I got home, I had a headache, or, more accurately, a jaw ache. The folks at Propel say that most people can go right back to work after the treatment—Dr. Wedell says most of his patients take the afternoon off. When I got home, I took a couple of Tylenol \and laid down in bed for a couple of hours. The headache was a lot better, though not gone. Most of the numbness went away within 3 hours, though my gums and tongue still prickled. I did some light housework in the evening and since the headache seemed to be getting stronger again, I took a couple more Tylenol before going to bed.
The day after the procedure, I felt fine—no headache. I did have some achiness in the muscles around my mouth, so hurt to smile or open my mouth wide, so I just made sure I didn’t do too much of either of those things!
Dr. Wedell said some patients say they feel like they’ve been sucking on a lemon. For me, that feeling was mostly on my lips, kind of like I was dehydrated. I felt like the inside of my mouth was raw meat. It reminded me of having braces first put on and how cut-up the inside of your mouth gets. There is also some peeling of the tissue inside my mouth, like a pizza burn, but on the outside of my gums rather than the roof of my mouth. It feels a little gross—I am not enjoying taking my aligners out right now.
I did stick to soft foods after the procedure but the day after I was on to my regular meals, which was no problem at all.
I am now on my fourth day after the procedure and my mouth is mostly back to normal. My gums are no longer bleeding, and there’s just a couple of spots that still have that raw meat feeling.
Yesterday was my day to switch my new aligners (#4!) and I could tell immediately that something was different. I’ve been annoyed by the pressure in my mouth when I change aligners—and I am experiencing a lot less of that pressure post-Propel. They still feel like new aligners because I have to warp them a little to get them in, and they fit tightly, but the pressure doesn’t seem as bad, and I love that.
Why Use Propel?
- If you want to finish your remaining treatment in half the time, Propel will do that for Invisalign users.
- If you have a stubborn tooth that simply will not move, Propel is perfect for you.
- If you are like me and get annoyed or get headaches from the pressure of your braces or aligners, Propel may help with that.
Would I do Propel again? I still have to see that it delivers as promised, but a half-day’s discomfort to have my remaining treatment time cut in half? Yes, I’d do it again.
Yesterday I got to put aligner set #5 in—a week ahead of schedule due to Propel! Once again, the pressure didn’t seem quite so bad and I’m wowed by the progress. I can practically see my teeth moving! And I am thrilled to have 10 week knocked off my total treatment time.