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To Propel or Not to Propel

Choosing Invisalign

A patient experience about using clear aligner orthodontics

On my first consultation for Invisalign, my dentist mentioned the Propel procedure as a means of speeding up the orthodontic treatment time. I had never heard of it before, so my ears perked up. Speed up the process of getting my smile back better than ever? Why would I say no?

Still, I wanted to learn more. My dentist began to describe how Propel works, calling it a “micro-osteoperforation” (or “MOPs”) procedure. In layman’s terms, it meant “putting dimples in my jawbone.” This would cause an inflammatory response to speed up the efficiency of Invisalign. It sounded awful! I pictured Dark Ages boring machines aimed right at my precious dental roots, and I scrunched up my nose in a look of “Thanks, but no.” Yet, wanting to be informed, I braced myself and asked a few more questions. My Big Three regarding Propel were:

First: “Will it hurt?”

My dentist assured me it wouldn’t, because I would be all numbed up.

Second: “Can Propel cause infection?”

I was assured that this was unlikely.

Third: “How much would it cost?”

I was pleasantly surprised at the actual cost. I told them I’d think about it, do some research and get back to them about my decision.

I promptly went home and did no research whatsoever! I figured that watching Internet videos from people getting what my dentist described as “dimples in their roots” may look way worse than the actual reality. I opted for the Propel treatment, having been assured that it wouldn’t hurt, cause infection or break the budget.

Undergoing Propel

On my visit to receive my Invisalign liners, I was ready to see what getting “dimples in my roots” actually entailed — with my eyes firmly shut! My dentist put enough numbing shots in my mouth to deaden the tooth roots, and then I was left in the chair to let the shots take effect. I soon lost all feeling from my chin to my nose. I was numb with a capital “N”!

Before treating each area needing Propel, I was asked if I felt a pinprick in that spot. Only one part of my mouth felt anything, so I got yet more numbing specifically in that area. By this time my entire oral cavity felt about ten times its normal size, and I was unsure where both my nose and chin were in space, but there was no pain.

After a quick pass over my roots area with the Propel tool (which is sort of like a hand-held drill bit), the treatment was soon done. Although I felt pressure and a pushing feeling on my roots, there was no pain, and I’ve experienced a very reduced treatment time. According to the dentist’s estimates, I shaved off a few months of Invisalign by opting for Propel.

One small drawback of Propel is that for three months only acetaminophen can be used for pain. Since the “dimples” cause an inflammatory response in the roots, and that aids in the straightening process, any anti-inflammatory pain medication (such as aspirin or ibuprofen) is counter-productive. In this case, inflammation is my friend, and stopping it would not be useful. So, I have to take acetaminophen for three months whenever I experience pain of any kind.

How is the Invisalign itself coming along? Tune in to my next blog for the Yuba City Dentistry Group.


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Our Dental Blog

I can’t express how amazing the entire staff is. Very welcoming and understanding. I had a really bad experience with another dentist in another office that left me traumatized. They were so kind and patient with me here. They worked with me and gave me all my options. It was easy to schedule an appt. No waiting weeks to get in. No waiting hours in the waiting room. Just an overall amazing experience. I’m so grateful. I definitely recommend.