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Invisalign: The retainer phase.

Yesterday morning, I had an appointment at my orthodontist’s office at 8:15 to remove all of my Invisalign attachments and get fitted for retainers. That’s right, my teeth are straight after six months of using Invisalign!

In the pictures above, those are more of the “after” – I took the one on the left after leaving my appointment yesterday, and the one on the right is at my half-way mark. Below are some “before” pictures.

They took some more “official” before and after photos at the orthodontist, and I’ll share them when I get them, but these pictures above actually say a lot. When I decided to get Invisalign, it was a quick decision made after years of being asked by every dentist if I’d ever considered braces.

My upper teeth were generally straight (at least at a glance), but my bottom teeth were very crowded and crooked – you can see it a little in the last picture. But my overbite was so bad, my bottom teeth never really showed… and it didn’t really bother me. Until it did.

For many years, I prided myself on not having had braces and that my smile was generally nice-looking. But during the last two years, I’ve started taking better care of my skin and using better makeup to get a different look. And when it was time to put on the lipstick, my smile just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of my face.

So, when I went looking through my phone and social media accounts for “before” pictures to share here, I noticed a few things: 1. I don’t take many pictures of myself, and 2. Many of my pictures, especially from 2015 to present-day, are with my mouth closed.

Pre-Invisalign, my two front teeth started to bother me. They were turned in toward each other just enough to cause a little bit of a shadow, and they’d worn down to fit my bottom teeth – like the outline of a roof. It was enough to keep me from showing my teeth in pictures, and likely in life.

The other half of this is, I have had loads of dental work over the years. My cleanings are always rough, and I’ve spent lots of money buying expensive toothbrushes, flossers to fit under crowns and between my crowded teeth, and finding the right mouthwash that won’t affect my gum cells (it’s an issue).

Yes, Invisalign would give me a more confident smile, but it also would ease my dental visits. About a week after my halfway mark, I had a regular dental cleaning scheduled… and it was a breeze! I still can’t believe how little scraping there was and how much easier it was for the hygienist to floss between my bottom teeth. To boot, my overbite had decreased much more than even my Invisalign model had predicted.

If I’d have known how easy straighter teeth would have made my dental cleanings, I would have gotten them years ago.

Over the course of wearing Invisalign, people are quick to say what they’ve heard about it or their opinions on it. Many people said, “Well, your teeth weren’t really crooked to being with.” Maybe not to them, and that’s nice, but this was about me, my confidence, and my teeth! My case was only a 6-month fix, which is short in terms of braces, and it also cost the least amount possible. But, I still did it, and now my teeth are aligned.

Some people told me they heard Invisalign doesn’t hurt. For me, that was not the case. It’s the same as braces, you just down’t have to deal with wires or wax – all of the trays hurt for at least the first day or two of getting them, and my last two trays probably hurt the worst. Although all of it was cured with an over-the-counter pain medicine.

At my appointment yesterday, I got fitted for my retainers, which I will wear all the time for the next six months. After that, I’ll only wear them at night. The retainers look very similar to the trays, but are made of a thicker, harder material.

I also got my front teeth fixed. When they straightened out, the bottoms of them were not even at all – it was very obvious. So, my orthodontist filed some of them down, but ultimately use a composite material to build one of my teeth up and resemble the other one. She even gave me a mirror so I could watch and she made sure to get my approval. It turned out so natural looking!

I’m also happy to report that I’m finished with all of the payments – I paid 1/3 of it with money from my HSA, and used my own money (not a credit card) to pay for the rest of it. Wahoo!

When it’s all said and done, it was totally worth it. The six months flew by, and I’m happy that I did something for myself. There are so many people out there who have opinions on what we can and can’t do to improve our appearances, and what it says about us, but I’m still sticking with the motto that if it makes you feel good, and isn’t hurting anyone else, than you do you!

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