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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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Invisalign: Two weeks in!

My first 2 weeks using Invisalign!

Okay, I’m about two days shy of the three-week mark using Invisalign, but this will just have to do! I have been curious about Invisalign for the last year for a few reasons.

For starters, I’ve never had traditional braces and I cannot TELL you how many times my dentist has asked me if I’m interested in braces. No, no, and no… until I was.

My teeth aren’t that crooked. Instead, they are very crowded on the bottom and a little angled up top. It has never bothered me until recently. In fact, I often prided myself on the fact that I’d made it this far without orthodontic work.

But the truth is, I take a lot of care in the way I look. I’m not vain or superficial, but I do like to take care of myself, and I also like to experiment with new beauty trends (I just Derma-rolled for the second time ever last night), and I have a bucket of makeup and a tiny collection of face masks to prove it.

I wear makeup on most days – mostly to express myself and help boost my confidence. That’s all great, but I started to feel like my look was incomplete with my teeth. Sure, my nails look great, contour is on-point, lipliner looking fresh… but my teeth?

So, when I switched dentists because of insurance, I specifically looked for one that offered Invisalign. I asked about it immediately, slapped down the down-payment, and they got to work.

The first step was to have impressions taken of my teeth. These impressions were sent off to Invisalign and they made a computer simulation of the changes my teeth would go through from start to finish.

My dentist also took tons of pictures of my teeth, and of my face – she said I would see a slight change in my profile.

Once I approved of the way my teeth would look (according to the simulation), my dentist was able to tell me that my “treatment” would be six months, which is the minimum amount of time for Invisalign.

At my next appointment, my dentist applied some “buttons” onto my teeth – basically they are small raised pieces that help “lock” the Invisalign in place, and they help the teeth move a little faster.

She then had to shave down the sides of some of my teeth since they were so crowded – the shaving involved her flossing my teeth with sandpaper. Literally. It was an interesting and awkward experience.

Before she handed me my first set of trays, she told me I had to wear the trays at least 22 hours each day: sleep in them, only drink clear liquids with them in, and take them out to eat. I was instructed to brush my teeth before putting the trays back in.

She broke two pieces of bad news to me at that point: 1. The first two days of each tray are painful, and 2. My coffee intake would likely be reduced given that I couldn’t drink it with the Invisalign in.

Ohhhhh… I was visibly upset over this coffee news. You see, I usually sip on coffee from the time I wake up (6:30 or so) until around 10. But if I did that, I’d already be breaking the 22-hour rule with Invisalign.

“It’s only for six months,” she said. She didn’t GET IT.

But anyway, I snapped in my first trays and was on my way. And she was right, it HURT. That night, I had so much trouble getting the trays out, I skipped dinner.

Since then, though, it stopped hurting, and it’s very easy to get the trays in and out.

On my two-week mark, I put in a new set of trays, and it hurt some (I took one dose of pain killers), but not as bad as the first one, leading me to believe the “shaving” was actually the issue.

I have 14 trays total, so I’ll be getting new ones about every two weeks. I expect to be putting in tray no. 3 on Thanksgiving Eve… which will make for an interesting Turkey Day.

So far, it’s been okay. It is a little annoying to have to take the trays in and out so much – I feel like I’ve cut down on snacking because it just isn’t worth the time and effort (in case you wondered just how lazy I was).

On the upside, I can already see the progress my teeth are making – and it looks great, even this early in the game! I also started using a whitening toothpaste in hopes of getting a bit of a brighter smile along the way!

I’ll keep you posted…

Turns out, I’m healthy.

Getting my health on.

It’s been awhile since I’ve offered an update on my health. In May and June of this year, I started the rounds on doctors’ appointments. I had checkups, exams, and even got my blood tested. At the time I wrote my last update, I was awaiting my test results.

I got them back awhile ago and for some reason, never reported back. But I’m here to say, all was positive. Actually, it was way better than I ever expected. I was scared something was wrong with my thyroid, or that I would have high cholesterol (it runs in my family), but NO – my good cholesterol was even high!

I was so happy, and I felt like all of my years of eating healthy and exercising regularly has paid off – in a big way.

I also went to the eye doctor, and after a weird exam, got a new prescription, along with new contacts and a new pair of glasses.

I still have one more place to go though: the dentist. My teeth have always had a rough time, and I had lots of dental work done a few years ago. I changed how I take care of my teeth, but I have missed my last two cleanings – it sounds so gross saying it! I just hate the dentist.

But, I know I need to go, and whatever happens is just something I need to take care of. Plus, I want to see if I’m a candidate for Invisalign or the like – I have some teeth I want to straighten out.

It’s definitely getting done within the next month, because I don’t want to keep putting it off.

Since my regular doctor’s visit, I’ve gone from a mostly-vegetarian lifestyle to a mostly vegan one. So far, so good. I feel light and not weighed down, and it feels great. I also find I don’t really miss anything from my previous diet.

I’ve also continued my regular dance regimen and added a weekly yoga class. On average, I take 6 classes a week.

It feels good to be on top of my health (for the most part).

Honestly, it feels good to be on top of…my life. I know I said this in yesterday’s post, but I think I’m finally ready to close some chapters and move forward (although I’ve yet to figure out how to do this).

One thing I’ve noticed lately, is how much I just want to DO things. I don’t want to let life pass me by, and I’ve known too many people who just let things happen. No. I want to be proactive in my life!

So yeah, I’m going to that dentist!

…definitely laughing while typing.