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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: Past the halfway mark!

That’s right, I’m more than halfway done with my journey to straight teeth! Right now, I’m 50% done with my 8th tray (I have 14 trays total), so I’ve been at it for approximately 17 weeks. And I can tell a big difference in the way my teeth look – plus, it’s getting easier and easier to floss since my teeth are no longer as crowded.

Upon getting my Invisalign, I was worried about 2 things: the initial pain that comes with each new set of trays (I get a new set about every two weeks), and the fact that I would be drinking less coffee since you can’t drink coffee with Invisalign in.

I’m happy to report that the pain with new trays is tolerable – I often don’t take any pain medicine, and it usually goes away in one day. Remember, the teeth are only moving about 1 millimeter for each tray.

And yes, I have been drinking less coffee. On some days, I drink more, and that just means I’ll need to make up the time and wear my Invisalign longer.

The holidays were tough – having to navigate how to take the trays in and out at parties (I often took them out in the bathroom of course, and then would wait to put them back in when I returned home), and because of the “buttons” on my teeth (these were applied by my orthodontist to ensure the teeth would move correctly and quickly), I’m often worried about things sticking to my teeth.

At the beginning of this journey, talking made me uncomfortable (it does give me a little bit of a lisp), and I stopped showing my teeth when I smile. It just looked too weird with the buttons and the trays – even though it’s clear, you can tell there’s something happening. But, I’m getting used to it – honestly, my teeth are looking very straight and I’m pleasantly surprised each time I look at them (often while flossing).

Outside of cosmetic reasons, I wanted to make it easier on myself in my efforts to keep my teeth clean and stain-free. My bottom teeth were so crowded, they stained easily (again with the coffee). Also, I was hoping Invisalign would improve my overbite – it’s not terrible, but it was starting to negatively affect my gum health.

The good news is, Invisalign’s technology predicted that it would improve my overbite by reducing it by 2 millimeters. As of my last checkup, my overbite has been reduced by 4 millimeters!

Once I’m done with my trays, I’ll be wearing a bottom retainer 24/7 for 6 months and then I’ll switch to just wearing it at night. I’ll also have some shaving/filing done to my two front teeth to make them even with my other teeth.

The only thing I don’t like about Invisalign is how often I have to brush my teeth – mainly because it means a lot of teeth-brushing in public restrooms, which ultimately grosses me out. I could also go without the monthly payments, but both of these things are temporary and very worth it. I’m really excited to see how my second-half of the journey goes!

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…