I’ve been meaning to write this post up for ages, as it’s been an ongoing thing in the background for some time, but I’ve only just gotten around to it as tomorrow (tomorrow!) I am being fitted with my Invisalign braces. That is, of course, assuming that we aren’t snowed in in the morning. We’ve had amber warnings of snowfall and you may be aware that everything closes, and nothing in this country works, if we get more than 2mm of snow.
A bit of background
The main problem with my teeth is the crowding at the bottom front that has slowly, over a period of years, resulted in a single tooth getting pushed further and further forward, and sticking up higher and higher. For a long time I have mentally referred to it as my ‘tombstone tooth’, because it stands up proudly above the others and is visible when I talk. The light glints off it in a most disconcerting way (in my opinion anyway).
The thing is, my actual smile is quite neat and tidy because then the bottom teeth are hidden behind the top ones. It’s only when I talk that the bottom teeth really stand out.
It has been painful to bite on the tombstone tooth for a long time. I have to bite into hard foods (like snappy biscuits), using the side of my mouth because I can’t put that much pressure on the single tooth that sticks up from the bottom. And also the amount of build-up I get around the back of my crowded lower teeth just isn’t funny.
I also have some misalignment (and a smaller tooth) on my upper right, which historically hasn’t really bothered me, but I have noticed of late that it is also getting more prominent with the gradual movement (twisting, in my case), of teeth that seems to occur as you age.
I did have metal braces on my top teeth as a teenager, to correct a mild cross bite. How I wish I had worn my retainer forever! 20-odd years on, my teeth have jostled around into a new mish-mash of positions and I have been self-conscious of them for quite some time now.
I had read about Invisalign and in the back of my mind had kind of decided that at some point I was going to do it. Last year a local practice was running an information morning that included a free 3D scan, so I booked and went along.
This is why my mouth has been under such scrutiny recently.
Well, tomorrow is the big day. I am excited and nervous, all at once. I know exactly what to expect in terms of soreness, abrasion and all that other stuff, but on top of that Invisalign comes with its own set of rules about immaculate oral hygiene to ensure that the plastic covering the teeth doesn’t turn into a bacterial incubator. They require 22 hours wear a day, which doesn’t leave a huge amount of time for eating and cleaning. I am a grazer, and pick at food on and off all day, so that’s going to have to stop. Eek.
But I am so excited at the thought of taming the tombstone tooth and bringing it back down into line to play nicely with the others. I’m paying for private treatment, so if you’re curious about costs I’m having top and bottom aligners, totalling around £3,500 (you can just have top or bottom, but in my case I needed the top ones to create space for the bottom ones to straighten). I will also need a retainer at the end of treatment that will be a further £500. Yeah – I know. It’s a lot. But I think about that tooth a lot too, to the point that sometimes I lose track of what I’m saying because I’m too busy thinking about my tombstone tooth flashing away while I speak.
About 5 years ago I was chatting socially to a group of people and one of them was a dentist. She was talking about her patient and how her braces had tracked her teeth into a beautiful smile and she was really pleased with progress. Someone asked about how bad her patient’s teeth were to start, and she explained that she had some crowding at the bottom. I said “Oh, like mine,” and the dentist frowned said…
Not as severe as yours… but yes.
Oh man. Ouch. I was all ready to show her my teeth to see if they were the same as her patient’s, but a) she’d already clocked them and b) she’d already assessed them as being worse than someone she was currently treating.
I felt so embarrassed and self-conscious. I was already aware that the crowding was visible when I talked, but that was the moment, five years ago, that I knew I had to get them straightened.
So here we are.
Wanna see some pics?
Of course you do.
So this was was caught in passing, but it shows my tombstone tooth on the bottom quite nicely, as well as the slightly gappy top bit:
Here are some I took today:
Excuse my poor, dry winter skin. This time of year plays havoc with it.
When you go through all the prep for Invisalign, you get a treatment simulation, which is frankly brilliant. They are not 100% accurate, as physiologically everyone’s mouth responds in a different way, but they are a guide to how your teeth will be moved.
It’s displayed as an incremental movie that shows the teeth moving into place. With a bit of basic photoshopping, here’s the beginning and end frames:
Now, I can’t imagine that my teeth will end up as perfect as they are on the right – but even halfway between would be a big improvement on the bottom teeth.
I can’t remember how many sets of aligners I’m going to need – something like 19? or 22? You generally wear each one for two weeks, give or take, so I’ll be in them for the best part of a year, plus full time retainers for 3 months (I think) afterwards. Then it reduces to night retainers, and then gradually down to 3/4 nights a week. Don’t quote me on this – it’s from memory so may be slightly inaccurate.
Regardless, I am 100% happy to wear them for as long as it takes. Time passes so fast anyway these days that it’ll be Christmas before long and my teeth will be almost straight! I’ve waited so long to do this. There is a part of me that doesn’t quite believe any of it is going to work, and I will be stuck with my big bottom tooth forever, but we’ll see.
Here’s hoping the snow holds off tomorrow morning so I can get to the dentist and get them fitted!