Invisalign

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.

Passing comment

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:

Invisalign before

Here are some I took today:

Invisalign before Invisalign before

Excuse my poor, dry winter skin. This time of year plays havoc with it.

Simulation

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:

invisalign_treatment

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!

12 thoughts on “Invisalign

  1. That’s awesome! Horrible that the dentist said that to you years ago…I mean she’s a professional, you’d think she could have come up with a better way to say something like that!! I truly hope that they work out for you! Please keep us updated with progress!!
    I’ve been thinking for years about doing this as well. I have lots of gaps on the top, and my bottom front teeth are straight across instead of being in the normal arch outwards, so I have a HORRIBLE overbite! I’m so self conscious of my mouth, I hate my smile and I hate that I have to eat some things differently because of it. (Like, I can’t bite into a slice of pizza normally, things like that.) Maybe some day I’ll be able to do this as well!

    • It’s not fun being so self-conscious of your teeth – I know exactly what you mean. I will definitely post progress pics. I think if you want to do it you should definitely at some point – now I’m getting them I honestly think I should have done this five years back!

  2. Dude! I got my Invisalign’s in early October! You did waaaay more research than me, so you seem prepared for what to expect. I, on the other hand, got them on at 1pm and promptly got dropped off at the airport for a 3 day biz trip. One I would have to speak/present at.

    Houston, we had a problem.

    The first few weeks were THE WORST.

    • Oops, fat fingers hit reply too soon.

      Anywayyy, I’m nearly 5 months in to a 10 month total therapy. I wear mine for one week at a time. (Seems UK and Australia tend to prescribe them for two weeks at a time..) They didn’t say anything about retainer to me. And I can totally tell they are moving.

      Similar to you, my top teeth are quite straight, but bottom has crazy crowding which worsened over time to where one tooth was pushed back and another forward. And it’s ALL I CAN SEE when I watch myself talk. So glad I did this, despite the horrific experience of the first few weeks.

      Oh – and I’ve not yet managed a 22 hour day. I might get 16-18 hours of the lower tray but only about 12-16 of the upper tray on days I’m in public. I’m just way too self conscious of the lisp to wear the upper tray when I’m speaking to people.

      Good luck!!

      • Wow – that is so cool! I had no idea you had them. And you’re right about being totally fixated on the teeth. It overshadows everything once you get it in your head. It’s really interesting that you wear yours for less hours – just goes to show there is a bit of leeway in there, which is reassuring (I had visions of eating to a timer three times a day). I know how awful the first few weeks are – with my metal braces my mouth was so sore… oh man. But once over the hump it gets easier!! I wonder about the lisp – we’ll find out soon how bad it is, haha!

    • So mine are in. How you managed to get through a 3 day business trip I have no idea. I’ve got orthodontic wax stuck everywhere to stop the sharp bits and my face hurts. I had to send the kids to bed early because I felt so awful!

  3. Ahhhhh I read out of order! So you have had braces before so are all down with how it feels. I actually think I need this done at some point. I have crowding down the bottom and gaps at the tops from having teeth removed when I was young for braces. I had braces but it was close to 18 so I didn’t look after them and do the visits I should. I got some straitening as a result but the work is incomplete. The new smile looks amazing!! I hope you get something you are uber happy with.

    • Thanks – me too. I’m still not quite sure I believe it’s going to make any difference! I had reached a point where all I could see in the mirror was dodgy teeth and you know how hard it is to unsee something like that. They really aren’t too bad, I know, but I’ve always worried about them. How are you doing lovely? All very quiet in your world – hopefully that means all is well! Xxx

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