My Invisalign Journey (13.5): Not totally done

As a sort of continuation to my last post, I have a very small update.

I had another appointment last week and I’m technically not done yet. Dr. Jacquie came and saw me – she said my teeth look beautiful. She suggested I get a cleaning because of my insanely frustrating tartar build-up; I honestly floss and brush my teeth before I put my aligners in, and yet they still have such bad build-up. She said that happens for some people while others can go a year without needing a cleaning. She also recommended a whitening within the next 6 weeks “to make sure they sparkle for summer.” Finally she said she wanted to see me in six months, gave me a hug, and told me to have a good summer.

It was then time for final photos! Dee took my photos, just like she had in the beginning for my initial photos. Then, she proceeded to explain the next step in my treatment: she was giving me one more set of aligners that I was to wear full-time (like I’ve been wearing them for the past 16 months) and then they would give me a set to wear only at night when I return in six months.

Six months and that’s it. My final photos haven’t been put up on the website yet, so I’m not sure if that’s because they just haven’t gotten to it yet or if they wait until the patient is totally done with treatment. Until then, you can check out my last post to see recent photos of my straight teeth!

My Invisalign Journey (8): Six Month Update (with pictures!)

Alrighty so I’ve had my Invisalign aligners for over 6 months now, so I figured it would be a good time to show how my teeth have changed since the beginning. If you haven’t already done so, check out all of the posts documenting my Invisalign journey!

My initial pictures show the crookedness and overlapping of my teeth as well as my severe overbite. All of my teeth seemed to point forward and inward, except my front teeth which pointed to the back of my mouth.

Holliday Initial pictures

Now you can see how my teeth have spaced out; I actually have small yet noticeable spaces between my front top teeth and huge spaces between my back teeth. The most visible change has to be the upper central and lateral incisors (top front four teeth) and how much straighter they have become. The picture below is a close-up of my smile – you can see my glass attachments as well as how much straighter my teeth are!

Close up smile

The pictures below show a big difference in my teeth; my teeth are much straighter and have been pulled forward significantly. The picture on the left is from March 2011 and the one on the right was taken just a month ago (April 2014). [I will point out that we both still look like teenagers although neither of us were teenagers in either of these pictures. Story of our lives…]

T&H

I have to say that my teeth look kind of big for my face at the moment. My top teeth seem to be the only teeth I have because my lower jaw is still not fully aligned yet, and therefore I still have an overbite. Sometimes, I look downright chipmunk-esque; you can judge for yourself in the pictures below. I noticed that this happens when I have my aligners in my mouth versus when they are out. All three of these pictures were taken while my aligners were in and rubber bands were on…bet you couldn’t tell!

chipmunk pictures!

I don’t return to Dr. Jacquie again until the first week of August, so there should be a lot of change between now and then! I will also be getting my attachments off and my teeth whitened at that appointment for my wedding, so that’s super exciting!

My Invisalign Journey (6): Metal buttons, rubber bands, and initial photos!

If you need to refresh your memory or are new to the journey and need to start from the beginning, check out my Invisalign page to catch up!

It’s been a bit over 2 months since my last appointment, and only one of the glass-like attachments have come off. Everything else has gone smoothly though. I will, however, complain about the glass becoming a bit discolored, giving my teeth an off-white appearance. Boo.

Also, because my front teeth are crooked and crowded, my back teeth have been moving like crazy to make room for straightening out the front ones. This has caused such large gaps between my top molars, so I’m itching to floss after each meal. Not to be super graphic or disgusting, but you wouldn’t believe the size of some of the stuff I pull out from those gaps. I mean, if for some reason I needed to, I could probably hide a small rodent back there and no one would know.Upper jaw

Needless to say, my new best friends are Dentek floss picks; they come with travel containers, which are really convenient when you’re on the go. I now floss after every single meal; that’s at least 3 times every day. I think I’ve flossed more in the past month than I have in my entire life. It’s annoying. Hygenic, but annoying.

The holidays have made it quite difficult to keep up with the whole “wear your aligners for at least 22 hours” daily ideal they set. Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, birthday parties, Super Bowl Sunday, going out to dinner…when it comes to events or gatherings like these, I simply take my aligners out at the last possible minute, right before food or drink is ready to be consumed, and leave them out until the festivities are over. And most of time, this can be 2, 3, or even 4 hours of not wearing my aligners.

Before my last appointment, Dr. Jacquie herself came into the lobby and called me in; “Holliday, come on in, beautiful,” she said. She asked if I was wearing my aligners before she started, to which I replied that I was. “When you smiled before, I couldn’t tell!” Either she was just saying that or she really couldn’t tell, which is the whole point of these things.

She said that my aligners were fitting perfectly and that my teeth were looking good. Today, they were going to be attaching “buttons” on my teeth and giving me rubber bands to start working on my bite. Dee, my favorite technician, came in to do the whole procedure. She was teaching a new technician the procedure, so it was nice because I was getting the information as well and knew what was happening and what everything was doing. She pretty much did the same procedure as the last appointment, with the adhesive and UV light, but instead of glass-like attachments she was putting on two small metal “buttons” that would hold the rubber bands on my bottom teeth. She attached them to my first molars from the front of my teeth, so they aren’t noticeable unless I pull my lips back.

Once the buttons were attached she explained the easiest way to put the rubber bands on. So there is a slit in the top set of aligners on each side that I hold the rubber band on as I slip them on my teeth. After I put the bottom aligners on, I pull the rubber bands down and attach them to the buttons on my bottom teeth. Voila, easy as pie!

And to my (happy) surprise, you can’t even tell I have rubber bands on! Unlike traditional braces, my rubber bands are clear. Like me, you’ve probably Googled images of people with rubber bands and Invisalign. The ones I’ve found are on teeth near the front, so just opening the person’s mouth revealed the rubber bands. Luckily mine are tucked more in the back, which is great and way less conspicuous!

Dee gave me two little baggies full of rubber bands – one was a bag of 1/4″ and the other was 3/16″. She said if the 3/16″ was too tight, stick with the 1/4″ for awhile, but the sooner I could use the 3/16″, the better since they’re tighter and will start working quicker.

My teeth were extra sensitive the first two days with the new aligners and the rubber bands, but I honestly can’t complain; the buttons themselves don’t hurt, and I’m getting used to the feeling of the rubber bands in my mouth. They gave me my next 10 sets of aligners as well as the two bags full of rubber bands, so I’m set for 3 months.

Also, before I left, I asked Dee if it was possible to get my “before” pictures. She emailed them to me so here they are! The top three kind of look like mugshots, so that’s embarrassing. And I have a filling, hence the huge gray part of my tooth. It’s kind of gross looking at someone’s mouth, but it’s great because I can actually see a difference already!

Holliday Initial pictures

Check out my 6 month Invisalign update where you can see how much my smile has changed – some pictures feature my braces with rubberbands, but I bet you can’t tell!

My Invisalign Journey (3): Getting my aligners!

You should definitely check out my previous posts about my consultation and my first appointment before reading this!

Have you done that? If not, reread the first sentence. Good? Okay, let’s keep the story rolling!

So we left off with Dee (my technician, remember?) telling me that the office would let me know when my aligners were ready. I would have to wait anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks. Well, during the sixth week, I actually called the office just to inquire about my aligners. I wasn’t sure if maybe they had tried calling me and for some odd reason it didn’t connect. Or maybe the voicemail didn’t work. Or maybe they called the wrong Holliday…you never know!

Dee, friendly as usual, told me that Dr. Jacquie had taken a look at my 3D images, made some tweaks to them, and that this was why it was taking a bit longer for my aligners to come in. Okay, as long as everything was running smoothly, I could wait an extra few days.

Lo and behold, the next day, Dee called me back to tell me my aligners were ready!!!!! I made an appointment the next day and went straight to the office after work. I didn’t care that I would probably be late to my grad school class. This held much higher priority.

I was so excited to get to the office and finally get to start my treatment. It was Halloween, so all of the technicians were dressed up in different Angry Bird costumes which was pretty comical. I updated Dee on my wedding plans and showed her some pictures of my dress; she had shown me a picture of hers during my consultation. She said it was gorgeous and we kept talking about weddings, but it was hard to make serious conversation with her in that costume.

After that, another Angry Bird-esque technician led me to a room to show me my 3D images, how my teeth and bite would change, and to explain everything about the aligners (proper wear/care/etc). She told me that Dr. Jacquie actually ordered for me to have a couple more aligners than originally thought. But she also said that I would be able to keep them in for a shorter period of time; so instead of wearing each aligner for 2 weeks, I would be able to wear them for about 10 days each. So it wasn’t a terrible adjustment or extreme addition of time, but man, are my teeth screwed up or what?

She pulled up my images that had been taken the last time I was there, and then showed how, with the aligners, my teeth would shift and re-align into a beautiful configuration. She showed me views from the front of both top and bottom teeth, so this is how my smile would look eventually. She then showed aerial views of the top and then the bottom teeth; it was amazing to see how crooked my teeth and jaw started and then how perfectly straight and rounded they were by the end!

My online account with Dr. Jacquie’s office actually has these images and shows the progression, like a little movie! I even have the option to share on Facebook or send a link to someone who would actually care to see it. But instead, I took 4 screenshots of each view (front view and aerial views of both bottom and top) to give you an idea of the progression. The pictures show what my teeth look like at the beginning (aligner 1), how they will look in the middle of treatment (aligners 17 and 30), and what the final product will look like (aligner 46).

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 9.41.46 AM
Front view
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 9.48.13 AM
Bottom teeth aerial view
Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 9.53.30 AM
Top teeth aerial view

How freaking cool is that?! I watched the video about 5 times in a row for each view…and got so excited every time it got to the end!

The images at the office actually showed the attachments that will be put in place on my teeth for the rubberbands to fix my bite. I kind of freaked out a bit because the computer showed huge red pieces on my teeth. Umm you know I’m getting married in August, right? Oh, and, I also interact with people on a daily basis. So huge red things on my teeth will not exactly work for me.

“Don’t worry, I know the screen shows them as red, but they’re actually going to be tooth colored, so they won’t be noticeable.” Phew.

After she showed me these images, she took out my aligners from their little plastic bag and kind of explained the basics of how they are each labeled in case I mix them up. My top and bottom teeth are extremely different, so I have no trouble deciphering which is which, but I guess it was good to know. They also have the aligner number on them, so if all of my aligners at some point were to end up in a big pile, I would be able to group them with their corresponding aligner number.

She helped me pop in the bottom, had me pop in the top, and then had me pop them out to make sure I knew how to do it. It was kind of awkward and difficult because they were kind of tight, but other than that it was fine. I popped both back in and felt like a linebacker with a huge mouthguard in my mouth.

I know they’re clear and they aren’t as thick and huge as a sports mouthguard, but it was so foreign that I felt like my cheeks were all puffed out. She told me that it was going to feel weird at first but no one would really notice except me. “When you smile, they only make your teeth look shiny. Other than that, no one will notice.”

She went through the cleaning procedure, rules about not eating or drinking anything (except water) while they were in my mouth, and what to do when I progressed to the next aligner. She told me not to throw any of my aligners away.

“When you finish with a set of aligners and are ready to move on to the next set, clean the old ones really well and throw them back in the plastic ziplock back that they come in. This way, if for some reason your teeth do shift back a bit at any point, you can match up your teeth to one of the sets of aligners and wear them again to get them back to where they should be.” That makes sense!

During this entire spiel, my tongue was having a field day running along the smooth plastic of my aligners. I know that’s weird, but they were just so smooth! Plus, my mouth became really dry because A) I had rushed there after work, B) I was excited, C) I kept breathing out of my mouth because I felt like I couldn’t keep my mouth closed. Now, it’s not that they are thick or bulky or anything, but it was just a huge difference from what I was used to, so it felt like I couldn’t keep my mouth closed, if that makes sense. If not, oh well.

I was nervous about talking too; I remember one of my friends talking about how her aligners made her lisp a bit at first. “You may talk a little funny in the beginning, but your tongue will get used to them so it won’t be a problem.”

She sent me on my way with my first three sets of aligners, a couple tooth brushes, a travel toothpaste, and two cases for my aligners. I was very self-conscious because my mouth felt so awkward, so smiling was weird because I had no idea what I looked like.

Dee greeted me at the front desk again, asked how they felt, and set me up for my next appointment. I was told that I would be fitted for the attachments for the rubberbands at the next appointment, as well as receiving the next three sets of aligners.

So look forward to my next post about my first week with the aligners; I’ll give my first impressions, any complaints, as well as tips and pointers about Invisalign.