My Invisalign Journey (12): Back to the Invisalign life!

After 4 months without aligners, I am back to the Invisalign life. Since getting married, I have not had anything on my teeth during the daytime, so it’s been weird getting used to having aligners in all the time again. It’s been two weeks since my appointment and I’ve noticed how difficult it is to go back to brushing and flossing after every meal. Especially as a teacher because there is only so much free time to do so.

And the holidays! I mean, I want to just keep eating everything, so why should I bother wasting toothpaste and time just to take my aligners out soon after?!

So needless to say I’ve been slacking pretty bad on keeping my aligners in for the recommended 22 hours per day during these past two weeks. During workdays, I probably only wear them 18 hours because of the lack of time after a meal to get to the bathroom and properly brush and floss. I mean, it usually takes the better part of 5 minutes – we don’t have that kind of time between classes!

So when I went to my orthodontist and sat down in the chair to get my aligners put in, I thought I was getting the whole shebang – attachments, metal buttons, aligners, and rubber bands. I thought for sure I would be there for about an hour for the whole process.

But when my technician got my aligners out and I put them in, they felt amazing! For the past few months, I’ve only been wearing my last set of aligners to bed to make sure my teeth didn’t shift from their new starting position.

My last set (pre-wedding) didn’t fit properly in August, and because Dr. Jacquie polished my teeth during my last visit in September, my old aligners were like clown shoes on my teeth. Not like putting actual shoes on my teeth because that’s just silly, but the way they fit were like…you get the point. You can actually see a picture of it in my last Invisalign post here.

So it was awesome when they snapped on and were totally unnoticeable when I looked in the mirror. Dee, my trusty technician, said, “Okay that’s it. I’m going to give you 11 sets so you won’t have to come back for 4 months.”

That’s it? Really? She said that I was done with my attachments and now it was just about small shifts in my teeth. Hallelujah!!!!

So after about 5 minutes in the chair, I was done. Just like that! And no one has noticed at all because they fit so well! High five!

My next appointment isn’t until the first week in April, so hopefully we’ll see a difference! My teeth look great at the moment (not to brag, but compared to what they looked like before Invisalign, I think I can say it) but they are still a little off-center when I smile, so they just need to shift to fix that.

My Invisalign Journey (4): Thoughts, Tips, and Complaints

Read posts one, two, and three to get an idea of the beginning steps of the Invisalign process!

Now that I’ve had my aligners for over a month, I have a few thoughts and tips to pass on. I also figured you might want to hear my complaints, so I included those too; if not, oh well.

Thoughts:

  1. I have been snacking less (see Complaint #1) which is good because I am a snacker.
  2. My teeth have whitened dramatically! Seeing as I have to brush my teeth after every meal, there is no room for coffee or other food stains, or plaque/tartar build-up.
  3. I feel as though people are looking at my mouth a lot more while I talk, which makes me self-conscious. Can they tell I’m wearing aligners? Do I look dumb? Do I sound like I have plastic in my mouth? I’ve mentioned this to a few people and they said that I’m probably just more aware of where people are gazing. Or that I’m just paranoid.
  4. This may also be a paranoia thing, but I feel like my face looks puffier with my aligners in.
  5. It’s cool when the aligners start popping on and off more easily. The tight fit of a new aligner is uncomfortable and lasts for the first few days. By day 5 or so I can tell that my teeth have shifted because the aligner is not as tight and difficult to get on and off.

Tips:

  1. Listen when they tell you to brush your aligners. This may sound silly, but when they tell you to brush your aligners, really brush your aligners. The first few times I went to brush my teeth and aligners after eating, I kind of just ran my toothpasted toothbrush along the aligners and popped them back in. However, the third or fourth time, I held them up to the light and realized that gunk had built up in the crevices and along the edges. Your mouth has so much bacteria, no matter how good you brush your teeth or how many times per day, so make sure you really scrub the aligners inside and out, paying attention to the little divots in the teeth imprints.
  2. If you’re going out for an evening or event that you know you’ll be consuming food and drinks on and off the majority of the time, just leave your aligners at home. I went to Boston to visit a friend the first weekend after getting my aligners and it was such a pain. We went out Saturday evening for some drinks, so I just left my aligners at her place since I wouldn’t be able to keep them in if I was going to eat or drink anything.
  3. Stock up on travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrushes. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.

Complaints:

  1. Having to brush your teeth every time you consume anything but water is annoying for a few reasons:
    • Knowing you have to brush your teeth and aligners after eating means you need that extra 5 minutes after a meal/snack.
    • A bathroom is a necessary amenity after eating to brush your teeth and aligners, so this can limit when and where you can eat. When I was in Boston, we were at Quincy Market during lunch time on Saturday. If you’ve ever been to Quincy Market, you know there are literally hundreds of food choices there. However, they only have one public bathroom…and the line was literally 50 women long. So we had to pick a restaurant with a bathroom that I could use to brush my aligners. And go pee.
    • Small treats and impromptu snacks are less of a pleasure knowing you can’t just pop them in your mouth when you want and be on your merry way.
  2. Having to bring your aligner case, a toothbrush, and toothpaste everywhere. I put them all in a small ziplock bag which I’ll call my “bag of goodies” or BOG.
  3. See Tip #2. If it’s just a couple of hours, just leave them at home.
  4. I can be forgetful sometimes, so making sure I have my BOG with me when I know I’ll need it can be trouble.
  5. Exhibit A: Tom and I went to have dinner at our friends’ place two weeks ago and I forgot my BOG, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. Before eating I took my aligners out, rinsed them in the bathroom, wrapped them in a tissue, and stuck them in my purse. After dinner, our friend said, “Holliday, you have Invisalign, right?” I thought it was a random question until I noticed he was holding one of my aligners. Turns out that their dog likes to rip up tissues, so as soon as he saw the tissue peeking out of my purse, he went for it. Thank goodness he doesn’t like ripping up plastic teeth aligners. We found both of them unscathed, I rinsed and wrapped them again, and then zipped them in my purse so no puppies could get them.aligner case
  6. My mouth has been very dry because of the frequent brushing, so I’ve been drinking more water.
    • Pro: That’s healthy.
    • Con: I’ve been going pee a lot. But if you know me, that’s pretty normal.
  7. The first couple days of a new aligner are usually filled with headaches and toothaches; the tight fit and pressure just make for an achy head and mouth.

I have my next appointment today, so I will let you know how the whole ‘attaching-the-attachment-for-rubberbands’ process works out. And hopefully I’ll have some sweet glow-in-the-dark rubberbands to show off. Do you think they come chocolate-flavored?

I’ll also ask to see if I can get my hands on those pictures she took of my teeth and bite since I haven’t taken any!

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.