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 (7): Quick Update

Go to my Invisalign page to check out all posts on this journey!

I just wanted to give an update because the metal button on my left side has come off twice since my last post! It’s pretty frustrating when I have to make an “emergency” (AKA unexpected and I need it within the next couple days to keep my progress on track) appointment to fix the same problem. Multiple times!

I don’t know whether it has to do with the way I put in or take out my aligners each time. Maybe they rub on the left side and wear the bonding material down. Maybe there’s pressure put on it or something, causing it to pop off. Who knows?

The first time it happened, I had only had the metal buttons for about 4 weeks. The popping off occurred at some point between the time before dinner when I took my aligners out and after dinner. So I’m not 100% sure, but I think I may have swallowed it while eating my cheeseburger.

I went in after work the next day and my usual technician, Dee, put in another one. I don’t know if she was aware, but she ended up putting a larger button on than the original one. This one had a small hook to hold the rubber band in place, compared to the other one which was a a simple metal piece that stuck out a bit to hold the rubber band on.

Now, exactly 2 months after the original buttons had been attached, my left button fell off while I was sleeping! I woke up in the middle of the night feeling something moving around in my mouth, and sure enough my button popped off. Luckily (but potentially not!) because it was a bit bigger I didn’t swallow it, and the rubber band was still attached because of the way the hook holds it in place.

So I made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon to get this fixed. I will bring the button since I was able to save it, and I’m kind of curious to see whether she wants to use the same one or whether she’ll want to use a small one like on my right side.

Overall, I’m still seeing progress in my teeth; the gaps are still widening, but my teeth are also becoming straighter. As mentioned in my last post, I have also noticed that the glass attachments have been getting stained and discolored. It’s probably from drinking coffee every day, but I brush and floss my teeth after every stinking thing I eat or drink, so I don’t know why they’ve become so discolored. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the whitening treatment before my wedding!

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 (5): Attachments and Quick Update

Last month I went back to Dr. Jacquie’s office to get “attachments” put on my teeth. Since I’ll be needing rubberbands to fix my bite and a few teeth need to be moved more than the rest, there needs to be a bit stronger grip for my aligners to hold onto my teeth. The attachments are made from a glass-like material that is tooth-colored, so no one will be able to tell that they’re there, except for really up close.

I finally remembered to take pictures right before I put in a new set of aligners recently, so here they are! I took them with my phone so they aren’t the best quality, but that’s what I’ve got so far. I’ve taken a few of my teeth (with aligners, rubber bands, and metal buttons) but they are so unflattering and embarrassing, so I’m [not] sorry you won’t see those.Invisalign aligners

I didn’t get my usual technician, and unfortunately I wasn’t too happy with the one that I did get. She was not as personable and seemed very distracted the entire time I was there, which was kind of disconcerting and frustrating due to the nature of my appointment.

After 10 minutes of waiting for her to get things together, she started filling an aligner with this glue-y glass stuff that would end up attaching to my teeth. It was time to put the aligner moulds on my teeth so that the glue-like glass composite could be bonded to my teeth. She spread some stuff on my teeth, I assume some sort of bonding agent for the glue to take hold of, and then put the moulds in. A special UV light was held to the spots where the attachment was placed, and this was probably the most frustrating part. The light gets kind of hot, and it’s hard to hold your mouth and lips open for a long period of time, especially because of the placement of the attachments.

All of that with the fact that the technician was distracted made for a painful experience. She kept looking out the door and watching whatever was going on out in the hall rather than paying attention to this hot tool she was holding to my mouth. And of course it moved on occasion because she wasn’t watching, so my lips and gums felt like they were getting burned! When I moved and made a pained face, she would look back to me and said, “Hold on; just a little longer.” She finally decided to hold my lip away from the light, and then at one point she said, “Wow, that is hot! I just touched my finger to it!” Oh, really?!

After this, it was time to remove the moulds to make sure the attachments stayed on my teeth. I thought it would be as easy as removing a regular aligner, but it was so difficult! I felt like I was going to pull out my teeth, so she helped me a bit. When they finally popped off, my teeth felt so strange, like there were rocks on them. And they hurt. When I would bite down there were some parts of the attachments that I was biting down on, so I asked whether they were going to break off. She had Dee, my regular technician, come in and check; she reassured me that although they felt bulky now they would wear down with time. “Dr. Jacquie also prescribes more attachments than you need, so that way if one does come off, you don’t need to come in for an emergency appointment.” She explained more in 30 seconds than the other girl did in 15 minutes!

So then I put my new set of aligners (#4) on my teeth and the girl was ready to get me out of there. She gave me my next 6 aligners, so I wouldn’t need to come back for two months. I made my new appointment and talked wedding with Dee for a bit before leaving. On my way home I realized nothing was mentioned about rubber bands…

Later than evening, when I took the aligners off for dinner, one of the attachment pieces came off; it’s a good thing Dee told me it wasn’t a big deal. I called about rubber bands the next day and was informed that I wouldn’t be getting rubber bands just yet.

Here’s a picture similar to what my teeth look like, except it’s much better quality than any of the pictures I’ve taken; you can see the circled areas are the attachments.

Invisalign glass attachments

I am currently wearing aligner #6 and I can tell a difference in my teeth! Unfortunately, it’s mostly because there is now a huge gap between my back molars on the top left side. And food notoriously gets stuck there now, a problem I did not have before. Floss is my new best friend.

I have also noticed that I have been clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth more since getting the aligners (not sure why, but I think it’s just the new-ness of the aligners), causing frequent jaw pain and difficulty opening my mouth. Like, it hurts to fully yawn because my jaw hurts and sometimes locks at a certain point when opening my mouth. I looked into getting a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent this, but they all caution not to use if you have braces or other dental hardware. Bummer.

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 (2): Consultation, Cost, and 3D Scan

If you haven’t already done so, read my first post about my Invisalign journey here!

So now that I had my consultation scheduled, I was really pumped. Normally the consultation would be free, which is great. However, mine was $75 since I did not have a panoramic X-ray of my mouth taken within the past year (or ever).

So when I walked in for my consultation, I met the technician (let’s call her Dee seeing as I don’t know how cool it would be to actually use names other than Dr. Jacquie. And Holliday.) that I had corresponded with over email and phone, and she was just as pleasant in person. I learned that she was planning her wedding for next September, so we bonded over that; we talked about planning and dresses and all that good stuff. She took my panoramic X-ray and then brought Dr. Jacquie to see me.

Now I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about Dr. Jacquie. Although all of the press about her was great, I was unsure as to whether she would be some fake and impersonal woman. I mean, who knows? Maybe she let the fame (she was featured on The Tyra Banks Show) and recognition (she’s an Elite Preferred Provider and in the top 1% of North American providers) get to her head.

But I was pleasantly proved wrong! The moment she walked into the room, she said she was glad to finally meet me, congratulated me on my engagement, and she was completely genuine! And she had a great smile herself.

Plus, she used creamsicle flavored gloves when she felt around my teeth and gums. Bonus!

She said that I had great teeth, my X-ray looked perfect, and they were going to not only straighten my teeth, but I had a pretty bad overbite. “You hide it well because your front top teeth are pushed back, so there isn’t the obvious gap between the top and bottom teeth.” She said it almost as a compliment…I was tempted to say ‘thank you.’ I mentioned that I had jaw pain and clicking a lot and she said that my bad bite is most likely the reason. Well, cool.

But I guess it could be worse. I could look like this dog with a crazy overbite.

So overall, my treatment would be 18 months; the first 6 months were mostly just to straighten and align my teeth. She said that they would be beautifully straight for my wedding in August! Then the last 12 months were going to focus on fixing my bite. She even explained to me how my bite had formed so unevenly using one of the fake sets of top and bottom teeth in her office. She was very clear and thorough about it and how the treatment would fix this.

Now, ironically, to fix my bite, she told me I would have to wear rubberbands connecting my top and bottom jaws. I have to say, I’m not as excited about the rubberbands as I might have been say back in middle school. I wonder if they make glow-in-the-dark ones…

They went over the price once my treatment plan was explained, including overall price and monthly payments. Now obviously everyone’s treatment cost is different based upon the length of time and necessary work. My whole treatment was going to be $7500 because of the extensive amount of time with my jaw needing fixing. They could just straighten my teeth, but without the bite alignment, the teeth wouldn’t sit correctly and this would compromise how straight my teeth would be in the end and could ultimately make my jaw pain worse.

She also said that since I was getting married, they would include a whitening treatment so that my teeth looked extra gorgeous for my wedding. And, they were going to give me an extra set of my last aligners so that I didn’t have to buy a whole separate set of retainers at the end of my treatment. Great!

I didn’t make the decision to go ahead right then and there; I wanted to talk it over with Tom before I just said, “Yeah, I’ll spend $7500 on myself.” They told me it was fine, that I could just call them after I had made the decision. So Tom and I talked and agreed that it would be worth the investment. I called the office right away and scheduled an appointment to create my aligners.

Fast forward one week to my first official appointment. Dee brought me into another room this time with a large computer-like contraption. This machine was going to take pictures of my teeth from all angles and create a 3D image of them. From these 3D images, Dr. Jacquie would determine how each tooth needed to be shifted, and how my bite would be fixed. The aligners would then be made using these images. (This picture is not mine, but that is the machine and how the images look during the procedure.)

How cool is that?! The procedure was a bit uncomfortable for a few reasons. First, it blows out cool air the entire time to prevent the camera from fogging up, so it dries your mouth out like crazy. Plus, I have some sensitive parts of my teeth and gums, so there were times when I wanted to cry out in pain because the cool air was killing me. Finally, your mouth has to be open uncomfortably wide for an extended period of time while they get every angle of every tooth. The molars were a killer to get good pictures of.

But it was cool seeing my two sets of teeth as 3D images on the screen when she was finished. It was annoying because they looked even more crooked and uneven without my skin to cover them up. But then again, they will be straight and pretty soon enough; that’s why I was there!

She then took a bunch of pictures of my teeth and bite with an old-fashioned (old-fashioned in comparison to the large contraption I just had prodding my mouth) digital camera. I assume those will be the “before” shots for the before-and-after pictures. I can’t wait to see how much my teeth change! 

Dee said that it would take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to get the first three sets of aligners, but as soon as they arrived they would call me and get me an appointment so I could start my treatment ASAP.

Next post will talk about getting my aligners; I’ll include the actual 3D images of my teeth, too! Get excited! I know I am!