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 (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!