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!
Hey, hey! It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my Invisalign and I’m pretty sure I’m nearing the very end! My next appointment is less than a month away and I think it’ll be my last, so I don’t really know what to expect.
Since my last post, I have gotten into the habit of smiling at myself in the mirror more when brushing my teeth because they are so stinking straight! I’ve taken a couple pictures of myself (and I’m not one for selfies) to show the difference and of course I’m hypercritical of myself and can point out the fact that my right canine tooth is longer than the other, and my top teeth kind of slant in terms of how long they are yada yada yada. BUT, comparing what they looked like almost 18 months ago in my initial photos to now is phenomenal.
Like I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t needed to use rubber bands, so it’s been a lot easier dealing with the aligners these past couple months. One of the pictures below is with my aligners and the other is without…can you tell which one is which? It’s probably easier having pictures that are up-close and personal [don’t mind the nose hair – we all have it. At least it’s clear of foreign stuff.]. I’m sure if they were farther away you wouldn’t be able to tell.
I will say how awesome it is that no one can tell that I have braces. There have been so many times at school when I have to run to the bathroom to brush my teeth and students ask why I have toothpaste. When I tell them I have braces and need to brush after every meal, they’re surprised because they couldn’t tell. Score!
The aligners haven’t been too uncomfortable on the first couple days of each new set. But I have noticed that my teeth are kind of sensitive when I remove the aligners; it’s almost as if the repeated motion of pulling them off the same way hundreds of times has worn down some of the enamel, causing some sensitivity upon removal. It’s like the discomfort when you drink something cold and your teeth hurt for a few seconds afterwards. Make sense?
That’s all until my next appointment in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed and thumbs up that I’ll be finished with getting new aligners and will only have to use them at night as retainers!
So if you read my last Invisalign post, you’ll know that I was not too happy with the way my aligners were fitting. I went to my orthodontist’s office on Thursday, and I’m happy with how it went. I decided to try out vlogging (video blogging) my experience, so if you’re interested, check out the video! Feel free to leave questions in the comments of this post or the video!
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.
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!
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.
I have been snacking less (see Complaint #1) which is good because I am a snacker.
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.
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.
This may also be a paranoia thing, but I feel like my face looks puffier with my aligners in.
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.
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.
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, justleave 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.
Stock up on travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrushes. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.
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.
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.
See Tip #2. If it’s just a couple of hours, just leave them at home.
I can be forgetful sometimes, so making sure I have my BOG with me when I know I’ll need it can be trouble.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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!
I started using my first set of Invisalign liners yesterday! I figured I would document my journey with them so maybe I can help someone decide they want to give them a whirl. And also because I’m so pumped to see my teeth and bite transform and improve and become beautiful!!
So let’s start from the beginning: my choice to get Invisalign and the process of finding a provider.
I’ve been wanting braces since I was in middle school. Back then, everyone was getting them. But they were expensive and I never had dental insurance, so it was not an option. I guess I would say my teeth aren’t horribly crooked, but they aren’t straight. And my two front top teeth are noticeably larger than my other teeth because of the crooked way they are positioned.
Aside from their purpose in straightening teeth and correcting bites, the other great thing about those braces were the fun rubberbands. Do you remember how cool the rubberbands seemed as a kid? I was always jealous when one of my friends came to school with a new set of colored rubberbands! They usually coincided an upcoming holiday (green and red for Christmas) or they were the person’s favorite color. And don’t even get me started on the glow-in-the-dark ones!
And then, in high school, people started getting their metal braces taken off, revealing straight teeth and beautiful smiles. As if the rubberbands weren’t enough, the end product of years with braces made me even more jealous.
Since middle and high school are deemed “normal” times to have metal braces, after graduating from high school, the idea of metal braces was out of the question for me. I know there were those “tooth-colored” ceramic braces and they have come a long way over the years, but they still weren’t ideal.
I remember a teacher in elementary school with these “clear” braces, but they actually made her teeth look really yellow. And they still had the metal wire, so there really was no concealing the fact that she had braces. Nowadays the ceramic braces come with white wires to make them less noticeable (see comparison below) but they’re still kind of obvious.
Luckily within the past 10 years, the creation and improvement of clear aligners makes straight teeth without metal or an off-white appearance an option.
Except it’s still expensive. I have encountered a few people throughout the years who have been able to afford the multi-thousand dollar service and have said that it was totally worth every penny. But realistically I just could not afford it. Other than improving my self-confidence, they didn’t seem necessary.
But through the years, I knew that I wanted to have straight teeth for my future wedding, whenever that actually happened. So when I got engaged this summer, it was time to seriously contemplate whether I was going to take the plunge and get Invisalign. Tom and I talked about it and agreed that I should do it, so I began doing my research of local Invisalign providers.
“Coincidentally,” Groupon actually sent me a deal for a certain amount off an Invisalign treatment. As tempting as that was, I figured it would be a good idea to look further into this “deal”. I found a bunch of negative reviews and “buyer bewares” from people:
the provider offering the discount was not a recognized Invisalign provider (Invisalign “trained” instead of “certified”)
the provider offering the discount was new to the field and was pretty much trying to get more patients
treatment might not even use Invisalign liners
provider might try to push other services before actual Invisalign treatment is allowed
Check out this article I found about avoiding Groupons for Invisalign treatment. Among other things, the author explains that “it’s illegal for orthodontists and dentists to engage in fee-splitting activities…”
So I decided against the Groupon thing; these are my teeth and I don’t want to mess with them just to save money. So I went to the Invisalign website and looked at New York City providers. Providers are rated based on how many Invisalign patients they have treated (Elite, Premier, Preferred, and General Provider) as well as whether they are included in the top 1% of North America Invisalign providers.
I chose one of the best: Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling. She is an Elite Preferred Provider as well as in the top 1% of providers, so I figured if anyone could give me a great smile, she could. Plus she had multiple offices throughout the NYC and Long Island area, so I figured that multiple locations meant that this lady knew her stuff and was doing really well in the world of orthodontia.
Further research of her proved my assumptions: everyone had nothing but great things to say about her, her team, and their successful treatments.
I contacted her office and scheduled my consultation with her midtown office. So (as long as I felt good about Dr. Jacquie and her team, the price wasn’t too extreme, and it seemed do-able) I had a provider!
My next post will be about my consultation and first official appointment, so keep your eyes posted!