Invisalign Journey (15): Retainers

Okay, okay so my last post seemed like the official end of my Invisalign Journey. But, I just got my retainers today, so I wanted to share some info about them because I feel like they are just as important to the process as everything else.

I never understood and still don’t understand why people don’t wear their retainers after spending tons of time and money on braces. Classmates, friends, and students I’ve taught had traditional metal braces for years and years as kids to achieve straight, beautiful teeth.

They would complain and complain that they couldn’t eat certain foods (popcorn, anyone?) or chew gum (although most broke this rule). They hated smiling because of the metal in their mouths. God help them when their cheek or lip got caught and cut on a piece of their braces. They were pumped when the day came that they could finally be rid of the metal tracks and wires. Other than the monthly change of rubber band colors, braces were a topic of disdain.

And as soon as the braces came off, they were always talking about how they never used their retainers. And after only a few months, it was obvious because their teeth started shifting back to a more crooked (albeit not as crooked as before braces) position.

I forget who said this to me, maybe it was Dr. Jacquie herself, but teeth are meant to be in a certain position. She compared it to our hair: even when you straighten naturally curly or wavy hair, as soon as it gets wet, it’s going to kink right back up. (You could also use the same analogy for straight hair and curling it). The same goes for teeth; they have a predetermined place, and even if you straighten them with braces, without maintaining that position (with a retainer!!!), over time they will shift right back to where they started.

I have been wearing my Invisalign almost every day for the past 2 years now. For the past two months, I’ve worn my aligners at night as retainers because I don’t want all of the amazing work to be undone just because of my laziness or dislike of having aligners in. Plus, they weren’t cheap, so I don’t want to just throw that money away!

I mentioned in my last post about getting retainers. Sure enough, I purchased 4 sets of retainers by Vivera through a Black Friday deal that my orthodontist’s office sent out. The retainers came out to $800 for 4 sets (4 uppers, 4 lowers) which is amazing since two sets is normally about $1500. I went to Dr. Jacquie’s office in midtown earlier in December to get my teeth rescanned so my retainers were up to date with my current teeth alignment. Two weeks later, the office called to tell me my retainers were in. So quick!

They asked if I wanted the thinner or thicker retainers; the thinner ones were just like the aligners I’ve had throughout this entire process. I chose the thicker retainers because I figured they will probably hold up better and last longer. You can see the difference in opacity of my most recent aligner (right) and the retainer (left).

IMG_6460

And the color – ew. It’s pretty gross since I brush the aligners every single night before I put them in. That just shows how much they stain even when you are cleaning them and only wearing them for (optimistically) 8 hours every night for about four months. The set of retainers came with a few samples of Invisalign’s aligner cleaner, so I’ll try those out. I contemplated but never tried a denture cleaner with my aligners before so we’ll see how that works out.

I got a new case too, which is nice since the original two are over two years old and have gotten grimey even with cleaning.

retainer

A note: the reason my old upper aligner is shorter is because I had a temporary crown put in about two months back, and they told me not to use my Invisalign with it. I wasn’t about to just not wear my aligners, so I cut the back two teeth off so my aligners didn’t affect the temporary crown.uppers lowers

So this is it. For real this time. These aligners will hopefully last me a couple years. Feel free to ask any questions you have about the process, or just check out all of my other Invisalign posts…there are 14 more of them!!!

My Invisalign Journey (11): Re-scanning and polishing my teeth!

Holliday Harrigan smile wedding Invisalign

I have not had aligners in during the day for over a month now. Let me tell you, it’s been great!

Without wearing my aligners, I can have a snack whenever I get hungry. I don’t have to spend an extra 5 minutes in the bathroom after each meal to brush and floss my teeth, and then brush my aligners. And obviously it’s great being able to just smile and talk to people without them looking at your aligners or rubber bands.

But at the same time, I have been itching to get back into the office to get my teeth re-scanned for new aligners. The longer I go without them, the longer my treatment will be. I’ve been wearing my last aligner every single night so that my progress doesn’t move backwards and I got beautiful wedding photos with fabulously white and straight teeth. And now I’m ready to finish out my treatment so that I can just be done!

Tom and Holliday Harrigan wedding smile aisle husband wife

So today’s visit was my post-wedding re-scan because the aligners I wore in the months leading up to the wedding became progressively more ill-fitting – you can read about that in my 9th Invisalign post.

I was greeted by Dee, my usual technician, and she asked how the wedding was and if I had pictures with me. I didn’t have them handy at the moment, so I said I would show her next visit since I would be back very soon. Then I went back to the patient rooms/spaces to get the procedure started.

Dr. Jacquie came over and congratulated me and asked to see pictures. I had had a bit of wait time to pull some up from Facebook, so I showed her and she requested I send her a couple so that she could post them on her website. Cool! (Also, shout-out to Jon Baek for his amazing photography skills!)

She said that they were going to re-scan my teeth (so the same procedure that I went through before getting my aligners) but that she wanted to polish my front few teeth first. I thought she meant clean them, like they do at the dentist. But basically, she reshaped my front teeth, so I no longer have little divots and chips in them! I’ve always noticed them growing up, but never thought that anything could be done without ruining my teeth.

Polished front teeth

I’m still getting used to them because I’ve always been used to seeing the rounded teeth with little bumps and grooves, but I honestly think they look great!

After that, one of the technicians did the scanning and then took pictures of my smile, similar to the initial photos they took in the beginning of my treatment. My new aligners should be in within the next month, so I’m excited to start it back up…especially because I have been snacking more but hitting the gym less!