Since my wisdom teeth came in over ten years ago, I have been relatively unhappy with my smile. I spent a good 3+ years in braces through middle school to only have those years nearly erased by shifting teeth. Looking at pictures of myself, especially in the last few years, I noticed that I wasn’t really smiling with my teeth anymore. All photos had me either open mouthed and excited (blocking much of my teeth), smiling with my mouth closed, or kind of zoomed out and only on one side of my mouth.
When I turned 30 earlier this year, I decided to start looking into smile fixes, specifically Invisalign. I have seen several of my friends and favorite bloggers (Peanut Butter Fingers and A Healthy Slice of Life) find success with the process and thought it could work for me too. They also mention that many of their patients are former braces-wearers and just want to get back to the perfect smile. Before I could have a consultation, I had to have a LOT of dental work done. While I don’t grind my teeth, I do clench my jaw. Needless to say, it has left my back teeth riddled with tiny cavities that I had to have fixed (around 13 in all!!!). My mouth has been poked, prodded, drilled, filled and SORE for the last two months!
When I finished all the dental work, it was time for my Invisalign consult. I had those NASTY molds taken of my teeth and in two weeks, a digital week-to-week mock up of the treatment process was presented to me. It was really cool to see a computer generation of my current smile to what it could look like 22 weeks later! While the finished product was much better than what I am currently working with, it wasn’t perfect. My front two teeth are a bit bigger and lower than the rest of my teeth (though not as bad as when I was a kid… flash backs of those spaced buck teeth… yikes!). And while Invisalign closed the gap and straightened them out, the lengths of my teeth were still relatively different from tooth to tooth. Not to mention, Invisalign is NOT cheap. I knew that going in, but WOW, lol.
I decided to do more research on my own and look at patient reviews from people with similar issues as mine. I was very surprised to see that while their providers recommended Invisalign and put them through the months (and even years) of treatment only to have to get traditional braces later to actually fix their smiles! A few people mentioned that unless you are only dealing with crowding or gaps, you should go through an orthodontist. They are more trained to work with moving teeth around than traditional dentists. So, I called a local orthodontist.
I did not have the best experience with my orthodontist back in the day. With a few exceptions, everyone there was miserable! The hygienists were rough and not personable. The orthodontist was about 10 years PAST when he should have retired and barely paid attention to what he was doing (seriously, he always watched TV while working on you and dropped things on you because he got distracted… not fun). BUT coming from a small town, there wasn’t really a choice for where to go. And all in all, the finished product was great and for about 5 years after, life was good!
The orthodontist I found was NIGHT AND DAY a different experience… even from the moment I called. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. They seemed genuinely happy to be there and to be helping their patients. I went through all my concerns and what I had researched about Invisalign vs. braces etc. They also confirmed much of what I had read about braces being a better option for me. Since I am getting married in a month and a half, I was concerned about my smile and wanted to get a start to maybe improve my smile by then… but I did NOT want braces in my pictures (call me vain, but #sorrynotsorry). They mentioned that braces could help move my teeth faster for more improvement by then AND they could remove them right before the wedding and put them back on after the honeymoon. SOLD!
Braces have come a good amount of way since I had them almost 20 years ago. I have ceramic ones which are relatively clear aside from the bar going across (which right now is thicker than it will be when the braces get put back on). The gap in my front two teeth is already GONE… and it hasn’t even been a week yet! Unfortunately, since they are trying to do a lot in a short amount of time, I was warned I will be in a good amount of pain and for much longer than if I was just getting regular braces in a normal timeline. Since I have been in and out of the dentist a LOT in the last few months, not being able to eat normal food has been pretty much the norm… only now I also have to be careful with the braces, not just pain. But I am very excited to see where my teeth will be in October for the wedding, and then again in a year or so when I finish up!
Have you had braces or Invisalign?
How old were you?
Any two (or three+) timers with orthodontics?