So…I’m on a 52 week journey to (I hope) perfectly straight teeth.
The entire process involved lots of prep work, 26 aligners to be changed every 2 weeks, some discomfort, a little over $3,600, and time off work for follow up visits every few months.
The goal is to close a gap and correct an overbite. My orthodontist said bio-mechanics and function are more important than vanity. I told her “Umm…I can chew just fine. My decision to spend nearly $4,000 is for cosmetic purpose only.” She probably wanted to karate chop me.
I chose Invisalign over braces because they are more visually appealing to me, and I “heard” they were easier and painless. Psssh! That last part is a crock.
When the technician put the first set of aligners in my mouth, it felt like a vice grip on my teeth. Dude, I thought this wasn’t supposed to hurt!?! After a few hours, the pain subsided. But then…
It was time to eat.
Side Note: For most effective results, I’m supposed to wear the aligners for 22 hours per day. Those 2 hours of freedom are for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. I cannot eat or drink ANYTHING, except water, unless I remove the aligners first. No problem, right? Ha.
The first time I tried to remove the aligners, I thought my brain was going to explode. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but tooth pain might be the death of me. It radiates to my head then throughout my ENTIRE body. So imagine ALL of my teeth hurting at once. Lawd!
I stood over the bathroom sink with saliva running down my chin, the aligners halfway on and halfway off, and tears forming in my eyes. I looked in the mirror and cursed MYSELF out – in the past, present, AND future for good measure. Whoever said beauty is worth pain, they ain’t worth the ink on their birth certificate!
After a good 10 minutes, I finally removed them and I was ready to grub. I think my first meal was a steak burrito. I bit down into that little piece of heaven called a sandwich and thought I was going to pass out. My teeth were so sore, I couldn’t even chew rice, much less steak. Lawd, but I was HONGRY!!
I gave my daughter the burrito – it seems she’s benefiting the most from this process – and made myself a green smoothie instead. After I DRANK my dinner, brushed and flossed my teeth, and reinserted the aligners, I vowed to never eat again. EVER.
The next 2-3 days were more of the same, plus ibuprofen. As long as I kept the aligners in, I could deal. I’d go looooooooong stretches without eating, but when my stomach threatened to cause an uprising, I had to prepare for battle. One time, I was removing the aligners and had memories of Scandal when Huck removed Quinn’s front teeth with dirty pliers. In comparison, my situation felt worse because it was slow and self-inflicted. I’m convinced, the little buttons on my teeth that hold the aligners in place were creations of the devil. Ugh!
By day 5, either my teeth shifted into position with the aligners or my brain adapted to the pain. Probably the latter because it doesn’t hurt anymore. But due to the 22 hour rule, I still only remove them when it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary. And whenever I remove them, I use the stopwatch on my iPhone to make sure I don’t exceed 2 hours per day. If I go over (usually when out socializing), I cut a meal short the next day to make up time.
On the bright side, my habits have changed significantly.
I’m more mindful of what I eat and when I eat. Because of soreness, I don’t eat a lot of meat or anything chewy or sticky. Also, because of the effort it takes to eat (removing aligners, chewing food, brushing, flossing, cleaning aligners, etc.) I rarely, if ever, snack in between meals. Never thought I’d say this, but a cookie isn’t worth it. And finally, because I’m concerned about plaque build up on my teeth from wearing the aligners 22 hours per day, I eat very few sweets and only drink water (with an occasional glass of wine). My regular dentist would be proud.
My oral hygiene is also on point. I carry a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss with me everywhere I go. Before every meal, I sneak into a restroom to remove, rinse, clean and store my aligners. When I’m eating at home, I let them soak in a solution of warm water and peroxide to kill bacteria and keep them clean. Immediately after every meal, I brush, floss, and reinsert my aligners. When I’m at home, I also gargle with peroxide to kill bacteria. Rinse and repeat 3+ times each day.
I was given 5 sets of aligners until my next ortho appointment. Each set of aligners are worn for two weeks and I plan to take pics at the end of each set. In a few days, I will begin set 2. I’m prepared for the discomfort this time, so I’ll change them at night before bed, pop two ibuprofen, and eat a liquid diet for a few days.
By set 10, I’m sure I will have this process down to a science with minimal discomfort. If not, I’ll just curse myself every 2 weeks until July 2016. Oh, the price of beauty. :-)