Every time I go to the dentist I get the floss lecture. It’s because my front lower teeth are crammed together like New York City subway riders. Now I dread the floss lecture, but what I dread even more is the scrape-ity scrape that the dental hygienist has to do to get the stuff out from between my crowded choppers.
So I finally decided to do something about it. I decided I’d get the lowers all sorted with braces of some sort. I researched and decided I liked the idea of Invisalign. I met with a highly recommended orthodontist for a consultation.
Invisalign is not for everyone. There are some issues that traditional braces work better for, but in my case, I was deemed to be a good candidate for Invisalign. After explaining how the treatment would work (including the rather surprising news that I would have to sacrifice a perfectly healthy front tooth to make room), I was sent home to think it over.
Two days later I called back for my appointment.
The first appointment involved making a mold of my teeth; uppers and lowers. If you have ever had a night guard made, it’s a very similar process. A wide plastic tray with dental “Play-doh” is inserted onto your teeth, allowed to harden and then removed. The company that makes Invisalign uses this to make the clear braces (trays), that will serve to straighten my teeth.
The next step was to go to my regular dentist and have a tooth extracted. If you have ever been to the dentist for a filling, let me tell you, this is way, way easier. A couple of shots of Novacane and it’s out before you know it. It took about 10 days to heal and required no effort on my part, except to rinse my mouth with salt water 2-3 times a day.
Six weeks later, and I am back in the good doctor’s chair. He is putting attachments on my teeth. The attachments help move certain teeth. They are tooth colored and look like tiny ivory buttons. The application process was fairly simple; my teeth were cleaned, a sour, slightly acidic solution was put on each tooth receiving an attachment, the attachment was, well, attached, and a heat lamp was used to dry it hard. This process took about 45 minutes and was not painful at all. The sour is very sour, though.
After the attachments were on, the hygienist took over and put my first set of trays on my teeth, explaining as she did so, how to put them in and care for them. She then removed them, again with detailed explanations. And then she watched me put them on and take them off myself before releasing me back into the universe.
I left with one set of trays in my mouth and two sets of follow up trays, with instructions to come back in six weeks.
The first tray was the most difficult for me, largely because of some unexpected issues that cropped up. I had researched online and was prepared for some things, including the fact that the first few days of a new tray, there will be some achy-pain, which can be remedied by over the counter pain meds. And that it would be challenging to remove the trays until I got the hang of it. What I was not prepared for was…
DROOL. Yes. Like a Saint Bernard dog. When I would reach into my mouth to remove the trays, pools of drool would exit my mouth. Rivers, even. It got to the point where I would need to put a wash cloth underneath my chin to catch the drool so it didn’t end up on my shirt. I don’t think everyone drools, but boy I sure did! As time wore on, the drool lessened significantly, but I still carry a clean washcloth with me, just in case.
CLAUSTROPHOBIC….TEETH????!!! Okay, so this was a really weird one. The first few days, my teeth felt trapped. Well, I guess they were, weren’t they? But I got a bit anxious about it and there were times I wanted to RIP the trays out of my mouth. So, to get over that I allowed myself 10 minute breaks during the day, until I got used to wearing them. The ironic thing is that two weeks later, my teeth feel naked without them and I cannot wait to put them back.
CINDY BRADY. Yes, I now sound like good ole Cindy Brady. ‘Thee thells thea thells by the thea thore…” I am told it is ‘cute’, but I find it annoying. Actually what I find annoying is that people think I am cute, but whatever. I am willing to lisp for a year if it means no more floss lecture.
Cleaning the trays is a matter of many opinions. Me? I put them in a small plastic container filled with water and a squirt or two of dish soap; pop the lid on and shake them for about 30 seconds, then rinse thoroughly with a clean cloth. I have found that this method keeps them fairly “funk free”, and does not discolor them.
My Invisalign kit goes everywhere I do; contains a small travel sized toothpaste, a manual tooth brush (I use an electric one at home), floss, a plastic cleaning container, travel sized mouthwash, my Invisalign case, and a clean washcloth/drool rag. If I am traveling out of town I also take my last set of trays, just in case the current ones break or get lost.
By the end of the first two weeks, I had gotten into the Invisalign groove; remove trays, consume food and drink, brusha brusha, flossa flossa, swisha swisha, clean trays and pop them back into their rightful home.
Me, showing off my bottom teeth, post sacrifice.