*Warning – no photo I use for this or any other blog about my teeth will be at a good angle. All photos will be me trying to center on my teeth and it’ll be weird as shit*
Tuesday 16th October, 2018. I, a grown-ass adult, got braces. Sure, I chose the “grown up” version of braces, but I still got them. I weighed the cost versus the severe dislike of my mouthal appearance and the long-term benefit of actually being able to get floss between my snaggled maw, and I went in and got the Invisalign treatment. (The whole process to get the treatment is about 6 weeks of consults, scans, and waiting for the aligners to be made and sent to the clinic).
I had done a lot of research before hand, and having had metal “train track” braces as a kid/teen, I knew the kind of discomfort I’d be in for. I was just hoping it would not be anywhere near as bad as the metal braces. Some people had pretty positive experiences with their metal ones. Mine was a nightmare. My mouth never got use to having the wires in there so some mornings I’d wake up covered in my own blood from having my mouth torn to shreds. My wires would break, I’d have massive crippling migraines whenever they were tightened, and my orthodontist was a rude piece of shit who hated teens and women. In theory, Invisalign 15 years later should surely be a better experience.
Like I said, I did a bit of research before I went in, and that research included looking up different Orthodontists in my state. Turns out there was one right near my house that had rave reviews, great feedback, and a few people I knew personally had been there for one thing or another. My Orthodontist solely does cosmetic work, so the people who see him want to see him. He is young and will probably never get bitter because his clients are there for his help to make them feel beautiful – not because they have a cavity that’s killing them.
This went a long way to making me feel comfortable and like I’d made the right choice. He walked me through everything, was super gentle when doing the laser scan, polishing, and glue adhesive for my aligners nodes. He listened when I said the glue removal in 10-12 months will probably give me a panic attack because I’ve never recovered from my first braces experience. On my final appointment with him and once he’d finished explaining (literally everything) to me, I went on my merry way with plastic wrapped teeth.
I’m on my second set of aligners (out of 20) and so far the experience has been pretty pleasant comparatively. Here are a few things I’ve learned during the first 11 days of having them:
They’re nowhere near as bad as the metal braces I had for 4.5 years, but they still suck for the first 3 days.
There’s still pain/tension as the teeth of your roots move. There’s a 2-3 days adjustment period as the aligners settle and you teeth get use to the tighter mouth pieces encapsulating each tooth. It is even more uncomfortable when you have to chew a little yellow rubber “aligner tray seater” to make sure the aligners are sitting on your teeth properly.
Your mouth will be covered in ulcers as they adjust to the plastic in your mouth
Yes, this includes ulcers on and under your tongue. The insides of my cheeks had what I started to refer to as my “scar flaps”. They were two long ulcerous scars that followed the lines where my aligners touched my cheeks and they stayed there, vividly and flappingly for about a week. Bonjela is better than SM33 for the ulcers, simply because it is clear and doesn’t stain the aligners. It tastes like aniseed though, so be warned.
When someone tells you that the aligners get grim… they mean it.
I thought “My mouth is pretty clean! I’m brushing my teeth 3 times a day and floss every time I eat! I’m not consuming food unless I know I have a toothbrush! There’s no way they’ll get gross!” Please believe me. They get gross, and the whole thing is super grim. Despite what all the trademarked advice says, invest in gentle denture cleaner tablets and soak your aligners for about 1-2 minutes before giving them a reeeaaal good scrub before you go to bed every 3-4 days. It makes a world of difference.
You will have to change your eating and drinking habits.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a grazer. I snack constantly and I take hours to drink my coffee. Well, I use to. Not anymore. Overnight I had to go from grazer to strict meal eater. A meal for me now is a whole event because I have to take out the aligners, rinse them and put them away. I then have to eat, drink a coffee right there and then – no dilly dallying. Once the meal is over I immediately have to go to the bathroom and floss, brush my teeth, brush and thoroughly clean my aligners, and put them back in my mouth. Done. No more food or drinks (except cool water) until next meal time. I felt like I was starving for the first 4 days while I adjusted to my new food schedule.
Some people have to change their aligners every 2 weeks. I have to change mine every 10 days.
There’s about 3-5 days of tense discomfort where your teeth are getting use to the aligners being in your mouth, and the roots hurt, so your jaw locks, which causes headaches. Just as you get use to it, you change the aligner to a tighter set and start the whole process again. As I said, I’m only on my second set, so this is only the second time I’ve had to go through the tightness stage, but it doesn’t feel as bad as it did the first time. My mouth is use to having plastic in it. My tongue is use to moving in ways to avoid the edges of the aligners, and it’s not as grim as I’ve adapted to the most efficient method of cleaning them. Paracetamol helps with the headaches, and the ulcers don’t really appear any more because my body has adapted.
But best of all, I’ve already started to notice a difference. Where I struggled to get ultra fine floss through my snaggle teeth, standard floss now glides through and can do it’s job. That simple fact alone shows it working already and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve started taking near-daily progress shots, and I can’t stop fidgeting with the 3D scan that shows the movement of my teeth. It’s incredible to see the actual difference digitally and then in real-time.
(This is the 3D scan that shows the difference between 0 aligners and after/during using 2 sets of aligners. While the still image can’t really show much difference, the sliding scale shows the movement and there is a bit of difference.)
I’ll update you after another 2 or 3 aligner changes when there’s been a bit more change in my teeth. For now, I just wanted to share this weirdly grown up feeling I have regarding looking after myself finally. I’m super happy to have finally gotten around to do something I’ve been saying for years I want to do. We all know I’m a tad rubbish on following through on here, but believe me when I say that flows through to my day-to-day self-care too. Which I know is not a great thing, but I’m definitely working on it.
Until next time, stay silly xx