Guys, I did it. I FINALLY did it. After years of wishing, dreaming, thinking, and hoping…I finally bit the bullet (somewhat literally) and got Invisalign (clear retainer braces) on May 1, which was the first day of our Focus on Change Month (yes, that was intentional).
I quickly learned when I posted this decision on Instagram that many of you are probably thinking, “What?? Why?! What a waste of money! Your teeth are straight! What were you thinking??” and so on. I'm going to take a chance to tell you WHY I decided to get Invisalign (especially as an adult), HOW it's going, and hopefully answer lots of questions that you might have in case it helps anyone out there with their decision too! Oh, and don't worry…I have an entire post on how to afford braces (Invisalign included) coming up in the next few days so stay tuned!
And guess what?? Dr. Parker is giving away one COMPLETE SET OF BRACES! Be sure to check out the giveaway and enter while you can!
Ok, now to my story:
Why did I want Invisalign in the first place?
I had horrible teeth growing up (big buck teeth included) and went through the whole orthodontic shebang – retainers, braces, headgear, bands, spacers, and even a lip bumper (you don't want to know). When I finally got my braces off once and for all I looked in the mirror…
And was disappointed.
My front teeth were still sticking out. Sure, it was slight, and yes, they looked WAY better than they did before braces. …But it was noticeable. I remember asking my orthodontist, “Are you sure they're done? Are they all the way straight?” He explained that my bite looked great and the work of the braces was accomplished. It always bugged me slightly, but I got used to my new smile and went along my way.
The real issue began in college when I lost my retainer and my teeth started shifting almost immediately. Over the years my teeth have started crowding again, making it harder to floss and changing the look of my teeth and smile. But the main issue with all this shifting is my darn JAW! It pops and cracks constantly, and it's to the point where it can be painful and it feels almost like it's stuck once in a while.
Couple that with the fact that 80% of my job as a blogger is to be in front of one camera or another (have you ever been on High Def TV? It is NOT friendly to any flaws, let me tell you!) and the fact that my shifted teeth (especially my front ones) have always bugged me, and BAM. Enter the desire to fix it all.
Vain? That depends on how you look at it.
We color our hair to cover grays, or be more stylish. We wear makeup to enhance our beauty and add some fun pizazz to our faces. We go on diets or go to the gym to get fit, tone, and ultimately be healthy and happy with our bodies. Who says it's wrong or vain to pay to straighten our teeth, even if they are only slightly “crooked” or “off”, if it's something we desire to do to enhance the way we look? It took a big mindset shift on my part, but I'm to the point where I embrace it and think there's nothing wrong with it!
When it came to fixing my not-even-that-messed-up teeth it was always one of those sidelong thoughts like, “man, I wish I was taller…” or “boy, how fun would it be to have blue eyes.” Something that you'd enjoy, but isn't really an option – or even necessary to think or worry about. But then my gorgeous BFF Heather (no, really guys, she's a babe) got traditional braces.
HEATHER! Gorgeous, model-esque Heather! We couldn't believe it. She had them on for 6 months, and then the pain was over and now we all hate her for being even MORE undeniably gorgeous, which we didn't think was possible. But more than the teeth was the confidence it gave her, in all honesty.
It finally hit me…
“Wait, if Heather can get braces as an adult, why can't I? Who says you can only have braces once, and that you have to live with a popping jaw, shifting teeth, and crooked front teeth (albeit slight) for the rest of your life?” Seeing her take the leap gave me the courage I needed to look into it for myself!
Why Invisalign instead of traditional braces?
I made an appointment with Parker Orthodontics here in Utah (highly recommended, by the way, they are AWESOME over there), figuring I would want/need traditional braces. I had heard that Invisalign takes longer and can't do as much, so I figured with my jaw issues I'd need the heavy artillery.
This is also why I took me so long to move forward. Who has time for braces? Especially me, that has to be in front of a camera all the time? But after meeting with Dr. Parker he told me I qualified for and actually recommended Invisalign.
Here are the reasons I chose Invisalign over braces:
- They are less noticeable (by a long shot). Because they are clear trays! This is the main reason why I went with Invisalign vs traditional braces. And yes, you have clear little button things cemented on your teeth for the trays to grab onto, but for me, I only needed a few and you can hardly see them.
The bigger noticeable things on my canines are hooks for my rubber bands to hold onto (more about that below).
- They are removable. Though you should wear them all the time, if I was on TV or doing public speaking I could take them off and put them back on when I'm done. It made me feel better about doing orthodontic work with the job I have, and at the age I am.
- They are more hygienic. You take them out to eat so you don't have to worry about nasty food getting caught for days in wires or hooks.
- They are more comfortable. The plastic hooks on my canines KILLED the inside of my mouth the first few days, but a little orthodontic wax helped. Other than that, they are very comfortable to wear, unlike braces that shred the inside of your mouth. Don't get me wrong, it hurts like the dickens when you first start wearing your Invisalign because it's shifting your teeth. But that gets better after a few days and I hardly notice them now.
- It forces you to drink more water, and snack less. I explain this more below, but you can't eat or drink anything other than water with the trays in so I'm drinking more water and snacking much less in my day.
- The corrections are more accurate. Dr. Parker explained that the movement needed on my teeth is so slight, traditional braces would actually take longer to correct. They have to place braces brackets by hand which leaves room for human error. If the bracket is off even a fraction of a centimeter, it could pull the tooth ever so slightly out of place, then they'd have to go back and shift it back again. With traditional braces it's a lot of tweaking and shifting, even of teeth that didn't need to be tweaked or shifted in the first place. With Invisalign it's all done by computer, so it's exact.
In fact, Dr. Parker told me that they use this super expensive Itero Scanner thingie that is so smart it's creepy. It actually scans your tooth – from the inside out – and sends an exact virtual mold to Invisalign to make perfectly precise trays. He said there are only 7 or 8 of those machines in the state and 5 are older models (he forked out for a new one) so I'm not sure if your orthodontist would have one. But ask!! And if they do…use it!!
- It will fix everything that needs fixing. Not only will it straighten my teeth (woo hoo!) but more importantly it will fix my bite which will help with my jaw issues. I have to wear thick rubber bands on both sides at night to help shift my jaw, but I don't mind…as long as it fixes the dang thing!
I have (I think?) 36 or so trays, and I will be switching them out every 7-10 days (they give me several trays at a time) so it will take be up to 10 months for the changes to happen. It's a little longer than I was hoping, but I'm willing to do what it takes.
The downsides to Invisalign
If you can't tell, I'm an Invisalign cheerleader…simply because that's what I'm using now, and it's working! But there are some downsides, to be fair to the Traditional Braces argument:
- It's harder to be a good patient. The fact that you can take the trays out whenever you want can be tough. For me, I'm 110% committed though, and I'm trying to be good. But for a teenager especially, it could be hard to do it right (which is to wear them 22 hours per day).
- You can't eat or drink ANYTHING other than water with Invisalign in your mouth. That's right folks, not even juice or a coke. Again, I'm sure you could cheat on this…which I actually did once (don't tell Dr. Parker!). I drank a Crystal Lite thing with my trays in and it actually made my teeth hurt! Why? because they fit so tightly that your natural saliva isn't washing things off your teeth like they normally do, so the sugars and food sticks right to your teeth and can cause cavities quickly. The upside? It's been an amazing diet! It's cut down my snacking and sugar intake immensely, and it's forced me to drink more water because it's kind of a pain to take out the trays. I'm being much more conscious about what I put in my mouth which has been an unlikely upside.
- Retainers are annoying. And kind of gross. I feel like an awkward teenager taking my spitty trays out at a restaurant before eating. But I just carry my handy dandy super cool (not) retainer case with me and try not to throw them away in a napkin like I did as a teenager.
- Invisalign is more expensive. All the upsides have a price tag. Invisalign is more expensive than traditional braces which is a bummer, but for me, has been worth it.
WHEEW! That was a long one. But there you have it! There's the background on why I'm a brace face now, in case you were wondering. 🙂
Be sure to check back because in a few days I will break down the cost for braces AND Invisalign, and how to work it in to your budget if it's something you want to do.
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