Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My journey to straighter teeth!

I'm not vain about my appearance and ESPECIALLY not about my teeth.  However, over the last few years, my teeth have decided to migrate all over the place.  This has made it hard to floss (some teeth very close together), some teeth have begun overlapping others, and a few teeth have cracked when I've bitten down on something hard (cracking due to the misalignment putting pressure on spots where they shouldn't have been).  All this led me to consider braces -- not an appealing thought when you're part of the over 50 crowd. Because I meet with a lots of clients, however, I did not want to do the metal railroad tracks type of braces.  Over the last year and a half, I did a lot of reading, soul-searching and saving ($$) and opted to get the Invisalign braces.

The whole process of actually getting fitted for these was a bit intimidating.  There were regular x-rays; panoramic x-rays; and digital photos of my mouth from every possible angle, inside and out -- and yes, I mean that!!  They even put a small mirror in my mouth to aid in taking pictures of some of the teeth in the back!!  Then the hardest part -- the gooey stuff they put in a mold and have you bite down on for several minutes.  It tasted pretty bad, but the worst part was that on the first attempt, the technician put too much goo in the tray, and as I bit down, it started going down my throat, setting off a horrible gag reflex.  This was REALLY tough, as I NEVER, EVER get sick to my stomach -- and I truly thought I was going to throw up with a mouthful of gooey trays in the way!!  Scary and strange......

But that was finally finished and all the information, trays, photos, and x-rays were sent off to the Invisalign labs to create the series of trays needed to give me well-placed, gorgeous teeth.  All I had to do now was wait.......

My "kit" arrived, and my appointment with the dentist was Monday.  The first surprise was that there were "buttons" or "attachments" that had to be added to several teeth in order to help the braces rotate them into position.   You can see a few in the picture below.

Then they handed me a set of these handy-dandy little plastic trays......

.... and told me to try to put them on.  Uh, yeah, right........ I sat in the dentist's chair, struggled and struggled, and could NOT get them on.  Then they suggested I go to the lady's room and try doing it in front of the mirror.  Nope, still not happening!!  Those suckers are TIGHT!!  Then the technician came in to help, and with me standing up against the wall, bracing my head, the two of us were able to snap those things into place!  OK, now they're in..... will they ever come out??

Back to the exam room to get all the instructions: wear them for 22 hours per day; only take them out to eat, brush, floss, and then right back in; only drink water while wearing them (don't want to get the sugary liquids stuck against your teeth all day); remove them from the back molars first and work your way around; don't bite down on them to snap them into place; keep them out of reach of the dogs!!

As I was walking out the door, the dentist told me, sort of in passing, that "they're much easier to get out if you leave them in for 48 hours or so, so the teeth have a chance to shift a bit".  I nodded and hurried out of the office.  It wasn't until a few hours later that it dawned on me -- if I leave them in for 48 hours, how the heck am I supposed to eat??

When dinnertime rolled around, I'd only had the braces in for about 3 hours, and I was definitely not ready to try to take them out.  I made dinner for the family, and then broke my first rule -- I ate with the braces in!  Well, not really "ate" -- I took a piece of bread, ripped it into small pieces, and washed them down with water!  I HAD to have something in my stomach.

When it was time for bed, I just brushed around the trays a bit and decided I'd worry about all of it in the morning.  I took a good dose of Motrin to help ease the ache of the teeth moving and headed off to sleep.

In the morning -- getting them out?? Uh-uh.... not happening.  Like I said, these suckers are really, REALLY tight.  I pulled, twisted, prodded, and could NOT get them out.  The solution was to make a smoothie and call that breakfast -- so I didn't really "eat" with them in, but I was definitely getting stuff stuck in them!

I had a full day's worth of client visits to do, followed up by the end of year Promotion Night picnic and promotion night with Cedar Brook Academy.  It was a lot of fun until it was time to figure out how to eat -- again -- sigh.......  So off to the ladies' room I went, determined that this time, those trays were coming out.  And after about 10 minutes of struggle, I managed to remove....... ONE.  Sigh again........  At this point, hunger overrode any concern -- hey, I had the bottom teeth free anyway, right??  So I carefully managed to eat a hot dog, some potato salad, and part of a soft cookie -- enough to keep the very hungry tummy from growling during the program!

After getting home from the program, it was definitely time to do something about this.  In front of the mirror, I again tugged and pulled from every possible angle, and miracle of miracles, finally managed to get both of them out!!  Yay!!  Now I could finally give my teeth (and the molds) a good cleaning.  Getting the braces back in was another huge ordeal, but a task that was finally accomplished, though not without a lot more struggle.

Today, I've managed to get both trays out for breakfast and lunch, and it's getting SOMEWHAT easier -- enough that I am feeling somewhat hopefully that the trend will continue.  Of course, in two weeks, I graduate to the next set of trays, which will probably be tight again, but I'm cautiously optimistic that by that point, I'll have figured out some tricks of the trade to make this whole process easier.

To aid in that, I Google'd "removing Invisalign braces" and came up with an entire blog devoted to this.  It's informational and at times, pretty darn funny -- it's entitled "My Invisalign Blog --The Creation Of My Hollywood Smile ".  One of the best posts I've found thus far was this: Top Ten Tips For Removing Invisalign Braces -- very helpful, informative, and gave me hope that I too would get over this difficult part!
In the meantime, my teeth have probably never had such meticulous hygiene, the braces have the unexpected benefit of protecting my teeth from some of their cold sensitivity, making it easier to drink ice water, and then only downside (besides getting the trays out!) is that one of the "buttons" or "attachments" is rubbing a raw spot on the inside of my upper lip.  I suspect this will improve with time as the skin toughens or the tooth moves into its proper location.

In the meantime, take a close look at these two pictures......  

Pretty amazing how invisible those braces really are, isn't it?  (braces on in the bottom shot).  At least I don't walk around feeling like the world is staring at my teeth!!

I'll probably post from time to time as I start to see my "Hollywood Smile" improve, too!


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