Splurging on Invisalign, like finally!

My friends tell me that I don't need invisalign -...

my friends tell me that I don't need invisalign - but screw that! I've been wanting straight teeth since I was 15 (11 years ago), and have enviously watched many friends get braces over the years to straighten their smiles.

the prices for Invisalign are super prohibitive for me... in the last 3 years I've wanted it, then talked myself out of it, and wanted it, then talked myself out of it. I'm getting married in May 2015 and recently decided that I really should take the plunge and go for my dream of having straight teeth by my wedding. so I shaved off money from my wedding budget and my new-house budget, and pledged to cut down on shopping for the next 12 months and reserve my bonuses for Invisalign. in short, I'll be paying through my nose for the treatment. this had caused me some psychological discomfort at first but by now I've gotten over it. having straight teeth is a deep aspiration that I have harboured for long, and I doubt I will look back... I really hope it will be worth it!

SHOPPING FOR INVISALIGN

the thing about researching about local providers is that the two biggest invisalign players have cleverly sponsored bloggers, whom I find tend to downplay the level of sacrifice and pain involved in getting invisalign. so I hope my review can add some valuable insights to the local discussion.

anyways, I eventually met the two providers - both are Platinum Elite. I figured that if I'm going to pay so much (about SGD 8,500 which works out to USD 6,800) I might as well go to a reputable clinic. the quotes they gave me differed by a SGD 1,000, so naturally I went for the cheaper one ;) plus his clinic is 5 mins from my office, so that really helps. and supposedly the one I chose is an ortho whereas the other is a dentist - just something I read from local forum discussions.

both of them said my treatment would last 1.5 years. this means my teeth won't be completely straight by my wedding, but it should be "noticeably different". ok, i'll take whatever I can get! my ortho tends to underpromise though, so I hope I'll be done faster.

during the consultations, both also confirmed that my gums are pretty ok (phew! I was worried I had gum disease). my gums have receded slightly in my bottom row, and I've also had some bone loss there. my bite is generally ok, although my top and bottom molars don't overlap nicely. my ortho knows that I'm more concerned about straight teeth, so he said he will correct them as much as he can during the time it takes to straighten my front teeth. if I want to fully correct this, I may have to add another half a year to my treatment duration. I'll think about this later.

THE WAITING GAME

I got my moulds done last week. the nurses said it would take 6 weeks for my aligners to be ready, but that they would call me if they're in sooner.

I'm 1 week down, 5 more to go! I wish it was October already, which says a lot cos September has quite a few milestones for me (work anni, birthday, engagement anni...). I was reminder in another review about how nothing worth having is ever easy so that motivated me to exercise a bit more patience.

also, I don't think my ortho has plans to show me my clincheck videos before he orders the trays. I thought of requesting, but then I figured that I could also watch it when my aligners are ready. given his experience, I trust that he'll help make the best call for me.

till then!

tray 1 - it begins!

and...tray 1 is in! sans attachments :) I had a lunchtime apmt with my ortho yesterday. I tried the trays on for 1 min, and then to my surprise, he advised that it's better that I start at night. I had been all game to start wearing it there and then! later when I went back to work, I realised my upper left molars were kinda throbbing, causing a minor headache. what a prelude to the pain, I thought. so I
popped a paracetamol before gg to bed, and everything was fine.

things I did to prepare for D-Day:

- went on an oral care spree during a drugstore promo
- practised brushing teeth and also flossing after lunch at work
- visited my dentist for scaling and polishing, as advised by my ortho
- signed up for a miles credit card in hopes of raking in points while charging it for my treatment
- took the last chances of snacking at work
- had my birthday dinner with my boyfriend the weekend before
- ate steak.

by the way

I'm still not comfy with flossing at my work toilet (much less public toilets? I haven't tried!) does anyone have any tips / words of encouragement on ignoring what people may think of me and just flossing anyway?

one week progress update

Here's my one week progress report:

1. I'm averaging 21h with aligners. It's shorter than I prefer but I'll try see how I can increase aligner-time. On weekdays, my lunch breaks are slightly over an hour. When lunching with colleagues, I don't feel good rushing them just because I chose to get Invisalign. Plus I do like to walk about after eating to balance out all the sitting I do from 9-5, so in a way I'm not in a hurry to return to my office either.

2. The discomfort has subsided. I realised that I'm getting more used to the plastic in my mouth, or that "sticky peanut butter feel" on my teeth. I've also stopped salivating as much. My ortho explained that when we first put on aligners, our mouths think it's food, hence all the saliva. Now that the aligners fit comfortably, I'm tempted to wonder why I've got to put them on for (what feels like) so long, but I guess I just have to trust the process. Also, trying to remind myself that this is the honeymoon phase of aligners since I've not had my 14 attachments yet.

3. I'm still apprehensive about flossing in public. Yesterday I had lunch at a hotel buffet with my family. While washing up in the ladies, my sister was like, "are you gonna floss?!?!" But then she grabbed some floss for herself so then both of us flossed together in the cramped toilet. I was glad to have her company. Hopefully very soon I'll be unapologetic about flossing ifo strangers. It's just a matter of getting used to.

4. Whenever I have to eat alone before a night class after work, I'm feeling like I'd rather starve than have to figure out a smooth routine wrt ordering food, removing aligners and brushing teeth after. I'm hoping to get used to eating heavy lunches and then skipping dinner. On a related note, not being able to snack makes me so hungry.

5. Around day 3-4, the edges of my aligners felt extra rough on my gums. Tried the whole ortho wax thingamajig and the irritation disappeared. I've yet to add a nail filer, a kiddy toothbrush or mouthwash to my inventory. Watsons, a local drugstore, and the oral hygiene section of supermarkets is fast becoming my favourite hang out.

that's all for now... my next apmt is in mid-Oct.

tray 2 of 28

I changed to tray 2 last night without much incident. It's a day earlier, but I did it because my next appointment where I'll be fixing attachments is on 10 Oct. So instead of doing 14+10 days for trays 1 and 2 respectively, I thought I would do 13+11 instead. My ortho will be away for 2 weeks in Oct so I wanted to catch him, especially before I get my attachments fixed and my first IPR done.

Yesterday my left lateral incisor hurt a bit, though. I reckon it might be from me trying to "expertly" remove my trays with 1 hand, in a public restroom in a hawker centre where I was trying to avoid putting my blue casing on the sink. Well, lesson learnt, I'll try to use two hands next time.

tray 3 of 28 + attachments

I got 14 attachments fixed two days ago, on Friday. I also moved up to tray 3. They are definitely tighter than I remember trays 1-2 to be, and my teeth are starting to feel tender. My lower tray is easier to remove because I can get a better grip on it and pull upwards. But my upper tray…wow. I might just tear up one day trying to rip them off. The parts around my canines (which have HUGE attachments) just won't budge. So far I've been pulling the back-left, back-right, and then my tray would hang awkwardly and painfully, and I struggle for 3-5 seconds trying to pull it off. Ugh. I'm glad I started having attachments on a Friday evening so that at least I sorta have the weekend to get used to this. Not looking forward to tugging at my trays unglamorously at my office toilet when the work week starts.

I find that the two attachments on my bottom left are especially obvious. I thought it was because the ortho didn't quite match the colour. But sans tray, they DO match my teeth colour. So I'm thinking maybe there was water/vapour in the bumps when I put the tray on hence the shiny look, or maybe it's just the way the light hits that part of my smile.

My ortho, the principal in his clinic, got his staff ortho to fix the attachments for me. She didn't quite walk me through the process so it was a little nerve wrecking lying down in the chair, just trusting her. All I sensed was that she was switching between a lot of equipment, and getting the nurse to help fetch a few things. It felt like first she polished the surface of my teeth, applied what is probably the glue, then a little water, air, and then a nastier tasting liquid, and then she put on a tray, and then some UV light, and then she tugged off the tray. Afterwards, she said she was "removing the excesses", off the attachments I presume since there was a lot of buffing. We did this 4x: upper right, upper left, lower left, lower right sides of my smile. Some of my teeth edges still feel a little raw/rough.

I also received my first IPR. I didn't know what to expect so it was scary, but actually it was not painful at all. She used what felt like a nano electric cutter, then switched to a manual file, probably closer to my gums. I thought I would just have it on 1 teeth per my ClinCheck, but she was also giving me two more IPR for trays 5 and 6. However she decided not to proceed with the last IPR yet as my teeth were too slanted.

Oh yeah so now I have what I think is a giant gap between my two front teeth! It's actually just 0.5mm, but it pops out to me in the mirror. I'm sorta amused, and thought about how once my friend, after seeing one of the popular super models sport a gap between her teeth, wanted one for herself too because she thought it was cute. It's not obvious with the trays though. I'm guessing other people wouldn't notice it as much as I do since I look at my teeth about 60x a day. Also on the attachments, my boyfriend said, "They're not obvious. It just looks like your teeth are deformed..."

stained attachments - no more curry!

I stained my attachments :( Yes, the ones on my teeth. I realised it was after I had curry for lunch about 3 days ago. I didn't get a chance to rinse my mouth, much less floss/brush immediately, and had popped back my aligners before I managed to wash up only about 20 mins later.

I'm guessing the turmeric in the curry made my attachments turn yellow. It was like a brighter, almost glow-in the-dark kind of yellow. So unappealing. I was really disappointed because the attachments had been in for barely a week!

I contacted my ortho's clinic. A nurse was kind to offer to fix an appointment to have my attachments polished. But by today, the yellow stains had faded slightly. So I told her I would make an appointment next week if the stains persist. She also advised that to brush my teeth immediately after I eat curry next time. Though after this incident I would probably try avoid curry if I can. Sigh! #asianproblems

Anyway, I've attached a comparison photo - see the canine on the right. It's more obvious in real life, especially to me. Hope the extra yellowness goes away soon.

tray 5 of 28

I switched to tray 5 last night. They were tighter than I'm used to but by this morning the tightness wore away. I braced myself for showtime i.e. the first time removing new trays, but luckily this time my canines were spared. For the past 2 trays, them poor guys usually hurt the most. Probably from the extra surface area they come into contact with the trays, as a result of over-rotation :/ In exciting news, my front gap (from IPR) closed by 0.1mm! So far this is the most visible change I've seen.

I'm thankful that my treatment has been relatively painless so far. This past week I got random bouts of headaches, but they don't last very long. Reminds me of the times I got headaches back when my wisdom tooth was troubling me. Kinda amazing how our teeth are somehow wired to our brains.

I was taught by my ortho to soak new trays overnight to help get rid of the "plastic taste". So far I haven't noticed any such taste but I oblige anyway. Plus I dunno if it's just psychological, but I find that the edges of soaked trays turn yellow slower than trays which I don't get to soak ie trays 1 and 3, which I wore on same night as my appointments.

To clean my trays, I usually soak them in dishwasher soap and water while I'm eating at home. Afterwards I dip my small toothbrush into the soap water and brush the trays, before brushing them again under running water. So far so good - no soapy taste in my mouth :)

On diet, I still eat what I normally would (including curry - heh!). I haven't had to switch to soft food. My canines sometimes feel a little tender on crunchy food, but I just crunch on :p Unfortch this means I haven't lost weight but oh well, you can't have it all!

My top 2 peeves on Invisalign are having to fight bouts of sleepiness in the office without snacking or drinking anything other than cold water, and the tongue sore I get on my right side even after filing new trays. On the former, I find that it's not worth removing my trays and cleaning my teeth for a snack. Plus I feel like there's a 'socially acceptable' time to brush my teeth in the office toilet, and 4pm is not included. On the latter, the tongue sore also happened to me for tray 4 but it went away. Maybe this time I'll be more impatient and will try applying ortho wax on the problem spot.

My next apmt is in mid-Nov...it could be rubber band time. Noooooo!

tray 6 of 28: not yet!

I met my ortho two days back. Good news: No rubber bands, yet. This is contrary to my Clincheck which shows rubber bands being introduced at tray 6. Ortho says he will monitor my bite to see if I really need it. Hope not, doc!

Bad news: I'm not on a 10-day cycle, yet. Actually, I forgot to ask him about it. It was only when the nurse was issuing my next 6(!) trays and arranging the next apmt that she said I can't move to a 10-day cycle, yet. I'm not sure if this is because my ortho hadn't given the green light, or because she's seen enough cases to know that the permission to upgrade to a 10-day cycle usually only comes after the nth tray. Oh well.

Looking on the bright side, it seems like by tray 12, my lower teeth will be pretty straight. My gums have receded quite noticeably around them and I fear that they will fall out prematurely, so maybe it's for the benefit of my roots that I stick to a 12-day cycle while them lower teeth are being moved.

My only concern is that I won't have straight teeth by my wedding in May. I don't need to have completed my trays by then, I just hope to be in tray 20+ where my upper teeth are pretty straight, y'know? On Acceledent, apparently it's not yet licensed by the health authorities here. I suppose I could still bring it in from say, Australia, but it would be at my own risk. Plus my budget allows for either Acceledent OR teeth whitening, and I'd rather go for the latter, cos I'm not liking the colour of my teeth right now.

Tray 6 is tight, but still bearable. Yesterday morning when I put them on after breakfast, I let out an involuntarily yelp when I gently nudged it up at the right pre-molar and felt a tinge of pain. My molars feel sore which is no fun at all. Ahh, the joys of moving teeth. Then again I signed up for this so can't blame anyone else!

I received about 6-7 rounds of IPR during the visit. It wasn't as smooth as my first time, maybe because there were more teeth to shave, and some of the spaces must have been tight because my ortho spent lots of time shaving, shaving. Also my jaw hurt from having to open it very long... unusual? I've now got a pretty big gap (0.5mm) between my upper left molars, which has been an invitation for huge (and I mean huge) food chunks to hang out at. I try to pry them out with my tongue, but no luck. It's an uncomfy feeling that only flossing can relieve me. I might get cavities if I'm not diligent :/

tray 7 of 28: 25% y'all!

I was supposed to get rubber bands but thankfully my ortho spared me from having to wear them. However, tray 7 (onwards, I think) comes with the hooks where the rubber bands are supposed to be.

And the one on my upper tray is hella irritating! It left me a 1cm scratch on my inner upper lip - no thank you! It hurt to smile because my inner lip would have to rub against the sharp hook. I would have to stick my tongue in front of my upper teeth to separate my lip from the tray... not attractive and too slow for returning smiles. On my second night I couldn't stand it so I cut off the hook. Before and after pic attached. I might have overdone it though... my right canine is now half uncovered on the front, hee. I might pop by my ortho to ask the nurses what's the proper way to get rid of the hooks for the next trays. It's definitely not sustainable for me to put up with the scratching >.<

I've also attached before/after pics for pre-treatment and tray 7. Nothing too drastic but I do feel like the snaggle tooth is slowly coming out to see the sun! :)
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