my Journey

I thought when I was younger I got lucky in not...

I thought when I was younger I got lucky in not needing braces, but as I got older (26 year old professional) I realized that I felt uncomfortable with my smile and never smiled around anyone or even in photos. I was always jealous of everyone who smiled and had perfect teeth so I figured it was time to fix mine.

*I started the process by visiting my dentist Dr. Sullivan who referred me to Dr. Curtis (orthodontist). At first I was planning on getting invisalign for both the top and bottom teeth but after he submitted the information to the invisalign makers the top teeth only required a total of 10 trays (spaces were left purposefully for room for my veneers) and the bottom were needing 30 plus trays and Dr. Curtis said that the end result on the bottom did not make sense in terms of how the teeth would be aligned and my bite would be affected. His recommendation was to do invisalign on the top and traditional braces on the bottom. Working in a professional field I was satisfied with this. I did not want everyone seeing me with a full metal mouth and the teeth on the bottom were barely visible when I talked and smiled. Also I trusted Dr. Curtis fully in his recommendation. Dr. Sullivan also recommended at that time that I get two porcelain veneers for my two front teeth do to a small chip in one of the teeth. After discussing this with Dr. Curtis he said that my two teeth next to my front teeth were really tiny and making those larger too would also help to improve my smile. Dr. Curtis also discussed this in length with Dr. Sullivan so everyone was on the same page.
*The first week of August I had my bottom braces put on and the buttons for my invisalign placed. I also received my first 3 invisalign trays (recommended to change them every 3 weeks, but eventually I went down to changing them out every 2 1/2 weeks). I was excited to get started on my journey to a perfect smile. That day when I first came home my entire mouth was sore, ulcers were beginning to form where the braces were placed, and it felt like I had a double ear infection due to the extreme lower jaw pain. I took 600mg of ibuprofen and 1000mg of tylenol to get through the first few days of this. I also used a lot of wax I was given to help with the ulcers. I had trouble eating solid food since everything was sore.
*After about a week of discomfort and soreness, the pain eventually subsided and I was able to return to my normal eating so to speak. When you have invisalign the recommendation is to wear the trays for 23 hours a day for best results and to be able to change out the trays on schedule. You have to brush after every meal so you can put the tray back into your mouth. This was extremely annoying especially when you are at work and offered food. That means no snacking either unless you want to brush you teeth all day long. I usually ate 3-4 meals large meals a day and brushed 3-4 times. I rarely snacked because it was not worth it to have to brush again. I would include my snacks or treats with my meals to get away from having to brush constantly.
*For major events like parties or get togethers I could not even leave my invisalign tray out for more than 1 hour or else I started to develop ulcers on my gums from where the buttons were placed on my teeth. I got to the point where I would want to have the tray in all the time so that I did not have ulcers on the top of my gums.
*Whenever I would go and get my braces tightened (which was anywhere from every 3-5 weeks) I would have my invisalign buttons looked at and Dr. curtis would make sure that everything was going according to plan. Also during some of these visits I would get more invisalign trays. Usually I was given 3 each time in advance that were numbered.
* I would change each invisalign tray in the evening after my last meal for the day. I always chose this time because after each new tray goes in its tight and your teeth are sore for at least 12 hours. I would take some pain medication and go to bed and that would help so I could at least try to enjoy solid food during the day. Sometimes my top teeth were so sore in the morning that it hurt to brush and eat.
*as far as the invisalign versus braces debate:
Pros for invisalign: able to change out the trays in the comfort of your own home aka not requiring a routine orthodontist appointment; able to brush and floss normally; teeth feel cleaner; food does not get trapped when you eat; do not develop gum ulcers unless you leave tray out for extended period of time; less prep to get started (only buttons are placed),
Cons for invisalign: have to wear trays for 23 hours a day; no snacking; have to brush after each meal or snack; cannot chew gum; have to learn to talk differently due to bulky tray (sometimes you have a lisp); people can see the tray (not invisable); more autonomy
pros for braces: can snack and eat whenever you want; dentist coordinates the times when braces are tightened and makes adjustments;
Cons for braces: cannot take them out whenever you want; food gets trapped; cannot floss or brush normally; have to make routine appointments for tightening; painful mouth ulcers are inevitable; more prep to get started (wires, brackets, etc); less autonomy
Porcelain veneers:
*I made an appointment to receive temporary veneers right after my 10th invisalign tray was completed: usually all dentists make you get temporary veneers so that you and the dentist can see what the end product will look like so you can make changes if you or your dentist wants to
*The prep for my temporary veneers took over 3 1/2 hours. The dentist first has to numb your mouth. I was numb from my upper jaw to my nose and then the dentist files all the teeth that are going to have the porcelain veneers on down to little stubs. My dentist said he left most of my teeth because I already had spaces. This filing down process is not painful but uncomfortable and makes you exhausted since you have to sit in the chair for such a long period of time with your mouth open. The temporary veneers were made out of plastic and were a singular tray like dentures that fit over top of the filed teeth. They were held there by special glue. The dentist also paints them to make them look "real". I thought mine looked extremely yellow and disgusting and I hated every minute I had to wear them. Also during this appointment the dentist picks out your color of your permanent veneers. Luckily I bleached my teeth extensively with plus white 5 minute whitening gel in my last invisalign tray (also my retainer before my veneers) so that the decision on my shade was 030 in the bleach section. Thank goodness.
* While waiting for your permanent veneers to get made you have to wear the temporaries for up to 3-4 weeks. I wore mine for 4 weeks. During that time I was not allowed to bite into anything harder than a sandwich or else I could break my temporaries apart. I found that I would cut all my food into little pieces so I could eat since biting into anything made my gums and my filed teeth hurt. Also my gums and filed teeth were very sensitive to wind (talking while walking) and cold.
*After getting my temporary veneers brushing and flossing were difficult. My gums were really tender and sore for 4 days after since they were getting used to the temporary veneers. I had to floss in between these 3 little holes the dentist created to floss my gums to they would stay healthy for my permanent veneers placement.
*Finally my permanent veneers were in and I scheduled my appointment. This time the dentist numbed me again from top jaw to nose and took the temporary veneers out, cleaned my filed teeth, and placed my permanent veneers with special glue. This appointment was a lot less invasive than the first appointment and took only 1 ½ to 2 hours. Afterwards I was extremely happy with the end result although my gums were still swollen. It was easy to eat again and brushing was not painful. I still have a little sensitivity to cold and wind but it is not nearly as bad as with the temporaries.
*I can say that I’m extremely happy with how everything turned out on the top. I get my bottom braces off on July 28th and I could not be more excited.

Braces off

Dr. Curtis removed my bottom braces today. I had a metal permanent retainer placed behind the bottom front teeth to keep everything together. It feels weird in the front but it's nice to not have to wear a bottom retainer every night. I'm so happy my end results. My braces, invisalign, veneers journey is complete.
Joseph T. Sullivan, DDS

.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
Was this review helpful? 1 other found this helpful

Comments (5)

I can't see your pictures anymore!
  • Reply
Wow!  You've got a magazine smile now, only with some personality left :).  Gorgeous results, and congratulations!
  • Reply
Wow, thanks for all that information!  I really appreciate you taking the time to share all of this with us.  One of our community members in the braces category has lots of spaces and even congenitally missing teeth.  She's decided to just do braces and not go for veneers.  Why did you choose to do veneers instead of just pushing the teeth together?
  • Reply
My orthodontist and dentist agreed that my lateral incisors were really small and if I pushed all the teeth together it would never amount to the perfect smile that I was really looking for. I also asked the dentist if he had my teeth what option would he choose and he said either way my smile would be improved but if I overall wanted the best cosmetic look veneers were the best option. Also I had a small chip out of one front tooth that I wanted fixed. I also spent a lot of time googling the perfect smile and the best tooth size ratios in order to have the perfect smile to determine what I wanted. This helped in my decision to go with veneers.
  • Reply
Thank you! :)
  • Reply