I've always had gaps, but they only recently...
I've always had gaps, but they only recently bothered me. Invisalign is simply not an option at $5,500 up front. Crystal Braces sounded perfect for me, especially after their staff answered all my questions and consulting pictures over e-mail. The program is affordable and can be paid monthly ($100/mo).
I started the Crystal Braces process in December, taking impressions and sending them off for analysis. They sent two sets of material for impressions and although the instructions indicated that I would be charged for using the second set, they did not. The trays they send are HUGE (and I have a big mouth!) so maybe do request smaller size trays. The impression process was easy with the help of my orthodontist's assistant friend, but I suspect I could have handled it on my own.
The analysis process took a week longer than quoted, but I was happy with the predictions of an 8 month treatment program (minor movement case); so I agreed the the treatment.
I got the first trays, they hurt for a few days, but I did not need any pain relievers. They fit funny at first, but according to every resource on the web, there should be some 'give' in the molar areas. After a few days they settled down.
I am not halfway through my second tray, and I can see some movement. I am excited! I will update with progress photos.
This is what they sent as my analysis
Tray number 3
14 Apr 2015
2 months post
I received tray 3 a week after they shipped it 2-day USPS :/ I don't know why I get so anxious to switch trays when they will still be arriving 30 days apart. Anyhow, this tray was the most pain I've felt so far. I've had it in now for 6 days and my teeth still feel sore and the trays are still tight. In the two previous trays this feeling only lasted 4 days. I think the teeth are being moved in 'sections' or a few at a time because the pain is mostly in one spot. None of this concerns me, I am very trusting about these kinds of things.
Even though I feel like my teeth are going to fall out.
Set 4 and what happens when you lose a tray
I tend to get irresponsible near the end of the month once I've decided my teeth have already "set" into place and I might leave the trays out for far too long. So on April 25th I lost my bottom tray. They send new trays on the first of each month, and they arrive around the fifth. So I contacted Crystal Braces and asked them to go ahead and process the payment and shipment for the next set of trays. I told them I had lost the tray, and they didn't offer any advice on what to do, nor did I ask for it, so I wore the tray from my previous set just in case. I don't feel like this was a bad move, but probably not the best idea anyway.
Jump to yesterday when I received my next set of aligners (they actually arrived 3 days after I sent off for them, but I was out of town until yesterday). I know that my teeth will shift into them, but it doesn't feel like that will ever happen. There is a lot of give when I bite down, but that's been the case before. I know they're going to hurt for days, but I suppose it's my fault for losing the tray. However, I don't feel like I really messed anything up in my treatment; I'll catch back up.
Some before pictures
Some of the photos I sent to Crystal Braces BEFORE I got the impression tray so they could tell me if it was possible to work with my dental implant.
Something is wrong at Crystal Braces
16 Jun 2015
4 months post
So it's June 16, 15 days after when they usually charge me and send out my month's tray, but there has been nothing. I have contacted Crystal Braces about 3 times for an update and each time they tell me to be patient with some different version of what is taking so long. Most recently they blamed the flooding in Texas (I just learned that Dallas is expected to get some flooding this week again...).
Any how, I am annoyed with them. I'm halfway through my treatment, and if I have to pursue this with another company it's just going to end up costing me more money and more time. I am thinking now that I had just paid up front and gotten all the trays at once I would have been better off.
23 Sep 2015
7 months post
So, I was on the road for nine weeks traveling around the western US, and since I wasn't going to have an address I asked Crystal Braces to pause my treatment- which they willingly did. I am now back home and just received my sixth trays today.
I emailed Crystal Braces about a week ago to tell them to resume my treatment, and while they were initially confused by my request we worked it out. I keep saying I am just going to go ahead and get the rest of the trays so I don't have to deal with their customer service anymore, but alas. It's not that they are rude or negligent, just not very bright.
Any how, I expect the tray change to go as usual. I have been wearing the fifth set of trays for nearly three months, and they have held up surprisingly well considering I mercilessly grind my teeth day and night. The photos are AFTER wearing TRAY 5.
Just a boring update
3 Dec 2015
10 months post
Here are some photos of my progress. This is the penultimate set of trays, and I've been wearing them for about 4 weeks, though I don't feel quite ready for my next set (they are still quite tight).
8 Jan 2016
11 months post
So Crystal Braces has taken down their website. The page is still there, but now advises customers to call for assistance. My friend, who works for an orthodontist, told me a few days ago that Crystal Braces and similar companies were being sued. I'm not sure if they will be able to continue the treatments they've already started. I hope so- I still have one tray left! I guess it wouldn't be the end of the world if I missed it though. I will try to call later today and see what they plan to do.
Just ordered my final set of trays!
26 Jan 2016
11 months post
Crystal Braces finally got back to me after a few days of me freaking out e-mailing them about how my treatment was doomed because they wouldn't answer the phone- my sense of urgency is sometimes a bit inflated. They have shipped my final trays and I expect them tomorrow or the next day. I'm glad that this is my final month, because I would be quite concerned if I had to depend on them during the (apparent) lawsuit they're involved in.
It appears the other popular option for at home treatment (SmileCareClub) is operating regularly. If I were someone interested in this type of program I would, based on comparison reviews and the state of limbo of Crystal Braces, go with their competitor. That is not to say that I'm not happy with my experience and the service I received. I do hope that this company is able to work something out so that more people will have the option of affordable orthodontic treatment.
I'll post my final photos in a few weeks.
I've been wearing my final set of aligners for a few weeks now. I am essentially done with my Crystal Braces treatment. While I am very happy with the closing of the spaces in my teeth, I will admit that my bite has changed quite a bit and it doesn't quite sit right. This is the risk you take and where "you get what you pay for" comes into play. Would I do it again? Yes, but only because my case was so minor.
In the coming weeks I will require a crown on an existing implant as well as a bonded retainer on my bottom teeth. I am excited to finally have a nice smile. I will post more photos, including full face before and afters, once my final work is done.