40 and Ready to Smile - New York

Severe overcrowding and a refusal to break out...

Severe overcrowding and a refusal to break out into a full smile - that's me in a nutshell!

I wasn't going to document my Invisalign journey but after getting so much out of everyone here who has, I decided I needed to pay that back. So while talking about the thing I'm most self-conscious about for everyone to see seems strange, I hope I can help someone else. Especially since I have a complex (read: nasty) case of overcrowding. See exhibit a in the photo space.

Like a lot of people here I've wanted to do this forever, but have put it off for all the usual reasons. As an added wrinkle I have auto-immune issues which can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition. But when I started seeing a new dentist this year (after a multi-year lapse due to said other medical issues plus the last dentist was the pits and put the fear of the drill into me) she plainly said straightening my teeth was a health issue, not a cosmetic one, and ignoring it longer put me at high risk for gum disease and more inflammation my body would not handle well, and eventual tooth and bone loss. Ok ok I get it.

The thing is, I had gone to a bunch of orthodontists in the past to consider treatment and I hadn't liked a single one. Mostly I felt like none of them really considered my case beyond lots of crooked teeth that need traditional braces and tooth extraction. It always felt like a knee-jerk diagnosis, and in earlier years I get that there weren't options to consider. And I haven't been looking for somebody to just say yes to what I wanted, which was actually just a real conversation about Invisalign. I was seeing cases and advancements that made me question "why not me!" and not a single person could give me an answer that felt well considered. At the very least I didn't want to spend years in treatment with a doctor who can't bother with really answering what to me was a very very important question.

So it was with a lot of hope and very little expectation that I asked my new dentist to consider taking me on as an Invisalign patient, knowing she had very satisfied patients. To her credit she said she wouldn't commit either way in that visit, and after I had my wisdom teeth extracted and old fillings replaced she'd put forward her recommendation and that could very well include the traditional route if that's what would be best. She did mention that she herself had done through a treatment of Invisalign and clear braces because of the complexity of her own case, and was grateful to cut down her time in braces even by half. At last, at least somebody is talking to me like I'm a real person with feelings and anxiety, and acknowledging a lot is going on in my head, not just in my mouth.

We talked during my visits during the next six months. She talked me through a case she was finishing that was as complex as mine and very successful. We agreed to do the scans and treatment planning for Invisalign and then see what could be done. What impressed me was her offer to go through the plan with me before a final decision on her part was made. She could have just assumed that if she was happy, I'd be thrilled and to go with it. But this extra step, which doesn't seem to be normal protocol for a lot of doctors, was very comforting and helped me know that I would be making a fully informed decision based on all the facts.

So I know from reading that the general rule is your better off at the orthodontist, but I should also note that in my experience (both personal and through my professional life) being a specialist doesn't always equal being up-to-date or experienced, or the best person to deliver care. But it was in my mind to take this seriously and not commit if I wasn't fully pleased with the plan or had doubts. I still wanted to do what was best in the long-term.

Today I got a very thorough presentation of the Invisalign plan, with many pros and cons presented, an overview of particular trays that will be the ones where I'll notice something good, and even bad, and of course where all the attachments will go. I know a lot of people feel like if the mouth is full of attachments, what was the point, so that was really going to be a big piece in my final decision to go with Invisalign or not. I also got a lot of explanation of why everything was going to happen the way it will, and that gave me confidence that she does know what she's doing and thinks it's important for me to appreciate the mechanics of the treatment. She'll want to see me every four weeks instead of the customary six or eight, and have some maintenance cleaning to avoid any potential health complications.

When I thought of all the things I have had to sacrifice to treat a chronic illness -all the pills that have made me sick, the diet and the lifestyle changes, and at times an impacted quality of life - it came down to wanting to be able to enjoy meals and not further restrict myself if it was at all possible. Being able to clean my teeth, and have access to a team that really gets me, and one that I feel super confident in is not a luxury for me. I feel like I found a dentist who appreciated my whole case, not just my teeth, and I know from our six months of discussions that if she didn't feel it would work I wouldn't have been presented the plan. Her sincere enthusiasm was so evident. I think she's more excited than I am!

So in two weeks it will be Tray 1 of 34!

Sorry for the extra long entry! I promise they won't all be like this. But it was a really long process to give the green light, and hopefully somebody will relate and benefit from how I got here. More to come, and thanks for reading.

T-minus Six Days...

You guys, I'm sort of in this phase where on the one hand I can't wait until Tuesday to have these suckers in my mouth and get the teeth moving. And then there's the other hand where I realize what a true figurative and literal pain this is all going to be, so what's the hurry?

So I'm enjoying my last few days of careless eating and drinking without a second thought to time and flossing. I'm not a regular snacker by nature, and I'm actually a pretty efficient eater (I've been timing my usual meals), and while I should have no problem in this area just the fact that in a week these will be things I'm forced to do because of Invisalign my stubborn streak is coming out. So snacks, mints, gum, and leisurely chewing for the hell of it are frequent these days.

But I'm also getting my stuff together. I do subscribe to the notion that luck favors the prepared so while I'm jazzed about this I'm actually overpreparing a bit, because once I lose excitement it ain't pretty. The one thing you'll notice about me as I go along this journey is that I have two modes in life: totally on top of it and brain dead. So what follows next will make me sound like my life is really together (or you might think I'm just crazy), but trust me when I say in a few short months you'll wonder how I've managed to survive as long as I've had due to my sheer forgetfulness/laziness. I'm actually considering a toothbrush and toothpaste subscription type service so there's automatic supply and I'm never out. Quip, anyone?

So my prep list! I have or have coming:
- A zippered case to carry everything I could possibly need to carry
- Supply of travel size toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and floss
- Denture brush and Retainer Brite
- Ortho wax
- Crochet hook (the secret weapon for aligner removal success I'm told)
- Aligner chewies (is it weird that I'm really psyched about these????)
- Lots of nail filers to sand down those rough edges
- Tylenol PM for rough nights
- Clove Oil (amazing for mouth pain!)
- Head wrap and ice pack thing for jaw and face pain (wisdom teeth removal fave #1)

I also went back to my wisdom tooth survival recipes and reminded myself of the good soup and smoothie recipes that kept me eating even through extreme pain.

Is there anything I'm forgetting? Will a Waterpik rock my oral health care routine? Because I see words like "gum massage" and I'm kinda sold...


I can't believe tomorrow is the big day, and the next time I sit down to dinner I'll be cursing these two pieces of plastic that I've waited well over a decade for.

Seriously, I'm so ready to be on my way! I've lived for so long not smiling, but just kind of smirking. It's dawning on me that psychologically that can't be healthy, to not allow yourself a real big smile. It's like physically suppressing your own happiness. So the other day I actually started to practice an open mouth smile and realized my facial muscles above my upper lip were like "um...what is this crazy business about?" This will take some work.

I've also never allowed myself lipstick, to not draw any attention to my mouth. I'm starting to scout some must have colors. It's a long way off - something like 476 days, not that I'm counting or anything - but the idea of a nice red lip really excites me, and will hopefully keep me motivated when the going gets tough. It really is the small things in life right?

Ok let's go.

One Set of Pics for the Road

Confessing severe anxiety this morning about my appointment this afternoon. Trying for deep breaths and will definitely be breaking out a little Xanax before I head out. I get jumpy and I'm just really dreading the IPR, even though everyone here says it doesn't hurt at all.

Anyway I realized yesterday I hadn't done before pics of top and bottom views, so I did that this morning. And oh my does it give a clearer idea of what we're really dealing with in here. How I've managed this much crookedness and no over or underbite? Slight miracle I think!

Day 1 of 476

Pic of my full mouth of plastic! Official Tray 1 benchmark photo.

There's a little good news/bad news about my long afternoon at the dentist.

The bad news first! IPR was not as painless or no big deal as I had hoped. Even after having my gums numbed. It was just a matter of sensitivity and I could feel when the instrument was getting close to my gum line and I would tense up like mad. I only had two teeth done today, and she's going to spread mine out even more than the plan calls for. She actually had to take a small break just to give me a chance to relax. See? I'm a total baby. However, I just flossed and whoa nelly it's luxurious spacing! I feel like I could drive a Lincoln Continental through there. Thank goodness it doesn't look that way. I found the bonding process for the attachments nauseating. Even the sound of that application drove me nuts. I'm just really sensitive to sound. But the taste and dry mouth? Blech. And one was being a pesky little bugger and took a few tries to stay.

Just realized I can't nervously bite the inside of my cheek anymore. Dammit.

On to the good news! I don't find the attachments, now in, as annoying as I thought I would, visually or just as stuff sticking out in my mouth and getting in the way. I quickly mastered trays in, but trays out is a bit of a challenge. Par for the course. I was able to get them out and have some delicious homemade thai soup for dinner, and the trays are already back in my super clean mouth. I did some slight filing just because that ridge feels dangerous. And the chewies lived up to my excitement. My first go round is the grape flavor.

I'm not in as much pain as I thought I'd be but I can definitely feel the pressure and my head is beginning to hurt. The tightness though is really comforting in a way. I can see why some people miss the feeling of a new tight tray. A few particular teeth hurt more than others. I like that whole "that's where it's working!" mindset. That all being said, Tylenol PM will be my bestie tonight.

Very little lisp!

Now, if you've read an earlier post you'll remember me saying that in some ways I have my stuff really together (exhibit a: the prep list). But after my appointment I had to go over the pharmacy and pick up a few things. I stopped near the doorway on my way out and placed my bags on a soda display so I could dig out my house keys before I got to my house. Halfway home I realized I had left the one bag with my retainer cases, the next two trays, and about a year supply of Zoom whitening gel there so I had to run back and thankfully it was all still there. I don't know how I would have walked back into the dentist and say hey remember how you just told me how much even the cases are to replace? Um, I'll need a replacement of everything you just handed to me.

The Xanax giveth some calmness, it taketh away your ability to think straight.

48 Hours Confession

Big picture, yes I think these two molded pieces of plastic are innovation miracles, and I look at the next two pouches with great anticipation and gratitude that I'm able to do this.

Hour to hour? Oh man I've had some low lows! When I would read in other reviews things like "I want to rip my face off" or "I just want to quit it now and forget all of this ever happened" I'd secretly think how bad can this be? Folks, it can be that bad! Some random thoughts I've had:

- What if I just forgot about how much I've already spent, got all of my teeth pulled in one uber painful swoop, and just get dentures? (ps, my dad had this done...a story for another time)
- What if I just went on IV nutrition and stayed in the hospital for 18 months so I didn't have to take them out ever?
- Man I need a snack but don't want to go through the whole ordeal...would I need to take out the trays and rebrush if I just ate this grape flavored chewie?
- If I lean back and just slowly pour a milkshake down a funnel straight into my throat, therefore bypassing the teeth, does that count as eating still or can I skip the whole routine?

In case you can't tell, I loathe pulling these things out of my mouth (speaking of ripping ones face off). It's getting better each time but today I had to do it for the first time in a restaurant bathroom for a work lunch and that wasn't pleasant for anyone involved. Tylenol PM is a godsend, as is clove oil. But I really look forward to saying "oh, yeah I don't even notice them anymore!" All of you who can say that, you're my spirit animals.

But all is not lost. My boss today asked me when I was going to start wearing them, and even after really trying to see them she couldn't. I kind of like the attachments? Running my tongue over the bumps is kind of my jam now that I can't bite the inside of my cheek. I'm drinking a ton of water. The pain has not kept me from going to barre classes, and therefore maintaining some sanity. And there's already easier flossing to be had, beyond the ones that just got shaved.

In the meantime I just compulsively watch my ClinCheck, frame by frame, to pinpoint trays where I'll be much happier smile-wise, identifying which tray I'll be on during family weddings and stuff. Should there ever be a quiz on this material, I'm going to ace it. This video is my new religion.

That's it for me. No pain no gain, right? RIGHT?

One Week Down, 67(ish) To Go

I thought it would be interesting to ask myself if I could go back to last Tuesday morning and tell myself to rethink this would I? I believe it's easier halfway through or once you start really seeing results to say yes it's worth it. But 50% of my first week was painful. And as the weekend with my in-laws proved it's do-able to go about your life and eat out - but it's also sort of a pain to keep the trays in for 23 hours and keep your mouth clean when all anybody is talking about is where we'll eat next. Also there was a holiday fair with waffles that looked amazing and I skipped. We went to a movie, no candy for me. We'd get home and I'd have to pass on another glass of wine. Having a timer on eating time at Thanksgiving seems like a small bummer. So with all that fresh in my mind, and knowing new trays mean starting some pain over, would I still do it?

The answer is yes, absolutely. Can I see a difference? Well not by looking at my mouth. I can look at my ClinCheck and see what shifted to open up the spacing. But I can really feel it when I floss. When you've had really crowded teeth your entire life suddenly having an easy time flossing makes an impression. Also like others I do think my teeth appear "straighter" with the trays in for some reason. And with them in I have a sense that I'm doing something great for myself. So for those reasons I think it's worth it, and I think I can make it the distance and some refinements.

I'm an avid follower of a barre program here, which is a mixture of ballet inspired movements, yoga and pilates. It hurts. Not in a painful injury way, but you really put your body through its paces in a class. I always tell myself after a particularly difficult class, "I"m one hour stronger than I was when I came in." That attitude has gotten me far, and now my body is stronger than I ever thought it could be.

So I'm not letting the stats get me down. No "sigh" comment to be made that I'm only 50% done WITH ONLY THE FIRST TRAY. In fact, I'm thinking of it this way. My teeth are "one week" better than they were last Tuesday morning! So yay me.

I do go through times where I forget the trays are in, or at least I don't notice them as much as I did. But there's still a fair amount of testing out the bite, and running my tongue over the trays. No cuts or sores - seriously file the sharp edges people, don't suffer! I can get them in and out with ease. I promise new users and new attachment people, eventually you'll just understand the right series of moves and the place in your teeth where the tray releases and pops out of your mouth. The sensitivity is, for the most part, over.

In fact, I'm going to try out a little of the Zoom whitening my dentist gave me over the break. From what I've read that can lead to some sensitivity the first day but I feel up to it, and I'll still have a few days to rest before I move on to the second tray. I stare at my teeth a lot these days. I'd like to see them get whiter as well, especially in those places that haven't seen the light in decades :)

Thanks for following along and letting me know that I'm helping some of you out. Your comments back have been awesome and motivating. I feel like we're all in this together!

A to the Zoom

So Thanksgiving went well! It was strange to not nibble as we cooked, not doing some quality control along the way. My waistline probably appreciates this development. But I enjoyed a whopping ONE AND HALF HOURS STRAIGHT without the trays in, to fully enjoy everything including an amazing red wine we had sent from a trip to Italy earlier this year. Though when I put the buggers back in they were tighter than normal, as if my teeth had decided en masse to just go back to where they came from and forget this whole ordeal. Jokes on you teeth, you have 33 more trays and refinements to go. Get used to it.

Today was the day where I realized I have gotten to the "eh I hardly notice them now" point. Which is something to really be thankful for! The trays just don't bother me as much, if at all, and it's my new normal to have them in. (She says a few days before moving on to the next set of trays).

And as promised/threatened I did a little Zoom gel whitening tonight after Thanksgiving Dinner Part Deux. I was given the 9.5% Hydrogen Peroxide Daytime "for extra sensitive whiny patients" formula. Aside from a lot of foaming in the mouth and furious googling the phrase "is swallowing zoom whitening foam ok?" it was a nonevent. Thirty minutes of weird whitening foam later and a thorough cleaning my teeth are noticeably whiter, especially down at the gumline which was a problem area. You can do this twice a day until you have reached your desired level of whiteness, but I think I'm going to stick to once a tray and do this gradually. That was my dentist's suggestion and since people complain about teeth and gum sensitivity it seems smart. Who needs any more of that?

So that's that. If you don't hear from me ever again, you'll know that I wasn't supposed to be swallowing all the whitening gel foam and you'll know better when it's your turn!

Dear Tray Set One,

Big day tomorrow! I'll be 2.95% through my 34 set journey tomorrow thanks to you. And yes, there will be a lot of excitement as I pop in some sleepy painkillers and the next set of trays, all fresh, new and tight. I can't lie to you. I'm looking forward to it because I'm human and anxious as hell to have straight teeth. To do that I have to move on. It's not you, it's me.

But I don't want you to feel you'll be forgotten as I retire you first to the red box in the big medicine cabinet in the sky, and then to your final resting place TBD because I just hadn't thought that far to be honest. Don't tell the others, but you're always going to be one of my favorites. You initiated me into a process that I was intimidated and nervous about. You were the strong and silent type, using your tough love to nudge these crooked jerks towards their new homes. But nobody saw you working your magic. Unless all my friends lie to my face, which would be unlike my friends especially those born and raised here in NYC. And you stayed strong and never snapped, literally, as I desperately pried you away from my teeth and out of my mouth. You even inspired me to do the algebra to come up with that 2.95% figure in that first paragraph. I hope the added time in the nice Retainer Brite bath tonight and the extra care I took scrubbing you clean showed my love and appreciation. You've been good to me Tray Set One. I'll never forget it.

Moving right along

The pic below was taken right as I was about to pop in my new trays. Mostly because I'm pretty proud of clean my trays stayed. And then I notice oh look at how my arch is going to widen. Cool.

Um and one of my front teeth will start its slight but painful rotation out. Or so I'm guessing based on the pain I'm feeling right now.

So how about those clean trays folks?!?!?

Ok Tray Set Two, I'm Feelin Ya!

So the other night I switched trays and I'm going to be blunt here, it wasn't pretty. Within five minutes I was super miserable and not even watching an episode of the very excellent and quite funny "Fargo" could distract me (if you aren't watching "Fargo" start! You won't regret it!).

But back to the teeth. I had pretty much blocked out what kind of pain I first felt a whopping two weeks ago so I didn't really have a "normal" to compare it to. But the pressure was so intense I actually grabbed my old trays, the upper tray of this set (out of my mouth) and the third set to investigate and look at the numbers. I was absolutely convinced there had been a crazy mistake because there was no way these trays were made for my mouth at this stage of the game. Somebody somewhere was about to get a phone call and it wasn't going to go well.

Anyway. Perhaps I over reacted. I slept fine. I had a slight headache yesterday but nothing bad. They're a little tight coming off but nothing that can't be handled, and it's just your run of the mill sensitivity now. I'm not even taking painkillers today, and my teeth are already settled in and the trays are perfectly comfortable. Like, I didn't even have a good enough excuse for a super frosty milkshake when all is said and done.

So lesson learned? When asking your teeth to perform the equivalent of moving mountains, don't panic when they hurt a little for like six hours and change.


No matter what I do I cannot tame your rough edges and you're irritating the hell out of me and my tongue and dental wax is just messy and weird. I can't wait to break up with you in exactly one week.

Onward and Outward

Tray set 3 is in! Tray 2 on the left in the pic, 3 on the right.

Usual tightness and sensitivity, but not a whole lot of pain or irritation thankfully. I spent a decent amount of time last night on some fine filing, and did preliminary "tongue tests" to check my work. I also let them sit for a while in water while I finished up my time with the previous trays. Don't know if that all helped, or these are just nicer trays. But no real complaints so far and I'm really happy to report that (even though I'm prepared for sudden aches and pains later on).

Being out of the second trays means that in terms of my projected treatment:
- 1 month down, 14 to go
- 5.88% complete
- 3 containers of floss, 2 tubes of large toothpaste, 3 travel size toothpaste, 2 bottles of Listerine, 3 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, 2 containers of dental wax down the drain
- 2 Zoom whitening treatments complete - yes even on the miserable last trays I managed a little whitening

Some funny things about the last set of trays...

Twice I found myself without my retainer case. Once because it fell out of my small carrying case and I switched bags without knowing it. Once I just went to dinner without it when I had planned to get back home to brush and clean -- but didn't really think about it until we sat down. Napkin wrapped, in the purse, extra care to not damage them. This, plus running through supplies like a crazy woman, has led me to suggest that my husband fill my christmas stocking with my favorite floss (yes, there is such a thing as favorite floss!), chewies (they lose flavor so quickly!) and spare retainer cases for all my bags and office. Cute ones hopefully. Not that the Invisalign ones are unattractive or anything...

This past Monday my husband and I had a special dinner out. I've gotten to the point where I just can't care and I take the things out at the table. I'm discreet but also, whatever. As we finished up and I went off to clean up I remembered that I had chosen a restaurant that had a unisex wash area. So I had to brush, floss, and clean the trays not only in front of strangers, but IN FRONT OF BOYS. I was a little miffed at myself for this, but then I thought well I doubt I'll see any of these jokers again. Floss away.

Also yesterday I had a work trip so this was my first time traveling by air with Invisalign. Airport bathrooms are a challenge not just for privacy, but lack of space and the awareness of how germy those space can be hung over my post breakfast and late lunch trips. I wanted to avoid needing to eat or snack on the plane so eating right before seemed like the best solutions. I hadn't really thought about how much I enjoy an in-flight cup of coffee on my way to a meeting, and an actual drink on my way back until yesterday. But I stuck to water like a good girl. Though since I was changing them out later that night I guess it wouldn't have mattered now that I think about it. In case you can't tell I am really committed to retiring trays in near-pristine condition.

But the best story is my meeting was with the CEO and lead team for a major fashion brand. I had to sneakily get these suckers out first to grab a quick m&m snack, and then again when one of the assistants told me lunch was being brought up for us. I knew I needed to get a little food to be polite (see above about my eating plan, plus I hadn't expected food, and I hate eating during meetings) and then swish really well and then pop the trays in during the car ride to the airport because I wanted to get through security and to a margarita and real lunch right before takeoff. And I wasn't so sure about the bathroom sink situation in the building but I'm not ready to floss in front of clients. So I went through the meeting without the trays in, but I was totally prepared to have them in. Nobody is noticing. It still amazes me!

Anyway, I was looking back to the ClinCheck and then looking at my trays. I can definitely see and feel the movement...the teeth are all going out and up, spreading out slowly but surely. My right incisor is slowly coming out of its hiding place and I can feel the gap closing in when I get my tongue up in there. And my left incisor is slowly rotating around. My two front teeth are looking a little straighter too! I think my real life teeth look better than the ClinCheck representation. Either that's what I want to see or it's actually true. When I get into tray set five I'll post pics. I'll be further along and you guys can tell me if I'm making it up or not :)

I can still say even through the torture of the previous set, the inconveniences, and the long road ahead I'm still happy I went down this road and yes I still would do it again in a heartbeat :)

I'm Fully Quipped!

I've hinted at this before, but I consider it an achievement to get to the end of a tray rotation and have them come out pretty spotless. To that end, I don't drink anything with the trays in and I do a full-on cleaning routine each and every time. I know some people drink with them in, or skip the mid-day floss or don't soak the trays every single time in something, and to them it's no biggie but this is where I have a solid "you do you and I'll do me" attitude. Because it's more than about the appearance for me - though that is part of it because coffee or tea stained trays ain't my thing while I'm trying to pearly up these teeth. Again, no judgement if this falls into your personal "I've got much bigger fish to fry" file.

Every time I put these guys on I become aware that I'm pretty much sealing whatever is in between or on my teeth in there for many hours. I just finished six months of having all my fillings replaced and I'm not anxious for more dental work on top of this treatment. And my auto-immune medication can have oral health implications for the worse. So yeah, I'm taking this stuff seriously. And that's when I became interested in my toothbrush situation. Just warning anybody here, don't dig too deeply into the topic of bacteria and toothbrushes because you might not sleep a decent night ever again. But it's a thing.

So I've signed up for Quip! Basically it's a simple electronic toothbrush that uses vibration as a cue to clean your mouth quadrant by quadrant for a full two minutes (which is the overall recommendation for timing). But wait that's not all! It's also a subscription service! So every three months I get shipped not only a supply of toothpaste, but a new toothbrush head (because that's when you're supposed to be changing those out). And it has a holding tube, or can be affixed to the inside of your medicine cabinet.

I'm super into it. The toothbrush isn't crazily over-engineered. But it has a nice, massaging motion that pleases the gums. And the time function keeps me from the temptation to get lazy, at least when I'm at home and using it. The tooth paste doesn't have a strong enough minty flavor for my taste, but since I use Listerine to kill anything left behind that helps. And I like not having to think about replacements and toothpaste - at least aside from all the portable ones that I need.

Thought I'd share for any of you considering an electric toothbrush or wouldn't mind some automatic supply action for yourself.


It turns out dentists are real people who travel for the holidays - maybe they also have families they spend time with, who knows? - and then because of weather get stuck and have to change your appointment to check in on your progress and give you the next set of your aligners.

In reality it's only a day delay, and if I choose to suffer through the day hours with the new trays in vs a nighttime switch it's actually not even that big of a deal. I know I need to roll with the punches, I just thought the punches would be later in the game :)

Seriously though, I'm really looking forward to finding out how she thinks my progress is tracking and start tray set four! With the pain of a new set comes the excitement of moving forward!

2016 : Hello to the year of Straighter Teeth

Well Happy New Year's everyone! I'm sure like me you're looking forward to the next year of the change that we've all waited so long for! Attached is the frame from my ClinCheck that shows the projected status of my smile at the end of 2016. If all goes as planned, or at least somewhat close, I'll be a very happy camper this time next year. It's crazy to see this, knowing how fast a year can go by! I hope I just didn't jinx my teeth in 2016...

I'm into tray set four now, and it's been pretty decent I guess. Only a few places needed some filling down this time around. It's a Christmas miracle!

When I got to the dentist on Wednesday morning I got surprise IPR - yay! Well, not so yay. I wasn't prepared for it, at all. It was one tooth that really needed it because of how tight the space had gotten. It was over quickly. But still. I hate it. I'm a nightmare to deal with I'm sure. And it's possible I was slightly hungover from an event the night before -- hey guess how much fun that made changing the tray in the morning?!?!? So Wednesday was pretty miserable save for the Gilmore Girls marathon I undertook. I had also lost one of the attachments, which I had failed to notice. So I should probably check that out more closely in the future. It was on the tooth that has to majorly twist around, and that poor jerk needs as much help as he can get. I feel like I really let him down, but hopefully we can make up any lost ground. Famous last words?

Next time I have to "brace" myself (ha ha) for at least three teeth to get IPR, but best would be if I could make it through five (!!!!!!) without a nervous breakdown. Place your bets on how much Xanax this requires. Did I mention my next appointment is a few days before my birthday? Yeah. Happy birthday to me, this year I get lots of nerve wracking drilling of enamel. I will admit, flossing is much nicer afterwards. That will be our secret, otherwise my panic and anxiety will come off even more ridiculous to the dental team. But this is all to prevent a lot of intense sessions later down the treatment path when everything is even tighter from moving. That was Invisalign's bright idea, to save it all for later. I suppose I should be thankful for the deviation from that plan and get it out of the way. But true to form on the walk home I thought what if I just stopped now and had two teeth removed and get trays remolded to avoid this? See...I really hate the IPR!

(To people reading this who haven't had the IPR...before I scare the bejeesus out of you let me say it's actually painless. It doesn't even hurt as much as a vigorous gum cleaning. Or maybe my gum cleanings are vigorous because my hygienist is Russian? Anyway, it's just the sound and sensation that freaks me out and turns me into a blubbering, insane person that would consider oral surgery and the gap of two missing teeth over a few millimeters of painless enamel shaving).

Well at any rate my teeth seem to be tracking according to plan so far. Topic for another time, I've been curious about the people who report they get all the way through treatment but didn't have much movement at all. I'm not doubting this, but curious how trays still manage to fit...

I am pretty happy the holidays are behind me. It hasn't been the most fun to juggle this treatment and the holidays right off the bat while I'm a newbie. I felt the need to cram in everything yummy I could in the time I had these out, and wash it all down with egg nog. So I feel pretty disgusting as a result. Christmas night at a friend's meant timing buffet vs actual dinner removal time, so by the time I started eating I was like a wild, raging animal. We traveled for New Year's which meant eating on an Amtrak train, and yes dealing with cleaning in said Amtrak train bathroom. While moving. This is not recommended, but if you try it bring bottled water with you into the bathroom. Sure people will look at you like you're insane but you'll never see them again except on your way back out of the bathroom. The dinner was a multi-course seated thing at a friend's house and it's very nice to be invited but I spent about four hours without the trays in due to the meal pacing. This was a day after starting this set. This is also not recommended. Putting them back in was an extra pain, like starting all over again and then that led to extra extra pain in the morning. Then we had our traditional Pho breakfast and that bathroom...well the less I describe it the better but it was comparable to an Amtrak train so there you go. I just ended up skipping food until I was safe and sound back at home because I have my limits to how often I can brush much teeth and put the trays back in under questionable sanitary circumstances.

Life is going back to normal, and I'm partaking in a Dry January because I just really feel like I overdid it in December. And please take note when I mention the hangover above this was after two drinks. No tolerance! And lesson learned, I've asked my birthday dinner to happen the week after the actual day because we are planning dinner at a really great restaurant that will take multiple hours, and the idea of having the trays out that long in the beginning of a cycle (and after the IPR extravaganza) doesn't seem too happy for me.

It's all worth it, right? RIGHT?!?!

Sigh, ok ending this random stream of consciousness with my favorite...stats! Finishing tray set three means:
- 8.82% done if we're sticking at Tray 34 (I'm staying optimistic even though I believe it's unheard of to not go through refinements....)
- Including the days I'm into the fourth set I'm now 9.45% done, unless you go ahead and count that we're more halfway through this day, so it's more like 10%! (Don't even ask how I did the math on this because it's either crazy, wrong, or both. Probably both)
- IPR count: 3 teeth, out of 15. So a fifth through it and if I make it through 5 next time that's over half done on that unpleasantness
- Replaced attachments: 1
- Lost Chewies: 3
- I've lost count on bottles of mouthwash, containers of floss, etc. It's epic how much of this I'm going through

So that's the deal with me. I see a few new people have started treatment and are piping in and documenting their journeys. I long for the time when we're all nearing the end and showing off the results of all this tedious annoyance!

Ciao, and here's to 2016.

Tray set five is in!

I'm 11.76% done with these 34 trays! Y'all...woo to the hoo! So far nothing special to report with the new trays. Haven't even had ibuprofen this morning. Today I head out for a work trip for the rest of the week so I'm curious to see how that will go, especially the six hour flight. Hopefully it will just equal a long nap!

I was asked if I notice a difference yet. Like everyone I feel the change more than I see it. But overall I can say my teeth bother me less. Maybe that's part the whitening process, but there is a something going on in the straightening department as well. After this set I'll do a pic.

But I have to say the other thing I notice is just more confidence. I'm actually talking to people about it, especially because people still don't notice them even after I point out that I'm doing it. But I've also noticed that there are some things I was thinking of doing for myself and had the "wait until" attitude. Update my wardrobe but wait until this is over (and I've had another year of barre classes under my belt). Do something fun and funky with my hair but wait until I'm ddone be with Invisalign. I'm tired of waiting, frankly. Doing this one nice thing for myself, Invisalign, has set something else off. So in addition to getting my wardrobe up to speed I got my usually mousy brown hair painted in an ombré fashion, so it's dark dark chestnut at the root and goes into a dark cherry red at the bottom. It's fun and funky, especially in certain lights where a little magenta comes out. It is, dare I say, fashionable. Something I've been afraid to be for a very very long time. So do I notice a difference? Hell yeah. I feel like this is helping me come into my own. And it only took 40 years!

Cheers everyone! Thanks for following and sharing :)

A Major Milestone: Take Five

Tomorrow I move on to Tray Set Six (!!!!), and just like everyone said time has flown by, and just like everyone promised this has all become second nature. It has actually become sort of boring and ho-hum in the day-to-day actually. I've stopped replaying my ClinCheck over and over, and going back through past pictures, and projections to stay motivated. I'm not dying for it to be over because it's barely a thing for the most part, aside from the first night and the occasional post-change adjustments that I'm used to. But yes it will be nice to just have the results I want and then move on.

So with these 5 down, there's only 29 to go if things go as planned! 10 weeks under my belt, 58 to go - just a little over a year! I'm now 14.71% done! It's a nice big statistical chunk of progress, and before I know it I'll be 10 down and even closer. Like I said it goes by so fast. I've also come to terms that if refinements are in order I can deal. As noted above, they aren't driving me so crazy, and neither is the constant oral care, that I'm dying to be done aside from just having better teeth.

As promised here are some side by sides for y'all. In some areas I can't see any movement, but in others I see it. As planned, there is a lot of room opening up and certain teeth are coming forward or slowly rotating. The opening up actually gives me a first impression that it's getting worse. But it's like when you're packing up for a move. It's going to feel a little worse before it gets better. I'm bracing myself because the next five+ trays follow this trend before things start falling into place.

Thanks everyone for the ongoing encouragement. Makes all the difference on the low days :)

Hateful Eight

So after getting to the point where I couldn't even be bothered to be bothered anymore...I'm bothered. How easy it is to forget.

Last time we talked I was on set five. Well that went fine-a-rooney. The six, also swell, except a very aggressive tooth cleaning with a young hygienist. I went in to get the next set of trays, all xanaxed up expecting some IPR but I was spared. She took mercy on me and decided to give my mouth a break. We have time, she was just also trying to spread it out for me too. I have had a lot of work on my mouth in one year. I was happy that she recognized it's been a lot. So I got trays seven through ten instead of just one because my teeth are moving so well (more on this in a moment) and was on my way! Tray seven, no big whoop. Then bam, out of nowhere this set is like murder in my mouth. I'm a week in and I'm still having some sensitivity on some of the teeth. I'm not having to take anything for it, but this set is really working on a lot all at once. I have a feeling the next few sets are going to be like this.

But heck, I'm over 20% done with these first 34 trays so yay anyway.

Ok so as I said I was given four trays instead of three because my teeth, right now, are tracking so well. And I asked how can she tell (this was a question in the comments in my last post or the one before). This is what she told me:

First, she goes 4-6 weeks without seeing me and she can see a difference just by looking at me. My husband told me this the other weekend too. Next month I see my family for a wedding, so my mom's reaction will be telling. Anyway, the dental assistant also said she can see the movement when I come in and start talking.

But the real measures I wanted to report on. They both look to see how well the tray I'm currently wearing is seating. This tells them if my teeth have moved to where they need to be. Then when I put in the new tray they double check it will also seat. One of the things that made tray eight so rough was actually getting it seated on a tooth that's moving laterally. Since I know these are the toughest to move anyway I've been crazy about it. I know I saw a case on here where over time the tooth just didn't move down and there was a gap in the tray. I'm trying to prevent this. Chewies are my bff because they really get the trays in super tight. And time...I wear them as much as humanly possible.

Then they compare the ClinCheck to my teeth position. There was a lot of going back and forth between frames. And the verdict is everything is where it's supposed to be.

PS - next time you're in, ask your dr to play your ClinCheck until the tray you're on then pause. Then have them quickly run back to your starting point. While I only somewhat see the difference myself, this drastic back to square one look was dramatic for me.

I go back in for trays eleven through something, right before my sister's wedding. And that's really all there is to say. (shrugs)

I hope you are all tracking great, staying out of trouble, and just moving right along!

Perfect Ten

Y'all I spent all day dreading the new set of trays, and yet really looking forward to them.

Because as of 40 minutes ago I'm in double digits. Hello ten. YES!!!!!

And now I'm a quarter of the way through round one. YES!!!!!!

It's weird thinking back to getting the first set and feeling like it would take forever to have a significant chunk of the first (maybe only-ish?) treatment behind me. But it's actually gone by pretty quickly, all things considered. And I really have started to notice a big change. Like my top right incisor doesn't stick out as much, and when I laugh or smile it doesn't feel like my lip gets stuck on it. On the bottom right of my teeth I had three that, together, formed this bermuda triangle of crookedness - the incisor was sitting in front of two teeth that were behind it and side by side. When I asked about any tooth extraction my doctor knew exactly why I was asking and said she would never take out an incisor. Well now I can stick my tongue in between the space that's been created between those two back teeth. And my two front teeth continue to look a lot straighter. When I get through the end of these trays I'll update photos. In the meantime here's a side by side of trays one and ten - you can see the areas where some real progress has been made.

But why the dread you might ask?!? Well the last few trays have been pretty tough. The pain has lingered for a few days, they have worked hard on the same teeth, and the last bottom tray was really difficult in particular. The piece that fit over that crazy incisor was so super tight, then also sort of loose at the bottom at first but the tooth slowly moved into it. But It had me annoyed, that the bottom was loose, and also really worried that maybe that tooth just wasn't moving like it was supposed to be. But it also felt strategic in order to get the tray on and off because of other things going on. So moving to the next set was going to be a big moment of truth. Also all of the edges of the tray were super smooth EXCEPT the back left half of the upper tray which somehow annoyed me more than lots of rough edges. But I didn't have to do any filing. I've just sort of gotten used to it.

So ten just went in, and OMG these babies are a dream. I mean, I have the tightness, and a mild headache happening now. But they fit like a nice, tight glove and I can see that indeed my incisor is moving up and is right where it should be for this tray to work. I can really tell with this tray how my one tooth that needs the most rotating has progressed because the back is now flush to the one next to it, and the tray used to dip quite a bit when I ran my tongue across it.

And also, not to brag, these trays have amazingly smooth edges, all around. It's like an alternate universe. So the dread was all for nothing.


I should have updated a few trays back because I was trying to do a side by side every five trays but I got busy....and super lazy. Then I was going to do it earlier this week but spent a lot of energy in the voting here in NYC which was a circus, then Prince died and I got super sad. But it's Saturday now so here you go!

So I'm a third of the way through my treatment, and I have to say I'm feeling really really good about the outcome and I'm beginning to see it. I did some side by sides from day one (current is on the right) and it's funny because the photos don't quite capture how much progress that I'm seeing or maybe that I'm just feeling. I was just home for my sister's wedding and my mother commented right away how much difference she could see, especially in my front teeth. I mean, I just feel good. And every time an Invisalign ad pops up on my Facebook and is like "more confident you" I want to shout HELL YES! New people know this. At some point you'll just feel really great you're doing this and the rest is just noisy inconvenience and, yeah some pain.

Two trays ago I went for a progress check and new trays. I cannot stress to people starting their search how nice it is to have an attentive provider. I see so many folks here who have questions or are uncertain of things, or just see the assistant on their case, and are really unhappy with it. I feel really reassured when I go in, I see the assistant has already studied my case, I get a thorough exam from both of them, and we always focus on next steps. I always know what's immediately coming, and am given the long-view. Just makes it so much easier. Seriously, add this quality to your checklist and you won't regret it. Some tidbits from the visit:

Treatment is definitely working and I'm right where I need to be! Everybody's mouth responds differently but she's pretty confident that come Tray 34 I'll feel really great about the results. Fingers crossed my teeth keep cooperating! When I walked in I told them Tray 10 was where I really got a sense that things were moving.

Once again she told me this is the "getting worse before better stage" and the next few trays will hurt like a mother, and there will be things that aesthetically will not make me happy, like my front teeth flaring out like some Simpsons character. But then shortly after things start moving into place rather quickly. I'm very excited about posting pics 10 trays from now!

As far as refinements, there's a little bit of a gap were my front teeth on the top and bottom close that isn't addressed with these trays, and I knew that going in. We talked about it and she reminded me that she was waiting to see how I was doing first before really talking through that, and getting them in a back and forth. She thinks about 10 extra trays maybe, and that if I don't want to do all of them I don't have to. It really isn't the biggest issue, and she doesn't anticipate it being a big deal to close the opening. She also mentioned I might want to consider some gum grafts - due to the misalignment I have some recession. I've looked into it and while it doesn't seem like the greatest deal in the world, it also seems manageable.

Note, a year ago I would have panicked at the idea. My doctor has worked wonders on me and my anxiety.

And four months of retainer wearing! That likely puts me at a finish line of November '07, two years from my start date, before my teeth are plastic-free. I have been wondering how I'll react to the additional time, especially since I've been really into tracking where I am, progress wise. Like, technically I'm now, all in, only nearing a quarter of the way through versus a third. But that felt way more significant when it was early trays, and I was not used to them. I hardly think about them, and when I switch out I have a moment where I forget what number I'm on even though everything is organize. It really does go by in a flash. So the news was met with a "whatever." I might as well get these buggers as perfect as possible while I can.

And finally, not to brag again (ok I'm bragging) but once again I have a series of trays with very very smooth edges that haven't bugged me in the least. I've probably jinxed myself. Stay tuned...

Hope all is well for you other Invisaligners out there!


So the good news first. I just popped in trays 14 and the progress I've made is beyond satisfactory, to say the least. Just got in from the dentist and she's thrilled as well. Two teeth got IPR and I survived. Just eight more spaces to go. 20 trays to go before small refinements (fingers crossed). Picture attached shows that the biggest change is the inscisor on my right (your left) has almost fully emerged from behind the front tooth. And it's counterpart, twisty tooth, is almost rotated to real tooth-like position. I'm really want to send pics to other docs who said I wouldn't get results with Invisalign. Some pretty tricky and significant movement is already behind me, and I'm feeling very good about the rest. Except for the bad news. My dentist is changing practices. Even though I'm being transferred to the lead Invisalign person in the office, and she's been the advisor on my case and following me closely, I'm so sad to lose the one who has patiently seen to extensive work before even beginning Invisalign. She's been amazing. They've agreed to keep her updated so at least I know she can see all her hard work pay off in the next nine months! And with that I'm off to enjoy post IPR Xanax fog.

A Purchase

I travelled a lot this week for work, which always sounds much more exciting than it really is. Though I did manage to get in some pool time in warmer weather, and since it's still chilly here in NYC I won't complain! Yesterday at the airport to make my way back home - finally! - I had a lot of time to kill. So I wandered into the MAC booth and bought myself a little lip color. Nothing crazy deep because it will just end up on my trays, plus with a dry mouth I'd have to reapply constantly. But it's a nice, subtle pop of color. I've avoided anything other than lip balm my whole life so I wouldn't draw attention to my teeth. It's so nice to already feel so less self-conscious about my smile for a change. I'm very excited to go back and have at it with the lipstick when this is all done!

Fourteen down, Twenty to Go!

Tray set fifteen is in! It's a little weird to be honest. I know the next five trays are pulling a lot of my teeth forward, and this is where the two front teeth start to become bucky. On purpose. There's parts of the tray that are tight, other parts are loose. It will be interesting to see how this all works out in a week. Amazing that this late in the game you can get a tray that throws you for a loop and makes you feel like ok is this tray right or what? Edges are super smooth though.

Anyway check out the tray comparison. You can see how much movement my top teeth have gone through already, from snaggletooth on the left getting in line with everyone else, and its neighbor coming out and forward. And twisty tooth on the right is rotated like 25 degrees (or something - honestly geometry wasn't/isn't my thing). And then on the bottom there's a decent amount of space in those lower left teeth, and general straightness happening across the front.

I'm really excited to get through the next ten trays because if my ClinCheck is to be believed, I'll be pretty darn happy at that point. Also It's been suggested that I'll have fuller lips as more support takes shape.

Also....45% done with these buggers. Moving right along!

Holy Molar

The pain in my right molars is intense you guys. I mean that makes sense because that side is home to the jagged edges of my smile. But I. Am. Miserable.

That is all. Just wanted to share. No pain no gain am I right?

(Takes more Advil)

15 Down, 19 to Go!

Be noticed lately I'm laughing full-blown open mouthed. And smiling big. And I got curious about what that was looking like. So I took a quick pic. And man iim pleased. I know there's still work to be done. But for the first time I'm glimpsing what my smile will look like when I'm not hiding my mouth. I'm seeing for the first time my face lit up. I'm going through a lot right now personally and have been extremely sad. It's been rough. These moments of laughter and smiling have been few and far between, but welcome and necessary. It's nice to know there's so much more to smile about in the coming months.

Hello 17, Hello to the (almost) Halfway Point

Another tray full of pain, my goodness. I just struggled eating a soft snack bar. Looks like I'm all eggs, soup and smoothies for a few days while I adjust.

Yesterday I met my new doctor. She's very nice, and firm. I had a routine "pick up" for my next four trays and had a question about twisty tooth. The past few trays have had a noticeable gap between the bottom of twisty tooth and the bottom of the tray. It slowly gets smaller throughout the two weeks but I was still getting nervous that the little jerk wasn't doing exactly what is required. So she got in there to make sure. Seems like all is well and normal.

Thanks to people here who have shown this gap in action, and especially those that aren't resolving because I knew that could be a sign of an especially stubborn tooth. I was grateful to push on this issue and get an answer. But I'm keeping my eye on it.

The next three trays are finishing the major movement, then the remainder trays are for smaller movements. On the bottom row I have annoying, jutty tooth. Space is being made so he can be pulled back in which has been moderately painful. But the big thing that happens starting with trays 20 is the slow retreat back in line. That apparently will take forever. But a lot will be pretty much in place so it's all good.

I cannot stress enough how happy I am I made this decision, and how excited I am about the results. It's done wonders for me, my confidence, and my overall happiness. It feels crazy to be nearly halfway through this first phase. And even though my mouth feels like hell right now I know it will pass. It's just all worth it. I wish I had done it years ago!


Officially on the other side of the halfway mark and moving forward.


Progress Report : Halfway There

Thought today would be a great day to take some pics and do some side-by-side now that I'm at the halfway point. (Sorry about my tongue being in one of them - that seems a little extreme for some reason!)

I think we can confidently agree that Invisalign is working for me! Especially when I look at the top up view I'm really amazed at how far everything has come, especially with the more difficult teeth that didn't have to just get in line, they had to full-blown rotate into a new position. Pretty amazing stuff.

Very excited to see what the next 15 (and a half if we're being accurate) trays bring!

Happiness is...

Two weeks vacation and for the first time EVER smiling in the photos. I became selfie-obnoxious I was so happy. Here's me cooling down in a river in Idaho. Look at that happy smile!

Halfway through tray 20 right now.


Another milestone. Today was the first time someone asked me if I had braces. Nine months in. And my boss was like I've been meaning to tell you that your teeth are getting so straight!
Used to hate thinking people would notice my teeth. Loving it now!

Happy 21st - my teeth are now of legal drinking age in the US :)

I went in to pick up my next round of trays last night and was met with a nice compliment, and a pleasant(?) surprise.

Compliment - apparently I'm a great "wearer." My dentist can see I have these buggers in all the time (I mean all. the. damn. time) and I seat them well. Side note, seriously, get the Chewies if you haven't already. Sometimes I get a tray and there's like one section that needs some help. I'm convinced these things make the most of a tray.

And surprise - I'm not moving on to tray 22. In two weeks attachments are coming off, molds retaken, and the rest of the treatment plan developed. She's hoping we can get a plan together that requires less IPR at the end since they frontloaded some and there's still a little room for expansion elsewhere. I'm not entirely sure how this will work but they've been right so far and my teeth have moved beautifully so I'm open. She said I'll probably have less attachments in the next go round to boot. And in the original plan there was a slight opening between my front and bottom two front teeth they wanted to address but decided to see how I was responding to treatment before going back and getting that refined. She thinks it will add on a few more trays but not a ton. We'll see right?

So with this tray I'm "technically done" with my first round I suppose, and I'm going back to square one with a new plan. I will cry if they're like say hello to your next 35 trays! I can deal with another 20. I think. I don't know sometimes.

Also I guess this means tray 21 and I will be great friends as I wait for new sets to come in :-/

Mid-Course Progress

Tonight I went in to get my mid-course correction plan rolling. And I survived. (Thanks Xanax!)

I had heard enough people talk about the attachment removal to think the worst. But aside from one sensitive tooth it wasn't all that bad. Was over in about 10 minutes.

Then I had scans and molds redone.

My teeth feel so amazing without the attachments! See the picture! I'm excited to see the new plan. Everyone feels like there will be minimal IPR in my future and hopefully not as many attachments but we will see.

I will say looking at this photo my two front teeth are slantier than they look with the trays in. I know I still have twenty or so trays left. But with them in my impression is way straighter teeth.

Also, while this didn't totally suck I do not want to redo it. Meaning I don't want another round of attachments drilled off to take impressions and scans for refinements that result in a third round of attachments. Which have to be drilled off. I have to draw a line somewhere right!?!

What's Next

Just got my mid-course correction plan, which I knew was going to be good based on my doctor's face when I came in.

Very few attachments on my bottom teeth as compared to last time, but attachments on my two front teeth. Was hoping to avoid, frankly since I didn't have it last time. But....no more IPR. Tada! That was the point of this whole thing and she delivered.

I have 24 trays to go and we are doing AcceleDent so only six more months before retainers. This takes the sting out of the number, because I was hoping for under 20 left to go. Plus if everything I've read is true less pain to boot.

All in all, I'm pretty happy. Plus I've been in these trays for five weeks. I'm ready to move on.

Back on the Program

Tray 1 of 26 today! I forgot how much I hate having the attachments put on, and how much it sucks at first getting trays off your teeth. They go further back this time around so my usual way of removing trays wasn't as effective. Plus...sore. Doesn't help that I have a sore throat. Which also doesn't make attachments attachment any more enjoyable.

So now I'm sitting here with the AcceleDent in my mouth. Please tell me I'll get used to this stupid thing. Please tell me it's going to work. I feel like I'm going to gag. The spit situation is disgusting. And did I mention I feel like I'm going to gag?

Only six months to go. Only six months to go. Only six months to go.
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