50+ and Trying Invisalign to Improve my Smile - Starting April Fool's Day 2014 - Waterloo, ON

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It's April Fool's day of all days. A perfect day...

It's April Fool's day of all days. A perfect day to start wearing braces. I arrive at my dentist's and am taken into the treatment room. I am recovering from a bad cold but coughing is down to a minimum.
The last time I was in to see the dentist he made molds from my teeth with goopy plastic stuff. This stuff makes you want to gag, especially when it gets on the back of your tongue. While the dentist does tell me what will happen next, I notice that it is really on a ‘need to know’ basis. Perhaps this is in order that I don’t get scared off before I even begin.
I am reclined in the chair while my dentist proceeds to shove an appliance into my mouth to give me fish lips and make it easier for them to begin my prep work. Step one involves shaving my two front teeth down the middle to make for room for tooth movement. This is not exactly fun. It also sounds like they are drilling, but I experience no pain per se.
After that the dentist proceeds to add several attachments to my teeth – little tooth-coloured bumps which will help hold the ‘trays’ of aligners in place. The assistant opens the window for fresh air as they smell of glue and solvents are not particularly refreshing. She ends up putting a blanket over me to keep me warm as they work. All told I was in the office for an hour and a half. I was scheduled for one hour. I did not anticipate so much work. I thought that they would just hand me my trays and I pop them over my teeth like nothing. Not quite.
Last step was actually popping the trays onto my teeth. The dentist does this for me. The aligners feel strange but do not hurt. It feels like pressure against my teeth. Before I leave, the dentist asks me to try to take them off. I try but in the end he has to remove them for me. Then I am sent off (having already been in the dentist’s chair longer than anticipated). This concerns me because what if I can’t get them out on my own? I worry about this as I leave.
I pay the Dentist office $250 for this set of aligners and I take a ‘free’ tube of lip gloss. ( I already paid $2,000 when I agreed to start using invisalign.) I feel like I deserve a treat for sure. I walk out the office and see my reflection in the mirror. I cannot see the aligners. I am pleased that I do not see big railroad tracks marching across my teeth. Now what?
It's lunch time and I have to take aligners out. For the first time. I am at my daughter’s house. I help get my lunch ready and then, at the last possible minute I attempt the removal of the aligners. They are very snug and clip on well because of the attachments. I pry and pry but cannot get them off. I feel a little claustrophobic. Finally I pop them out. It hurts. Good grief! My daughter tells me of course braces hurt. Of course it's hard to eat. Don't I remember what my daughters went through? Suck it up, Princess.
Before I know it the timer dings and I see my 30 minutes for lunch is over. I run back to the washroom to rinse out the aligners. At this point I have obviously not done enough research on what I was getting into. I didn’t know I was to brush the aligners and my own teeth, as well as floss, every time. But common sense says I should rinse them at least before re-inserting them. After much ado I get them snapped back into place. I feel like I have really accomplished something.
My daughter and I run some errands and get a coffee to take home. My dentist told me I could drink coffee, no sugar, with my aligners in. I take cream. Does that count? I drink the coffee and start researching online. I find this site. No, you should not drink coffee. Are you kidding me? I see I also have to assemble a little zip-up bag to put aligner container, toothbrush, paste, and floss in a one-stop baggy. My dentist did not mention this.
I had plans to dine out with my husband and second daughter and her fiancé this evening to celebrate their buying a house. I decide the best thing for me to do is take aligners out before leaving for the restaurant because I know I will be sipping red wine (and boy did I deserve it) prior to the meal. No, you can’t drink alcohol with aligners in. And no, I did not think I could take the aligners out in a public washroom yet. All in all I was out for 2 hours. As soon as I come home I brush, floss and replace aligners in my mouth. They feel strange. Just some pressure on my teeth. I can deal with this I think.
I go back to the computer and read more reviews. I finally go to bed with aligners and wonder what tomorrow will bring.

April 2, 2014
First full day with aligners. The aligners make my tummy not feel well. I look online and discover others found the same. I thought it was nerves, but maybe it’s the plastic. Later I read that I should wash aligners well before using them to help avoid this side-effect.
I prepare my breakfast and have everything ready to go before I remove my aligners. I am having an apple (cut up) with cereal and almonds and walnuts. I sprinkle this with flax seeds and cinnamon. I brew a cup of coffee and set the timer. I attempt to take out aligners. They hurt like crazy. I can't get them off. Finally, finally I pry them out of my mouth. I start to eat. Are you kidding me? It hurts to eat an apple and walnuts. What was I thinking? As I read my paper and softly chew, I soon discover it is already time to begin cleaning regime. But I am not finished eating yet! I scarf down the rest of my cereal, chug my coffee and fly upstairs to brush, floss and re-insert. 38 minutes. I'm 8 minutes over.
One thing is for sure. I have no intention of snacking. I am not taking the aligners out any more often than I have to. I am already worrying about lunch. My husband is going out of the country for a few weeks and we are going out for a nice lunch before he leaves. He picks a restaurant that has private washrooms. I don't even want to go because of the aligners. However, I agree to try.
We sit down at a table and order our meals. First comes a glass of Pinot Grigio and some homemade bread. I just sit and stare at the wine and fresh bread. After waiting about five minutes I go downstairs to the washroom to remove aligners. I take a little cup so I can rinse my mouth and the aligners. I return to the table in 5 minutes. I sip my wine and munch my bread. My order arrives four minutes later. (Yes, I am timing it.) I eat my salmon nicoise, drink the rest of my wine and finish my bread. I also order a cappuccino. I know I want a coffee and decide it is better to add on a few minutes now and not take them out again later. As soon as I drink it I go back to washroom, rinse my teeth and pop aligners back in. Total of 40 minutes. I went over eight minutes at breakfast and now will have to take ten more minutes off supper to keep to the 22 hours a day. What a hassle. I intend to tell my dentist that it is near impossible to remove the aligners for only 2 hours a day.

April 8th
End of first week. I have a scheduled appointment with my dentist this morning to see how I am doing with Invisalign. He decides I still need an adjustment on my top left tooth. I think I have way more buttons or adjustments than the average person. I count them. I have 20. I even have 2 on a single tooth. And on the front teeth. That is because my aligners have a big job – to move my eye-teeth back where they belong. I am feeling self-conscious about the attachments. They are not small. My braces may be invisible but the attachments feel very noticeable to me. I tell the dentist it is practically impossible to keep aligners in mouth for 22 hours a day. I tell him I use a timer and everything, but it is always a mad scramble to eat, and then brush my teeth, floss and then brush the aligners before getting them back in again.
He laughs at my anecdotes, but I wasn’t kidding how hard it is to comply. And I do try!
He gives me the next two sets of aligners and then I am due back at the dentist mid-May 13th. (That’s when I tell him I am going to Europe and NOT looking forward to it at all.)
By the end of my appointment, he says he wouldn’t be disappointed if I wear the aligners 21, if not 22 hours. Knowing this will let me relax some. From the reviews I read, those people who do not wear them diligently end up extending the time they need to wear them. I do not intend to extend my time.
Today’s adventure involves a trip to the mall. My daughter wants to grab a bite at the Food Court for lunch. Are you kidding me? I don’t want to (duh - because of public restrooms and pulling out my teeth in public) but she said I had to try it sometime. So we find a table and my daughter goes off to order and get the food. Then she returns to the table and I scurry to the public washroom. I look at the main public area and then I notice the mother’s area. A woman is in there breastfeeding but I decide it is the best place. I can face the wall, away from anyone, and wash my hands over the sink. Then I can stick my hands in my mouth and pop out the aligners. They are not as difficult to get in and out as they were the first few days. I put them in my case and then hurry back to my lunch. My daughter has already started hers. I tuck into mine. When we are done, we go back to the little mother’s room. I now carry a cosmetic bag with my dental care equipment. I brush my teeth and my aligners and put them back in my mouth. Whew. All in a day’s lunch. My daughter is good for me. I don’t think, (no, I know!) I would not have attempted this without her.

April 15
Tonight I start my second tray of aligners. 2 out of 32. Sigh.
In the afternoon I pick up a Timmy’s coffee. I use a straw and drink it with my aligners in. Tonight I change them so I figure it won't matter if they get dingy.
That night I also sip white wine with my aligners in. But I notice my teeth were beginning to feel sensitive. Then I realized that I have been brushing my teeth with Crest, not Sensodyne when I was away from home. I need to buy a small Sensodyne and a small regular toothpaste to take for when I am out.
After supper I decide to put my new aligners in right then. It is 8 pm and I am told (by people online, not my Dentist) to put them in at night when I go to bed and take an Advil. Tray two is definitely more tight. It is not easy getting them on. The big concern is getting them off again tomorrow morning. It is tough on my nails, and more of my nails are ripping and breaking. I tried a crochet hook but it didn't actually catch on to the edge of the aligner to pull it off. I have some rough bumps on the inside of my upper lip. I noticed these after week one and told the dentist at that time. He did not seem concerned. Some people file the edges down on their aligners. Not sure how to do this so I will just keep an eye on my lip lacerations and make sure they don't get really bad. And so ends my first fortnight and first tray of aligners. They really do change your life. And at this point I can say, and not in a good way. However, I am not a quitter. And so forward march.

Week Three, Tray 2: Easter

I decided to announce on Easter Sunday to my parents and my older brother and his wife, that I got Invisaligns. At church I had skipped going up for communion because I never thought about communion and taking bread and wine. I didn’t bring my kit with me, so I had no place to put aligners in even if I took them out. I decided I had to ‘confess’ to my folks when they came over for dinner, because everyone wondered why I didn’t go to communion at church. It was like wearing a target on my back. After assuring my dad I wasn’t pregnant, I told him I got ‘braces’. My brother smiles and says, oh I did that a few years ago - but I didn’t tell anyone. (He was living in a different province at the time and so I rarely saw him.) Are you kidding me? I stare at his teeth. They look great. I told him I wish he had shared his experience so I could have talked to him first. But it did make me think that maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea. I wanted to know two things. Did he soak his aligners? Yes – 50/50 vinegar and water. Also how did he take communion? He said he took them out for that. No big deal. He also said he didn’t tell anyone and no one noticed. He still wears a retainer at night and he loves his teeth now. And there you go.

Starting Week 5 and tray 3: Getting into the groove

Day 31 – May/1/14
It’s been a month since I began the invisaligners. I have always been pretty good with self-discipline, and so I knew I could do this. First you have to practice the behavior until it becomes established as a good habit. It’s still not a habit I love, but I think it will become so when I start seeing changes in my teeth. After reading several other people’s stories about their invisaligners, it has become clear to me that my teeth were worse than I thought. I look at some people’s pictures and I can’t see why they are even bothering with invisible braces. But teeth are such a personal thing! I did not take a picture of my own teeth at the very beginning. I took one after two weeks of wear. I just took another at 4 weeks. I see just how far my two incisors stick out. I see how crowded and crooked my lower teeth are. I can’t believe I didn’t see this before. It helps me realize why I am going through all this. My teeth are darn crooked! I realize that this is the new motivation I need to see me through this process. As long as I didn’t feel braces were necessary, I had also felt the hardships from the aligners weren’t worth it.
Perhaps we invisalign users now know what it feels like to be an aspiring Olympian athlete. Discipline, discipline, discipline. You cannot do what you really want to do. ( But you know what you really want to do is not good for you anyway – like drinking a lot of coffee or red wine or sweets.) And there is a big reward waiting for you at the other side. No immediate gratification here. It’s all about delayed gratification. And hopefully straight teeth!
Cleaning: Now that I have a couple of sets of trays to compare to each other, I see that drinking coffee with aligners does indeed stain them. I now soak my aligners in the 50/50 vinegar solution once a day. I decided that I would not use hydrogen peroxide in my mouth. Vinegar is a natural substance and so I can handle that. I soak mine at breakfast because lunches I am often out, and supper is often shared with others or going out too. So breakfast is a good time to soak them, and then brush them and then begin my day.
Changes in my life:
1. I have a time limit to eat. I also eat with a timer. This way I can be sure to stick to my 30 min./30 min. /60 min. routine. I save more time for supper so I can also enjoy a glass of wine. If done earlier than my allotted time I pat myself on the back and put aligners back in.
2. I drink my coffee with my meals (breakfast and lunch only), and not afterwards as a leisurely indulgence.
3. I clean my teeth 3 times a day – after each meal. And sometimes I just brush my teeth with aligners in before bed to freshen my mouth.
4. I drink nothing but water all day long. When I’m starving – I drink more water.
5. I do not snack between meals. (Too much fuss to remove aligners, and also NO time)
6. As the cook I no longer sample my cooking. I don’t take aligners out until after I dish up everyone else’s meal first. That way I maximize my eating time.
7. I find going out to eat feels more like a 'necessary evil' than a fun thing to do. (Do they have private washrooms? Do people think I have a bladder problem because I leave the table before and after meals to attend to my aligners? Did I extend my time limit?)

So far I haven’t experienced pain, only pressure. As someone else said, the pressure is good – it makes you feel like the aligners are working. I would like to see a visual change, but as yet, I’m not sure I really do. I have ‘miles to go before I sleep’.

On Cleaning Aligners

I tried an experiment this morning. My first tray of invisaligners are quite dingy. This is because I was still learning how to take care of them. I was also drinking coffee with them on. I'm on tray 3, and the first tray looks horrible compared to the shiny new tray. (Even tray two is better because I stopped drinking coffee when I wore the aligners). So I bought a box of Polident and decided to try a tablet on one aligner. To get a BEFORE and AFTER view. (I had bought the box before I read the warnings from people on this site that using denture cleaners makes aligners cloudy). I soaked the aligner according to box instructions for 15 minutes. Then I rinsed them well. I have to admit they look great. Not cloudy, not dingy. This was one tablet after 2 weeks of use. So there you go. It might be a solution for those on-the-go who don't have the luxury of soaking in a container at home. Or for those who need to sip coffee at work! Personally, I am using the 50/50 vinegar solution daily and it works just as well. I simply brush them after with a non-whitening toothpaste and the mint takes away any vinegar residue. Good luck!

Tray 2 day one with aligners

Crowded teeth :(

Tray 4, week 6

Tray 4, week 6. I guess I can say I am used to the aligners now. I still don't like the restrictions, (like no snacking, and rushing my meals to keep within the '2 hours out only' window, and brushing my teeth in public places) but yes, I am accustomed to them. I feel pressure but no pain. Just as 'you all' said. My dentist was impressed how easily I get my aligners on and off, considering I have so many attachments. My fingernails are a mess, but I always manage to pry them out! (I think I am food motivated like my Yorkies.) I am truly thankful for this forum in which to share my experience. My kids are already tired of me talking about my teeth. :) As my daughter says, the only ones who are interested are those going through the same procedure. And there is still a long road ahead for me. My favourite stories are of those who are finished! Only 28 more to go. Go Team!

Tray 5 Week 8

I am leaving on a Mediterranean cruise on Friday. However, I am not too excited because of my aligners. No sipping cappuccinos in a bistro, or red wine in a café. No long lunches or dinners. Always hopping up and down to run to the washroom to remove aligners before and after meals. I am also thinking of the flight and trying to get aligners in and out in tiny bathroom on plane. Have any of you words of encouragement for me? I realize I am very fortunate to be going on such a trip, and I would like to look at going more optimistically. I thought maybe I could take straws with me? Polident tablets for cleaning will also be easier than bringing a jug of vinegar along. If I leave the aligners out 'longer' will I impede my treatment? Thank you in advance for any words of advice.

Cruising with Invisaligners: Tray 6 Week 11 June 18th

So I went on a Mediterranean cruise with Invisaligners. The trip was scheduled before I decided to try the invisaligners. These are my reflections: It certainly curbed my enjoyment of the trip.
1. Removing aligners on plane is ok. Brushing and flossing on plane is not. Plus you are not supposed to drink the water from the taps from which you are brushing your teeth. So that is awkward. Also, on long plane ride they offer food at least three times. So I only eat once as it is more work to take them out and brush three times. People also think something is wrong with you if you are forever getting up to go to the bathroom. So while my spouse sipped wine, ate a multitude of snacks, enjoyed his meals, and drank coffee throughout his plane ride … I did not.
2. The same holds for eating meals in unfamiliar restaurants in cities such as Barcelona, our first stop. Once it was decided that we were having a meal, out came the hand sanitizer. I always faced away from the room, and hiding behind my long hair, I would pry the aligners out of my mouth. At home I had always soaked the aligners and rinsed them out. Here I could only put them in the retainer case and wait till after the meal. I would order my coffee with my meal as well so I wouldn’t have to extend my time. And eat quickly. ‘Toilettes’ in Europe usually have a private toilet, but a communal sink. Often the sink was out in the hall. This also made it difficult to brush. If a tour group or line-up to use the washroom occurred, and there was only one tiny sink available, this also made it incredibly difficult to hog the sink and brush teeth while others wanted to wash their hands and go. Brushing was obviously not as thorough as it was at home.
3. The Cruise:
On the cruise ship you could use the public restrooms or go back to your cabin to use your private washroom. This was certainly better than public ‘toilettes’ in the cities. The washrooms outside the dining halls always have women lined up. If I was lucky I would try to get the handicapped washroom because it also had a private sink.
Taking out aligners in the busy buffet dining room was not fun or private. In the end I would remove the aligners before arriving at buffet so when I collected my plate of food I could simply just eat it. Afterwards, I would walk back to cabin (up 2 -4 flights of stairs) and brush there. This also lengthened the time my aligners were out.
Removing aligners at fancy dining rooms at the table was also not practical. Often you shared the table with other people whom you would later see throughout the ship. Also the food did not come immediately after you ordered it. I would not eat bread or sip wine until my appetizer came. Then, when I guessed my food would be coming soon, I would excuse myself, walk out of the restaurant (and often it was quite a long walk back out because these are very large dining halls) and remove the aligners in the closest washroom. On a cruise ship, at least 3-5 Servers stand at the entrance of the restaurant to welcome you in. When you got up, they thanked you for coming. Over and over again. Even when you told them you were coming right back. They would watch me leave with puzzled expressions on their face, because they knew I hadn’t started eating yet. Then I would return to the table hoping not to keep anyone waiting on their appetizers because I had left the table. Trying to eat dinner in one hour was also impossible if sitting with other people. The servers wait till everyone is finished their course before bringing the next. And since no one (else) is in a hurry, it was often two and a half hours before I could finally excuse myself and get back to cabin to brush. Even if I skipped dessert, everyone else was still at the table. I did not want to be rude.
On tours in the beautiful cities of Marsaille, Antibes, Taormina, Corfu … I would watch while my husband sipped on cappuccinos or gelatos, or did wine tasting. I had to wait for my three meals a day. No snacking. Just like at home.
Back on ship – at high tea, listening to the quartet play, I would watch my husband nibble on beautiful sandwiches and scones and delicacies. I finally got to the point of ordering a cappuccino with a straw. I would rinse my mouth with water as best as could afterwards.
Before dinner I would watch my husband sip G & T’s while I waited for dinner when I knew I could have my glass of wine.
Needless to say I did not gain any pounds on the ship.
The moral of the story is: I would never take another cruise again during my treatment. It is too depressing.
I hope the long periods of having aligners out and wearing them only 20-21 hours instead of 22 hours, does not harm my treatment.
I hope having less opportunities for cleaning teeth and aligners do not cause me cavities. I could not soak them in vinegar water. On tours, I could often not even rinse, (no potable water) or brush at the unhygienic public sinks.
I switched from tray 4 to tray five halfway through my trip. I see the dentist next week for tray 7. Only 26 more trays to go........ :(

Tray 9 July

4 and a half months in. 9 trays. Now that I have so many early trays to compare to my new trays, I have to admit I can hardly see the difference. The trays look the same. They feel differently, however. Flossing is easier. I read that that is the case for many people. But I still have my vampire teeth. Sigh. (I knew they wouldn't disappear overnight).
Now that it is summer and holiday season, I am back to being a grumbler. I went on a wine tasting tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake for vacation. Wow! Watching everyone else drink and sample wine sure is FUN! But you can bet I sniffed every single glass of wine before someone else actually drank it! When mealtime comes along I feel I deserve twice as much food and wine as everyone since I abstained during the long afternoons. And then, "ding," my timer goes off, and I am once again cut off from food and drink. Seriously People - get your braces when you are 12 and you don't eat hor'doeuvres, drink cocktails, sip red wine, or enjoy cappuccinos! Whine, whine, whine.
My bite is off but I still eat well during those precious 120 minutes a day. Even if it hurts, or I have to cut up raw vegies with a knife, since I can't bite into them with sore teeth, I still eat! After a few days and I have 'broken' the new tray in, its not so bad for discomfort.
Not sure if this update is helpful at all. I may whine all the way through my treatment, but I'm no quitter! Lol!

Starting month 5 - with a confession :(

I went to the dentist today to have my semi-annual cleaning. The hygienist said I had staining around all my attachments but she was able to get most of it off. Again, I have way more attachments than the average person they keep telling me. She said my bones and gums were good. I told her the story about the woman whose molar came right out with her aligners. I have to admit that scared me a bit. The staff is very very nice there. No complaints other than wishing I could speed things up. I told my hygienist about my "support group" and told them I couldn't go through this without having a forum to discuss things with.
Now I have a confession to make: I have told everyone over and over how diligent I am with my aligners. And now I have screwed up and I am so upset with myself. I noticed that something was wrong with my last round of aligners. That is - they didn't feel any different. I didn't feel more tightness. Instead of investigating, I rejoiced. Two weeks later I went to change into my next aligners, but first decided to check my agenda where I had written down what tray I should be on and on what day. (I had a nagging feeling I had done something wrong). My heart dropped when I discovered I had kept the same tray in for 4 weeks instead of two! Are You Kidding Me?? This may not seem like a catastrophe to you, but for me, with 32 sets of aligners to plow through, this was awful! I quickly started my number 8 aligners and they were indeed tight and painful for 3 days. What I want to do is this: I was given ten weeks worth of aligners. That means, if I want to 'catch up' to where I was before, I need to wear my aligners for 11 days instead of 14 days. I really want to do this. I don't want to tell my dentist in case he says NO. (How childish!) But I still thought I should ask real people with real aligners if they would ever do such a thing. I can't stand thinking of prolonging this treatment. I have heard of others who switch their trays at ten days. I am also good about keeping them in most of the time which I hoped would count for something. Am I being unrealistic? Should I just continue with the 14 day plan? Should I risk the 11 day plan that I want to adopt? It would just be for 6 weeks. Then I would be caught up and go back to the 14 day plan. No one would be wiser. Any opinions out there?? Thanks in advance!

Sticking to the Two Week Plan

I called my dentist about my inadvertently leaving aligners in 2 weeks longer than planned. The Dentist said I had to stick with the two week schedule regardless. Better for my gums and bones. It's only 2 weeks he says. To me its a lifetime. I can't tell you how disappointed I am. C'est la vie. I'll get over it. :(

Cottaging with Invisaligners

I thought perhaps people would like to know how much fun it is to cottage with invisaligners. First, make sure you go to a cottage that uses lake water and does not have clean drinking water. This makes the adventure much more special. It’s always good to arrive at the cottage at happy hour. Then you can watch, without envy, because that would be petty, how everyone else nibbles on the lovely smoked trout and assortment of cheeses picked up at the local market. While all your family and friends enjoy their holiday martinis and manhattans, you can sit back and enjoy a lovely bottle of water. (No drooling allowed.) Finally, when supper comes along, you can now partake of the meal. As soon as everyone is assembled at the table, you slip away, wash your hands, and pry your aligners out of your mouth, get a bottle of water and your ‘denture cup’, soak the aligners and then race back to the table. Since everyone is stuffed from appetizers, and an extra three people dropped by the cottage unexpectedly, you only receive a small serving of the main attraction. Are you kidding me? Well at least you can drink. You down your glass of red wine like a house on fire. When you reach for the bottle to refill your glass you are frowned upon and told that the wine is for sharing. Four ounces is all you get. You wish you could sneak back into your room, uncork a new bottle, swig it down, without sharing, and return to the table like nothing happened. Instead you try to be polite and simply lick your plate. Because there are so many people at the meal, time flies and you suddenly find your timer going off. You run to the bathroom to begin your brushing routine. Oh yeah, no clean water. You go grab a bottle of water and use it to brush your teeth. Then floss. Then scrub your aligners. You find another bottle of water, pour it over your aligners to rinse off the excess toothpaste, and finally pop the aligners back in. You help clear the table and before you know it, out come the playing cards. And the potato chips. And pretzels. And popcorn. And someone has brought candy too, because, after all, this is the cottage and you are on vacation. Once again, you get to watch. Then out come all the after-dinner drinks. Another martini? Perhaps some nice sherry or a wee dram of single malt scotch? Ooh, what about a Bailey’s? Not for you, however, - you get another bottle of lovely water. Eventually the evening ends and everyone falls into bed -- happy, satiated, a little tipsy, but delightfully full. Except you. Are you kidding me? (And that is just the first night. Just wait till tomorrow when everyone is roasting hotdogs and munching on marshmallows between meals. But don’t worry. You can still eat whatever you want, right? As long as it falls between your 40 minute meals (including brushing!) Ya, right. Enjoy your summer!! :)

Tray 10

5 months in. No rip-roaring changes yet.

My Daughter's Wedding

One of the reasons that I went ahead with straightening my teeth was because my daughter got engaged to be married. Her original plan was for a New Year's Wedding, but she changed it to a Labour day Wedding. So instead of completing 9 months worth of aligners, I only had 5 months. On the one hand, I am very accustomed to my aligners now. They only hurt for the first two or three days of each new tray. On the other hand, I did all my smiling on the big day with my mouth shut. I had originally planned to leave my aligners out all that day (that was back before I actually wore them). In reality I took them out for my regular half hour breakfast and lunch. But then I splurged and left them out from 6-9 pm so I could actually sip my wine without a straw, and have some appetizers for a change, and then have dinner. Later I brushed my teeth in the washroom in front of everyone who walked in. (Yes, you do get bolder over time.) And that was it. No big deal at all - as long as you can cheat that is! Only 9 and a half more months of aligners to go. I am now on Tray 11 and no pain after 24 hours.

Tray 12

I feel like a veteran now. I read many of your new updates and feel all your pain. Everything you all said about aligners is true. They hurt. You want out. The attachments are NOT attractive. They are annoying and restrictive. You feel like you are lisping or have dry mouth. But one day we finally realize that we are indeed getting our teeth straightened! Perhaps you actually see a tiny, slight, minute change in your teeth. You can't possibly feel that from your first week or even first month. But 5-6 months into treatment you begin to see that perhaps there is something to all this work. This discomfort. This inconvenience. And then you begin to join the OTHER side. The side that says, hey, my teeth are changing, my smile is improving. But although, you aren't quite there yet, you are well on your way. You can say, yes, my teeth hurt today, but that's because its day two of a new tray. But day 4 to day 14 you realize you are not really in pain. You can take it! You are strong! Fearless! A force to be reckoned with! (True, those around you may not see you in this light; they are just glad you've stopped whining about your teeth all the time.) All this to say, if you can hang in there, you will be glad you did. One day at a time.

Tray 13B - Thanksgiving

As I look at my pictures I am hard pressed to see much change. If anything, I am more aware of how messed up my teeth were to begin with. This is a long, singular road to travel. I say singular because no one else really experiences it but you. I'm not feeling as optimistic today. I have completed 6 months of treatment. 9 months to go. Maybe I should get pregnant and see what feels faster – growing a baby or straightening my teeth.
We just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. This year that meant three days straight of food and drink. The Saturday was spent with my husband’s side of the family. So once again, I watched while others ate the many appetizers and drank cocktails. I did sip on a glass of white wine with a straw in it. This time my family wanted to know what was up with the straw. No one said they could see the aligners though. I had been wearing them for 6 months and they didn’t know, and would not have known, if I had not told them I was wearing braces. I set some aside some appetizers to eat later with my meal. Dates stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. They didn’t taste that great cold. I admit it seems like a lot of food when you eat appetizers along with your main meal. I usually skip dessert because I run out of time. I do find it much easier to take the aligners out just before you eat at a private home. And brushing in a home bathroom is fine, too.
Sunday was day two of Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house with her husband’s family. Her first time preparing the turkey! In the end I made the stuffing, I prepped the bird, I even brought the roasting pan and turkey baster, and I put the turkey in her oven to cook. (She managed to get all the credit for the bird though. I’m such a good mom). Again, I eat no apps to save time, but I drink a glass of wine with my straw. Nobody asks me what’s up because there are too many people there to care! Everyone is too full from eating that they decide to eat dessert later. For me that just means no dessert. I go brush and put my aligners back in while they relax.
Monday was day three of the festivities. This time we were in the party room at my parents’ condo. This way the work and the food is all prepared and shared by my side of the family. (My brother cooked the turkey and I cooked a ham. The others made veggies, salads, potatoes, and more appetizers). The condo has public restrooms down the hall, so again it was easy to wait till we were ready to eat in order to pop out aligners, eat, and then brush again after the dinner. By this time I didn’t want or need appetizers beforehand anyway.
I kept pretty much to my allotted time for my aligners to be out. (Maybe an extra half hour at the most.) So I have now made it though Easter, a Mediterranean cruise, summer vacation, my daughter’s wedding, my birthday, and Thanksgiving, while wearing aligners. It hasn’t all been fun and games, but I did it. I am not even at the halfway mark yet. I will certainly be celebrating that milestone! (And I don’t think I’ll have another baby).

Halfway Point and Christmas is around the corner.

So it’s November and the streets of Ontario are covered in snow. The snow fell before the autumn leaves could even be collected. I hate when that happens. And soon Christmas will be here. I believe the "season" has officially started in Canada. All the stores are trimmed in Christmas themes, and as I say, it’s looking like a white Christmas. My first Christmas with invisaligners.
I am now officially halfway through my treatment. When I look at my original photos I cringe to admit just how bad my teeth really were. My halfway point looks like many people's starting point. Change seems to race on like a tortoise for me, though. I am hoping that because I am a diligent user, that my teeth will make a full recovery and finally end up situated neatly in my mouth (like a Hollywood star).

I am not looking forward to the festivities and parties and dinners and treats that come at Christmas, because of my aligners. At home you just pluck them out (in front of husband or children or puppies) and soak them in your denture cup (are you kidding me?) without anyone making a comment. However, with Holiday visitors (for instance, one of my cousins stayed over last night because of the snow) I prefer to excuse myself to remove the aligners in private. And it takes longer to put them back in, not wanting to be rude and run out on my guests again to brush, floss, and replace them. While everyone else lingers over coffee and dessert, I try to get the aligners back in my mouth where they will do the most good. Unlike if they remain on the counter.
But presently I am happy with my progress. My front bottom teeth are lining up nicely. My attachments make them look like they are sticking out worse than they really are. My vampire teeth can no longer be called vampire teeth - they have found a home in alignment with the rest of my front top teeth. More movement is definitely needed, but I can see how much better they look already.

I know I will get through the holiday season (despite my usual grumbling and whining). I am reminded of the song “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” My revised rendition is “All I want for Christmas is my teeth straight-ened” (Work with me here). And happy holidays to all!

Tray 20 out of 32

When I read other people's reviews I realize that my experience is pretty typical. I strongly recommend new users to read the reviews of veterans if they really want to know what the experience will be like. And for all of you on your own journey, be proud of yourself that you are managing so well! You've got this!

I made it through Christmas and New Year's as I am sure all of you did too. (What other choice did we have?) Everyday life is fine with invisaligners. It's the holidays and vacations and special dinners out that make wearing these things a challenge. I have completed 9 months of my treatment. I have 6 more months to go. And I can see that I need those 6 months. There is no immediate gratification for me. And so it goes.

Tray 21

Feeling a wee bit optimistic today. When I look at my original photo I can see that I have come along miles. My vampire teeth are gone. My bottom crowded teeth are lined up in a nice little row. Who would have thought that possible? I’m already having visions of smiling all the time now! With my teeth actually showing! My kids made me smile in photos at Christmas and insisted they couldn’t see the aligners and that my teeth were looking great. I wish the time would pass faster. I wish I had Acceledent. But since I don’t and my Dentist didn’t recommend it, I’m hoping by taking the long route that my teeth will be well rooted. And not be as quick to return to their original placement!
Does anyone know when they take the attachments off? Do you need them to the bitter end? Just wondering.

Tray 22

I have completed 10 months of wearing invialigners. If I stopped here I would be quite happy. My front teeth are straight (to me) and in the right place. No more vampire incisors or indented front teeth. My bottom teeth are remarkably straight with only one tooth still slightly out of whack. While I am not looking for perfection, I will see my treatment out because I don’t want to ruin a good thing.
I was just at the dentist for a cleaning. I will get whitening when I am finished. (My treat, not the dentist’s.)The hygienist said my teeth were looking quite good. I have started using a bit of baking soda (she said make a paste with water, don’t use right out of the box) to clean off any other staining I get from coffee.
The dentist said he will do some more IPR (teeth shaving) before tray 26. When I floss I feel lots of space so while I don’t see a need for this, I place my faith in the good dentist.
I leave next week on a cruise. I know the drill now. I have cheating down to a fine art. I don’t snack, but I do sip. We got a free drink package and I intend to use it. I will befriend all the bartenders who know where the straws are. In fact, I find drinking wine without a straw quite weird. I also drink coffee with a straw. I am not above drinking cappuccinos and lattes with a straw either. I get bottled water with my package so I will always rinse after indulging in a liquid treat. I do not look forward to the eating in a plane part, but I have my dental hygiene kit, and I will do my best to avert the plane germs from entering my mouth. It’s only a 3.25 hour flight, so I might not even get food. I will pocket the peanuts for my husband.
As for meals, I will enjoy my meals knowing full well that my aligners will be out of my mouth longer than usual. I will not freak out. I will tell myself that 20-21 hours a day, rather than 22, for 10 days, will not hurt my progress. I could not say this six months ago. But I will absolutely wait till the last minute to pop them out, and put them back in right after the meal--even if it means excusing myself from shared tables. Good exercise. I might even be brave and admit to my fellow diners that I wear invisaligners and that I do not have a bladder problem! I will report back in after the cruise. Have a great February and Valentine’s day, people!

The cruise and other calamities

We flew to Fort Lauderdale, a 3.5 hour flight, so I just didn’t eat anything on the plane. We went directly to a small hotel to drop off luggage and went to find a nice late lunch. We found a place close to the ocean and sat outside happy to have left the cold and snow behind. I plucked my aligners out at the table because it wasn’t too crowded. Afterwards I sought out the washroom to brush. It was a single room, so I knew that the women after me were in for a wait. Because of the line-up I tried to hurry. There was no place to set the aligners down so I hung up my purse on a hook and attempted to balance them on top as I held my toothpaste kit in my hand. Almost finished, I place the one tray in the case, but the second falls on the dirty floor. Are you kidding me? I snatched them up as fast as I could. If it was a candy or piece of gum, I would have discarded it on the spot. I had no choice but to rinse them in hot water and scrub them again, and rinse my brush in hot water as best as I could. As I popped them into my mouth I thought - ugh. And I prayed I wouldn’t get some dread disease. When I finally emerged I came out to a queue of scowling women who wanted in. I smiled and walked away. Yuck.

Happily, I did not get sick. The next day we headed to the ship. It was a large one,with several specialty restaurants in one ‘corner’ of the ship. My usual strategy is to be seated first, read the menu, place my order, wait a couple of minutes until bread and wine arrive, and then troop to the washroom to remove the aligners. Thus leaving them in as long as possible. Alas, the nearest washroom was quite far away. I discovered that the food arrives a little faster on ship restaurants. So after experiencing the first meal, I then began to stop at the restroom on the way to dinner, wash hands, and pop aligners out then and there, and then continue walking the ‘half mile’ to the restaurant. Breakfasts and lunches took about 45-50 minutes, and suppers took 1.5 – 2 hours. So aligners were out 4 hours per day at the most.
As for non-meal time imbibing, I did not snack, but I did make friends with the Barista at the Café al Bacio & Gelateria. Marijana had braces too! Every day I went to visit her for my cappuccino—with a straw! To mix it up a little, sometimes I had a Pinot Grigio—with a straw. It’s the best I could do.
After our stop in Barbados, some travelers took ill. The ship announced we now had the Norovirus on board. Are you kidding me? Purell stations now appeared everywhere. Books disappeared from the Library. Cards and games disappeared from the Games Room. You got squirted with Purell every time you looked in a shop window. They even removed the Bibles from our cabins. Good grief.
The fateful day happened after dining in the French Specialty restaurant. I stopped at my usual washroom while my husband sat in the lounge and waited for me. I placed a paper towel on the counter, my container on top, washed my hands, removed the aligners, and then placed the case back into my purse. (So yes, I carried a purse with me to every meal.) Up to this point there were always cloth towels available. Now the cloths were removed and only paper towels remained. They recommended we also use a towel to open the door with, and toss it away on your way out. Done.
Before you go into any restaurant you were squirted, yet again, with Purell. I was thoroughly sanitized. Dinner was fabulous and entertaining and finally we could eat no more. Off to the cabin we went for me to floss and brush before the evening show began. Up six flights to our room – walking to wear off dinner – I opened my purse to discover that my case was not there. My heart sunk. Are you kidding me? This was my worst nightmare! I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset. Back to the restaurant we ran. No they hadn’t seen my case. Maitre d’, waiters and the two of us were under the table and searching. Nothing. I decided to retrace my steps back to the washroom. Now there were several women in the rest room and one staff member opening doors for people. No, I didn’t need the toilet, I needed my case. I showed her my blue case as an example. Her eyes lit up. Yes, she had seen it. She called her supervisor on her cell phone. Try Guest Services on 3, she said. Down two more flights of stairs. There is a queue. A lady behind me says I just want to drop something off, can I go ahead of you. What? Can’t you see my frantic face? Fine. I say. I just have something to pick up. Oh, she says. Just as a service representative was freed up and it’s my turn, another couple came out of nowhere and went up to the desk. Oh no you don’t, says my husband. There’s a queue. We let the lady drop off her form. Finally – my turn. Have you seen my case? It looks like this only red! She nodded and reached under the counter. Ta da!! OMG! I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now I stare at it. How many people have handled them? Did they find them in the garbage or on the counter? We return to the cabin, getting squirted again on our way back. I stared at the case wishing I could disinfect them. Wait a minute. I had brought along a couple of Polident tablets. I didn’t care how long the aligners have now been out of my mouth. I decided that sterilization came first. Into the Polident bath they went. I scrubbed them thoroughly. And finally back into my mouth they went. Whew. (And for the record, my husband and I did not get sick, although 5% of the passengers did, and .5 of the staff.) And yes, we missed the show.
One thing is for sure, I don’t want to travel again until I am aligner free!!!

Unhappy at postponing Tray 25

Today I went to the Dentist. He told me he would be doing some IPR. I actually didn’t think I needed it because I feel like I have a lot of space when I floss. However, I am not the dentist. After he did my tooth shavings, he said he thought it would be good to wear my old aligners another day. Just to make sure all my teeth were fitting well. I said ‘no’. He laughed. Then when he finished he said, In fact, I’d like you to wear them another whole week. Are you kidding me? I don’t want to wear them one more day, much less one more week. I walked out very disappointed. I have a schedule all written up (to remind me) and now everything has to be changed. After much soul searching I decided to give him 4 extra days, but not 7. So I changed into tray 25 on Sunday night. It wasn't even very tight. I am back to not seeing much difference in my teeth. What I do feel for the first time, is that my bite is meeting a bit better. And so it goes.

April Fool's Day 2015 - One year anniversary

It is my one year anniversary of wearing invisaligners. Are you kidding me? I can hardly believe that I made it through consultations, molds and attachments. I made it through worrying about my decision to go to a dentist rather than an orthodontist. I made it through getting-accustomed-to wearing tight-fitting foreign plastic trays in my mouth. I learned how to contend with feelings of claustrophobia and panic with these alien pieces of plastic constantly attached to my teeth. I learned how to deal with rough edges, sore teeth, dry mouth and lips, lisping and the odd canker. I have learned how to eat faster, brush longer, and floss after floss after floss. I have gone from self-consciously prying them out of my mouth to casually popping them in and out. I am accustomed to the constant visits to my dentist’s office for check-ups, IPR’s and to pick-up new aligners. I learned the art of hiding behind my hair to remove the aligners in public. I can remove them in a car, in a plane, in an airport, on a cruise ship, in a private home, and in public restaurants. I have worn them at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I have worn them to birthday parties and showers and even my daughter’s wedding. I have worn them to concerts, plays, visitations and walking my dogs. I wear them to work, church (for communion), and at home.

I’ve worn them to Niagara-on-the-Lake, London, Hamilton and Toronto. In Europe I’ve worn them to Barcelona, Marseille, Antibes, Livorno, Sorrento, the Almalfi Coast, Taormina, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Venice and Florence. In the Caribbean I’ve worn them to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Maarten. And in the USA I’ve worn them to Cleveland, Buffalo and Fort Lauderdale.

And I have to admit that I have watched my teeth transform. After the initial months of wear I saw little to no change. But I knew that my bones and roots were making room for changes to come. And then one day I saw the big change. Top Incisors that once protruded now nicely line up with the others. Top front teeth no longer look punched in. Crooked bottom teeth that previously marched every which way, now line up in a tidy little row. In fact, I feel like I am done. But I assume that these last four months will be like the first four months where I saw little change. The final movements are taking place and the roots are finding secure homes.

My journey isn’t over, but I have come a long way. To everyone who refused to give up despite fear, pain, inconvenience, discomfort, annoyance, and lack of will, I salute you! Congratulations to all, rookies and veterans alike! We are making a change!

Tray 26

Tray 26 ...out of 32. Made it through another Easter.

Tray 27 - The twelve week countdown begins

Tray 27. I found the last tray (26) to hurt more than usual. My jaw was sore. Soreness lasts usually 3 days, but the last tray hurt for longer. At least a week. And it was following a lengthier period of time with tray 26 as per requested by my dentist. This tray (27) hurts much less. By the end of day 2 it was no big deal again. I feel like I am back at the beginning where you feel changes but you don’t see changes. 12 more weeks to go. I hope! :)

Trays 28 and 29

Still plugging away. Starting tray 28 (two weeks ago) meant 10 more weeks. Now I am finally on single digits. Tray 29 trays means only 8 more weeks from tonight!! (I might be dancing a wee bit.) Unfortunately, I can see that I definitely have two stubborn teeth which are not moving quite as nicely into the straight line into which they have been directed. I can see the space in the bottom of the aligner where they should be squeezing into. I fear refinements. However, since I am NOT looking for perfection, but only improvement (and to NOT look scary) I will have to wait and see what happens next. Next dental visit is May 27th at which time I should receive my last 3 trays. God-willing.

May 27 – 7 week countdown

Second to last dental appointment. I have to take a 20 month old baby with me to my appointment. My little guy literally sits on my lap facing me for the appointment. Then as I recline, so does he. He uses his bunny as a pillow and lays quietly on my chest. He finds the whole visit fascinating and watches very intently. My dentist thinks he’s adorable and says it almost makes him want to have another baby. Almost. Now for my prognosis: I have two teeth that are not quite fitting into the space available in the aligners. (Mirror teeth upper and lower on my right side) I would say we are talking about one mm. Dr. Hu decided to IPR one more time beside the upper tooth that is not falling into line. Maybe that will help it along. I said I was wondering if the attachments are keeping the teeth from moving because those two teeth have the largest attachments on them. He says could be. He does nothing about bottom tooth. Overall he says he is satisfied with my results and gives me my last three sets of aligners. He is hoping all teeth will be moved into place by the grand finale. At the next checkup he plans to leave my attachments on, (are you kidding me?) in case I want to continue perfecting my teeth. If I choose this route I will have to take additional molds (ugh- not that throat-choking-yukky gunk) and send away for additional trays. At least 2 sets more—which means another month plus waiting time for new aligners to be made—which means summer number two in aligners. As most of you know, I have no desire to do this. HOWEVER, I am trying to figure out if I should just bite the bullet and do this (oh so stoically) because I am paying for this now, and to do something later will likely not be included in this treatment cost. It is a $5,000.00 investment after all. (Honestly - I HATE wasting money.) I understand that I will be wearing night retainers forever more.
I was researching retainers and this is what I found. “At first you may be required to wear retainers 12-22 hours per day. This recommendation is based on many factors including the severity of your initial problem, your age, and whether we are using the retainers to finalize a few tooth positions. The majority of our patients are on this type of program for 3 to 6 months. Most, if they have done the required hours in the first 3 to 6 months, can go to nighttime only at 6 months. The nighttime only is highly recommended for the remaining 6 months or at least until 12 months of daily retainer wear has been accomplished. After 12 months of continuous retainer wear, we will often recommend wearing your retainers 3-5 times a week for as long as you live.”
So bottom line is – I will be wearing something anyway for some time yet to come. I guess I will wait to see if the last 6 weeks bring the complete correction or not.

4 Weeks to go - scary!

Tray 31 - This tray feels quite snug and makes my teeth feel a little achy. I was very surprised. I guess I thought as my treatment wound down, so would the pressure I felt from the aligners and the amount of room my teeth would still have to move. So it's good to know that everything is still shifting until the bitter end! I feel that my top right tooth has now lined up much better. That is a relief. It's just the bottom one that could move a wee bit up if it wanted to. Perhaps it will be the last tooth to fall in line.

I attended a friend's surprise birthday party at a German restaurant on the weekend. Foregoing the appetizers, I ran to the restroom to take my aligners out the minute everyone was seated for dinner. Then I ran back to the table, the last guest seated. We had only one waitress for about 40 people, so dinner came slowly. By the time dessert arrived, I quickly took 2 bites of Black Forest cake and gulped down a cup of decaf, I looked at my watch and discovered two hours had elapsed. I swished some water, ran back to the busy restroom and flossed and plopped my aligners back in, having decided to brush my teeth at home. I really won't miss this part of the dining experience - the dine-dash-floss&brush part.

I am excited to see what these last weeks have to bring. Onward we go!

Tray 32 of 32. Last tray. Or is it?

Last tray. This tray doesn't hurt. Not like the last one. No pain. Small amount of pressure. The bones in my mouth definitely feel sore. I can't bite very well with my front teeth. At the end of this two week period I will return to the dentist to see what happens next. Then I will let you know if it was really all worth it in the end (for me).

The End!

So I went to the Dentist’s for my consult. I have reached the end of my treatment. I wasn’t sure what to expect. His first question to me was, before I even look at your teeth, “are you happy with the results?” “Was it worth it, in the end?”

The answer to the first question is a firm, of course. Yes I am happy. My teeth are straight! Is one tooth not quite as great as the others? Yes, that is true. It was also a badly turned tooth at the beginning and has come a very long way. If I consider where it was originally positioned, it is one hundred percent better. The big question is, do I want to stop? Or go for perfection. Realizing that the rest of me is not perfect either, I decided that the one tooth on the bottom, that unless I stick my face in yours to see it, is quite acceptable. If I did want to keep working on the one tooth, the dentist would take new impressions (with that horrible goo) and we would continue with more sets of aligners. At this point, without doing the actual impressions, he could not say how long the process would take. Given how compliant a patient I was, he was surprised how stubborn my tooth was.

So I have decided that this is the end. My treatment is complete. Then my dentist said, “Great. Now let’s have a look.” He agreed that my teeth look fantastic and didn’t need more work. He said he would order my retainer immediately. Tomorrow I come back in to have the attachments removed. Then the most amazing thing happened. He said I only need to wear the retainer at night. I was shocked. I thought I had to wear the retainer at least during the day for the first 3-6 months. He said if when I put the aligners on at night, and they hurt, then I should probably wear them during the day too.
The only other thing he suggested was teeth whitening. I will research that some more. Some people complained of tooth sensitivity so I want to be careful.
On Wednesday I returned to the dentist with a sinus infection. But that wasn’t going to make me postpone my attachment removal session. With a wicked headache and face pain, I just closed my eyes and let them do their job. It took about 40 minutes of grinding and polishing. The dentist handed me the mirror. It was a bit surreal to see straight, not lumpy, teeth staring back at me. Putting back in the last set of lumpy aligners was a buzz kill, but understandable.
We talked about whitening and I said I’d like to do it. What is the cost? He smiled and said that I have been so compliant that he will give me the Zoom in tray cleaners for free. Nice, eh? He also told me not to start whitening right away as my teeth will be sensitive from the attachments being removed.

Two hours after I got home, the dentist office called to say my retainers were in. Are you kidding me? I zipped back to get them. As per usual with a new set of trays, I decided to start wearing them at night. Wow! Did they hurt!! I wonder if that was because my one tooth wasn’t where it was supposed to be, but ‘thought’ to be. I decided to wear them all day too because wearing them only at night wasn’t going to work for me. It is now the second day. They hurt a wee bit less. Progress. I have decided to wear them during the day, but never to cheat with them. If I want a coffee, out they go. Or a glass of wine. Because you have to wear the retainers forever. No switching out to a clean tray every two weeks. I am going out for dinner tonight and I will take them out before I go! Such a rebel. In the end, I will likely be wearing them 18 hours a day. I will try that until September.
So that’s it. I’m finished. I will still update about my retainer wear since I was disappointed not to find people keep letting us know what the routine was like AFTER invisalign.

Wishing you all the best on your journeys. And remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
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