All I wanted for Christmas is straight front teeth…. (part 1)
by Natalie Weaving
It took me two years of umming and ahhhhh-ring before I decided to actually book a consultation to look at having braces….again. That’s right. At 36 years old I was doing it again. I was 14 the first time around and having had metal braces for two years, I thought knew better than to wear my retainer for forever more. More. Fool. Me!
The turning point
Three wisdom teeth (and a couple of decades) later and my front teeth (top and bottom) were crossing back over. Also, one of my other top teeth was turning to face anyone that would look at it as it fought for space. That was when the time came to do something about it.
I contacted 3 or 4 orthodontists who did aligner based braces. I knew I didn’t want metal braces. Having had them 22 years ago, recalling the regular appointments to have them tightened, the time it took for my teeth to get straight, the pain and ulcers, I knew that aligner-based treatment was for me. Out of all the people I contacted, only one practice replied. They were Dental Concepts in a village not too far from mine that specialised in Invisalign. I sent them a Facebook message, and within an hour I was booked in for my initial consultation.
Now, some places offer this initial consultation for free, others charge. This practice charges as you have a dental check-up to see if you are eligible and to check your oral health before you proceed. This initial fee is then redeemed if you take the treatment.
All good to go
The initial consultation is to check that you are eligible for Invisalign. A bonus to having had dental treatment as a child is that I had the space in my mouth to have this type of straightening treatment. This is not the case for everyone – just be aware of that.
Once you are given the thumbs up the next stage is to have molds taken of your teeth which are then sent off and a video made to identify how many ‘aligners’ you will require to get your perfect smile. This was also a chargeable element, redeemable against my treatment and a necessity to progress.
A week later I was back to watch my treatment video. What I liked about Dental Concepts was that they gave me two options. A ‘quick-fix’ which would have almost got me a perfect smile, and then an extended treatment plan to get the look I wanted. The difference to me was enough to take the longer treatment. It was double the amount of aligners (7 versus 14), but it ensured that all my teeth were put firmly back into their place.
Now we knew the options and what I wanted to go for it was at this stage when the financials were looked at. Dental Concepts offer finance packages which are interest-free for the first year, or you can choose to pay in instalments of which you agree before taking the plunge. There are often ‘deals’ that come with Invisalign so do check those out and ask whoever you see if they are running it or will honour it.
So the go-ahead was given. And ten days after seeing the video I went in to have my aligners fitted. Yes fitted. This is what you really need to know.
During the fitting process, they file down your teeth, to make room for movement. White filling blobs are then added to your teeth which lock on the retainers. You will get shown how to take your retainers off (you will need to do this for hot drinks and food) and told when to move to the next one. Often the first two you wear for two weeks each and the last one for one to four weeks. The “in-betweeners” a week each. This gives you an idea of how quickly this process can be and how I got a straight smile five days before Christmas.
Bar the first flurry of appointments, I saw my orthodontist every four weeks. It was at these appointments when they would file my teeth a bit more, re-add any blobs that had been worn down by eating and check that your teeth are where they should be during the process. These are 15-minute appointments. Then you will see them the week before they are to come off to check you are at the stage they expect.
The removal process is pretty straightforward and takes between 1 – 2 hours. So be prepared for a sore jaw by the end of it!
The dentist will shave down the white blobs and then take new imprints for your retainers. These are the ones that you wear to keep them straight – more about this in part 2. At Dental Concepts they also bond your front teeth, so they don’t move while you wait for your retainers to turn up (it takes up to 10 working days for them to arrive). And this is the point I am at. I have bonds and due to Christmas will be waiting a bit longer than usual for my retainers, but the result is precisely what I had hoped for.
My thoughts & tips
These are the bits they don’t tell you….
The dentist will actually file down your teeth. With a nail file for teeth!
Eating curry the day you have them fitted is a bad idea.
Baking soda is your friend for any stains.
Be prepared for ulcers in the beginning or if you leave your braces off too long. Those blobs are scratchy.
Shop around for deals and see if your chosen orthodontist will honour a deal you see elsewhere (no harm in trying)
Put the new retainer in at night to avoid initial discomfort.
Get used to carrying around with you….toothbrush, toothpaste, interdental brushes, mouthwash, retainer case & a spoon*.
Do it at home.
Can’t see it.
Prevents pointless snacking as getting them out can be an effort or requires leaving the room as to not gross people out.
Taking out for hot drinks (esp if going to meetings)
Getting them out can be difficult *(hence carrying a spoon).
Can be costly but when weighing up the speed, minimal appointments, lack of pain and ease of the whole process, it is worth it.
Thanks Natalie for a great post, we look forward to your next one!
Natalie undertook her Invisalign treatment at Dental Concepts – Whitchurch Branch (www.dental.concepts.com)