All Smiles

I can hardly believe it, but it’s true. After years of toil, trouble, and pretty much constant tooth soreness, I am officially done with my braces!

Some of you may remember that back in February 2014, I got lingual braces behind my top teeth. I got them removed a little over a year later, and then, because I just have to do everything as inefficiently as possible, a couple months later I started Invisalign.

My bottom teeth were still quite crooked, and I decided that I wasn’t actually as satisfied as I thought I’d be with just a straight top set (this happened right around the same time as Sean’s proposal, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence.) I posted an update on my whole braces journey back in June, so I won’t repeat everything again, but as you can probably guess, I have one final update for you:

 
I’m done!

I had my final Invisalign appointment at Smiles at Fairfax Corner last week, after a year of my initial Invisalign treatment, plus an additional 5 (?) months of adjustment trays. Phew! It sounds like a lot of time, of course, but the reality is that time is going to press on anyway, so why not perfect your smile while you’re at it?

It definitely took much longer than I thought it would, considering how I had already gotten lingual braces on top, but that just goes to show that you really should just take care of your top + bottom teeth at the same time. A lot of the reason that my Invisalign treatment took so long was to correct my bite — which may or may not have gotten more out of whack due to my linguals-on-top-only. It’s hard to say.

Regardless, I’m thrilled to be able to finally say I am D-O-N-E. No more switching out aligners. No more attachments on my teeth. And you better believe I will be wearing my retainer every night until the day I die. I’m not letting these puppies backslide the way I did in college! Putting your own money into your smile really makes you value that retainer, I tell you what.

I may end up getting a permanent retainer (a wire glued to the back of my teeth) if it’s deemed necessary in the future, but for right now, I’m just going to relish not having anything permanently attached to my chompers. If you have any questions about either Invisalign OR lingual braces, I’m happy to answer them! Because I can! Because I’M DONEEEEEEE!!

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth (Weigh-in #3)

So, yesterday I saw a friend asking about Invisalign on Facebook, and it occurred to me that it’s been a really long time since I’ve given an update about my teeth (aside from the temporary crown situation that I reported on a few weeks ago). For those of you who might not have been following my braces saga, lemme ‘splain:

I was a regular ol’ brace face in 7th grade:

I had something like 14 months of braces (I don’t actually remember how long I had them, only that they were off by the time I moved from Falls Church to Taiwan the summer before 9th grade.) I was good about wearing my retainer until halfway through my freshman year of college because I was an ungrateful child relishing her first taste of parent-free living, and I did not (and still don’t) appreciate all the things my parents did for me.

And so, eventually, my teeth slipped back into a state of… relative disarray.

Sure, they weren’t the worst teeth ever, and certain angles showed them in a much better way than others. But I wasn’t happy with how they looked and eventually, it got to a point where I wanted to do something about it.

So in January 2014, I got lingual braces on my top teeth. Lingual braces are like regular metal braces, except they go on the back of your teeth, so you can’t see them. I had them for just over a year — the picture below on the right is the day I got them off.

 
Then, because apparently I have to do everything the hard way, I later decided that I also wanted to fix my bottom teeth as well. This may or may not have been a month or two after Sean proposed… but anyway. I went in for a consultation at Smiles at Fairfax Corner, and it turns out that straightening my teeth one row at a time doesn’t really work. I could work on the bottom (which were still pretty messed up), but I’d also need to work on my bite, which meant putting braces back on the top as well. Le sigh.

So, for the sake of science and curiosity, I decided to look into Invisalign this time. It turned out to be much more affordable than the lingual braces I had already sold a kidney to do, so I gave it a shot. I think most of you know what Invisalign is, right? It’s braces by way of removable aligners instead of having metal brackets affixed to your teeth.

Invisalign boasts its “invisibility” as one of the main reasons to go that route instead of traditional or lingual braces. It also offers the “flexibility” of being able to remove the retainers so you can still eat anything you want. Well, on those two claims I have some opinions, but in general, I’ve been just as happy with the results netted from IL as I have from the lingual braces before. Still, for anyone who might be considering IL, let’s talk about them in a little more detail:

 
As you can see in the above photos, in which I am wearing my aligners, Invisalign is most decidedly not as invisible as you might think. Perhaps when the technology first came out, you could get away with folks thinking your teeth are just a little shiny, but now getting IL involves getting “attachments” — little enamel bumps strategically adhered to your teeth to better help the aligners grip and move them.

Now, I’m all for efficiency, but the unfortunate side effect of the attachments is that they make the aligners even more visible when they’re in your mouth. The good news, however, is that the bumps truly are tooth-colored, so when you don’t have the liners in, you really can’t tell unless you’re basically staring someone straight in the teeth.

You can kind of see one of my attachments on the left side of my mouth in this photo — it’s sticking out a little bit. But I actually have multiple attachments all across my front teeth as well that you can’t see. (Just in case, however, I did have my attachments removed for the wedding and then put back on after I returned from my honeymoon.)

So, what this extreme dichotomy in “invisibility” ended up meaning for someone like me (coughvaincough), is that I really have only worn my aligners at night, and have gone bare-toothed during the day. I want to emphasize that this is NOT the recommended way to do it. In fact, Invisalign encourages ideal weartime of 22 hours a day. However, I am a very conceited person who takes a lot of selfies, so I just couldn’t do it.

The aforementioned “flexibility” was also a factor here. See, you can’t eat or drink anything except water with the aligners in. So, for a chronic snacker like myself, that meant taking out my aligners, eating, brushing, flossing, and shoving ’em back in like, 6 – 10 times a day. Not the most fun. Then again, maybe if I’d actually stuck with it, I’d have curbed my snacking habit instead. And maybe my extraordinarily excessive oral cleaning would have prevented my weird crown cavity thing. Or, maybe it would have made it worse because I’m terrible at flossing anyway and would have just half-assed it and ended up smooshing more food up against my teeth every time I popped my aligners back in. #whoknows

ANYWAY. All this to say that I’ve basically been operating for the past year with only wearing my Invisalign at night, and it’s worked out for me. But, I reiterate, I am also not saying that others should blatantly disregard the instructions of professionals.

So, here we are! Two and a half years have passed since my original foray into lingual braces, and another year since diving into the world of Invisalign, and I’m very nearly done! I’ve just a few more aligners to go at this point, and have some nice straight teeth — top AND bottom — to show for it.

So there you have it! A much longer, more drawn-out story (and process!) than I initially intended, but just like with all aspects of my life, evidently I really just have to do things my own way. 🙂

And speaking of those other life aspects, I owe you guys a weight report!

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.6 lbs
Current Weight: 241.8
Difference: +.2 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.4 lbs

Well, this should come as no surprise if you read my post yesterday, which recapped the stuff-my-face tour of Savannah that I took last week. And I’m not sure if next week will be much better, since I’m headed to Playa Mujeres on Friday, heh. But, hey! Life is for living, food is for eating, teeth are for straightening (I guess), and I’m just happy that I didn’t put the 12 pounds I have lost back on. ‘Til next time!

Lingual Braces: 1 Year Later

Yesterday, I went to the orthodontist. In case you had forgotten (as I often do), my mouth is secretly full of metal.

I have lingual braces on my upper teeth, which has slowly been straightening my smile over the past year.

teeth update

Though you may remember me reporting being in a lot of pain during the first week of having these puppies in, in the months since my last update it’s honestly like I’ve forgotten that they’re even there. Other than a bit of pain/soreness for a day or two when I get them adjusted, and the fact that food does get stuck back there pretty easily, they really are relatively forgettable. And don’t worry, that lisp I carried around for the first couple of weeks is looooong gone!

Unfortunately, while my original estimate from the orthodontist put me at being braces-free by the one-year mark, I experienced a little setback about a month ago. For some reason, my front teeth started making backwards progress, with the overlap between my front two teeth become more prominent and the unevenness between the teeth becoming more pronounced.

FullSizeRender (1) FullSizeRender

I’m not sure if you can tell in the above pictures, but take my word for it. It was not fun to see my teeth were backsliding into crookedville. Luckily, my teeth were able to be pulled back into place with just one correctional visit. Unluckily, that still means it took an entire adjustment just to get back to where I was (I get them adjusted every 4 – 6 weeks). So that little setback means that I’m still a (secret) braceface, and tacked on at least a couple more months to my overall braces tally.

But, hey, I paid like four grand for these stupid metal brackets, so they can take as loooooong as they need to make things right!

January 28, 2014

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January 15, 2015
After my braces do finally come out, I’ll be getting a permanent retainer put in, which will be a single wire glued to the back of my teeth to keep them in place. I’ll still need to use a regular retainer as well, but the permanent one should help ensure that everything stays in place. I won’t be making the mistake of letting my teeth backslide this time! Having braces twice in your life is MORE than enough (especially when you’re the one who has to pay for it the second time, hahaha.)

I’d actually been recently considering starting work on my bottom teeth, via either lingual braces or Invisalign. Ultimately, though, I decided that there are other things I should be saving my money for right now. And since I primarily only show my top teeth when I smile, hopefully it won’t bug me too much that only half my mouth is celebrity-straight, haha.

Even with the associated cost, I will probably say that, second to me getting LASIK, getting braces is probably the best money I could’ve spent on myself. (LASIK is HANDS-DOWN the best thing I ever did for myself, without a doubt, but straight teeth is good too, haha.) I am that much more confident in my smile, I feel that much more beautiful, and definitely feel it money well-spent.

Have you ever considered anything like braces, LASIK, or anything else along those lines? If so, what’s preventing you from pulling the trigger?