#5. UPDATE – Invisalign

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa

6 months after I left the dentist’s office with “buttons” on my teeth and my first set of plastic Invisalign retainers, I’m done with the treatment! Thrilled with the results (see below before and after), and appreciating all that life has to offer without worrying if red wine is staining the buttons, if I remembered my retainer case, and what my strained smile would look like in that unexpected photo. Even more, I’ll now have the ability to ensure my teeth don’t continue to shift as I get (even) older.

I was able to maintain the recommendation of wearing the retainers for 22 hours each day, it wasn’t overly difficult. I did not have to drastically cut my coffee intake, and unfortunately did not lose weight like I had hoped (oh well). Each new set of trays was uncomfortable for a few days as you would expect.

The removal of the buttons was not great. In the dentist’s chair for 45 minutes with a small drill to get the button off and then a sandpaper like polisher to buff off the remainder. It was entirely unpleasant. And if this part was the ugly side of Invisalign, I’m sure that all the other body altering self-improvement mechanisms have their own “ugly” side too.

The other observation is that this is becoming increasingly popular. More affordable and flexible treatment times make this an attractive (no pun intended) thing to do. As I brushed my teeth many times a day at work, I ran into the same women time and again who were in the same situation.





#5. Invisalign

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.” – Diane Vreeland (Former Editor in Chief of Vogue)

Damn the selfie. Damn it all. Actually I love the selfie. It allows me to take incredible photos of myself and my kids, friends, husband, etc. that I may not have been able to take without asking a stranger. But, with all good things there seems to be a price to pay, and for me it was a critical eye focused entirely on my teeth.  And THEN I got a head shot for a conference I was asked to speak at. The horror! When picking the best version to send I didn’t automatically scrutinize my crow’s feet and laugh lines (for these were signs of laughter and years spent smiling), the ungroomed eyebrows, but instead went to what others have reminded me were ‘perfect’ and ‘great’. My teeth.

I was a child of orthodontia. With the dreaded key-laden palette spreader in 5th grade, and then braces (with headgear!) between 6th and 8th grades. My teeth had seen their fair share of metal. Like millions of others I received my plastic and metal retainer along with the bag of tootsie rolls and caramels when I left the orthodontist for the last time. And like millions of others, I wore it sporadically, if ever, and didn’t think of it until it was returned to me about 8 years ago in a box of “memorabilia” saved by my dad. Want to know what 25-year-old retainer smells like? You can guess.

I’ll blame the iPhone and my armageddon nature for wanting to focus on my teeth. As I have also worn glasses since the 6th grade, I have long been considering either Lasik too, but recovery and the basic fact of lasers cutting my eyeballs made me shy away from that procedure.

I began the inquiry of Invisalign with my dentist last year. He also asked why I was interested given the great state of my teeth, and as he also treats my father, my dentist can literally see the future state of my teeth by looking at his (note: My dad has beautiful teeth, but my concerns over my shifting eye teeth, etc. are valid). I worked out the budget: $500 up front for impressions. Impressions are sent off to Invisalign to determine how long it will take, or how many “trays”, to get the teeth straight. That length of time determines the total overall cost and frankly, the total overall life imposition. Good news for me though – I qualified for the shortest time, 10 trays or 20 weeks. The $500 from the impression step would roll into the total balance If I chose to move forward. With 10 trays, the total estimate was around $1,800. The impression step was done in December, the first several trays were ready in a few weeks, and I went back just after the first of the year to pick them up.

My expectation: I’ll show up, get the instructions, slap the retainers on my teeth, walk out with a mild lisp for a few days but overall no one will be the wiser until I don’t have to wear them anymore in June.

The reality: I showed up and after my dentist took a tiny double-sided saw between all my teeth to sand them down and establish ‘room’ to move, he and his assistant applied “buttons” to many of my teeth – top and bottom. These buttons are on my teeth directly, and enable the trays to move my teeth – they are not removable, so even if I’m not wearing the trays, someone can still see the buttons and more importantly I can still feel them. After I literally swallowed my pride and dealt with the karma b*tch slap across the face (I was doing this for vanity’s sake and the universe is subtly reminding me of that fact by putting these permanent things sticking off my teeth for the next 20 weeks), I put on the clear plastic retainers and sounded like I was in 5th grade all over again. Awesome.

That was almost 6 weeks ago. Tomorrow I’ll be putting on my fourth set of trays, and after gentle ribbing from the husband (“I thought you were perfect before.”…aw shucks), my kids constantly poking at them, and a few co-workers calling it out after failed attempts of finding words that do not have “s” in them to finish my thoughts, all is good. I’m starting to see some progress which is heartening.

A final post will be written with the experience debrief – likely to include some “tips”, and “don’ts” of Invisalign, but overall I’m sure I will be very happy that I invested the money and the time to do something for myself, resulting in a change I wanted to see, without surgery, debt or disfigurement.

Total Investment: $1800, $500 “Down” and remainder when treatment started.

Total Covered by Pre-Tax FSA: $1800

BEFORE: Me and the Hubs


Read Update Here


Getting Things Started

The genesis of “the list”.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Seneca

I am not a writer of lists. Scratch that. I write lists. I am not a FOLLOWER of lists. I write them, but rarely reference them, or retain them. Once I write an item down I remember it, mostly. Stuck in my head, and in all best efforts sometimes to get rid of the things I’m supposed to do, or forgot to buy at the supermarket, I can’t.

With this in mind, and after spending a lot of time on my daily commute listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast “Happier”, I got to thinking about how I manage my obligations to myself and others, and how I might want to change that going into my fourth decade next year. The large and powerful “40” over on the horizon, coming towards me ever quicker, has made me panic. No idea why. I’m not afraid of 40 or what it represents (OR AM I?!?), but I have not slept well, questioned all long-held beliefs at some point, caught myself daydreaming and wistfully sharing lifelong dreams with strangers (or really patient coworkers).

Rather than stew for another year. Rather than go into my fourth decade with the same old nagging thoughts/wishes/hopes/dreams/”can I?”s, I excitedly made a list. I’ve seen others write their lists, and end up on the other side of 40 full of stories, incredible memories, and an overall sense of “take-that-40” when the birthday actually hits. I WANT THAT. The list is composed of 40 things I need to accomplish before turning 40 (summer 2018).

What THIS is, is a journal of said list – going through each item, and discovering the journey between. Journaling is one of my “things”. Having a lot of solo time growing up, I mused and mused in a handful of journals. I was such a good listener to my own thoughts. Without that outlet over the years I have continued to be a good listener, but not a good actioner. Hopefully this exercise becomes a blend of both. I also hope to have my brother join in on the fun. I’ve asked him – rather told him – that we were going to do this blog thing together. He’s busy, has a family and career of his own, but as a means of staying closer and communicating on a regular basis I thought it would be fun. For the most part we get along, and for the most part we challenge each other’s opinions.

I plan to journal about each item – its genesis, what will be difficult and what will be easy about taking it on, and as some items are going to take longer to check off the old list, I’ll journal about the journey. I’ll include photos, quotes, feedback from friends and those who have offered to help me achieve my goals. And above all else, I really want to capture what checking items off an actual list feels like. Doing what I say I’m going to do – FOR MYSELF. These items aren’t for my husband, my kids, my family or friends, or my work – although I do hope that this process will help me improve my relationship with all of them.

Beginning: Like journaling in high school, I loved quotes. I have a well-worn old paperback quote book that I referenced in the age before the internet. It was a companion in writing English papers (what good English paper doesn’t start off with a proper quote?), a love letter ghost-writer, and a muse. I’ll dust this off to channel my inner teen as well.

Quoote Book
Quote book I used growing up – a snapshot in time of the “revolutionary new format…”.

Ending: As important as beginning, each post will end with a word that captures the essence of the post, or a reference resource that I’d recommend on the topic.

Fresh Start