#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