Invisalign- The Final Weeks

Before InvisalignSometimes in life you make a big decision that’s so right and  just keeps getting better.  For me getting orthodenture after 50 is that kind of decision.  When I was a teen ager, braces were just not financially possible for me.  When I was a young working mom there was just no time to deal with an overbite.   And quite honestly, I did not want to  spend two years with  a mouthful of metal braces.

Getting Started with Invisalign

When I started No-Nonsense Beauty Blog  to  try out different beauty options, I finally had the time and resources to deal with my overbite.   But what really made me pull the trigger were the arrival of clear invisable aligners that did not need to be attached to the surface of the teeth. I started with 30 aligners to  pull back my  protruding teeth and I could start to see results in just three weeks.   While I could see that my lower teeth were a bit crooked, I didn’t realize how much they were pushed forward.  In fact it was this forward slant that was actually pushing out my upper teeth. 

The first ten aligners  focused on the lower teeth to give the uppers  space to move back.   Every two weeks I moved on to the next device.  In the second set of 12 aligners, things got a bit more intense.  They were tighter and  I need to wear the last three   a full month before  before moving to the next step.

It turned out that the shape of my teeth also contributed to my overbite.  My upper teetth were wider at the bottom than the top, leading to what is  charmingly known as  “shovel teeth”. My chompers also  had an angular masculine shape rather than  more rounded, feminine contours.  These  irregular shapes  made it difficult  for the teeth to line up evenly so my amazing orthodentist Dr Jacquie Fulop,  gently reshaped the sides and tips. 

Last Invisalign deviceI’m now in my final aligner which I will wear for at  least a month.  Then I will wear “over-correctors” at night.  The difference is striking.   It  took about 20 months and cost a total of $6500– less than half the cost of the estimates that I got from traditional orthodentists.  Most Invisalign providers offer a monthly payment plan which makes  it much more affordable.  I waste so much  money  on shoes that hurt, pants that don’t fit and overpriced dinners that just add inches to my waist.  With adult orthodenture,  I feel my money has been well spent.  Have you made beauty and fashion decisions that  just kept getting better?

 

Overbite? What Overbite?

My pile of discarded Invisalign aligners tell the story.  The nine month Invisalign treatment  is almost over and  I have  just  four  more aligners to straighten out   my overbite.

The first part of the Invisalign program focused on the bottom teeth.  Not only were they crooked, the flare was pushing out the top and were a major cause of the overbite.  When I first went to Dr Jacquie  I really didn’t care about the bottom row of teeth.  I felt  they weren’t that  visable and the  problem was above.   She explained that  they had  to be corrected before the top could be  put into line. ( no pun intended).

Last month with  my lower  jaw practically perfect it was time to get serious  about  the top.  I was concerned that  the aligners were going  to be tighter and they now they  definately meant business.  For the first time I found myself  removing aligners for a few minutes during the day because the pressure was intense.  My mouth seemed to be a human barometer. I could actually tell if  a storm was coming by an increased sense of pressure in  my mouth.    Taking off the aligners for 20 minutes was all I needed  to relieve the discomfort. 

I also noticed that I was getting a bit lazy.  Some nights after dinner I would “forget” to  put back the retainer immediately after eating.  This week I also lost my first aligner.   At home, I usually take out my aligner right before meals and dump them in a small bowl on the kitchen counter.  This time, when I cleaned up the kitchen and  brushed my teeth,  the upper aligner  had vanished.   I vaguely remembered cleaning up some plastic bags on the counter  and taking the trash to the chute down the hall.  I’m fairly certain that   my missing retainer was scooped up with trash and thrown out. I was due to change aligners in two days, so I pushed up the date.  The new aligner was a bit tight, but still doable. 

I’m waiting to post my  progress  until  the last reveal in two months.  But  the changes are  already pretty encouraging.   At lunch this week I mentioned my overbite to a new co-worker.  ”  Overbite?” she  said  ” You don’t  have  an overbite” .  How nice was that.

Invisalign- Visible Results After Just Six Weeks

I was really looking forward to my six week appointment with Invisalign.  I had gone through three sets of aligners and  felt a definate change in my bite.  The first set of aligners were super easy to wear.  Not only were they totally comfortable, they kept me from snacking.  Without aligners, I would  reach for a random cookie or chunk of cheese– but with Invisalign eating even one bite meant taking it out, scarfing down the food,  a trip to the sink to brush my teeth and replacing the aligner.  Few foods now seem worth the trouble.  I also noticed that my teeth were much whiter  because I could not drink tea and coffee while wearing Invisalign.  Cutting back on  my 5-6 cups of tea and coffee certainly kept  my smile  brighter. 

The second pair of  aligners were  pretty snug.  And walking in cold windy weather seemed to make them feel even tighter.   I was a little concerned that things were going to get tougher but the next two sets  were as comfortable as the first one.

Dr Jackie started this visit by announcing she was going to  make me look like Madonna.  I wondered what she meant.  Would I get blonde wavy hair?  Skinny arms?  Then I got it.  Dr Jackie   treated my teeth with IPR or Interproximal Reduction.  IPR is an important of most Invisalign treatment plans.  Using a rotating disk Dr Jackie recontoured my teeth to create a  tiny  bit of extra space between my teeth and reshape them for better alignment.   It’s a much less invasive and expensive option than extracting 4-6 teeth entirely.

In addition to having an  overbite on top and crooked teeth on the bottom, my teeth had a masculine, awkward shape. ( Top photo) My teeth were significantly wider at the bottom than the top and lets face it you can’t line up two slanting lines.  By rounding off jagged  and boxy edges, IPR made  my teeth prettier and more feminine. ( Bottom photo)  In less than a week, the space has closed up as the teeth moved naturally into a better position.

When I started Invisalign, I just wanted to reduce the overbite.  The subtle reshaping that is part of  the Invisalign program is such a welcome bonus.  So far, Invisalign has exceeded  my expectations.

Invisalign for an Anti-Aging Smile

When I first started  my anti-aging journey I identified a dozen different signs of facial aging. On that list I noted only a single dental problem– stained/ yellowed teeth.  Turns out that changes in our smile are part of  often  unrecognized changes that  make us look older.  The overbite that I see in the mirror was just a symptom of  changing dental contours, rather than the cause  of  my aging smile.

Here’s how it works:  According to Dr Jacquie, the full wide smile of gorgeous celebrities ( think Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Halle Barre, Kate Middleton) is a youthful smile.  As we get older, our smile often becomes smaller as the jaw  loses bone mass, shifting the teeth forward.

To check this out, I dug out old family photos and there it was– a full wide smile.  As a thirty something Mom, I had a little overbite, but my  broad youthful smile  had two rows of an even white teeth.  Comparing that smile with my baseline  pix from Dr Jacquie, you can see the difference a few decades make.  The overbite is more pronounced  and the side teeth have receded and are barely visable.

Looking at these photos I realized that I certainly under- estimated  the impact of aging on the mouth– and I’m not alone.  Even in New York where you can trip over dermatologists  and cosmetic surgeons, it took me two years to find  a full service cosmetic dentist– someone who is focused on the smile problems of adults.   At Dr Jacquie’s office, I noticed the  beautiful models and actors walking in the door, and I began to suspect I was finally in the right place.   If  the other patients in the waiting room have a curfew and are carrying  that thick SAT book, you’re probably  in the wrong place.

Getting Started with Invisalign

There are before and after  pix and then there is the panoramic digital radiograph.  This shot shows how age related bone loss in my jaw  has shifted all my teeth forward.  You can also see the shape of the teeth- wider on bottom and  smaller on top- contributing to the problem. This shape does not line up well and Dr Jacquie will be shaping the contours to make the teeth look more feminine. What you don’t see is overcrowding.  There is plenty of space between the teeth as they all shift forward.  It makes  me cringe to think about the dentist  who wanted to take out four back teeth.  It would  have made  my  teeth even worse.

My  profile was taken with a companion machine called  to take a cephalometric measurement .  I stood up and my head  was positioned by a pair of alignment knobs in my ears and a stabilizer bar on my nose.  Looking at the flare of both my upper and lower teeth, I’m surprised I could  still chew with these things.

In Search of a Beautiful Smile

I was  thrilled with the effects of the Zoom teeth  whitening.  Admiring my gleaming white  teeth in the  mirror of my dentists waiting room, another patient  ageed they looked great, adding ”  It   makes your overbite less noticeable.”  I have an overbite?  I knew that  my teeth flared out a bit, but was it  that  bad?

Growing up,  money was tight for my writer father and artist mother.  Instead of fully tricked out braces, I had a bite plate with wires that were tightened  every so often. In later years,  I  had thought about getting real braces, but  I didn’t want to walk around with a mouth of metal as an adult. 

The  night after my Zoom treatment, I saw an ad for a new  tooth straightening technique called Invisalign.  I knew my amazing dentist offered this technique so I decided to explore my options.  Invisalign uses plastic forms that fit very tightly over the teeth. As the teeth move back, new forms are made  to keep  up the pressure on the teeth.  Since they are the same type of form used in bleaching trays, I  knew I could handle them. Even better, the  forms are practically invisable and don’t interfere with talking.  Time extimates vary from 12-18 months and costs depend on  how long treatment is needed. I’m starting next week by getting a mold of my teeth to see  what needs to be done. Getting braces at my  age  makes me feel like I’m back in high school.  Maybe this time, the  hottest guy  in the school will  deveop a  huge painful crush on me.