I have always tried to hide my teeth in pictures because I was so ashamed of my crooked smile. When I was a teenager I had braces but as my wisdom teeth came in, my front teeth- particularly the bottom ones- all bunched together and all that pain and hard work was undone within a few years. I was devastated but couldn’t bare the thought of redoing the process! Especially as an adult!
Then I read about Smilelign, invisible braces that correct your teeth without the world knowing. It sounded too good to be true but the more I read about them the more I wanted to give them a try.
I went to my dentist and he took impressions of my teeth to make my first aligner. It is a process that has not changed for decades, they simply press a clay-like substance onto your teeth and let it set. When it goes hard, the dentist takes it out (and it feels like all your teeth are yanked out and you do expect to see them poking out of the mold – but don’t worry; they won’t) the impressions are then sent away and a few weeks later you get your first aligner and get to see what your final result is expected to look like on the computer.
I was initially sceptical of the results that I could see on the computer, but I was ready for any improvement I could get. I just wanted to get my beautiful smile back.
I had to pay £2,000 for the first batch of aligners, (there were seven sets in the first batch) each retainer was to be worn for 3 weeks before going up to the next set.
Rules: Wear the retainers at least 20hrs a day. Remove for meals and non-sugar free drinks. Brush and floss your teeth before putting the retainer back on and keep them clean.
Easy enough right?
The first aligner was AGONY to put on. The dentist pushed all his weight onto my teeth to clamp down the aligner and sent me home. When I got home and dinner time rolled around I tucked my nails under the lip of the aligner to remove the bottom one. It moved a millimetre and tears flooded my eyes and a earth shattering knawing pain shot through my senses. My hands trembled as I pushed the retainer back down in place and stood in shock staring at my pale face in the mirror.
I wondered what the heck just happened. This time I tried the top retainer and the same thing happened. It felt like my head was in one of the bells at Notre Dame and someone had just given it a big whack. My head was ringing and I thought I was going to pass out.
I decided not to remove my retainers and went hungry. Unfortunately, I had obviously disturbed a sleeping dragon too soon and the ache and pains that ensued for the rest of the day had me popping ibuprofen like it was candy. All on an empty stomach too because I couldn’t get the retainers off my teeth!
I decided to look on the bright side : I’m going to lose loads of weight!
Sadly, this was not the case either. I lost about 8 pounds in the first week but as soon as my retainer was comfortable enough to remove and my teeth didn’t hurt when I ate, I stuffed as much food into me as I could before brushing and flossing to put my retainer back in. Basically, my diet did not change, but rather I became more effcient at consuming my daily calories instead.
Each time I had to move up to the next retainer I suffered a lot of pain and discomfort for a few days, however I soon learnt a useful trick to survive it: The night before a new retainer was due, I would put the new retainers in and have a couple of ibuprofen just before going to bed. In the morning, I was a little sore but my teeth had already moved during the night so I was able to remove the retainers for me to have a light breakfast (Readybrek became my best friend)
My dentist needed to create space for my crowded bottom teeth to move into place. She offered to remove a tooth or file between my teeth. I chose to have the filing. It did literally feel like she took an electronic nail file and sliced between my teeth. When she was done and I looked in the mirror I wanted to cry. I now had visible gaps between my teeth, particularly my middle teeth and I couldn’t imagine that gap going away. I did, however, remind myself that it would have been a lot worse if I lost a tooth.
As the months rolled by I was soon getting into the routine and managed to continue the process whilst dealing with the challenges life brings. For example, the night my father passed away I had just changed to a new retainer and forgot to take medicine for the pain. Oddly, the physical aches and pains I had in my teeth, helped me cope with the knawing pain in my stomach as I waited for the news.
There is one thing I was not prepared for, some gross-unwritten experiences that I feel anyone considering this treatment should know about!
The retainers are made of some sort of plastic. And when they are new they smell like plastic and give me the world’s worst migraine. Also, it dries you out like crazy. So in the morning, your mouth feels like it’s made of cotton…covered in what only can be described as glue. Add in a foul taste and well, it’s not pretty.
Keep a giant glass of water by your bed and get some good mouth wash. You’re going to need both to survive.
The plastic is very hard when they are new; the acid in your saliva appears to soften it over time but as they are new it can often cut into your gum or inner cheeks so get some wax to cover the sharp edges until your retainer feels more comfortable. And expect a few ulcers.
Also, no one warned me about the lisp you develop with each new retainer. Oh and the sheer volumes of spit that gatheres INSIDE the retainer so you develop a lovely habit of sucking your retainers throughout the day.
And a lot of people who have retainers wrap theirs in some tissue when they sit at the dinner table – DO NOT DO THIS. There are loads of occasions where mine were either about to be thrown in the bin – or they were. You can get cheap containers for though retainers (ha that rhymes) on Amazon. Get one.
Half way through my treatment, my dentist applied “attachements” to some of my teeth to allow the aligner to pull the teeth in place with more force. These attachments are made of the same material they use in fillings, they look the same as your tooth but they are a visible bump. When they are first applied it feels sharp and comfortable, and add pain to the aligning process but you do get used to it after a few weeks.
Finally, if all that wasn’t gross enough, my puppy seems to have an obsession with my retainers. She will leap onto the highest chest of drawers to get her teeth on them. I don’t know why, her teeth are not crowded, they’re perfect. But she’s chewed her way through three pairs of mine. Thankfully, I’ve been able to go up to a new pair with no problems but that could have been a very expensive problem to solve.
But now we are nearing the finish line and I will have a final retainer to wear at night to keep my teeth in good form. I am so happy with my results and at a grand total of £4,000 and 10 months of treatment I have to say it was worth every penny.