Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Pinup smile update: in which the orthodontist isn't pleased...

It's been a long time since I last wrote about my Invisalign. Actually, I wrote about getting my teeth out and the week before I got my braces and then promptly stopped talking. I'm annoyed at myself because before I signed up for orthodontics, I obsessively read blogs and got annoyed when they stopped sharing in the middle of the process.

The thing is, it became a part of my routine really quickly and I couldn't think of anything more boring to continually post about them. The two-weekly changes of little plastic, mouthguard-looking things; the occasional ulcers; getting used to having to put your fingers in your mouth; the extra shame getting lipstick on your teeth involved (it goes under the trays, which is not easy to subtly fix); and working out how to not have the basic need to eat make me ruin a $50 manicure (the trays, they are buggers to pull out and nails are required. And sacrificed).

I also was struggling with the fact that just three months after I made the commitment to go forward with two not-so-cheap years of orthodontics, I lost my job and started working part-time. It's fair to say, my disposable income would be a lot higher if these little plastic doo-dads didn't cost me so much, and I probably wouldn't have gone ahead had I had a crystal ball about the job situation. 

It was only a few months of wearing Invisalign before people started telling me they could see a difference. In the first weeks, I'd scrutinise the shape of the new trays, stare at my mouth in the mirror and make side-by-side collages of my current face with my pre-op face. I didn't see what people were talking about and decided they were just being nice (and lots of those comments came when I was whinging because it's gross taking your spit-covered retainers out before you eat at a restaurant).
This was the end of May 2015, three months in.
No big changes that I could see, but people had started commenting at this point. 

Last week I started on tray 23 of 32, so theoretically I have nine trays to go before the 'refinement' process starts, which is about 18 weeks.  Up until Christmas time, the process has been going smoothly. Generally, when I change my trays over, they're a bit tight for the first day and sore when I wake up on the second morning because they've had eight full hours in my mouth. The pain doesn't really last much longer than that. 

This was one of the first pictures where I could see some difference when people commented (July 2015).
I saw a massive change in about October, and realised that the front tooth that I had not-very-affectionately nicknamed Bucky, wasn't so bucky anymore. I started to feel pretty amazing about the process and not so resentful of the large chunk of my income it takes to pay for them every week. 

And then came my December orthodontist visit. He prodded around in my mouth for a long time and then I heard one of my most feared orthodontic-related words: 'wire' (you'll find out what the others are in a second). One tooth, one that's towards the back and pretty crooked, had decided not to comply with the trays and had started its own merry journey in a completely different direction. The only way to get this guy back into line is fairly aggressive wiring, so he wired three of the back teeth on the right hand side and I entered a world of pain I could never have imagined. 

The inside of my cheek was red-raw before I'd even made it home and less than an hour later it was a total mess. It was beyond the help of wax. And then the tooth pain was incredible too. I was reaching for the pain killers in a way I hadn't since my extraction surgeries. But then, just as quickly as it started, it settled down and I went about my life. It was a little more frustrating than usual because he'd also made some adjustments to my trays to fit the wire, and at singing lessons in particular, I discovered I could flick my top trays out at the most inopportune times. I also discovered I could click them, and clicking became a bit of a tick for me.

This week, I had another visit with my orthodontist. He tut-tutted his way through the appointment, rewired my three stubborn back teeth, told me I'd broken the wire pretty soon after my last appointment and therefore given myself another huge delay, and told me to spend a month and a bit on two trays instead of my usual fortnightly switches. He then uttered my other most-feared orthodontic phrase: 'enamel shaving.'
Side-by-side comparison: Left side is day of surgery, pre-extraction, right is from 1 February 2016.
Look at the difference in the bottom teeth!

A couple of weeks ago, I had my first photoshoot of the year and when the pictures came back, I really, really noticed my smile. It made me adjust my thinking about the major money sacrifice, and gave me a confidence boost.

The shoot was only a couple of days before my last orthodontist visit, so while I know I'm delayed a bit in terms of my finish date now, am dealing with bad pain from the aggressive rewiring, and having anxiety about my next appointment and the enamel shaving, I keep looking at this picture from that shoot day, and thinking about how good that smile is.

No one said this process was going to be easy, but boy, is it ever worthwhile.

Photo by Senergy Photography (shot at the Contact2016 shoot day Hotel Jen Brisbane)


  1. Your teeth look so much neater! Such a huge difference. I'm always amazed at how much adult teeth can move with all this technology that we have now.

    1. They're so much different! I can't imagine what they'll look like in another year when I finish the treatment.

  2. Wow, that is incredible. My father had to go for a similar surgery and he is so thrilled with the results. Have a great set of teeth really does make an enormous difference in confidence. He also chose to get them whitened so it really took it to another level. It looked so good that I went to get whitening.

    Tyler Williford @ Marzo Smile

  3. I am absolutely amazed by your transformation. That your smile is incredible goes without saying, but the glow and the confidence in your whole demeanor is even more of a joy to see. I know there were some scary and painful moments along the journey for you, but I have to agree that it was very worthwhile.

    Joanna @ Westheimer Dentist

  4. Your teeth look amazing. What a great confidence booster. I had braces as a child and it is worth every dollar spent to have a smile that you do not feel like you have to hide. Having the back three wired may take a little longer and at a greater expense but it is worth doing. Take care now!