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Bracing Myself — Again

I wore braces when I was a teenager. After having four teeth pulled and enduring three years of monthly tightening, annoying rubber bands and wires that cut into my cheeks and lips, they were removed. I had beautiful, straight teeth. I didn’t wear my retainer, though, so my teeth slowly moved out of their newly minted alignment.

Since my top teeth still looked pretty good, it wasn’t a big deal to me, though. But then recently, I started biting my bottom lip with my incisor, which sticks out a bit past the rest. Then I started having issues with two back teeth, which moved apart and required quite a bit of flossing. QUITE a bit. It was time to do something. When my husband’s new dental insurance included adult orthodontic benefits, I took it as a sign. I would go back to the orthodontist.

This time, however, wires weren’t in my future. I opted for Invisalign, a series of aligner trays that can be removed — perfect for adults! The process of getting my aligners was a complex one. First, I was scanned with a special scanner, which took images of every one of my 24 teeth — front, back and top. Then, I had 360-degree x-rays taken as well as digital photos of my mouth, smile and jaw. All in all it was about two hours of holding my mouth open. Six weeks later, my dentist was holding 23 aligner trays that were created especially for me. I picked the first three up six days ago. So far, so good.

What’s it like? Wearing Invisalign feels like wearing a bra on your teeth. A really tight sports bra. That’s the only way to describe it. All tucked in and held rigidly. Otherwise, I don’t know they are there. You can’t really see them, but I do talk a little funny. I lisp a bit and sound a little garbled when I have them in. The first few days also brought a little soreness as well as some cuts and scrapes on my tongue and cheeks. I also got a little cut on my gum line. I used dental wax to fix those issues, though, so I’m feeling a bit better now.

So far, I have been able to wear my aligners 22 to 23 hours a day, taking them out to eat and brush my teeth. I also take them out at work when I do interviews and moderate webinars. Otherwise, they’re in there working their magic. The dentist says I have between 230 and 322 days in them, depending on how compliant I am. The more you wear them, the quicker the treatment goes. Since I’m really pushing for seven months rather than 11, I try to wear them as much as possible. No matter what, though, I am looking forward to having straighter teeth some time soon. And this time, when I am done I promise I’ll wear my retainer!

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