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INVISALIGN: A (MOSTLY) LOVE STORY The true story of one woman s relationship with braces

This is the first article in a series about my experience with Invisalign, from the consultation to the fittings to the trays and more. Curious? Below you will find out what happens before getting your aligners. There will be a new article about life with Invisalign every week, leading up to a final reveal, including my thoughts about the process and a glimpse of my teeth!

My teeth are not THAT bad. I had braces when I was younger and, for a long time, had a very nice smile. Then my teeth started to shift and suddenly I had an okay smile with a handful of crooked teeth threatening to get more crooked with time.

The shift in my teeth caused a shift in my personality. I began to pull back in photos, in person I was not being the bright and friendly person I was used to being, the girl who always had a smile to share.

I thought about getting Invisalign for years, but something always stopped me. How would I look with braces? How would I talk with braces? Could I even afford to get braces? This dentist is mean. This orthodontist does not care about me, or my teeth.

I needed guidance. I waited for a sign.

Then it happened. I met a friend who had just finished her Invisalign process. She had beautiful teeth and a great smile. She smiled in pictures and in person. She looked good in pictures and in person. One day over coffee (she sipped hers through a straw a sure sign of pride in her very straight, very pearly whites), we began to talk about our teeth. She recommended I see her orthodontist for a consultation.

Ok, I thought, a consultation is fairly non committal. I would not have to decide anything on the spot. The next day, I made an appointment to see Dr. Jacquie.

Because it is important to know how Invisalign can fit into different lifestyles, I will let you know a little about mine. Here is a (very truncated) description of me, my life, and how I like to spend my time.

I am active. I like to smile, a lot. I had braces before, and straight teeth, once. I have a boyfriend. We kiss and stuff. I have a family and friends. I like to socialize and be spontaneous with all of them. I like to cook. And eat. I crave a few cocktails once a week ish, especially in the summer, and wine in the fall. I meet new people all the time. Sometimes, I am trying to get them to hire me. I am pretty frugal, at least when it comes to spending money on myself. (Unless, of course, I am buying shoes.) I work out often, try to be outdoors as much as possible and am fairly low maintenance. There are a handful of things I would not mind changing about my appearance but my smile is the most important thing to me. My pinky toes, slightly disfigured from years of martial arts, come in a close second.

Well, that did not take much convincing. Thanks, Dr. Jacquie. I am in.

(For those who might find comfort in something lengthier: Dr. Jacquie lived up to her reputation. She is personable, and very smiley, and extremely knowledgeable. She reassured me that I would be happy with Invisalign and shared with me her vision of my future smile: straighter and wider. I had not even thought of expanding my smile but it made sense. Her confidence in her abilities, in Invisalign, and in my smile potential was all I needed to take the leap. I was getting braces. After dreaming of Invisalign for years, and meeting with a few less than personable orthodontists, it felt good to connect with someone a very professional someone. My future smile is in your hands, Dr. Jacquie.)

Of course, I still had some initial trepidations. What if I developed a lisp? What if I experienced soreness, got cavities? What if I ran out of floss? What if I am not very good at this? What if my boyfriend and I stopped kissing ? That surely would not do well in our relationship. How much is this going to hurt? Will tequila taste the same? Would my appearance change along with my teeth? Would my jaw widen with my smile? Is that even possible? And my breath! Would I always be worried about my breath?

Whatever the concerns, my mind was made up, and I was energized. I was ready to get this going. I am going to get this going!

Photos. X rays. Impressions. Done.

In less than an hour, I was photographed (I considered prettying up for my pictures but figured the worse I look in my before shots, the better I will look in my can not wait till the day comes after shots). The X rays were painless, although different; two cones strategically placed in your ears keep your head from moving while a machine photographs the inside of your mouth. And then the impressions; also painless, although momentarily uncomfortable (as biting into oversized trays of putty-like material could be).

As I left Dr. Jacquie s, unknowingly accompanied by a piece of blue putty (I found a dime size ball under my chin three hours after my appointment; you may want to look there before you leave the office), I was told I had get a phone call when my trays came in (approximately 6-7 weeks later). Let the countdown begin.

I spent the next month and a half wondering if I made the right decision. I could not pass my bathroom mirror without pausing to smile my widest smile, and examine my teeth. I rolled my tongue over my crowded bottom row, my lower left lateral incisor (yes, I had to look that up) awkwardly situated behind the rest of my teeth, like the last kid left standing and waiting to be picked in gym class. And right above it, my upper incisor was pushed so far back from the rest of my teeth that from certain viewpoints, it looked like I had no tooth there at all.

I looked from every angle and had every possible reaction. The constant My teeth are not that bad, was a given. But I hate the way I look in photos. I can not wait to smile with confidence. I hope this works. Imagine what they will look when they are straight and whitened! I have to get them whitened.
I crossed my fingers and let the time pass.

My trays were not in but I was asked to come to the office, to see Dr. Jacquie and approve (3D!) images of what my future teeth would look like.

Like those magical time lapse videos that show a city day turn to dusk or a caterpillar morph into a butterfly (I like that analogy!) I was shown my teeth transformed, in slow motion, from their current crookedness to a straightened, widened, wow of a smile. The makeover was amazing, with every tray slowly but surely pushing my teeth into position. While skeptical (did my virtual teeth look too good to be true?), I was excited. Very excited.

Dr. Jacquie had me down for 16 trays, the last two designed to refine my teeth if, at that point, I felt my teeth needed refining. So, I estimated approximately 30 weeks of wear (15 trays, two weeks each, if I was good). Seven months? I could do this. I am so ready to do this.

(I hope my face does not change.)

Next week: The trays arrive!