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Invisalign

Invisalign Part II: 34 More Trays

Your groundhog said you’re getting 6 more weeks of winter.
Mine said I get 34 more weeks of Invisalign trays.

A few weeks ago, I saw my orthodontist after completing 53 weeks of Invisalign. He said my teeth are straight, and my bite is improved, but my upper and lower jaws are still out of alignment. The tech took another set of impressions and sent them off to have another set of trays created. They didn’t tell me how many more trays I’d have to wear to correct this problem. (I wore my Week 53 trays for a few weeks while my next set of trays were being made.)

I couldn’t manage to take a good photo that shows my rubber band, so I stopped trying.

Last week, I was back in the orthodontist chair (I always feel like I’m in junior high when I’m in there) and I asked, “How many more weeks do I have the pleasure, I mean privilege, of wearing Invisalign trays.” The tech laughed, but I was serious. I suspect many people who can’t afford it wish they had the means to afford Invisalign or braces. Even though I may complain that my teeth hurt or that wearing trays is a hassle, I never forget that it’s a privilege to do this.

The tech said, “34,” and I get to wear a rubber band on one side of my mouth. The tech had to move some of the anchors for my trays (aka “dinosaur teeth”) and she glued a metal “button” to one of my lower teeth. The rubber band attaches to an edge carved into my upper tray and the button. Every time I take my trays out, I’m supposed to replace the rubber band.

Looking at the calendar, I’ll be wearing this set of trays, changing the trays each week, until mid-October. Basically, I added another year to this adventure.

At first, I had the compulsion to try to chew on the rubber band, which isn’t actually possible, but now it’s a non-issue. Putting it on is easy, though in my first week, I managed to shoot a rubber band across the room and snap myself in the lip while trying to put it on. These are first world problems.

The rules with these of trays is the same: try to wear them at least 22 hours a day. Some day I’ll get to sip my coffee again. The only difference now is I must remember to bring my bag of rubber bands in addition to my tray case when I leave the house, and for now, I need a mirror to put on a rubber band. Note to self: Put a compact with a mirror in your backpack for when you’re traveling.

The only problem I’ve encountered with wearing a rubber band is I can’t sing properly. I can’t open my mouth wide enough to sing the notes. I don’t wear my trays when I have a voice lesson or perform, but I do when I’m singing in the car and around the house. Knowing me, I’ll test how well these rubber bands stretch. I hope it doesn’t hurt much if one snaps in my mouth.

First Week in Invisalign

Part of my year of investing in myself includes resetting my smile with Invisalign. I have a deep overbite that needs to be corrected or else I’ll be at risk of pushing them even further out of alignment and breaking my teeth. I’ll be fixing my teeth over a 53-week period with new trays each week. I never had braces as a kid, just a head gear and a wireless retainer, so I’m grateful for all the helpful advice from friends who survived braces or Invisalign before me.

My Next Seven Weeks of Invisalign Trays

Dinosaur Teeth
The way Invisalign works is they glue little anchors to the outside of 12 of your teeth – 6 on top, 6 on the bottom – and the trays snap to them and your teeth when you put them in. When I take out my trays for meals, my teeth feel so weird with the anchors attached to them. I call them my dinosaur teeth. It’s bizarre having extra ridges in my mouth.

Best Diet Ever
The instructions say to wear the trays 22 hours a day, only removing them for meals and brushing. The only thing I can have when they’re in is cool water. I’m definitely going to stay hydrated with this adventure.

Although it’s getting easier to attach and remove my Invisalign trays from my teeth, each time I do it, it’s uncomfortable – and that’s putting it mildly. It hurts. Getting them out the first time was so challenging, I was afraid I was going to have to call my orthodontist for help. Each time I want to eat, I have to decide if what I want is worth going through the process of removing and reattaching my trays.

22 Hours a Day

As a habitual snacker, these trays are changing the way I eat, shifting from eating throughout the day to eating mostly meals. I’m also being more thoughtful about what I eat while my teeth are sore. One friend warned me that she was sore for the first month she wore Invisalign trays. My friends gave me lots of suggestions of soft foods that sustained them during teeth straightening.

Since I’m supposed to wear my trays 22 hours a day, I also have to change the way I drink coffee. I used to sip my coffee all morning, from walking my dog before sunrise until lunchtime. Now that I have to minimize the amount of time I have my trays out of my mouth, I down my two cups of coffee first thing in the morning.

No Relief
Unlike the relief of taking off my bra at the end of a long day, there’s no break from Invisalign. My teeth hurt when I pop my trays in and out and they’re sore throughout the day. I’m told the pain will decrease, but I suspect I’m going to be sore for a few days every week when I switch change to the next set of trays each week and my teeth readjust to their new position. I’ll try not to be too grumpy.

Did I mention wearing Invisalign trays is giving me touch of a lisp? I’ve always said I have an inner gay man, now I have a stereotypical voice to match. I have to be extra thoughtful about enunciating my words. They say this is temporary too.

Looking at my teeth with and without Invisalign – realigning my teeth with be worth it, and will hopefully only take 53 weeks to finish the process. Besides fixing my teeth, I think my new smile will elongate my face and give me a better chin.