Dentists have always been interested in my teeth. Dentists from other towns and provinces travel for days just to view them with their own eyes. Elders in the dentist community are consulted about the anomaly that is my set of “pearly whites”. Dental nurses and hygienists are called into the room because “you have to see this x-ray!”
I may be exaggerating here but my hang-ups about my teeth are not just cosmetic. I have had trouble with cavities because for some reason my teeth are assholes. They’re crooked and susceptible to decay. Yes, senior dentists have been called in for their opinion about my teeth, hygienists have made me feel like a naughty five-year-old and dental nurses have said things like ‘wow! I’ve never seen an x-ray like that before, it’s so interesting.” To which I replied, “I’m so glad I could contribute to your education.” Truly though, the pursuit of knowledge is a worthwhile journey we should all be taking. I don’t get it though, I brush and floss more than anyone else I know but I still seem to have trouble with the health of my teeth.
Before I started invisalign I wanted to make sure my teeth were in as good shape as they could be. That means that I had my wisdom teeth removed, consulted with the hygienist about how to best care for my teeth (unfortunately, this resulted in foul-tasting toothpaste and mouthwash) and I had multiple fillings.
I asked my dentist about invisalign and he seemed to think I would benefit from straight teeth. Not just because I’ll look awesome but because straight teeth are easier to keep clean. So he referred me to a orthodontist.
I’ve read a few blogs / forum / articles and such on invisalign and they all seem to think that orthodontists are they way to go so make sure you’re referred to a decent place. You may want to ask your dentist who they like. They’ll probably refer you to an old college buddy or something but I guess that’s cool.
I had x-rays done before my initial consult. This will give the orthodontist a fair idea of what they’ll be working with. I had x-rays done ages ago so the build-up to actually getting the plates fitted has been quite lengthy and my memory is a little fuzzy.
However, on the first consult you can check out the orthodontist and work out whether you like the cut of his / her jib. My guy passed my fairly low standards and he got around to taking his own x-rays and moulds and talking to me about what would be involved. Make sure you ask as many questions you can think of. Even take some pre-prepared questions and take notes. No one but the orthodontist and his assistants will judge you. It’s what I should have done and I regret not doing it. Learn from my mistakes.
Again, my memory is fairly fuzzy and I have trouble paying attention at the best of times so I’ll just go with what I remember.
The x-rays were easy. What was socially awkward were the photos he took for conferences, journals and their own records. FYI – I had to give my permission for him to show the photos at conferences etc. So here’s me already weird about smiling with my teeth standing in his tiny clinic grinning like an over-enthusiastic, nerdy white person in harsh fluorescent lighting. Flattering.
These were awful. They pump putrid blue paste into your mouth and make you bite down and hold for a few moments. I couldn’t bite down properly so I had to do it several times and el orthodonto got pretty frustrated with me. I felt quite deficient. I need both top and bottom plates so this process lasted at least 20 minutes. If you remove yourself from your body and force your mind and spirit to be blank you’ll be okay.
The waiting game
The plates took almost two months to arrive. I was told they’d take a while as the moulds need to be shipped to somewhere like Portugal (again, my mind is blurry – it’s probably not Portugal) and then they get shipped back to good old Australia. If the orthodontist isn’t happy with the plates he can send them back. Fortunately, this didn’t happen to me and my first plates “were actually really good.” – el orthodonto.
So all up, since I first started making enquiries about invisalign to the point of actually getting the plates it’s probably been about five months. I also needed to get a couple of fillings before the plates were fitted. Bloody needles. Be prepared to wait and be patient in this process – especially if your teeth are like mine – completed bastards.
Months preparing for first fitting: five or so
Fillings: about four
Wisdom teeth removed (in the freakin’ chair mind you): three
- X-ray: $40 or so I guess (mind is fuzzy)
- Fillings: $0
- Wisdom teeth: $0
(These two are free as I have private health insurance and receive free dental until I am 25. This condition, which is awesome by the way, has motivated me to sort this all out in a timely fashion. The services still cost money obviously but they’re just covered under my health insurance.)
- Initial consult with orthodontist: $75
- Deposit: $2540
(Again, because of my awesome health insurance I will receive $1800 of this back as a lifetime rebate.)
Tip: When you’re talking to your health insurance provider just tell them you’re getting orthodontic work done. You do not need to tell them you’re getting invisalign. Apparently, some insurance companies get weird about this so just tell them only what you need to. (Tip brought to you by my dodgy orthodontist.)
Weight lost: 0.3kg
Boot camp sessions attended since invisalign: two
(I am obligated to include my boot camp sessions so you don’t think my weight loss is all attributed to the “invisalign diet”. All in the interest of scientific integrity and all that.)
Times I have almost thrown up during boot camp: one
$ still owing: $4000
Time left with invisalign: I actually can’t remember how long I need these things, was it one year or two? something I should definitely check with the orthodontist next time I see him…
In the next installment I’ll be talking about my first fitting and first traumatic day with invisalign, challenges faced and my growing love affair with these little plastic plates. You’ll also understand what I mean by ‘invisalign diet’.