I never thought to try this out since I’m quite happy with my current alignment with teeth and my smile. But over the past few years, the constant grinding (nightly and anxiety times), have caused a ton of soreness and pain in my jaws and I can see that some tooths are starting to shift sideways..
Since my dental plan has a coverage for orthodontia, so I figured why not. I’ve seen many people have done it and their teeth and smile looks amazing. Not that mine may turn out the same, but I figured maybe it is that time to start straightening my teeth before I struggle with misalignments in the future and who knows what issues it may bring.
So here goes! (I need to get some pre-photos from my dentist…)
Cute packaging! Came with a bag and an aligner case so that you’ll never have to put it in a tissue and risk throwing it out.. It also comes with cleaning crystals for days when you drink coffee or tea when you have the aligners on and it starts turning yellow…..
So as you can see on the package, it says “1 of 14”.. The first aligners of the 14. Dentist says 14 weeks but I’ll have to go in frequently.. She predicts at least 20 weeks. For some reason 20 weeks sounds faster than 5 months, which hit me much later that this is going to be long!!
I had my molds done about 4 weeks ago, it was quite messy but I’m glad that the dentist did it for me. She took several photos from all angles. The whole process took about 30-45mins. 2 weeks later, the results came back, she sat down with me to show me how my teeth would look like after the process, how many trays and weeks. But most importantly, she gave me a warning that she needs to shave down some teeth.. Shave…. the word that made me jump. Apparently my jaw is pretty small so some tooths need to be shaved down to accommodate for spacing. She assured me it’s not painful and I would not feel anything… There’s no turning back. I already paid half of the fees….
2 days ago, I went back at 5pm to start the process. So I really only have less than half the day to experience what I didn’t expect. First off, the shaving part, apparently they just need to shave down the surface of some tooth, some quick shavings, almost like sanding on a hard/rough surface to make it smooth, except this was to shave down the curve of the tooth to put in the attachments (see image below for those little pokey thing on my tooths)
How does she know where to put? Apparently they have sheets of paper to indicate where to put the attachments. This needs to happen in order for the aligners to stay in place. (As you can see my overcrowding issue on the bottom and also a slanted tooth on the top)
This is what it looks like after it’s on. So you can see the ridges of the aligners where they need to insert the attachments.
- On my third day (or 2.5 days) and most words that has “S” just felt like they didn’t sound like “S”. It takes some time getting used to.
- In all honesty, I felt very conscious of how I look when I smile and speak now. I can’t help thinking that people will notice my teeth looks weird whenever I speak or smile or laugh. But my friend said she didn’t notice anything unless I cover my mouth and she remembered that I have these aligners on.
- Starting to get a couple of blisters in the inner layers of my lip. This comes from the constant abrasion with the ridges of the aligners.
- Super Sensitivity
- First day was definitely the roughest. Taking it off for the first time to brush my teeth was probably the worst. Your gums was basically forced to conform to the aligners, when it’s finally released, all the hold-up emotions was going at full force of release. It’s worst when the aligners are stuck at the most sensitive spots as you’re trying to yank it off. Yup, I meant yank (but a slightly gentle one).
- Brushing with an electric toothbrush is the worst! The pressure and constant cleaning just makes the sensitivity unbearable. I switched to regular soft bristles, but you’ll still feel it. Just not as aggressive
- Took a look at the tooth and realized that there’s a gap in between the slanted tooth with the tooths on each side! (see image below) There was never a gap before! I suppose in due time the space is meant to move that tooth straighter!
- Eating was definitely challenging now.. You need to “yank” it off and it’s not pretty. My saliva was accumulating whenever I tried to take the bottom off, so it becomes messy. I definitely suggest removing them in the restroom when you’re outside. Because of it’s sensitivity, the first few bites were a torture. You can’t bite with your normal force.. You gotta take it slow.. Eventually the sensitivity goes down. But don’t feel like you should only have soups. You will need to train your gum muscles to conform to the adjustments and also to stay at its new place.
- There were many moments I thought I was going to lose my tooths. The sensitivity makes it feel like they were loose!
- The dentist did warn me that because of the pressure of the aligners, some patients actually needed painkillers because it was painful. I didn’t believe it until the next morning. It wasn’t so much of a pain, but because the force of spreading out your tooths with the aligners, it created a LOT OF SORENESS. It’s like your jaw has been exercising non stop for a lifetime. So did I take a painkiller? Absolutely. Did it help? Yes! It’s not so much of a pain like a needle, but a different type of pain… See the bullet point above.
It felt better the next day (FYI no painkillers taken since that first one). I think the muscles didn’t have a choice. There are still some sensitivity with some tooths. But removing them became slightly easier since they aren’t as sensitive.
In order to not put myself through the sensitivity, I definitely need to make some lifestyle changes to reduce the # of times I remove the aligners:
- No more tea because these are plastic aligners so they can’t handle the heat, and I don’t want it to stain.
- Only water (lukewarm or warm). But cold water definitely helps to reduce the sensitivity. I’m not a fan of cold water but this will do.
- But bubble tea can still happen but no bubbles, substitute it with the jelly!
- No more snacking – just the main meals will do.
- Flossing after every meal – yup I don’t have a choice. There are more buildups now as I can’t chew or bite properly and the spacings are more spread out allowing the food to be trapped in.
- Less full hard meals – meaning a piece of salmon and rice is enough to trigger the sensitivity, so I can’t imagine variety of foods like veggie, meat… So I’m going to stick to softer but meaty dishes like fish and shredded chicken hopefully.
To summarize – this is not what I expected, the sensitivity, the challenges of eating and maintaining it.. But it’s only for 20 weeks (or 5 months). I can do it. It’ll take a lot of determination and not being distracted. Let’s knock down the first week!
To Be Continued……