COMPLIMENTARY TREATMENT FROM A&L CLINICS IPSWICH.
When I was a teenager I begged my dentist for braces. I had (well, have) what I fondly refer to as Dino Teeth, little chips like the characters in The Land Before Time, small, rounded and variably imperfect. Everything was where it was supposed to be and the dentist was always happy with my bite and how healthy my teeth were, but because they were quite small, there were noticeably a lot of gaps and some slots were spacious enough to store my spare change in.
I was desperate to close them up, specifically the gap between my front two teeth which ended up being the barrier between my smile and photographic evidence for many many years. I pleaded with my dentist, determined to have a perfectly straight grin for prom (*le sigh* simpler times), but they refused to give the go ahead because they didn’t see the work as essential.
Have you ever met a teenager that takes a no for a no? Bristling with stubbornness, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I know - when it comes to anything dental, ‘I took matters into my own hands’ is hardly a reassuring confession. I’m shaking my head too.
I scoured the internet for viable alternatives which could perfect my smile but not break the bank (I was probably about 13 at this point and the only money I had was the £40 I pocketed from my burger van Saturday job, so the answer had to be cheap and cheerful, again, not a phrase you wish to associate with dental work). I stumbled across some elastic bands on eBay which were allegedly approved by orthodontists for closing gaps; I bought two bags and readied myself for what was surely going to be the answer to my problems. I swelled with that distinct flavour of smugness typified by know-it-all teenagers.
To cut a long story short: the bands arrived, I wore them on my front two teeth, they began to move and I soon realised I wasn’t as clever as I’d thought. Instead of pulling together to close the diastema they’d started to turn inwards, so now not only did I have a gap, I had a gap with wonky teeth. Fantastic. The bands were decidedly unforgiving on my gums too and I’d often wake up in the morning with bleeding gums and a swathes of sensitivity, but stupidly I persevered with the bands because I was determined to find a solution. Maybe patience was the key.
Patience was not the key. My front two teeth ended up permanently edged inwards and whilst my gap was ever so slightly reduced, it certainly wasn’t noticeable enough to justify the blood, saliva and tears I’d put into my genius dental plan. I stopped wearing the bands when I started having recurring nightmares about my teeth falling out - it felt like an omen not worth ignoring.
Fast forward many moons and I gradually made peace with my smile. I practised the different ways to grin which would make them look best but avoided showing them in photos where I could. I was especially conscious of the front teeth that had turned inwards, occasionally appearing off-colour if the light hit them in the wrong way and cast a shadow which was particularly unappealing. I was self-conscious of my teeth but also embarrassed by my own vanity, so I toed the line between acceptance and denial and figured that at some point in the future, I’d either actually be okay with them or I’d find a way to do something about it.
Enter Invisalign. To begin with I was unsure as to whether I’d be a suitable candidate for the treatment; my teeth aren’t super wonky, they just don’t seem big enough, and I’d only seen evidence of aligners curing underbites or overbites or teeth flying off in random directions. I went to a couple of different local dentists for consultations and eventually decided to bite the bullet (is that a pun? I feel like there’s a pun in there somewhere) after seeing the simulation of my end-of-treatment-smile.
I’m now three weeks in and adjusting to the routine brushing and regular toothache. I can see where my teeth have started to move already and I still have another 1 weeks to go, so I’m quietly hopeful that I’m going to be pleasantly surprised by the end of it all.
Prior to starting my Invisalign course I’d searched online for reviews from people with gappy teeth, but most of the content referred to overcrowding or overlapping and it didn’t feel relevant to my own experience. As such, I thought I’d run through my own treatment plan and experience thus far to shed a little more light on what to expect if you're in a similar boat. If you have any specific questions which I've missed, send a message and I'll do my best to answer asap.
Who is my Invisalign dentist?
A&L Clinics in Ipswich, Suffolk (1hr train journey from London). They have on-site free parking for patients and the team are AMAZING. So friendly! I always get nervous in the dentist because it's like okay, is this formal? I mean your hand is in my mouth but I'm not sure whether to make jokes or not? What is the tone here? But it's all very chilled at A&L and even the bits I don't enjoy - like having that water blasted in to clean plaque - are much easier because the tone is relaxed but professional.
Most dentists can issue Invisalign however A&L are offering 10% off when quoting my name. The entire treatment plan typically costs a few thousand so a 10% discount will be quite noticeable!
Why am I getting Invisalign?
I want to close up the gaps between my teeth, correct any wonkiness and have everything looking a little more uniform. I may get composite bonding once my Invisalign treatment plan is complete to really perfect the front few which I'm most concerned with.
How long is my Invisalign treatment plan?
Provisionally 16 weeks with the potential for a little longer if my teeth aren't moving as expected. My treatment plan is quite short in comparison to others which can be a year or longer, so it really depends on your teeth specifically and what your dentist predicts.
What happens after the consultation?
After your initial consultation, you'll be invited back into clinic for a ClinCheck which is how Invisalign & your dentist expect your treatment to progress and consequently how many aligners/weeks you'll need. You'll be able to see a simulation of your teeth moving and what your smile will look like once finished. In my case, Dr Malini cleaned my teeth before giving me my first aligner and I went back to the clinic a week later to have my attachments put on (little bumps bonded to your teeth for the aligners to grip to and move your teeth more effectively), and to have filing in two places (to allow room for the teeth to move).
Does Invisalign hurt?
Yes, especially if you've never had any dental work and aren't sure what to expect re: toothache. A lot of people warned me that the attachments scratch the inside of your mouth to begin with but I've not had a problem with this at all; the thing which hurts the most is the first day after a new aligner has gone in and your teeth feel super sensitive. You'll be crunching crisps so so delicately. Don't worry though - this soothes quite quickly and even though you'll be worried that your teeth are going to wobble and fall out, they won't.
Is Invisalign inconvenient?
You have to brush your teeth and rinse your aligner after eating or drinking anything which isn't water. You also need to have your aligner in for 20-22 hours a day, which means you need to be pretty organised with your downtime and when you'll be eating/drinking. I carry a toothbrush and mini toothpaste with me wherever I go and you quickly get into the habit of shimmying to the toilet after a coffee or snack, and I found that when my teeth were especially tender, it was more comfortable to have the aligner in than out so you tend to speed things up naturally. It's a small price to pay for cute teeth anyway (plus it helps to improve your dental hygiene and habits, so win win!).
Is there aftercare with Invisalign?
Once I finish my treatment I'll have a fixed retainer put in behind my lower teeth and I'll need to wear a retainer every night to bed. This is to ensure my teeth don't move again and to keep my results looking the way they should. You'll need to be willing to commit to these for the rest of your life and potentially the future cost of having lost retainers replaced!
If you have a question in mind which I haven't covered above, leave a comment down below or email A&L Clinics directly to book a free consultation and simulation. I know about my own treatment but my dental knowledge doesn't extend far beyond that so a proper dentist is likely your best bet.