I’ve finally finished Invisalign. I’ve waited over 2 years to say that. I can finally enjoy smiling again. I’ve waited over 10 years to say that. I finally have (a little) confidence. I’ve waited my entire life to say that. It sure does feel bloody fantastic to be able to sit here and finally say that I’m happy with my smile. It was after being told by my dentist in my teens that I needed those dreaded train-track braces that I’ve always hated my smile. So I took to my blog in September 2015 to share this lingering unhappiness with am I good enough? Then I somewhat tried to document my Invisalign journey when I started back in November 2015 with getting my Invisalign braces fitted, but after only my one month and six month updates, I fell totally off the bandwagon.
Firstly, I apologise for those of you who were hoping to follow along with me on my journey, but quite honestly it’s been such a long, frustrating and complicated process at times that I haven’t felt like sharing. I was waiting and longing for that abracadabra moment to unveil my new smile, yet in reality it was one step forward, three steps backwards the entire time. So the moment I walked out of the orthodontist clinic for what I hope was the very last time, I felt such a sense of relief that I burst into a flood of happy tears. But it’s about time I wrapped this whole journey up into one final post. Brace yourself. (pardon the pun)!
The Invisalign Braces
Right after my last update, was when things got a little complicated. I was on aligner 10/23 but wearing the top aligner for three weeks instead of the usual two, due to a stubborn tooth that just didn’t want to move. Well, it didn’t. Leaving me once again feeling like this all wasn’t worth while. But nonetheless I carried on and eventually made it to the final aligner, just a couple of weeks shy of Christmas ’16. Only problem was, they didn’t manage to correct the height difference between my front teeth. Wrong. It turned out that after close examination it wasn’t actually an inefficiency in the Invisalign at all – my tooth was in exactly the right position. It was instead the combination of the way that my tooth has somewhat been grinded down over time and it moving into its new position that its ended up with a diagonal slant – one end of the tooth was longer than the other. This was the one step forward and three steps back I was talking about. The solution: on my next regular dentist check-up, get it filed and rounded off in the corner. Perfect, I thought. Wrong. Again. I had to wait until after I got the all clear from wearing my retainers. Once again I thought, okay lets do this. I was wrong, again.
First of all, there was a slight hiccup in the way that my retainers fit my teeth, so they actually made my troublesome tooth move slightly out of place. The result: the height difference was corrected but I was then left with a gap between my front teeth. Just. My. Luck. Two weeks later, now into January ’17 (!), with a fresh set of retainers – I was good to go. What I didn’t realise was that I would have to also wear the retainers for 22 hours a day, just like the aligners, for six months. SIX MONTHS. Even still, after those six months you only got to reduce wear-time down to 14 hours, for the following three months. Goodbye 2017. I was so fed up at this point of wearing that god damn plastic over my teeth. The one positive I could take away was that I finally got that tooth filed down. No pain or discomfort. It took literally two seconds and cost nothing more than the usual dentist check-up fee. Thank god! The abracadabra moment finally happened in October 2017. Yet I knew I still wasn’t completely done. In the back of my mind, I still had an issue: my gums.
The Unexpected, Expected Surgery
I can remember back when I was at University that my gum-line started to disappear along my two front teeth on the bottom. I didn’t at the time know it was gum recession. It gradually got worse over the years to the point where I was imagining my teeth were wobbly. Yep, I was officially going crazy. But that was my breaking point: enough was enough. So when my orthodontist told me that I could have a surgical procedure at their clinic to correct it, I knew I had to. After all, there was no way I was going to live in fear of losing my teeth after all these years of trying to fix them. So November last year I survived my very first surgery experience: a gingival graft. Fast forward to 2018 and whilst it’s been a long and painful process, I do not regret a damn thing. It’s one hell of a fresh start for me – I can smile again, I’m happy and my confidence is growing. Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.