Way back before I was a teenager with cancer, I was a regular teenager doing all the things that regular teenagers do - like getting braces.
I remember very clearly returning to school that day in 7th grade after those shiny, silver, sharp brackets were super-glued to my teeth -- only to have some (very mature) 7th grade boys point and laugh at my newly accessorized appearance. And thus began the era of me being self conscious of my smile.
And as luck would have it... just months after getting my new silver smile I moved to another school. Obviously a mouth full of metal was exactly the thing I wanted to have with me as a new girl in a new school in 8th grade.
|My first day of 8th grade at a new school.|
Don't be too jealous of my cool outfit.
|Me in all my 1988 glory.|
BONUS: my earrings match my teeth.
Metal braces have gone the way of CRT televisions and car phones, babe. Technology has not only changed the way we take in information and communicate with each other, but it has also changed the way we fix our smiles. Do you remember how you weren't allowed to eat certain foods when you had braces? That is sooo 20th century. Let me share with you why I wish invisible braces were around when I was a teen.
We had a great local orthodontist present us with an overview of Invisalign (find one local to you here), and the first thing that hit home for me is that when you are being fitted for Invisalign, you don't have to do impressions (of your teeth, folks, not of your favorite celebrity). If you've ever had impressions of your teeth made, you know how terrible of an experience it is - the gagging was the worst. Instead, the orthodontist uses a scanner to get an image of your mouth and the position of your teeth. With those images your personal sets of aligners are manufactured.
The aligners are made of smooth plastic that you wear over your teeth and you put in a new set about every two weeks. But because they are removable, you can just take them out to eat so there are no food restrictions and it's easy to take care of your teeth (did anybody actually floss around their metal brackets?). Another bonus: No need for globs of wax to protect your mouth from pointy wires.
When using Invisalign to straighten your teeth, your orthodontic visits are only every four to six weeks, which normally adds up to fewer visits than if you had traditional metal braces. Also the appointments are shorter and you're going to have fewer chances for emergency visits since there are no brackets or wires to break.
I was surprised to learn that the cost of Invisalign was on par with the cost of metal braces. In addition to the orthodontist that talked to us, two parents of teen patients of his who use Invisalign were there for us to talk to. They especially felt it was important for us to know how comparable the cost was because they had also been surprised to find out they were affordable.
Along with the parents were the actual teens themselves -- and they were adorable. Both of them were about the age I was when I got my metal mouth, but with just a few comments from them I could tell their experience with Invisalign Teen was nothing like the experience I had with metal braces.
First, the teenage boy is in band and plays the trumpet. I don't play an instrument, but I imagine that would be very uncomfortable to do with metal brackets on your teeth. He plays his trumpet while his aligners are in and said the only time they give him trouble was when he switches to a new aligner. He said after a day or so he's able to adjust to it and play as usual.
Second was the teenage girl. Of course I'm going identify more closely with her experience, but she was SO enthusiastic about Invisalign Teen. She was so happy to have the smooth, clear aligners and felt so bad for her friends who didn't. She was just the cutest. And I assure you - nobody would have described me with that word at that age. And according to this info graphic, that confidence will more than likely stick with these kids:
The parents also felt it was very important to get the opinion of an orthodontist that was a preferred Invisalign provider, as at least one of them had been told by a dentist (who was not a preferred provider) that their child was not a candidate for Invisalign.
My husband and I both had braces, so there is a good chance our girls will need them, too. From what Dr. Halford told us, I would not have been able to use Invisalign right away because I had a tooth that had to be pulled down. He said in cases like mine he would use metal braces for a very short period of time -- just long enough to get the tooth to come down to where the rest of the teeth are -- and then he would switch to Invisalign. That was enough to convince me to get a consultation when my girls are old enough (my 7 year old doesn't even have front teeth right now...).
I actually had impressions of my bottom teeth made when Invisalign first came out and I haven't ruled it out yet. My metal braces were only on the top and now my bottom teeth have shifted to the point they are messing with my top teeth. Not cool, teeth. Not cool.
Did you have a mouth full of metal like me? What was the worst part? Have you ever considered Invisalign for yourself or your child? I'd love to read some tales of misery from your teen years...
Thanks to Invisalign and the SITS Girls for making this post possible.