I Needed Aligners After Teenage Braces
A real story from an actual Invisalign patient, this is Part 1.
I am the fifth and last child in a family of crooked-teethed children. It was therefore a rite of passage for the teenagers to get braces. Our one professional family photo shows two older teens with dazzling white and straight smiles, while the preteen and the child display very crooked teeth. The youngest, I was the one with perfectly adorable baby teeth.
Happily for me, I was the child that “broke the mold.” My teeth were not incredibly crooked and crowded like my siblings’. Since Dad paid for their extensive orthodontic work out of his own pocket, it looked like I was the one that would finally save him some money. It was true, however, that my eye teeth stuck out a bit too far. Compared to my brothers and sisters, I had great teeth, but in my senior year of high school, Dad’s dental insurance finally started including orthodontic care. I decided to get those prominent canines under control, because now it was free!
After braces, my canines were in line with the rest of my smile. I received a retainer to keep everything in place and went on with life. Sadly, I never wore that retainer very much, so my teeth began to shift a bit. One night I tried to put the retainer on my once straight teeth, but it was useless. I just hoped that my newly straight teeth would stay straight.
Fast forward many years and I’m now in my mid-50’s. Many things have begun to shift and slide, including my previously straight teeth. I began to notice in pictures that beyond my perfect looking smile in front, my molars looked really dark in photos — almost like they weren’t there or that I was missing some teeth. As a person who has dutifully taken care of her teeth (except for the retainer failure), I didn’t like it one bit that there seemed to be big problems in the back of my mouth.
Another factor was a nagging sense that there was less room in my mouth for my tongue. I began to develop tension in my mouth at night, since I just couldn’t find a comfortable place to put my tongue. What was going on? I know aging isn’t fun, but had my tongue got bigger? I ordered a custom mouthguard and that made sleeping a bit more comfortable, but there was still a feeling that things were shifting and shuffling, plus lots of tension in my upper mouth.
On a routine dental cleaning, my teeth were x-rayed and when I saw the results, I knew I wasn’t imagining things. My molars were shifting inwards, especially the two behind my canines. My dental hygienist commented that one in particular was slanting at such an angle that it was causing a pocket to form along the gumline. Around this same time, during a massive cleanout of old photos, I found a picture of myself in my twenties. It was a strange angle, practically a straight shot up into my mouth. A weird photo to save for over thirty years, but it gave proof that my molars were way out of alignment since my teenage orthodontic treatment.
For the second time in my life, I debated and debated about committing to straightening my smile. Dad’s insurance wasn’t going to pay for it this time! But I had always found a way, even in my poorest of years, to take care of my teeth and keep them healthy. The cramped feeling in my mouth was not going to go away by itself and it was getting in the way of falling asleep.
It might be hard to explain why someone with seemingly straight teeth would pay money to get them straightened again, but I knew that in my case it was the best decision. Going through conventional braces as a teen, I was aware of the extra hygiene care that braces require. I was convinced that this time, Invisalign was the only choice for me. Their reputation is stellar and the ability to take the aligners off for a short period was a winning proposition. Stay tuned for notes on my consultation and the experience of getting my teeth straightened later in life.