Set 26 Invisalign Braces – Happy New Year!

I intended to follow the old English saying “start as you mean to go on” this year with my Invisalign Braces. So far, not so good.

In fact, not only did I pass midnight on New Year’s Eve without my braces in my mouth, I woke up with them on my bedside table on January the first. Not a great start.

This is actually a first for me. Although I am generally pretty poor in complying with the 22 hours a day Invisalign requirement (I average more like 20ish I think) I have never, ever left my aligners out overnight before! In fact, I’ve never even come close. Whilst I confess that I had consumed rather more alcohol than I might normally and that might have had something to do with it I am still amazed that I managed to go to bed and sleep the whole night (well, OK 1am to 9am!) without realising that something was missing. It took me less than 30 seconds to work out that my aligners weren’t in when I woke up, and a quick glance at my bedside table confirmed what I had suspected. Nonetheless despite my pounding head and the waves of nausea that let me know that I had drunk more than I have in many, many years I was still surprised that I had been drunk enough to forget my braces. I had thought that I was on autopilot these days when it comes to putting them in before bed. Obviously not!

I visited my orthodontist this week for my regular six weekly appointment and in a fit of raging guilt told him that I had a confession to make. He stood there, eyebrows raised expectantly with an expression I haven’t seen anybody wear since I left school, whilst I nervously weighed up whether or not to admit the whole sorry truth. However, I needn’t have worried. After admitting that I had left my braces out for a whole night he did nothing but snort, give a dismissive guffaw and tell me “That’s not a confession!” Apparently the girl in before me had left hers out for several days over Christmas and had to go back two aligners just to get them back in her mouth. So I picked the right time to confess I guess!

Despite me being so remiss all seems to be going reasonably well. I had 9 upper refinements (on top of my original 17 aligners) which consisted of 6 refinements and 3 over-corrections. I have now completed my first 6 refinements and I think there is still a little way to go before my teeth are absolutely finished on the top. My orthodontist told me that this is fairly standard; in fact most people who need refinements need to use the over-corrections. Over-corrections are given by Invisalign because those particular teeth proved stubborn to move the first time around and apparently they then usually remain resistant throughout treatment. For this reason he has told me to wear my next two upper over-corrections and he will then review my teeth again to see whether we are satisfied with the final positioning.

My bottom arch is now on aligner 26/34 and whilst I can see great progress my orthodontist is not convinced that there will be sufficient room after another 8 aligners to get my bottom wonky tooth (which you can see here on my clincheck) in to place. I am cautiously hopeful that he is wrong, but we shall see. If there isn’t enough room by number 34 we will have to do refinements (additional aligners) for the bottom row too. Funnily enough on my clincheck it always looked like there would be plenty of room long before the end and as my teeth seem to be tracking perfectly I am surprised that there isn’t. As my orthodontist has told me repeatedly the clincheck is only a guide, not gospel. Having read numerous other patients Invisalign stories I know that that is the truth. It seems that it doesn’t pay to get too wedded to the final result that the clincheck shows, it’s a useful estimate but nothing more.

There is no massive progress since the last Invisalign pictures that I posted ( you can see the highlights in the sidebar on the right) so I won’t post more now, but I’ll take more after these two over-correction uppers so you can give me your verdict on my upper arch. I think that I could do with a little more widening of my molars, but maybe the over-corrections will take care of that, we shall see. In the meantime I intend to try and make up for the misdemeanours of New Year’s Eve by being especially compliant in January. We shall see how long that lasts! At the very least I am happy that one year into treatment I am still loving my Invisalign.. Watch this space!

Invisalign Braces Set 23 – Update With Pictures

I know, I know, I’ve been a bit slow with the updates lately. I have no real excuse other than a serious bout of the flu. I’m in the southern hemisphere (i.e it’s summer here) and I have had both the swine flu and seasonal flu vaccinations (fortunately we have a large stockpile of swine flu vaccination here, it’s available free and on demand) but somehow I still managed to succumb to a 2 week bout of illness. Yuck. I managed to keep my aligners in for most of it, although there were a couple of days where I simply couldn’t function without a lozenge in my mouth as my throat was so raw and painful to swallow; so on those days I’m afraid I was a little remiss.
Fortunately I’m now back on form and back on track with my invisalign, so I promise I’ll try and update more regularly.

As you can see from the pictures there are no massive revelations at this point in my treatment, but things are slowly moving into place. I am now on 3/9 of my upper refinements and on 23/34 of my lower aligners.

As you can see from the first picture the movement of my crown has now caused a very ugly black line along my gumline next to the crown. Fortunately my aligners actually mask this to a great extent so it isn’t nearly so noticeable when they are in, but it is, nonetheless, a bit ugly. The profile view of that crown is improving (see third picture) but still isn’t nearly perfect as the front tooth still needs to move back into place a little more. I have six aligners to go, so we’ll see what happens. I’m still really looking forward to getting the crown replaced (although already having nightmares about the actual procedure!) I know that the cosmetic dentist also said that he needs to raise my gumline above that tooth, which I’m trying not to even think about at this point for fear of never going back to another dental appointment again. If you have had a gum raising procedure and can offer any kind words of encouragement, please, please do. Frankly, I’m terrified!

My upper refinements as mentioned in a previous post are focusing on two areas, my front right tooth that needs rotating and the molar that is too long and not in position on the left side (right side in these pictures). I was told that my nine refinements are really six aligners and three over-corrections; if my teeth look done after the first six trays we can stop. Something I have been wondering about is, what happens if one area looks perfect after six aligners and the other doesn’t? Do I have to over-correct one area to get a finished result on the other? I’ll ask my orthodontist at the next appointment and let you know.

My bottom arch isn’t looking too different from straight on but I am happy to report that a real gap is opening up inside my mouth for my stray tooth to move into (see my clincheck). I can also see that the bottom arch looks less “witchy” when viewed from the front. One of the things that I disliked so much about my teeth pre treatment is that the the bottom row were both very visible when I talked and also very pointed and crooked, giving me a look that could easily scare small children! (see my sidebar for the before pictures) This far into the treatment I am happy to report that they are becoming much more uniform and whilst not straight, will no longer qualify me for a walk on part in The Wizard of Oz.
teeth nov 09 set 23side view set 23bad side set 23
As ever I would love to hear your comments on my treatment. Feel free to click on the “comments” link below and let me know your thoughts on how things are going.

Invisalign Refinements Are In!

The good news is that my Invisalign refinements have arrived for my upper teeth; the bad news is that I have 9 new sets. My orthodontist has placated me somewhat by assuring me that 3 are over-corrections and that we probably won’t need them.
Apparently, in refinement they usually give over-corrections. They appear to have concluded that if something didn’t work the first time it may need a little something extra in the refinement phase. I’m hoping if I am superlatively compliant that little extra will be unnecessary and I’ll be able to finish after 6 aligners. We’ll see.
I’m a little disappointed that there are nine, but frankly, at this point I would rather get it done right, than done quickly. I still have to wear my bottom aligners anyway as I am still in the middle of the first run of those so it really doesn’t make a huge amount of difference. The only real problem is that the upper aligners are so much more visible, and that you can feel them in your mouth more too.

One thing that bothers me is that I still have my original attachments on my upper teeth. I am sure my orthodontist has kept them for a reason but I know that other people have had theirs removed before refinement impressions were taken. This sometimes means that if there are no attachments needed during refinement they don’t have any. I only wish I had remembered to query it before my impressions were taken. Anyway, it’s too late now! When I see my orthodontist in a few weeks time I will ask him why we kept them and let you know. I suppose one consolation is that the attachments do keep the aligners much more stable on my teeth, they feel much tighter than they did before I had them. Perhaps that will help them to move more quickly. I live in hope.

One good thing is that my aligner numbers have synchronised. I will wear 21 lower whilst I wear #1 upper. This should help me to remember where I am up to. Of course, my orthodontist claims to have designed it that way. And I believe him. Really!
My clinchecks can be seen here. As ever they are very quick but you can see the area on my molar that is over extruded (is too long!) and that my front right tooth needed to rotate a little more.

Apologies for the funny green logo on there. I needed to crop my name and address off the clincheck and this was the only way I could work out to do it! Must be my age…

Invisalign refinements….Freedom for teeth!

After 9 months of confinement inside their clear plastic Invisalign prisons my top arches are finally free; the only thing is, at times I have almost missed my braces!
After 17 aligners and 34 weeks I have finished the first run for my upper arches. I still have 17 aligners left for my bottom arch however, so I wear the lowers full time and the upper ones only at night. That in itself is proving to be something of a challenge. Whilst it was easy to remember to put my braces back in when I was wearing both sets- my teeth felt strangely naked without them- it is much harder to remember to put only one aligner back in. My teeth seem to have quickly adjusted to the naked feeling on the top arches; wearing only lower aligners is nowhere near as intrusive. That means, however, that I never get the sensation that used to remind me to put my braces back in and consequently I have been skipping a few hours here and there.
It was strange at first not to have to wear them after all this time. The only way that I can describe it is as similar to the time when I gave up sucking my thumb as a child, my mouth felt strangely empty and my tongue almost throbbed with some unmet need. However, that quickly passed thankfully and I am now fully happy with my 12 hours a day wear. My orthodontist has told me that that is the ideal balance between the need for retainment and the need for my top aligners to last intact until my refinements arrive.
Arggh, refinements. Those of you that have read this blog from it’s earliest days will remember my confident proclamations about how I didn’t require perfection, only improvement in my teeth. Funny how these things change. Whilst my teeth are enormously improved there are still a few minor tweaks that I now deem absolutely necessary for my orthodontic happiness. As discussed a couple of posts ago in my “invisalign set 15 -ugly photos”my front tooth is not yet in complete alignment, although it is pretty close. Similarly the left hand side of my upper arch has not widened as well as the right side and the length of the teeth is mismatched when viewed both from the front and the side. Fortunately my fabulous orthodontist agreed 100% with my assessment of this as well as picking up a couple of other minor points and thinks that we can fix it in about 6 additional aligners including an over correction. The great thing is that this will be done at the same time as my lower arches are still on their first run so won’t add any additional time to the process at this stage.
My orthodontist was happy with how things are progressing otherwise. We agreed that I wouldn’t get my crown completed until I have finished refinements on the upper arch in case when things moved it needed redoing again. I am keen to avoid paying the $1500 charge for a new crown twice.
Here are some pictures of my upper arch pre refinements. Feel free to let me know whether there are any additional tweaks that you think I need. Bear in mind that we are only talking about the top ones though, the bottoms are only halfway through…