Over the last four years I have visited five orthodontists, one of them twice, in pursuit of an answer to my teeth problems, in what I believe is the orthodontic equivalent of what they call “doctor shopping”. I kept visiting more orthodontists until they gave me the answer that I wanted to hear.
Four years ago I emigrated to Australia, leaving behind London and my old life. I wanted to start fresh in a new place, with a new pace. A slower, more relaxed life.
With the changes that came with moving countries, came the need to find new doctors and dentists. In Australia, thanks to my husband’s job, I have an all singing, all dancing, medical plan that offers orthodontic treatment as one of its perks, and reading the health fund brochure I realised that this was probably the best time in my life financially to seek the orthodontics that I had always wanted. I had seen advertisements for Invisalign, and so began an internet trawl for information.
The problem was, that having moved to Brisbane, the global equivalent of a small country town, I knew that finding the right Invisalign orthodontist was going to be difficult. I needed somebody not only that I could get along with, but also somebody that was very experienced in using Invisalign. Very experienced. Not just because I wanted decent results, but also because I knew that I am what they call a “complex case“, and also a perfectionist. Probably not the best combination. Finding somebody with the experience that I needed was even more difficult simply because Invisalign had only recently arrived in Australia.
The first orthodontist I saw told me point blank that he could use Invisalign for my top teeth, but not for my bottom teeth as they were simply too complex. They would require metal “train track” braces something that I was simply not prepared to consider.
Invisalign Orthontist #2 told me that I could have Invisalign top and bottom as long as I pulled out the tooth that grows sideways across the bottom of my mouth. Bingo! I was getting there. I dutifully tripped off to my shiny new dentist’s surgery where my very beautiful and very petite dentist numbed my mouth and tried to pull my tooth out. And tried to pull my tooth out. And tried to pull my tooth out.
An hour and a half, and a very cracked tooth later, she gave up and sent me home with a box of painkillers, and an appointment with an oral surgeon in a months time. By next morning my pulpy and damaged gum was infected and ulcerated, and it took a week of antibiotics before I felt better. A visit to the oral surgeon plus a second opinion told me that the tooth in question was extremely difficult to remove, and could only be done under general anaesthetic, something that I wasn’t too keen on given all that I had already been through. So, off I tripped back to orthodontist number 2 to tell him that he would have to work around the tooth.
Of course, he couldn’t. No extraction meant no Invisalign. Instead he offered me a spring retainer for the bottom teeth that would straighten the front few but do nothing at the back, and Invisalign on the top row, all for “only $7000”.
I hummed and haaa’d and shlepped off for a third opinion to an orthodontist recommended by one of the oral surgeons. Number 3 was very kind- even going so far as not to charge me for the appointment because of all I had been through- but wasn’t willing to help me as he simply didn’t believe in Invisalign. He had come to the conclusion that it was a passing fad and wanted nothing to do with it. He also, just as a helpful aside, offered me dire warnings about orthodontist number 2’s inadequacies and highly recommended that even if I did choose Invisalign I should consider a different orthodontist.
This set all my alarm bells ringing so I pinged off a quick email to Orth 2 to ask how many Invisalign cases he had completed. His response- that he couldn’t tell me. Hmmmm.
Enter Invisalign Orthodontist number 4. He could use Invisalign for the top but for the bottom he highly recommended the train tracks. He was also very inflexible about any queries, and seemed annoyed by my questions. Another no go.
At this point I gave up for a year, occasionally googling Invisalign and hoping that their technology would catch up with my teeth. A year later and finally I came across the website of Invisalign orthodontist number 5. Not only did he have 25+ years experience in orthodontics, he was an orthodontics lecturer at a very reputable University and joy of joys ran an Invisalign only practice and was a platinum provider. One quick phone call and a 45 minute appointment 2 weeks later in which he confirmed that he could treat me and finally, finally, I had my man.
Update Feb 2010: Have a look at my latest post on choosing an Invisalign dentist There are some links to an Invisalign dentists blog that may give you food for thought.