My eldest daughter, being something of a geek like her mother, has a copy of the Guinness Book Of Records that she likes to leaf through every now and then. Nothing gives her more joy than the knowledge of who can eat the most doughnuts in two minutes, or which is the largest island in the world (Greenland, incidentally.) So, imagine how thrilled she will be next year when she sees my new entry as the person with the most Invisalign aligners EVER!
Longtime readers will know that my first run of Invisalign were 17 Uppers and 34 Lowers, which I breezed through with very little actual trouble despite my frequent whining. The last few weeks I have been patiently awaiting the arrival of my refinements, enjoying the newfound freedom to snack myself out of being able to do up my favourite jeans.
Whilst my upper teeth are almost perfectly straight now and just need a couple of tiny tweaks with these refinements, my lower teeth still have a long, long way to go. In particular there is one tooth that is growing across the bottom of my mouth that I have always known will be a problem to move. My orthodontist reminded me again today that there are no guarantees that it will move at all, it may in fact be somehow fused to the bone which could be the reason that it proved impossible to remove when my dentist tried to pull it out. I have a good feeling about it though. Call me an optimist, or feel free to call me a fool if you prefer, but I think it will move with the Invisalign. I have included a picture of it below in all its revolting glory. The squeamish amongst you should look away now.
At the beginning of my treatment my orthodontist explained to me that the plan for my teeth is that we should open up a gap in the bottom row to make room for my stray tooth with the first run of aligners, then with a set of refinements (another series of aligners), or if necessary some metal braces, pull it up into the gap.
Having completed my first run of 34 lower aligners to open the gap I thought that I would have a similar number or slightly less aligners to pull the wayward tooth into line. I imagined that the hard bit was over, and from here on it it would just be a case of gently nudging the stray tooth into its shiny new space.
Lord, was I wrong.
Not only do I have more aligners than on the first run, I have 54 new lower aligners, something that my orthodontist tells me is a new record, for his practice at least! Adding those to my original 34 means that my lower teeth will take 88 Invisalign aligners in total- presuming I don’t need another refinement!!
At this point, just for the new readers amongst you I would like to make one thing clear. I have an extremely complex Invisalign case. I knew that from the outset; my orthodontist made it very clear from the beginning of my Invisalign treatment that my case wouldn’t be easy and that if it all worked as he hoped that he would write a paper on it for the Invisalign medical journals. By contrast I believe the average Invisalign case takes a year or less, some people with very simple cases taking well under six months. To give this thing perspective I was quoted 2-3 years in metal braces by other orthodontists that I saw, which probably means that my Invisalign will work out to about the same timeframe when all is said and done. So please, don’t let the length of my Invisalign treatment put you off, if anything I think my teeth just go to show how much can be achieved with Invisalign even in such complex cases.
Of course, as with anything there is good news and bad news here. The great news is that my top teeth need only 6 more aligners and I’m pretty certain given where we now are that they will be pretty perfect at the end of that time. Realistically, these teeth are all I care about. In six aligners time (or less than three months) I will have great teeth to all intents and purposes, as the things going on with my lower teeth are things that aren’t actually visible and will not have much impact on how good or otherwise my teeth look to the casual observer. Below is a picture of my upper teeth before Invisalign in Dec 2008(on the left) and as they are now before my second refinements June 2010 (on the right). After these six aligners I will also change the ugly discoloured crown that you can see on the left next to my upper front teeth. I think at the moment that crown is actually one of the things preventing my upper teeth from looking as good as they can do, changing it for a new, whiter better fitting one should make a huge difference.
Fortunately I can say in all truthfulness that the number of extra aligners really doesn’t bother me too much. My orthodontist told me not to even ask how many more I have so fearful was he of my reaction. Still, there was a definite look of relief that washed over his face when I burst into peals of laughter as I peered intently at the little plastic bags that hold your Invisalign and tell you how many aligners are included in your treatment. The truth is I would much rather wear Invisalign for a bit longer and get a good result than wear them for less time and the final result not be so good. Of course, the bad news for my orthodontist is that he now has to put up with me for a lot longer, so maybe it wasn’t relief washing over his face after all!
After six more aligners I will have to wear only the bottom trays anyway, which as far as I am concerned are almost completely invisible. As I have said before wearing only lower aligners is really not very different than wearing no aligners. I tend to forget that I have them rather than be bothered by them.
One thing that I have realised however is that with a run of 54 aligners I will have to be fastidious about wearing them 22 hours a day if I want to keep them fitting perfectly right up until the end. I have struggled in the past to be as diligent as I should be as those of you that have read my post about a typical day with Invisalign are probably aware. This has meant that occasionally there have been tiny gaps between my aligners and my teeth -although fortunately they have never been enough to worry about or to impact on my treatment. My new resolution therefore is that not only will I wear them 22 hours a day I will no longer pop them in and out of my mouth all day to feast on diet coke and mini muffins as I have been wont to do in the past.. That way I not only will I have great teeth but I might also finally lose the “Christmas weight” that I have been carrying around for the last six months! Perfect teeth and perfectly fitting jeans? My husband might not recognise me!
Incidentally, if you actually have more aligners than me please let me know via the comments form. You can get to it by clicking on the the little black speech bubble at the top of this entry that tells you how many comments there are. I would love to know who the person with the ACTUAL record for the most aligners is. Is can’t really be me, can it?