My mouth is full of plastic and I’m happy about it! I am also not alone.
A few years ago, I noticed I wasn’t able to chew my food like usual. My back teeth didn’t close all the way. I sometimes also bit my tongue. Ouch! A few of my front teeth were getting chipped, which began to worry me.
My dentist suggested I see an orthodontist. My dentist thought my front teeth were chipping because I was using them for grinding my food instead of using my molars. Front teeth aren’t made for that.
So, I went to the same orthodontist who put braces on my two teenage sons. That felt weird. Here I was, a 50-something lady seeing an orthodontist. I thought I was long past the age when I would need to do that.
Mr. Orthodontist said my front teeth were too straight up and down, which wasn’t allowing my back teeth to close all the way. Now, you need to understand that as a youngster, I had 16 teeth pulled so that I would not need to have braces. Some were baby teeth, and a few were permanent teeth. I didn’t have them pulled all at once. It was more like four per year every few years. This gave enough room in my small jaw for my big teeth. My permanent teeth grew in straight and lovely.
But now, forty years later, I couldn’t chew! Somehow, I felt betrayed – as if my parents’ plan for my young teeth hadn’t worked. But, I guess it did. The original plan lasted forty years. That’s pretty good.
If I had to have braces now, so be it. The ability to chew one’s food is sort of important.
At first Mr. Orthodontist thought I would need metal braces. But after hearing my somewhat vocal protests to this idea and taking all sorts of scans and x-rays, he decided that Invisaligns would work. I was so relieved! If I had to have braces, I would rather not have the metal ones. Looking like a teenager at my age just did not float my boat.
As I mentioned above, I was not alone. Apparently, needing braces in your elder years is a “thing,” especially in Hollywood. I am in the company of famous folks like Faye Dunaway and Tom Cruise. They all had braces in their adult years.
And, according to the American Dental Association, in 2012, one million adults had seen an orthodontist in the U.S. and Canada. This was a 40% increase from 1989. In 2014, that number increased to 1.4 million.
These stats made me feel a bit better. So, I got my first sets of plastic aligners, but of course, it was not to go smoothly. There were several sets and I was to wear each for two weeks. At the orthodontist’s office, after affixing some teeth-colored “anchors” to my teeth, the technician put in my first set of aligners. She had a hard time getting the top one to fit on my back upper right molars, but after some futzing, she made it stick.
When I got home and took my aligners out to eat lunch and then put the back in, I couldn’t get the top one to fit on those pesky back molars. I tried a bunch of different techniques, to no avail. After a few days of this, I called the orthodontist’s office and relayed my plight. They told me to just keep wearing the tray with the back molar part flapping around for two weeks. Sometimes the trays came with small defects, they said. They were sure the next trays would fit.
So, I wore the defective set for two weeks. I eagerly freed my next set from its small plastic bag and tried them on, only to be met with dismay. The top set didn’t fit either! I immediately called the ortho office and complained. They set up an appointment for me. When I went to the office, they couldn’t get the second set to fit, either. This relieved me. At least my technique wasn’t the problem. They also had me try the third set on.
Those didn’t fit, either.
Now it was time to bring in the big guns. Mr. Orthodontist himself was called over. He watched the technician try in vain to fit the tray to my top teeth. He sat back, flummoxed. “I’ve never had this happen before!” he said.
He asked if I had worn my aligners when I drank anything hot. No.
He had no choice but to order me another set. The technician scanned my teeth again. She also made a plastic retainer for my top teeth and had me continue to wear the second week’s aligner on my bottom teeth. The technician said it would take about a month before my new aligners were ready.
When the day of my new aligners finally arrived, I approached the orthodontist’s office, full of hope. That hope quickly disappeared when they couldn’t get the new aligner to fit on my upper teeth. After some frustration and futzing, we decided the problem was due to the weird shape of one of my teeth. The technician shaved off the associated offending divot from the aligner, and presto – it fit!
She also shaved off the same part from the next few sets of aligners. To make up for lost time, the orthodontist put me on an accelerated wear schedule, switching from two weeks per set to 10 days.
So, the good news is, my aligners fit now, and I can already tell my bite is better. Now, only another 16 months to go!