These are my precious baby girls Christmas morning! I am posting this picture first because some sites automatically snag the first picture in a post…you will see in a minute why I DO NOT want the photos with this post to pop up!
Sooooo….I hesitate to even share this journey for several reasons.
First, I really dislike “endorsing” any product. Not all products work well for everyone. The ortho aligners from SmileDirectClub have both glowing and horrendous reviews. Fortunately for me, my review would be glowing. But obviously that is not the case for everyone and I would hate to recommend this process and someone have a bad outcome. So I am NOT endorsing…I am just sharing MY experience and thoughts on the process! As always, do your own research and do what is best for YOU!
Second, the before and after photos are super nasty! There is NO camera setting or froo-froo staging that is gonna make a close up of 54 year old teeth pretty. I am going to share the photos I had to take of my teeth “before” and then the “after”….and let me tell ya they are NOT pretty! But they do show the progress I made with this system.
(Told you they were nasty!)
All four of my kids needed braces. Since there is 16 years between the oldest and youngest, I think I figured one time that I paid monthly for orthodontic care for almost 20 years. TWENTY YEARS!!! And over $22,000 when you figure they averaged about $5500 a piece.
After my youngest finished her set, I talked to our orthodontist about getting braces myself…my teeth weren’t horrible, but the front top and bottom teeth were kind of crocked and it seems the older I get, the worse they get. At the time he suggested using Invisalign and the cost would be around $5000.
One thing about me I probably should share…I am not a vain person. I have no problem going out in public without makeup. While I use to color my hair and get a mani/pedi regularly, these days my roots could serve as a landing strip and right this minute my two big toenails are the only ones that have a smidge of summer pedi polish left. As far as clothes and shoes…lets just say I still have (and wear) sweatshirts and shoes from 15+ years ago.
I care about my appearance…when necessary, I can dress with the best. I bathe and groom regularly. I do try to make an effort to get my hair done just in case I need to do something other than throw it in a pony tail!
I’m just not going to spend good money on something that just really isn’t necessary. Spending $5000 to straighten a few kinda/sorta/just-a-tad crooked teeth just seemed kinda silly.
But in all honesty, the top front teeth were getting crookeder by the year and their protrusion was really beginning to bug me. My front bottom teeth have always been a little wonky and I just lived with it.
After losing my first 25 pounds (STILL working on that last ten), I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had to buy new bras (20 of the 25 seemed to come out of my boobs). I had to buy new jeans and tops. Brian and I bought bikes and began riding regularly.
So I was feeling pretty sassy…but I really hated my snaggle tooth smile.
That’s when I stumbled across SmileDirectClub…an invisible aligner system that cost WAY less than traditional braces or Invisalign. Rather than go into all the specifics about the product and process, I have provided a link to their site. Again, not endorsing, just sharing.
My process has taken 5 months…I started in August and finished the aligners and started wearing my retainer this week…I will wear the retainer day and night for two weeks and then only at night. I am a HORRIBLE tooth grinder and I think wearing the aligners and retainer at night has actually helped.
I still have two wonky bottom teeth…both have been “wonky” my whole life so I suspect they are tough nuts to move. I have submitted pictures and SmileDirect has agreed to continue the alignment process for the bottom teeth. They guarantee to continue to work with you (at no charge) if you aren’t satisfied. Truthfully I am THRILLED with the outcome, but if I am going to go through this process I might as well take advantage of their guarantee and get those two teeth lined up properly!
So what is my take-away for this process…
1) Be realistic about your teeth. If you have super whacked out teeth or a “bad bite”, I suggest consulting with an orthodontist. My molars were fine and my bite was fine…I just needed to straighten/align- my front teeth…pretty much the top and lower front 8. Remember, an orthodontist is not going to like these things because they take away their business. SmileDirect is going to tell you they can fix your smile because they want your business. So be realistic…do you have a “bite issue”…are your teeth SUPER crooked and/or rotated? If so, I would suggest going the traditional route with an orthodontist. This system is designed for “mild to moderate alignment.”
2) Have good dental health! Teeth, gums, bone structure. I am vigilant about going to the dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups. I get x-rays every year. I brush my teeth 3 times a day and floss every day. I would never recommend this process for someone who isn’t vigilant about their oral health. One of the biggest concerns about these systems that are not monitored by an orthodontist on a regular basis is the potential for bone and gum issues. I review my bone/gum/teeth health every six months with my dentist so I felt confident that I wouldn’t have issues…and I had a scheduled appointment with her during this process and we looked closely at the process together.
Before you start any orthodontic system (supervised or otherwise) make sure you have ALL recommended dental work done…removal of wisdom teeth, any needed crowns or fillings….anything your dentist has suggested, make sure you have it taken care of before you start any ortho work!
3) If you aren’t a discipline person, do not go this route. Having to wear an aligner 22 hours a day is a booger. You can NOT drink anything but water while the aligners are in. Fortunately not a problem for me. But if you are the kind of person who has a coke or tea in your hand all day, you will have a problem! Also, you MUST brush your teeth after you eat or drink anything…so if you snack throughout the day or have a problem with brushing your teeth in a restaurant bathroom, you are going to have issues.
I’ll be honest…taking these things out of your mouth is like taking off your bra after a long day!!!! You know that feeling girls! And it is tempting to want to leave them out and just let your teeth breath!
YOU CAN NOT!!! You have to wear them 22 hours a day for them to affectively work. For me, seeing the weekly progress was all I needed to keep me in line…but trust me when I say there were times when wearing them was just a royal PITA!
4) They may aid in a weight loss journey. Now, I can honestly say that has not been the case for me…I lost my first 25 lbs by August, and since I haven’t really been vigilant the last 4 months, I haven’t lost that last 8-10 lbs….and wearing these didn’t keep me from eating a few cookies after dinner or bacon with my eggs! And of course they have NO bearing on portion control.
But it is a pain to have to take out your aligners and then brush your teeth for a hand full of chips. And again, you won’t be sucking on a big gulp of coke or a Yeti full of sweet tea all day.
For me, seeing the change in my smile had a big impact on my overall self-confidence. That in turn could lead to wanting to eat healthier.
5) No pain, no gain. So if you are a big baby and can’t handle a little discomfort, don’t bother! There was some discomfort and tenderness in my teeth for the first few days after changing the aligners each week. Also, I learned to properly prep my aligners before I ever put them in by using a finger nail file and buffer to file and buff the edges of the aligners to avoid sore or raw spots inside my mouth. I did this EVERY time just to avoid any problems.
I also put new aligners in at night…they tend to be super tight when you first put them in and somewhat uncomfortable…sleeping through the first 8 hours of that was kinda nice.
I also learned to embrace the discomfort and tenderness in my teeth…that meant the aligners where moving those crooked little suckers and progress was being made!!!
SmileDirectClub has a referral system… feel free to use this referral link if you decide to go this route. I think you get some kind of discount and I get a “referral fee.” WIN-WIN!!!
Again, and I can not stress this enough, do your own research!! This has been a positive experience for me, but I can see where some might not benefit from or be successful with this system.
As always, you do what works best for you!