One of our patients, Mike, has very kindly offered to write a blog on his Invisalign story so that any patients considering Invisalign can get an insight into what it is really like…….. We hope you enjoy reading it, we certainly did.
My name is Mike. I am a 36 year old married dad of three from Ipswich. After speaking with Derek at my last check-up he suggested writing a blog for the Christchurch Dental website so that I can let you know how my Invisalign treatment is going and pass on any hints and tips.
Why have I chosen to have treatment and why Invisalign? I have played sport, rugby, martial arts etc the whole of my like, so my teeth were never a cosmetic priority. I have never really liked the look of my teeth. Health wise, they are good, but cosmetically, not great. Having a father-in-law as a dentist never really helped. Although my treatment from him was excellent and very cheap, whenever I mentioned cosmetic procedures, I was met with the classic line “there’s nothing wrong with your teeth!” the truth is that there is nothing wrong with them health wise, but to look at, they always bugged me. My front two teeth are twisted and worn. My lower teeth have “crowding” and this makes it very difficult to floss. I also have a few chips on the upper front teeth from a passionate prop from a well-known Essex rugby club! So I made the decision to investigate the procedures available for straightening teeth, braces etc.
I found Invisalign from “googling” online. Several large practices in London were offering the services for a competitive price, but I was really looking for something more local. I left it for a little while, and I just happened to be on a search for a new dentist in Ipswich, when I contacted Christchurch Dental to see if they were taking on new patients. During my initial visit I noticed that the practice was offering the Invisalign treatment. After a detailed chat with Anna (the practice manager) and Derek (my new dentist), they gave me the rough costs of the Invisalign treatment. I had some idea before, and the costs were looking good, even compared to the London practices, and even better, this was on my doorstep.
“What were the costs?” you all ask. Well this is the tricky bit. It’s a bit like quoting to repair a faulty car, without going in the bonnet, or looking underneath the chassis. The answer is until the dentist investigates, he can’t really give an accurate price. The next step gets you the price you want. I had four 3D x-rays done of my teeth, as well as the detailed photos from Derek. (WARNING….prepare to see yourself/teeth in the most disgustingly detailed way, I don’t think Derek could have purchased a more advanced camera, with higher megapixels!!) With this information, Derek sent the x-rays and shots offer to Invisalign in America. The cost so far: £50 for the initial consultation, and £400 for the x-rays, BUT DON’T PANIC!!……. These costs come off your final Invisalign package price.
Following these x-rays and photos I now have my price, x-rays and my Invisalign predictive video, which shows what is achievable with their technology. This in itself is an incredible insight to what is available to your own requirements. I have decided to go ahead with the treatment and my Invisalign braces should be ready any day for fitting. I will be updating my blog the day after fitting and then periodically after each fitting, change, mood swing, or argument with the wife.
THURSDAY 31ST MARCH…FITTING DAY.
Today is my fitting day. I went in to see Derek and the team, paid my balance (various options available, I went for the payment up front, to gain 5% discount) and had a final chat with Derek discussing the pros and cons of treatment, what our end goal was, and what to expect. Derek started his work…
Several of the front teeth had to have a tiny amount filed away to allow for the “movement” of the teeth. Apparently, some people find this procedure uncomfortable, much like fingernails down a chalkboard, but I found it ok.
Next, I had several “stoppers” fitted to the teeth. These act like handles to steer the teeth one way or another. They feel strange at first, but are teeth colored, so are not too invasive.
Finally the aligners go in. The accuracy of these things is incredible. They literally “click” in. No movement or play whatsoever. My invisalign braces are in! When asked how i felt by Derek, I won’t lie, by saying ‘normal’. Very similar to wearing a slim line gum shield…Not sure at the moment. Physically they are very clever.
When i returned to work, nobody noticed, until i spoke…. I have inadvertently created a small lisp like thing! I also drool quite a bit at the moment. A rogue dribble hit my minutes page, in a meeting (nobody noticed). It seems my body is trying its hardest to break down the aligners with huge quantities of amylase. Hopefully this will calm down. Spent the rest of the night with tenderness to front teeth. Most tenderness coming from the removal of the aligners for eating. I can already feel the aligners “working” my teeth. People have no idea that i have a fitted brace in at all. All in, really pleased though, if a little bit uncomfortable at the moment….
FRIDAY THE 1ST APRIL( NO JOKES PLEASE!)
OMG! I have woken up to see Barry Gibb looking back at me in the mirror!! Not quite. I have now had the braces in for one whole day. How do i feel? Well, honestly the drooling is no better, my wife keeps asking me to say “invisalign braces” as she thinks it sounds funny with my new impediment. Couldn’t they have called it something else?! cruel joke, invisalign directors!! One of the stoppers has come off, no big probs, as Derek has fitted one in 10 minutes…Back to normal…
The braces really are just what they are, the only thing i am struggling with at the moment, is thinking about them. You know they are there, but i am constantly feeling, touching and thinking about them. Probably the same as when a person has their ears pierced, maybe? Still slight discomfort in front lower teeth on removal of aligners.
SUNDAY 3RD APRIL
One of the biggest things i have noticed is my diet. I never realized how many teas, coffees, soft drinks and snacks i eat and drink all day! These have all stopped, because i have a system in place, where i remove the braces to eat every six hours. Breakfast at 6am, braces back in at 6.30am… lunch at 12pm, braces back in at 12.30pm…This seems to work well for me. I occasionally have a hot drink at 9am, but i have cut back on all snacks and teas – that requires me to remove the braces. I also cannot finish off juicy morsels left over by 3 children, and every meal seems to taste much nicer! so far i have lost 3 pounds since Friday! unbelievable! I would like to add, this is a bonus, not my intention, so i will keep this to myself from now on.
It has come to me that 6 months of this will be a huge commitment from my behalf, something you readers may want to consider. I feel great for it, but if you love your food, think carefully. I prepare to be ripped for this summer!! Soreness in front lower teeth has now gone, and i have now controlled my dribble much better.
I am starting to get in to a real routine now, which suits me fine. I carry some sugar free mints to take away the stale taste sometimes, and drink water in between. Will update shortly…….
MONDAY 23RD MAY
Apologies for the short absence… I went into the surgery last week, to see Derek and to see how my Invisalign treatment was going. I sat in the immaculately clean waiting room and picked up “Esquire” magazine. I then instantly realised I was probably a third as cool as I thought I was and I cannot afford a £1000 brief case . The waiting room is like a small WH Smith with every conceivable magazine worth reading.
I progressed upstairs and stared at Dereks ”Belmont” lamp. It doesn’t matter how many times I read the name on the lamp, I then read it another 25 times. I felt like Tom Hanks and his ”Wilson” ball.
Derek continued on with some more “intercontinental filing” or something that sounds like that… I am getting used to this now, but it can be quite uncomfortable in the tight areas between the teeth. After this visit the filing stops for a while, so i need not revisit for a month now. Quite sad really, the practice is a lovely place to just gather your thoughts and realise how cool you could be… (re: Esquire magazine).
On leaving, Derek hands me my two new sets of aligners, like the dental Santa Claus of Ipswich. Gleefully I accept them, and carry them away like my two new born babies downstairs. Secretly I feel that Derek likes the power he has over us Invisalign patients, we crave our next set of aligners to progress this wonderful and exciting treatment!
I have a little bit of soreness as usual with the new set, usually on the teeth that are doing the most “work”.Invisalign top tip: when removing the trays, i find that alternating the removal side stops the trays from warping. Too much removal in the same place has stretched the plastic and can lead to some small amount of play.
I am off to Portugal for a week, will update soon, any questions, please forward to me via the practice.
Best Regards Mike
THURSDAY 28TH JULY
Snug. Tight-fitting. Doing their job. No, not Kylie Minogues hot pants, but my new Invisalign retainers! My apologies for the delay since my last blog, i have been sunning myself in the Algarve, pretending to be Cliff Richard with my newish teeth, speedos and linen shirt. The weather was a little offish, but not enough to dampen spirits or the local ”vino tinto” for that matter.
Just to fill you in, my visits to the surgery are now further apart, where i visit and Derek checks everything and gives me my new trays. Firstly i had 4 weeks worth(2 sets) but now i am on 6 weeks worth of trays( 3 sets), so this means i will not be visiting for another month.
So whats been happening? i have just continued with my procedure, spacing my meals to suit the removal of the trays. It had really worked well for me, but as my friend Lucy van Staden advised, i am starting to get quite efficient at speedy removal, to allow for the odd treat. To put things simply, i have been snacking occasionally in between. This has no affect on the trays. Every single set i have put in, have been incredibly well made and fit perfectly. Once again, on Friday i put in my new trays and got that strangely satisfying “snug” feeling. Uncomfortable at first, but after 20 minutes the ache subdues. This uncomfortableness reassures you that the trays are pushing/puling those teeth extra gently into the required position. I love it! I have definitely noticed that both lower and upper teeth have moved considerably, to which i am really pleased.
My wife is bored of my Invisalign prowess…Whenever people ask me what the procedure involves, she looks at me, rolls her eyes and says “ oh no, here we go again!” . I do not care, for i am proud to be the ambassador of the white teeth wonder. I feel like Angelina Jolie working for Unicef. i will not however, be having the surgery’s coordinates tattooed on my arm. Love the Facebook updates Derek!!!
MONDAY 22ND AUGUST
I have turned a significant corner in my Invisalign treatment. The lower retainers have now finished, and i now have 8 weeks left of the upper retainers to go. The last of the lower retainers remains in situ, and i now regularly change the uppers every 2 weeks as before. Derek gave me the option of installing a permanent retainer on the lowers, this is a metal bar on the inside of the teeth which no-one will know is there, but i decided to leave this until I have finished the full course of treatment. After the uppers have finished, we will then reassess whether any further treatment is needed. Derek tells me, I do have the option of continuing with more aligners at the end, if i am not happy with the result, free of charge.
I really have noticed an amazing change in my teeth especially the”twisted” uppers that were always bothering me. I have noticed a minute “triangle” that has appeared between the 2 front teeth. Derek warned me of this. I can only describe it as about the size of a pin head, only noticeable when the light is behind it.
Work on the discoloration of my teeth has started in a very simple format. I add a small amount of whitening gel to my trays every other night and leave in overnight. I would suggest that every other night is sufficient as it can make your teeth quite sensitive the following day. The days I don’t use it I replace with Sensodyne and leave that in instead. This works well for me. The teeth have taken to the whitening gel very nicely and have changed shade.
I would like to write about the “politics” of Invisalign for a moment. This being not the company itself but the actual treatment of your teeth. When I made this decision I was totally confident in what I was doing and why I was doing it. You will, however, come across people with very different views on what you are doing. I have managed to narrow it down to these groups…
The Family… Almost every member of your family will say that you do not need it doing; they almost feel guilty that you dislike your teeth. At one point you would have thought I was having every single tooth removed and having nothing replaced.
The Intrigued. Have almost certainly looked into it Invisalign themselves, and are very interested in the whole procedure. Derek’s next customer.
The Jealous/ intrigued. Have also looked into the treatment but are too nervous to proceed, or cannot afford it.
The Condemnation… Complete disrespect for what you are doing, and look at you and think, what a complete waste of time and money.
The believers. The people who realise that you would not go to this effort, without having good reason (usually brothers in law!)
- I can no longer “Mexican whistle”. I have embarrassingly tried to recall my dog with a non-effective ” ssplargghhsst”. He didn’t come back…I am hoping this will return when I am free of aligners.
- Whenever you try and do a stealth removal of the aligners, the whole room will go quiet, followed by you wrestling with your jaw bone, a pop and a splutter. The noise is like nothing else known to man. Every single person stares and thinks, “what is that bloke doing to his face?!”
- I am now wearing 32 inch waist trousers again!! waahooo! Now going to dust off my white clingy t-shirt and black leather jacket. I’m 18 again!
MONDAY 3RD OCTOBER
I have finally reached the end of my initial course of treatment. I visited the surgery today to discuss how things were going with Derek. After 12 sets of aligners and nearly 6 months of brushing and cleaning relentlessly, cold turkey, suffering from lack of snacking, Smints and Evian water by the truck load, and 1 stone 13 pounds lost in weight, 2 inches off the waist, to this point, had we finally reached our goal? I sit in the lounge, avoiding Esquire, trying to spot people I might know in the back of “Suffolk” magazine, when the smooth and reassuring tones of Derek greet my ears. I am called up to “the room”…
Derek and his lovely assistant make me feel at home as usual and we discuss the treatment, and look at the digital imagery regarding my case. We know where we want to be with the treatment ,but are we there yet..? Unfortunately, no we are not. It seems that the last 3 sets of aligners may not have worked their magic quite as effectively as the previous ones. However, Derek did mention that this could happen so now I am entering the ‘free’ refinement process stage, where we can continue alongside Invisalign to achieve the result we want. It works out that I need approximately another 3 months work and a few more sets of aligners.
I can’t wait to get my teeth and smile perfect. I am booked in next week to see what further treatment I need, will update then.
MONDAY 20TH FEBRUARY
Hello, and welcome back to my Invisalign blog. The story so far…
10 months ago I visited Dr Derek van Staden at Christchurch Dental to discuss the Invisalign method of invisible braces. My goal, to get a nice smile and straight teeth.afterapproximately 7 months of wearing the Invisalign aligners , it was decided that the end result , although significant was not quite enough. Derek contacted Invisalign who, along with a specialist, made a few adjustments and asked me to continue on for a while longer, to gain the desired result. This is what they call a refinement.
I am now 6 weeks into my “refinement”. The Invisalign coursehas become even more technical, as I now only have 2 “steerers” glued on to my teeth. I still do the same routine of eating, then cleaning, with my old friends Evian and Smints, but also occasionally my old friend Kitkat sometimes comes to the party just to say hello. Derek’s wife Luci, told me that you do become quite accustomed to rapid removal of the braces to accommodate the odd treat. As Luci is Invisalign Yoda, I too am the young Skywalker, stealth in removal, quick cuppa/Kitkat,then back in, without so much of a squelch or a pop of the braces. I have noticed significant movement of the top teeth, the ones which concerned me, but not the bottom ones. Derek (Obi wan kenobi) has assured me that the bottom ones are “passive” so do not need to move at present.
I have noticed in the media recently,an ever increasing amount of celebrities that have had cosmetic dentistry done. Following this Invisaligntechnique reassures me, that I am able to achieve a nice set of teeth, with my teeth, rather than being made to look like someone, who has had the teeth of a newly born foal, transplanted into their gums. This “look” bemuses me, do you people actually ask for this?
I am back in the surgery next week to collect my new set of trays, a quick pint of Explorer in the Greyhound, then back to the blog. Speak soon.
I am nearing the end of my Invisalign treatment now. Derek and I have decided that we are going to progress with another 3 months of trays to really achieve the result we are looking for. More impressions are taken, to be sent off to Invisalign HQ. Invisalign offer 3 further complementary adjustments, called refinement. There is no charge. Quite amazing service I think. In a few weeks my new aligners will arrive, and I will continue with the process for a few more months.
The new trays have arrived and I waste no time getting them in to finish off the treatment. Now 18 months in, I must confess that I do dream of the days when I wasn’t cleaning my aligners and going to bed with a basic tooth clean. However I am excited about the end result, and can see a significant change to my teeth compared to old photos. I am off to see Derek tomorrow to check progress against the simulated video. Something Derek and I do regularly to check where we are in the process. The detail and technology that is involved is amazing.
Finally on the home straight now. A ‘suck down’ has been ordered for my new teeth so I can wear this at night to make sure my stubborn teeth don’t decide to revert to their old ways. Derek has explained to me that the bottom teeth tend to control the uppers so I have also had some kind of permanent retainer fitted to the inside of my bottom teeth. Whatever happens these teeth can not move back to their original crowded position. I feel good about this addition which incidentally took about 30 minutes to fit and stays in permanently.
The suck down has arrived and is basically a ‘hardcore’ version of the aligners, which I wear at night. Uppers done, lowers fixed in place. I HAVE FINISHED MY TREATMENT.
To finalise, my Invisalign experience has been an amazing one. Admittedly it has been an experience which you have to concentrate and get in a routine, and then soldier on. I found the aligners slightly annoying whilst out for meals etc as people do tend to ask what you are doing when you are wrestling them out of your mouth (new aligners grip incredibly hard and are sometimes difficult to remove!). On occasions I did leave them at home to avoid this on special nights out. The aligners hate hot liquids as I found out on set number 1. Basically they melt to nothing. Cold drinks can be drunk with them in apart from orange juice with bits in as you look like you have scurvy. Throughout the treatment I only lost 1 set of aligners just before a new set, so did not need replacement, but be careful Invisaligners, a new set will cost about £100 to be replaced so look after them.
If you are tempted to go for this treatment, then I can only praise it for being a very clever and advanced system, which has been created by precision engineering and accurate consultation between Derek and Invisalign. Compared to other bracing systems it is incredibly low key and hardly anyone knew I was wearing them until I told them.
One thing is for sure, If you are searching around for the lowest Invisalign costs, think first. When I initially investigated Invisalign, I was tempted to travel to London etc, to save money and get the same treatment. There is no way that this would have worked for me. The whole key to Invisalign is progress investigation and your feed back to Derek to decide what is working, moving and how comfortable you are feeling and how happy you are with the progress.
Without Derek’s expertise and regular visits to the surgery, this treatment would not have worked for me. Derek and his team are without doubt the finest Dental Surgery I have ever been involved with and his patience and calm disposition were exactly what I wanted in this. His expertise in advanced dental technology and use of the pc in front of you, makes everything simple and easy to see and predict. I would recommend this treatment without hesitation, but I would not want to do it with anyone but the wonderful staff of Christchurch Dental. They made everything easy, were incredibly understanding and incredibly professional. I now have wonderful straight teeth.
Many thanks Derek and all the staff.