A little over two weeks ago I found myself at the start of an adventure in oral care that I think I wasn’t quite prepared for. Invisalign. Earlier this year, at a routine cleaning, my very very handsome dentist casually remarked, “Y’know, Josh, you’d actually be a really good candidate for Invisalign. If you’re interested, then my front office girl can have some info on it ready for you on your way out.” I responded that I would consider it. The girl didn’t have the info ready. I gave them a few weeks, during which time I looked into it myself. When I called them back to inquire about the info she was supposed to have given me (but had yet not), she pretty much was like, “Oh, well… I called your insurance and they told me you have no Adult Ortho coverage and we don’t finance in-house.”
Fast forward through a few calls to my dental insurance payer and a few calls to my dentist’s office, and I’m sitting in the same chair I’d had my cleaning in, having my mouth filled with some plastic-y substance so that trays could be made for me, that my teeth may exhibit better alignment. That plastic was actually a little painful, and besides it tastes like crap. About two weeks later I received a call from my dentist that the trays were in and I could come in whenever to get started. I went that same afternoon, two Tuesdays ago.
Invisalign looks like whitening trays. It’s mostly clear plastic, and a significantly tougher than whitening trays, but otherwise very similar. They had to glue these “buttons” onto a number of my teeth. They’re tooth-colored but kind of pointed and to the inside of my lips they feel like rocks have been glued in. The trays have “bubbles” in them to allow for these buttons, and there’s something about this button-bubble relationship that uses torque to gently and slowly pull my teeth into the direction they will eventually rest in. The trays are changed every two weeks.
So…. all that is the easy part of this. The really challenging part is trying to find a successful marriage between the suggested “22hrs of wear for optimal use” and the fact that during those supposed 22hrs, I’m only allowed to let clear, plain water pass through my lips. I really think something about that should be enough to qualify this to be covered by medical insurance as a weight loss plan, but whatever.
I also can’t chew gum or eat things like candied apples – or regular apples even, at least not without doing some slicing and dicing first. I obviously want to be careful about drinking anything that could add staining to my teeth because once this is all done and my buttons are removed, I’ll have spots. And then there’s the pain. I imagine this is similar to the pain experienced by people wearing traditional braces, but it sucks. It’s enough to make you avoid any food that is more than a little solid. Consequently, I’ve had many lunches that were coconut water, spoonfuls of peanut butter, and yogurt. And, just so you know, I can totally have normal foods. But I have to remove the trays – which is painful and tricky. And every time they’re removed I have to clean them. And then, of course, before putting them back in I have to brush my own teeth (or at least use mouthwash, depending). That process alone is enough to deter natural / normal eating.
It’s true, though, that I’m looking forward to a day when I’ll be able to smile and not feel my teeth being out of line and a day when I can eat and be practically worry-free about immediately rinsing or brushing.
That is all.
Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti