Archive for November, 2012

My Invisalign Journey, Part 1

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I had braces as a kid. Unfortunately all that work came undone over the years partially because I never got a retainer because I had one loose baby tooth that they were waiting on and I was a big wimp and so that tooth hung in there for about a year even as the permanent tooth grew in. Eventually at a dentist visit, the dentist just easily plucked the barely hanging on tooth. So due to that, and natural shifting over the years, and wisdom teeth, etc, I came to a place where I hated my teeth and my smile.

When I first heard about Invisalign (sometime in late 90’s or maybe early 00’s) I had a consultation and was told I was not a candidate because Invisalign couldn’t handle a case like mine (apparently around that time, Invisalign was basically for people with almost perfect smiles who only needed tiny adjustments). So fast forward to 2012. I decide to go hear about my options once again because I’m really tired of hating my smile and there have been advances in technology including some new kinds of traditional braces as well.

I got some recommendations from co-workers and went to Ortho360 in the Avery Ranch area. I liked the office and the staff and was delighted to find out that Invisalign was now an option for me and because they do so much Invisalign work, they get a discount and can offer it for about the same price as traditional braces. As an actor, I felt Invisalign was my only option since I figured braces would greatly affect my castability. So I decided to take the leap and dive another $6000 into debt because it would be worth it to not detest my smile and, who knows, might even help me out in the acting world as well.

They took impressions of my teeth and 4-6 weeks later, I went back in to get my trays. You change trays every 2 weeks to slowly move your teeth around. They showed me a really cool 3D simulation and I watched my teeth morph before my eyes from their current state to where they would eventually end up. Getting them in wasn’t too bad but getting them out can be really tricky, especially at the beginning of a new tray when they are their tightest. After a few days they get much easier to get out. They definitely took some getting used to and you can’t eat or drink anything but water with them in so eating becomes a huge production. You have to go to the bathroom, wrestle your trays out, rinse them, put them in their container, then you eat, brush your teeth and the trays and put them back in. On the upside, it has completely deterred me from any snacking now. I carry a little bathroom kit with me everywhere with my case, toothbrush and tooth paste.

During my first tray, as the week wore on, popping them in and out became no problem. During the first several days, I didn’t really feel any pain with them in, but taking them out hurt a little and my teeth were sore so I had to bite gently. I have one tooth that is the furthest out of line and I did notice that my tray had chipped right along the bottom from trying to pop it in and out over that tooth. I called and asked about this and they said that wasn’t a problem. I also read a bunch of tips online and sanded/filed down a few of the edges (and where it chipped which was catching my tongue) for more comfort. People could not tell I had anything in my mouth even when they knew and looked for it. My teeth mostly just looked a little shinier than normal.

After 2 weeks, I switched to my second tray. Again, I heeded advice from the internet and changed my trays at the end of the day (after I ate dinner) because that way you sleep through the worst period when they are tightest and so by the time you first try to take them out for breakfast, you’ve had them in for around 10-12 hours already and in the beginning of a new tray, every hour counts as far as lessening the difficulty of getting them out. this second tray also chipped in the same place with the problem tooth. The rest of the two week period went pretty much like the first tray.

At the 4 week point, it was time to go back to the orthodontist and get some more trays and at this point it was time to add the “attachments.” How many attachments you might need and on which teeth varies depending on your particular plan. I needed 7. These are little bumps that are added to certain teeth by bonding tooth colored cement to the teeth so the tray can grip and move your teeth better. This does make the Invisalign not nearly as invisible but it’s still not too bad or noticeable. They do take some getting used to once again and when your trays are out they can feel rough against your cheeks. One of mine makes it virtually impossible to bite all the way down but hasn’t interfered with eating. My third tray also immediately chipped on the problem tooth as well.

It was only a couple of hours later that I decided to take them out to have lunch. I knew it would be difficult being that it was a new tray, the attachments make it harder and having only been in for a few hours. I was not prepared for how difficult. I wrestled with them for at least 10-15 minutes and really wondered if I was going to be able to get the bottom tray out at all. It was extremely frustrating and afterward, my thumbnails hurt from all the struggling with that bottom tray. I had even bought a tool called an “Outie” off of Amazon that many people had suggested for help removing trays but I found it awkward and ended up just going back to my fingers/fingernails. Others have also suggested a size B crochet hook, but I just feel more comfortable with my hands. I feel like I have more control and sensation of what I’m doing. It was very difficult to remain calm and not scream or cry in frustration trying to get these things out but eventually I did. It was so difficult however, That for dinner and breakfast the following morning, I just had a protein shake and didn’t take them out (Again, you are only supposed to have water, but I used a straw for one of them and tried to just get it down the back of my throat as much as possible, then immediately rinsed). That brings us to lunch today. They were still difficult but not nearly as much as yesterday.

At my last visit, they gave me another 5 trays, or 10 weeks worth so I hope they continue to get easier with time and experience. I still think it’s totally worth it and look forward to not hating my teeth any more, but I thought I’d document all this since I’e read many cases of people not knowing they would need attachments, and not knowing how difficult it can be to remove the trays sometimes. I should have 30 trays total but sometimes at the end, you need “refinements” depending on how everything went so that could add some more time. There will also be a retainer when it’s done. It has been a huge lifestyle change and take a lot of getting used to, but I feel good knowing my teeth are being moved around to where I want them!

More to come as the process continues.

Technology and the Human Connection

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I often think about how my life today compares with my life in the past as it pertains to the technological differences. For example, if I could go back 10 years and show myself my iPhone, it would blow my 10 years ago mind. Lately I’ve been thinking about how social media has changed my life.

I’ve had many discussions and probably written about it here before as well. While I think there are 2 sides to every issues and I can certainly see the negatives that come with it, overall I am extremely pro social media. Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with people and foster friends and relationships that probably never would have happened otherwise. More than that, I realized that it just makes me feel “connected” to other people and the world at large so much more. We can all participate in conversations that as we have the time and will that we might not be able to otherwise. It is certainly not a substitute for real human contact, but I know most of us just don’t have the time to meet up with, or even call and catch up with all the people we would like to. I can’t sit down one Saturday afternoon and call my 20 closest friends, but we can all converse at will online and carry on conversations over the day or days as we have time.

I’ve particularly appreciated this during difficult times. It’s strange remembering that there was once a time that I didn’t have this luxury of constant connection. The only connection I had was if I called someone on a land line and then maybe arranged to see them. Apart from that, I was alone with whatever I might be going through at the time. That seems so incomprehensible to me now. Just the thought makes me feel so cut off and isolated. I fire up The internet, Facebook, whatever and I instantly feel at least a tiny bit better. At least a nano-increment more in touch with the world and people and energy of the universe.

Of course I also wonder if this constant connection also makes us not make real and in person connections as much. Do we sometimes allow it to be substitute? Would we maybe see people more or take a friendship to the next more real, in person level if we didn’t have the luxury of this constant virtual connection?

Like anything, I think it can be used for good or bad. It is a tool for you to use as you see fit and you must be vigilant to see how it’s affecting you and how you are using it.

It’s great that my life is full of so many amazing people. It’s a shame that the vast majority of those relationships are fairly shallow with only the most tenuous of connections.

The Day/Night Conundrum

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I am a night owl by nature. When things are normal and going well, I prefer the night. I feel more alive, energized and uninhibited. However, I’ve noticed that in times of strife, the night becomes oppressive and filled with an acute loneliness but that the sun seems to chase away the shadows both figuratively as well as literally. It’s nourishing and recharging. I find it interesting how they have such different effects depending on my mental state.

Head Down

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Many, many years ago, I remember reading some kind of online personality survey. One of the questions was about whether you walk with your head down staring at the ground or head up looking at the world around you (and maybe another option or two). I don’t remember much else but I know I have this weird ingrained feeling of not wanting to be someone who walks around, head down, staring at the ground. I don’t know why, but I want to be someone who walks with my head held high looking at the world around me.

However, every time I take notice, sure enough my head is bowed and I’m staring at the ground. Even if I correct myself, 5 seconds later I’m back to my default state. I do wonder if this says something profound about me.

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BLAH!