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[purchase] Oh my gosh – I can hardly believe that finally my aligner journey is over! My aligner treatment for my bottom row of teeth was due to be all done and dusted by May but thanks to Covid actually only finished last week – December! It’s been quite the journey for both me and my friend Uchenna who performed the treatment from her practice (details at the end of the post). Squint teeth haven’t ever bothered me but when she pointed out (and I should point out she IS a dentist!) that my middle tooth on the bottom row was wandering backwards to a point of imminent problems, I took the plunge to get the bottom row straightened. When I look at pictures now of how they were I’m a bit shocked because I really didn’t think they were particularly wonky.
I’ve screen grabbed from an IGTV (which now I know for sure puts a ‘kindly light’ on skin – never done a side by side before!) and put it next to a picture taken about five minutes ago. I never wanted rigidly straight teeth because to my eye they look very ‘done’ so I feel the result is natural and I love it. I could have gone on for a few more weeks to get what Uchenna would consider ‘perfect’ alignment but I don’t have a dentist eye for tooth perfection so I am completely happy. When I say it’s been quite the journey – it has! Only about a month and half ago, I did an IGTV saying that the treatment was finished with only the fixed retainer (wire behind the teeth to keep them straight forever) to apply, in the very short time before my appointment to have that last bit done, my teeth moved! So I was back in aligners for another month. And I will need to wear a night retainer for good.
I found the (invisible) retainers really hard to wear for the first few weeks – you have to take them out when you eat but they can only be out for a total of two hours a day which now doesn’t sound too onerous because how long does it take to eat, but I found it a pain because I always seemed to be either taking them out, cleaning them, cleaning my teeth or putting them back in again! You can’t drink anything other than water with them in (although I did sneak a few wines through a paper straw) so out they come for anything else. In a social situation, having all your food and wine in one two hour slot is interesting, to say the least.
Each time a new aligner went in my teeth felt tender for a few days – not painful or sore, just tender – so something like French bread was off the menu during those days. Your teeth need to be clean, so lots of flossing or dental stick-ing after every meal because once the aligner goes back in, anything left is trapped under there. You need to have regular check-ups to make sure that everything is going as it should. Because social distancing kicked in, and dentists were not allowed to see patients, I got stuck with just a few aligners to last a far longer period than they should, so progress was slower – then when dentists could re-open, the new aligners were all stuck in (I’m going to say Mexico but I can’t remember exactly where) another country. So, a further delay. Then a back-log of people needing to be seen far more urgently and on it went…
I can’t say I enjoyed it – it’s not that kind of process really – but I know that I’m lucky to have Uchenna doing it (paid, of course) because we did have some spectacular laughs through what was an awful time all round really. She was happy for me to have headphones in while treatments were taking place (I needed cleaning and remedial work before the aligners could be fitted) and that’s a tip I’d pass on to anyone who doesn’t like the dentist because it’s a wonderful distraction from what’s going on. I listened to comedy podcasts which made me, Uchenna and the nurse giggle – me laughing at the podcast, them laughing at me laughing! Your teeth are scanned, by the way, and then using the series of pictures from the scan (a bit uncomfortable – a kind of hoovery thing that goes round and round your teeth to snap them from all angles) your aligners are cast in a durable thermoplastic.
It’s not a cheap treatment – it’s in fact a very expensive treatment (I think I am tipping, all in, about the £3-3.5K mark – bearing in mind I had only the bottom row done) but, I find, all dental treatments are. My friend Paul often takes me back to when he was sitting in the local dentist’s waiting room and heard a woman’s voice expostulating from the consultation room, ‘HOW MUCH?’ and yes, that was me! As someone who doesn’t like going to the dentist herself, Uchenna does have an uncanny knack of making it feel far less onerous – she’s kind and gentle and quick. Lucy has now joined the aligner crew but because there have been less restrictions, her (double row) aligner treatment will finish only about a month after mine.
Ultimately, if you have problems with teeth that are overcrowded or have moved (which they can do with age) this kind of treatment gives you straighter teeth for as long as you have your teeth. If you feel self-conscious about your teeth and can’t get past it, aligners put that right. However, please bear in mind that teeth come in all shapes and sizes and it’s normal to have some variation – I stand by my thought that people appreciate your smile well before they care how straight your teeth are. Obviously, I’d recommend Uchenna in a heartbeat (Dr Uchenna Okoye – also resident dentist on the make-over show 10 Years Younger) – she has clients from as far afield as Dubai nipping over for treatments (in ‘normal’ times). We have known each other for at least 15 years and I’ve always maintained I need her more as a friend than a dentist but it’s worked really well and happily and I’m glad she did this treatment because in so many unforeseen ways, it’s been difficult, but she did not give up, even when I was on the verge of doing so. The best place to find her is Instagram (HERE) where she gives tips and advice but otherwise at her practice website, London Smiling, HERE.