For our continuing series of interviews with real orthodontic patients, we met with Maia McLean who’s a student in the UK. She’s currently undergoing Invisalign treatment and is approximately 1/3 of the way through her treatment.
Maia, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. Can you share a little bit about yourself?
I’m 16 years old and just about to start College. I’d describe myself as a happy and smiley person – I love spending time with family and friends. From about the age of 14, I’ve been very image conscious and always put a lot of effort into the way I look. I love to collect, read about and experiment with clothes and cosmetics.
Looking at the before photos, your case doesn’t seem as serious as others. What made you decide to visit the orthodontist?
Up until the age of around 13, I had perfectly straight teeth and never worried how they looked. As I got older my teeth noticeably started to cross over and became crooked. Even though my dentists told me that my teeth were fine and other people were unlikely to notice, I was feeling feel conscious about them.
Where my front teeth started crossing over they shadowed one of my middle teeth and made it look really grey, especially in photos. As a person that rarely stops smiling, I was really unhappy with the way my teeth were beginning to look. My parents and I then decided to book a consultation with an Orthodontist in my area.
How did you decide on your orthodontist?
This particular Orthodontist was the first place we visited. The office seemed modern, comfortable and the staff were friendly and helpful appealed to us. This orthodontist was also the one recommended to us by my NHS dentist. They offered us a good deal (flexible payments) as well as guaranteed aftercare.
Editor note: The NHS is the National Health Service in the UK.
What made you decide to go ahead with it instead of waiting for the NHS?
After my first consultation, they let me know that I qualified for free metal braces under the NHS. The waiting list could be up to 2 years, meaning I would be around 18 before getting them fitted. The idea of having metal braces at 18 up until possibly 20 really didn’t appeal to me. My orthodontist and I discussed the other options about using a private service to start my braces immediately. They went through the different types of braces I could opt for and Invisalign sounded perfect for my lifestyle and preference.
How did your parents react when you told them you wanted braces? Was cost an issue?
My parents always understood that I was unhappy with the way my teeth looked and agreed that I should use braces. They also understood how having metal braces would affect my self-confidence so when Invisalign seemed like the perfect solution for me.
The cost was a large issue when deciding whether or not I should go ahead with treatment. My parents and I discussed that because they are paying out a lot of money to get me these braces, I had to take it seriously. If I didn’t wear my braces for the optimum time everyday my teeth wouldn’t get better so the whole treatment was in my hands.
The fact that having straight healthy teeth minimizes the risk of oral hygiene problems was also a swaying factor. My parents trusted that I would be sensible and serious about wearing the trays so agreed to go ahead with the treatment.
It’s been almost 8 weeks since you’ve had your first tray – how’s it coming along and how many more trays do you have to go?
I haven’t noticed any serious differences in the look of my teeth yet but I’m not surprised because the process is so gradual. Every 2 weeks I change to a new set, for the first 2-3 days the trays feel tight and slightly painful to remove but this goes away quickly. I have a total of 16 packets of trays to go through and at the moment I’ve just started tray 5 so around 24 more weeks to go.
After the first 2 weeks I went back the orthodontists and they glued on several small tooth colored attachments to my teeth that would act as tension points on my braces. These make my braces a little more visible than I’d hoped they’d be but I’ve gotten used to it already.
I’d also say I’m not so happy about the discoloration of the trays over the 2 weeks of wear. After the first week they become slightly cloudy and yellow looking even after frequently cleaning them. This makes my mouth feel a little less fresh but I’ve taken to using sugar free breath mints to freshen my mouth on the go.
What’s one thing you can’t do with Invisalign that you miss?
I wouldn’t say there is anything that I particularly miss just a few things that I can’t do so easy as before. Because you have to remove the braces before you eat or drink anything but water, eating or grabbing a drink on the go is a lot harder. Another thing is chewing gum, before I would almost constantly chew gum to keep fresh breath but now I can only chew gum when I have removed my trays. To effectively straighten my teeth I need to keep the trays in for as long as possible so snacking and grazing isn’t really an option anymore. I have to remove my trays before eating then pop them back in as soon as I’ve finished a meal.
What are the top three things you think people should know about Invisalign?
- People need to understand what a big commitment wearing these braces are. If you don’t wear your braces your teeth won’t straighten so you have to wear them for as long as possible everyday.
- I wish I knew how visible the tooth attachments would be before going ahead with the whole process. I was shown an invisalign tray fitted onto a teeth mold but never shown what it would look like with the attachments. Most of my attachments are at the front of my mouth and clearly visible. To me, they look like tiny bubbles on the teeth. They are just more visible than I imagined.
- People should know how honestly invisible invisalign trays are! I never feel self conscious whilst out wearing my trays and people don’t seem to notice I’m wearing anything at all.
How have your friends reacted to your Invisalign?
My friends were mostly interested and even amazed at how invisible they seem on my teeth. They reacted really positively and I haven’t been teased or made fun of about them at all. If I eat out with friends they just realize that all I need to do it pop to the toilet and remove my trays first (takes 30 seconds!) It’s only affected my social life in that I just can’t snack as often as my friends would – but this is healthier for me really so not such a bad thing.
How are you going to celebrate when you’re done?
I haven’t actually thought about celebrating after my treatment is done. I guess I’ll just enjoy not having to remove and put back on my trays all the time. I’d love to have a ‘real Hollywood’ smile so once my teeth are straight I’m going to put extra effort into keeping them super white.
Any last thoughts?
I’d just like to mention how happy I am with the appearance of my trays and self-confidence whilst wearing them. There are some things that I wish I could change though:
- The discoloration of the trays over time: After a while of wearing a set of trays I become more conscious that they make my teeth look yellowy and dirty. Even after using cleaning tablets they don’t seem to stay in nice clean condition.
- Mouth Freshness: Whilst wearing the trays my mouth doesn’t keep the fresh and minty feeling for as long after brushing. I wish there was a recommended way for keeping your mouth fresh whilst on the go wearing the trays.
- Drinking: I’m a big tea drinker and I found it hard at first having to cut down on the amount of hot drinks I have. Because you have to remove the trays to drink I’ve got used to just drinking mainly water because this means I get to keep the trays in for longer.
Thank you again to Maia for sharing her story with us. We will be following up with her after she completes her treatment to get more information about her progress. For more information about her journey to get the teeth that she’s always wanted, visit her website at wowyouaresolovely.blogspot.com where she covers her Invisalign journey and shares insights into life in the UK.