By Alex Garlan
As a teen I had aligners on my top teeth, there was only one orthodontist in my town and he would make moulds every couple of months and provide me with the new aligner, then we’d rise and repeat for I reackon 6-8 months or so. This was pretty low impact for me, my top teeth were straight, everything seemed to work fine.
Unfortunately for me as a 28 year old my top teeth have started moving. I started noticing in photos that some of my front teeth have broken rank and started encroaching on their neighbours. My teeth had never been something that I had been too concerned about but now I was conscious of their slow relocation so much so that I decided to chat to my dentist, Dr Christopher Dimos, at Dimos Dental in Melbourne about my options.
Please know that Dimos Dentist hasn’t provided me with any sponsorship or discount for this post, Dr Dimos is just a great dentist and I really rate the service that I get from him and his staff so I write about them very positively.
During my most recent check up with Stami and Dr Dimos, I spoke to them about my concerns that my front teeth were moving because of my wisdom teeth. They put me in the OPG and the resulting scan showed my wisdom teeth weren’t impacting on my other teeth, so that wasn’t the answer. My teeth were just moving because I’m getting older and I don’t own a retainer to keep them in place.
Dr Dimon spoke to me about what my options would be, he put forward both clear aligners and braces. Obviously braces were off the cards for me, I had come here early to nip this in the bud begore I got to the point of needing braces, so we chatted more about clear aligners. During this chat I decided that if we were fixing my top teeth it seemed logical that we have a crack at my lower teeth too.
Dimos Dental sell both Invisalign and ClearCorrect and Dr Dimos took me through the pricing structures of each. Given I have a ‘medium’ amount of work required he recommended ClearCorrect and suggested coming back to make moulds, he also told me that my indicative pricing would be about $3,500 AUD.
My favourite part of this interaction was at no point did Dr Dimos or Stami try suggest this was something I needed, they didn’t try to upsell me on anything, and were very clear this was entirely my decision and if I made it they would support me but they weren’t pressuring me to make this expensive decision.
The process of making moulds is one of the least dignified times that I have had a person put their fingers in my mouth, and it cost me $450. The moulds take a few minutes each, a tray is filled with goo, shoved in your mouth and held there until its an appropriate imprint of your teeth, then repeat it again for the next row of teeth. As someone who underwent moulds in my teens this wasn’t much of a surprise for me, the most insane part was that the gun of silicone that they use to fill the tray is 3M branded and it smells like Sikaflex. Though Dr Dimos insists this gun and substance is much more expensive than the ones carpenters are using to put together your kitchen, I struggled to care about this as I choked down on a tray filled with that all-too-familiar smelling goo.
One the moulds are done they get sent away to ClearCorrect who will suggest a regime, provide you with a timeline and matching simulation and give you a final price before you proceed any further. For me this took a few weeks to come back – I think around 4.
Viewing the Simulation/Taking the Plunge
Heading back to the dentist to view my simulation was a surprisingly satisfying experience. The ClearCorrect simulation is hella satisfying to watch, and I have a copy of it so that I can rewatch it and see what changes are being made with each aligner.
I would have 14 sets of aligners, starting in July 2019 and I’d be done in January 2020. Dr Dimos took me through what each marker on the simulation means, the blue squares on my teeth are attachments that will be added to help the aligners rotate my teeth, the arrows in between my teeth are pointing to gaps that will need to be created so there is room for my crowded teeth to move.
Like Dr Dimos had quoted, the pricing for ClearCorrect was coming back at $3,500. If I wanted to proceed with getting aligners I would pay a $1,500 deposit today and then $285 every 4 weeks for the next 7 months. I did this and my aligners were ordered and expected to arrive from the US in 4 weeks.
Here is a link to my simulation, enjoy this curated version of the inside of my mouth.
Picking up the Aligners
The day that I collected my aligners I was feeling super comfortable with the entire situation. I had gone through this as a teenager, I was going to have perfect teeth, it was only going to take 7 months. I felt totally in control of the situation.
Dr Dimos then put them in, it went fine, he suggested reading aloud at home later that night to get past the initial lisp. The dental assistant had also gone through aligner experience recently and had some helpful tips on drinking while wearing aligners – champagne is fine but no red wine with them.
The night I collected my aligners I felt much less confident in the entire situation. My mouth was sore, it was full of ulcers, I had only ever had aligners on my top teeth as a teenager so Id never had a lisp like what I had now. I watched literally HOURS of YouTube videos of people with aligners talking about how terrible their experience was having them. It wasn’t a great day.
First Two Weeks with Aligners
Tomorrow night I change over from my first aligner set to the second. Over the last two weeks I’ve become somewhat accustomed to having aligners. I don’t enjoy it, but I’m ok with it.
I can feel that my teeth have moved; my mouth is no longer sore, my bite is completely different now and when I’m flossing (which I do after every meal) I can feel that the gaps between my teeth have changed in size.
But having aligners has impacted my life in ways that I hadn’t expected. For instance, the bathroom sinks at my office are automated with warm water, which can warp aligners so I have to watch them in the cold water of the staff kitchen. A recent side-effect of this was the CFO of our company awkwardly trying to make a cup of tea around me while I brush my teeth at the kitchen sink, very professional.
I also have to carry a kit everywhere that contains at a minimum my aligner container, toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Luckily for me I already carry a backpack to most places (guys, I am very cool) because Ive typically got my uni laptop, but it isn’t the most fun thing in the world to be carting a pencil case worth of dental products around on top of my regular junk.
My other concern is the way it is affecting my confidence; its been two weeks and I still feel like I have a lisp – particularly when I’m tired, I don’t particularly enjoy having to remove aligners in front of people, people who have/had aligners FREAKING LOVE to comment on them, and I’m also about to get attachments which is a big fear of mine.
But this will all be worth it, right?
Check back regularly to keep track of Alex’s journey.