May 20, 2013

Goodbye, Brace Face



This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Invisalign and their Straight Talk program. When I was invited to participate in this program it was easy to say yes. I may be busy but I’m not foolish enough to turn down the opportunity to get all my questions answered by an Orthodontist who was willing to spend as much time as needed. If you or someone in your family may need braces, I hope you find this information helpful. I know there are many opinions out there, mine is just one.

What a difference a few decades make, especially when it comes to advances in dental care. For most of us, having braces in high school meant a mouth full of metal for a few years. It’s what it was, your friends had them, you had them, and no one really cared. And, yes, I did have them. Thanks to those giant glasses you’re distracted from noticing I’m wearing braces, aren’t you. Or maybe it’s the totally 80s hair that cause you not to see that glare in my mouth.

Sure, there were the taunts of “brace face” and “metal mouth”. Then there were the days after the adjustments when your mouth would hurt like you were punched in the face. But there was always a friend who was going through this braces thing at the same time, so it wasn’t too much of a big deal.

Thirty years after getting braces, I still remember my orthodontist’s name. I loved Dr. Black and his staff. I hated getting the impressions taken, and to this day I can still remember the feel of those metal forms and the squishy material as it mushed down onto my teeth. I remember the times my lip would get caught on a bracket. And who can forget the sudden jab of a wire into the jaw. Good times!

Over the past several years I’ve heard about Invisalign. I don’t need braces again, but it’s something CycleGuy has considered. And as BabyGirl gets further into her tween years, it’s possible she will need braces. I’ve done some research, have spoken to a few people, and yet still had more questions about how clear braces compare to traditional braces.

At a recent Invisalign event, a local orthodontist shared his perspective and gave insight about pros and cons the profession has about both traditional braces and the clear Invisalign product. As someone who took great pains to constantly floss and have my wires taken on and off for my 6-month dental cleanings, I was surprised to learn that one of the biggest drawbacks of metal braces today is their impact on long term dental health. It makes sense that with Invisalign, there is no interference with daily flossing or regular dental checkups. However, I didn’t realize what a big deal this was since I had this freakish need to have clean teeth.

Since the Invisalign event was close to the end of the school year, a few people mentioned graduation, yearbook, and prom photos. It wasn’t easy to find these photos. Besides the general lack of photos from the 80s, I had a hard time finding a photo of me smiling with my braces on. I can imagine how different it is today with cell phone cameras everywhere and the ease of photo-sharing.

See that photo to the left? Yes, that’s me. Still had the big totally 80s hair, requisite blue eyeshadow, but this time I have pearly, straight teeth! And since you likely can’t read the shirt, I will out myself and confess that, yes, I was a finalist for Miss Texas US Teen. And I gladly smiled for every pageant I was in.

So much of what Dr. Shipley was saying made me understand why Invisalign is so popular. But popular is one thing, how it works is something different. The group of moms at the event didn’t hold back on the questions about efficacy. Braces, whether traditional or Invisalign, are a huge expense in both money and time. And while I don’t want BabyGirl or CycleGuy to deal with the societal stereotypes that go along with braces, I also don’t want to spend money on something that’s not as good just because it’s a better fashion statement.

Boy was I surprised. With Invisalign, there is no goopy tooth impression. In its place is a digital scan that more accurately maps the mouth and tooth alignment. Instead of relying on an assistant’s expertise, or a few minutes with a doctor, each of the incremental changes are built into the Invisalign trays with mathematical and technical precision. And there is the smooth plastic tray instead of brackets and wires that can irritate the inside of the mouth.

I think, like many people, I had an idea about much of this before attending the Invisalign event. But it really clicked after hearing other moms ask questions I hadn’t thought of, and hearing Dr. Shipley speak very candidly about both types of orthodontia treatment. It was nice hearing from a doctor who believes in the benefits of orthodontia and not just in one type of solution.

Before the event I was very skeptical. Now, though, I would definitely have CycleGuy consider an Invisalign assessment. And when time comes, if BabyGirl needs braces, I would consider Invisalign for her. Based on the out of pocket cost for us, it’s not much more than traditional braces. And with the added benefit of continuing her good dental hygiene I’d prefer to have an option that allows her to keep up those good habits.

One question I did ask, was how Invisalign works with kids (and adults) who have cleft lip and palette concerns. While this isn’t a concern for everyone, I wanted to know because I know a few people who would be interested. Dr. Shipley said that Invisalign may be an option but before you rule it out talk with your surgical team and have an Invisalign professional who has additional training and experience with similar patients. I know for many who have cleft issues, clear braces would be one less thing to worry about.

His answer to that question really sealed it for me. He could have easily just said it would be fine. And maybe some would. But when a doctor is willing to tell you that his services may not be the best for you, that level of honesty is a good foundation for everything he says.

Don’t just take my word on this. Check out the Invisalign website, like Invisalign on Facebook or follow Invisalign on Twitter, or make an appointment with an Invisalign trained specialist in your area.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you have any questions for me, please ask. I learned a lot and am happy to share with you so you can make the best decision for you or your family.

Disclosure: I have been provided compensation for the Invisalign Straight Talk program to share my thoughts and (embarrassing) photos about my experience with braces and how it compares to the new alternative of Invisalign. All thoughts and opinions are mine, and may not reflect the views of any organizations listed. My thoughts and opinions were not influenced by this compensation. This article was not reviewed or edited by a third-party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Why do I put these disclosures in my posts? Besides being a lawyer and writing about this stuff, they’re required by consumer protection laws and you deserve to know. Invisalign is a medical device and should only be provided by a licensed dental professional. This information is not being offered as medical advice.




Tracy May 20, 2013 at 10:24 am

Thanks for sharing this Sara. Z will be starting his orthodontic treatment early next year…and will be wearing the dreaded braces within two years. While the invislign is way out of our budget, I am glad to hear that for many it is a viable option that works!

Christi @ Love From The Oven May 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Oh my goodness, BabyGirl is YOU. I can’t get over the resemblance! As someone who had a full band on every tooth (no cute little brackets for me!), metal mouth was an understatement, and sure enough years later, almost every single cavity has been where those giant bands were, between teeth. I’ve always wondered about Invisalign. It’s great to hear that you felt positively about them. I’ll have to ask our orthodontist about them on our next check up.

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