May 23, 2011

What Does Your Smile Say?


Recently BabyGirl and I went to the dentist. Routine stuff. Cleaning, X-rays. But this time, when looking at her x-rays, BabyGirl asked if she would need braces. She’s 8! She seemed kind of sad when the dentist told her that at this time she didn’t think so. Then, without skipping a beat, in her excited 8 year-old voice she said that there’s still hope for her to have braces because her daddy needs them. Oy! Guess I should add that to my list of things I should be saving for.

I had braces when I was a teen. I had an underbite and it was causing severe jaw pain. Lucky for me all the cool kids were getting braces. Not only was I living in California during the Valley Girl years, I could now be popular with my mouth full of metal! Woo Hoo! Welcome to the awkward years.

My orthodontist was exceptional. But to this day I still can’t drink very cold things because I can feel that cold against the metal that has long been taken off my teeth. I can also still remember the taste of the adhesive, the wire poking in my gums at random moments and the occasional time when I’d run my tongue across my braces and it would get stuck. Good times!

For years, CycleGuy has on and off considered orthodontics. He’s never explored it seriously because he didn’t want to deal with something getting in the way of advancing his career. Sad to say, but he’d rather deal with people looking at his teeth and thinking he needed braces rather than looking at him and immediately thinking of ‘brace face’ and losing credibility. This has been one area I’ve never pushed because I know that as a minority he’s already dealing with stereotypes and other people’s own perceptions of him that he doesn’t need anything to add to their judgments. And, well, CycleGuy has a terrific smile and if he’s gotten this far then why keep harping on it.

In a few weeks I’m going to speak at Bloggy Bootcamp in Seattle. One of the sponsors is Invisalign, which offers a nearly invisible option for orthodontia. Designed  as an alternative to traditional metal braces, in 1997 Invisalign took a new and innovative approach to teeth straightening for both adults and teens. While still using pressure to straighten teeth, Invisalign recognized that for many adults metal braces weren’t an option and using modern technology combined with traditional orthodontia, straight teeth became a real possibility for many adults.

One of the reasons we never considered Invisalign was because CycleGuy has a more complex case. However, because Invisalign has continued to use technology to update how it solves a very common but important problem it may now be a viable option. Many of my friend have said that Invisalign is for people who are vain. Yes and no. Sure, few adults want to go through what is often seen as a teenage right of passage. And now, many teens don’t even want to endure the jokes, ridicule and remarks that may come with traditional metal braces.

Teens and tweens are very image conscious, regardless of how much we like to think otherwise. And with kids being involved in sports, the arts, and many different activities that put them front and center they want to continue to have a metal-free smile. That is why Invisalign developed a product specifically for teens! Even though she’s only 8, my daughter has already noticed that kids who have metal braces don’t tend to smile a lot. While not scientific, her observation is very keen. Imagine the boost to self-confidence and self-esteem a teen would have if they could smile easily and confidently.

Some of the benefits of Invisalign, for both teens and adults are that the aligners are removable and comfortable. The one thing I hated most about braces was brushing and flossing my teeth. I did it, and my mom bought me a WaterPic to help. But because I’d get the bristles stuck in the brackets it was always an ordeal. And flossing? Forget about it! It woud take forever to thread the floss for each tooth. But because the Invisalign can be removed brushing and flossing are as easy as ever. And because CycleGuy consulted for a dental practice for a short time, I better understand the importance of being able to brush and floss on a set schedule without interruption!

Probably the biggest benefit is that Invisalign is clear. Like I said, CycleGuy isn’t keen on stepping back into the awkward teen years. And, truthfully, getting standard metal braces would likely impact his career advancement. It’s sad to say, but that is the reality of what standard metal braces would mean. Both adults and teens can benefit from the nearly undetectable aspect of this treatment.

I wore braces for about 2 years, having almost exactly the same treatment as most of my friends. Invisalign treatments are customized to each patient, with the average treatment time being about a year. Now that’s why I love technology! Using up-to-date technology to benefit the patient is my kind of technology. And rather than having to go every 3 – 4 weeks, patients typically see their doctor every 6 weeks. That’s terrific when having to schedule time off from work or fit in a doctor visit between all the activities that fill up a busy mom’s schedule.

Just for kicks I went to the Invisalign website to see if there was a doctor nearby. What I found were several doctors, and the site clearly showed the level of experience the doctors had with the product. Given that CycleGuy would likely need some special attention (our dentist said braces would likely be difficult), we’d probably go with someone who’s demonstrated a high level of proficiency with using the product on a wide array of patients. CycleGuy has amazing teeth! I’m the brushing and flossing fool and he’s the one with no cavities (ever!), perfect gums, and minimal plaque. Still, with teeth crowding, we’d want someone with extensive experience.

If you’re thinking about braces for your teen or tween, definitely look into Invisalign. The advanced technology might be exactly what you need! Or, maybe, you’re thinking it’s time for you to finally get the smile you’ve always wanted. You dont’t have to get in the wayback machine and pretend to be 13 again. Grown ups deserve grown up solutions, and that’s exactly what Invisalign has done. They created a solution not just for young people but also for busy men and women who want straight teeth but still want to maintain a certain level of professional look.

Disclosure: As a speaker at Bloggy Bootcamp Seattle, I was selected for this very special opportunity by Invisalign. All opinions are my own and were not edited by any third party.



Carrie May 24, 2011 at 9:44 am

my orthodontist said i had the most complex case he ever treated with invisalign so i bet that whatever cycleguy’s situation is it can be handled. i ended up doing two phases of invisalign each over 20 two week sets of aligners. my best friend did invisalign too and it only took her 7 sets (i’m so jealous). but my teeth look awesome now.

i do kind of doubt getting invisalign for kids though because the reason i needed it was because i didn’t wear my retainers as a teen and wearing invisalign is similar or even more complex than wearing retainers.

Sara May 24, 2011 at 10:48 am


This is good to know! I don’t think he’d mind if it took 20 sets of aligners, but I know he won’t do 20 months of metal braces.

I know what you mean about wearing the retainer. I was so diligent about wearing mine. I got my braces off when I was 16 but still wore my retainer until I was 25. I got tired of the lame jokes, even at 25!

Thank you so much for your first hand insight.


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