A half-century old I can handle the wrinkles on my face. The less than firm waistline, yep, that too. It’s the increasing crookedness of my front teeth that l find disconcerting. Enough so, that at age 51, I follow my dentists’ advice, “Braces now are better than dentures later.” I schedule a consultation with Dr. Ronald Clark, the orthodontist who provided Shayna and Jeremy with their award winning smiles.
He tells me what I don’t want to hear. My teeth will continue to shift, and yes, the staircase appearance of my upper front teeth will worsen as I age. “Say it ain’t so,” I grumble to myself. Invisalign braces, Dr. Clark offers, can easily correct everything, including the bite problem that is partially responsible for my crooked teeth in the first place. This problem, it turns out, was most likely not treated when I was fitted with braces as a teenager. It takes more than a year of braces and bands, says Dr. Clark, to fix the bite properly. I only wore braces for about nine or ten months, and do not recall ever wearing rubberbands at all.
I bite the bullet and also the mouth wings for xrays, and the mouth tray for the dental impressions. In early October I’m fitted with my first set of Invisalign trays. I spend a few hours learning how to pop the trays on and off. It’s a challenge, looking easier than it really is at first. I emBRACE it enthusiastically, despite the cuts and minor abrasions I inflict on my inside cheeks. If Jeremy could do this successfully at age 12 without complaining, I remind myself, I can certainly do this as an almost senior citizen.
Five days into wearing these plastic babies, we dine out for dinner. After our meal, I go to the restroom to brush and floss my teeth, as instructed to do so by Dr. Clark and his staff. While performing my dental hygiene skills a woman in the restroom comments, “Oh my God, Invisalign. Isn’t it such a joy brushing teeth in a public bathroom?” I offer up a half-smile, but secretly, no, I do not think it’s such a joy. As she walks out the bathroom door, she smiles, “I just finished with my Invisaligns. It’s worth all the hassle and brushing.” “I sure hope so,” I think to myself, as I snap the plastic trays back on.
Six weeks later, I’m wearing my third set of trays. Only thirty sets and fifteen months to go! I’ve become a pro at snapping the Invisaligns on and off. No more pinching, no more cuts. I brush and floss my teeth constantly. Probably more than I’ve done in total the six months before getting braces. I have a little lisp now. Sometimes my speech is slightly slurred, and I’m not even tipsy. Occasionally, I have to repeat myself, or speak very, very slowly, which doesn’t come naturally to this gift of gabber.
Overall I find the experience of having adult braces quite entertaining. I’m surprised to find out how many adults have, or have had, or are considering braces for themselves. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontics, the number of US adults wearing braces topped 1 million in 2008, up almost 25% since 1989. Wow. I’m not alone out there. All the more reason I emBRACE this journey with a smile on my face.
Moral: Change can be beautiful, emBRACE Invisalign for adults over 50.