Posted on September 18, 2011 by Ching under Health, Invisalign, Vanity.
Many people don’t realize this, but my teeth are quite crooked. A few months ago, my dentist offered a deal through Groupon that I couldn’t pass up. I got $1497 worth of value for only $49. The deal covered the initial Invisalign examination, x-rays, and $1000 toward treatment. Since my insurance covers half the cost of orthodontia, I figured this was my chance to correct my problem.
My teeth are not terribly crooked but, not having had braces as a child, I have always envied people with straight teeth. I opted for the lowest level of treatment, since insurance will only pay for half and I have to take care of the other half. The total cost of my Invisalign treatment is about $3330. Insurance took care of half so my portion was $1665. My Groupon took care of $1000 and then I had to take care of the remaining $655. Since I paid $49 for my Groupon, my total out of pocket is $704. That is, until the end of the treatment when I have to pay about $400-500 for my retainers. I think I have to take care of that on my own. I’m not sure that insurance covers it. I figured that I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
That day can’t get here fast enough. Yesterday was the day from hell. It started out great with Zumba. I look forward to getting up on Saturday mornings because of Gina Ann’s Zumba class. It is super fun. I usually stay for Group Kick after, but had to miss it this time to make our 11:30 AM dental appointment. Yes, Brian scheduled his appointment on the same day. He was supposed to get some fillings which turned out be one filling and one crown. His insurance allowance for the year was already tapped out from previous treatments so it ended up being a super expensive dental visit.
Anyway, back to my Invisalign… After putting attachments or buttons (these are installed so that the Invisalign trays can grip your teeth snugly, but they blend in with your teeth really well so you can’t tell they are there), the dental assistant struggled to put my trays in. Both the top and bottom trays were troublesome, but the top was particularly so. She said that she’d never had such a hard time putting the trays on before and that it was a real workout. Putting the trays on my teeth literally made her sweat. She said that I should take Ibuprofen right away as my mouth will be very sore. She said, “I hope you don’t plan on eating because you’re not going to want to take these off for a while.” That’s when I told her that I had my semi-annual dental check up and teeth cleaning scheduled at 1:00 PM. She was like, “Are you serious? That was a lot of work.” Right then, I knew I was up for an unpleasant journey. On the plus side, I figured that this would probably help me lose weight. That’s the optimist in me. LOL.
For my regular appointment, the hygienist asked me to take off my Invisalign braces. It took a lot of work, but I was able to do it. I was really proud of myself for being able to put the braces back on by myself afterward. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to do it without breaking a sweat. Brian and I had not had lunch yet so I knew I would have to take them on and off again when we got home. I knew it was going to be a pain, but I figured I could use the practice. Again, that’s my eternal optimism.
I decided to keep them on while I took a shower (we came straight from the gym so I was stinky from Zumba). I really should have taken them off before taking a shower, but my thought process was that I was going to have to brush my teeth after eating lunch so I would just wait to take them off right before eating. That was a huge mistake. My fingernails were soft after getting out of the shower and the trays were very tight. I ended up breaking the nails of both my thumb and index fingers. Even then, I still could not get them off. Brian was cooking our lunch, tilapia and steamed white rice, so I was on my own. I was getting really frustrated because I was starving. It was about 3:00 PM at this point and we still hadn’t eaten lunch.
In the meantime, Jan called because her car wouldn’t start. She was stranded at 21st and Rock. We couldn’t leave her there so the plan was to have Brian finish the fish, which really only takes a couple of minutes and I was going to leave them warming in the oven until he returned. Thank God, Jan was able to start her car after the umpteenth attempt so that was one less thing to worry about. Brian finished cooking lunch and hollered for me to come down. At this point, I was really contemplating just drinking a shake for lunch but I was very, very hungry and really wanted to eat. It was so frustrating I wanted to cry. Brian who had already started eating, stopped when I still hadn’t come down after several minutes. He tried to help, but he couldn’t get them off either. He was like, “I have to remind you that this was your idea.” He’s said that about half a dozen times already this weekend and is starting to sound like a broken record. Just FYI to those of you who have partners with Invisalign, that doesn’t really help.
After two broken fingernails and much effort later, I finally got the bottom set out. Lunch was getting cold at this point and the top set was still giving me a lot of trouble. I cleaned up the broken fingernails and clipped the rest of my nails to match so now I had no nails to aid me in the removal. As an act of desperation, I took the end of my comb hooked it to the edge of the top tray and pulled straight down. As luck would have it, the braces popped off just like that. I inspected them carefully to make sure that I didn’t cause any damage. Thankfully, they survived. It literally took 30 minutes to get them off that time. I didn’t understand that because I didn’t have that much problem at the dentist’s office just a couple of hours before. Then again, my nails were harder at that time. They had softened while I was in the shower and were absolutely useless to me.
I was finally happy to be able to eat lunch. I ate a lot because I figured that I probably wouldn’t be eating again that day. After that ordeal, I didn’t want to take them off again ever. After brushing my teeth, I put the trays back in. It was a huge hassle (again, I had more trouble than I did at the dentist’s office) and Brian had to help me. After our pedicures, I found out from Jen Teves that she made dinner. That meant I had to take my braces off again. Ugh. It only took about 10 minutes this time around.
After dinner, I managed to put them back on by myself without Brian’s help. It took less than a minute this time around. I had an easier time of it than I did at the dentist. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. I did read online that the process of taking the trays on and off gets easier over time. We stayed over and enjoyed some wine while were watching the Mayweather vs. Ortiz fight (which was lame btw, and probably deserves its own blog entry). Huge thanks to Jen and Armando for letting us watch the fight with them and also for feeding us delicious food. You guys are the best!
Brian had coffee later that evening and they made some chocolate chip cookies for a late night snack. Everyone else had them but me. I wasn’t hungry and they were unnecessary calories and they weren’t worth the hassle of taking my braces off and putting them back on again (though, already I’ve realized that putting them on is not as much of a pain as taking them off; even though it did pose a major challenge of the dental assistant and of me earlier that day). I could see how they will be beneficial going forward and they’ll help me avoid unnecessary snacking at night out of boredom or while watching TV. I’m a glass half-full kind of gal so I always tend to see the silver lining of things.
It’s still a huge hassle so I’ve decided to kind of switch things around. Instead of doing a shake at breakfast and eating real food at lunch and a shake at dinner and some snacking with Brian at night, I’m going to eat real food at breakfast and have a shakes for lunch and dinner — at least until I get used to the process of removing the trays and putting them back on. I really don’t want to spend my entire lunch break trying to take my braces off. Once I get the process down pat then my eating habits can go back to normal. I did find some helpful tips online and ordered a removal tool from Amazon that will hopefully make my life easier going forward. I don’t want life to be too easy though, as I was counting on using Invisalign as part of my weightloss plan. LOL.