A Clear Aligners Diary

Or as I call them, adult braces!

I don’t have good teeth. A lovely mixture of genetics, plus poor care in my youth, has led me through it all. Root canals, filling, chips, removals. Trips to the dentist are rarely trouble free. It’s often felt as though I can’t get on top of it all, despite my efforts as an adult.

But there is one thing I think I can make better. My teeth aren’t all that straight, especially around the centre. One of my two ‘big teeth’ at the front sits at a different angle to the other. Add in some unfortunate chips and it all looks hugely out of shape to me, and makes me conscious of smiling with my teeth. So I asked around, saw some ads on TV, and did some Googling. The answer for me, was Smile Direct Club.

I posted on my socials that I’d taken the leap, and quickly received questions about it all. Hopefully this piece will be useful for anyone looking into the process. Throughout I’ll be as open as I can.

Note – There has been no contact with Smile Club Direct regarding this. I’ve not been put up to it! It’s purely my own experience. Other companies are available!

Part 1 – First Impressions (Literally!)

The first thing was to figure out if getting aligners was even feasible for me. Visiting the site led to me ordering an Impression Kit. To me it seemed reasonable to take on a small outlay to see if anything more was worthwhile. The cost is refunded if aligners are deemed unsuitable for you, which is nice. In safer times you can visit them to get a 3D scan, but getting a kit in the post turned out to be straightforward.

Arriving in good time, the instructions were clear and it took me about 30 minutes to get everything sorted. Mix up the putty, put it in the trays, and bite down. The tone of the instructions was very friendly, but still got the information across clearly. The ‘Smile Spreader’ is quite a contraption, but does make the space for clear photos that need to be checked in online.

With the prints complete, I popped them back in the box and used the enclosed label to post them back. The process felt weird, but it was all pretty harmless and easy.

Part 2 – Decision Time

Over the next couple of weeks, I received emails confirming both receipt of the prints, and that I’d managed to not screw them up. Happy days. Next up would be them being studied by a licensed dentist to see what’s possible. The next part was cool.

Smile Direct Club sent me a link to a 3D image of my teeth! As you can see below, they’re quite wonky, which was unnerving to see. But wait, there’s more! The image is animated, showing the gradual change and final result. At this point I also discovered that the plan would be over four months, which was shorter than the six I was expecting. Being able to watch the change was extremely useful in helping me make a final decision.

In my case, I could see that despite the aligner not being able to magically fix chips and missing teeth, the end result could be something I’m happy with. Some teeth will get twisted around while others will get straightened out. All being well, and as long as I follow the rules, my teeth should be in more pleasing positions. Then perhaps I’ll think about extra work on the chipped teeth.

I had a chat with my wife (who it must be mentioned has been extremely supportive), and I came to a conclusion of that is worth doing. There were a couple of payment options to look at, but otherwise I was ready to commit. I knew how much, I knew how long it should take, and I knew the hopeful result. I just needed to get on with it now.

Part 3 – Fruit Pastilles.

Email updates followed as my set of aligners were made from scratch for me. A few weeks later they arrived! But as I had a cold I held off. It was soon time to bite the bullet and open up the box.

The box itself is nicely presented and includes quite a few pieces to get you on your way.

  • Aligners – In my case, all twelve pairs, in order at the bottom of the box. Take them out one at a time and you can’t get mixed up
  • A file to help shape the aligners for a good fit
  • An “aligner remover thingamabob”. Much nicer than just pulling them out
  • Mints!
  • Lip balm
  • A nice little case for the aligners when you aren’t wearing them. It even has a mirror hidden on the back
  • Instructions

For once I made a point of reading the instructions before doing anything. Like the impressions, it was laid out well in an easy to understand fashion. Clearly not their first rodeo. With my hands and teeth thoroughly washed. It was time!

Putting them in was extremely weird. If you know the feeling of having a Fruit Pastille stuck on a tooth, imagine having one stuck on all of them! The first few days, I won’t lie, they were rough. I considered ditching them at one point. I was lisping, uncomfortable, and wondering what the hell I’d got myself into. 22 hours a day (they only come out for food) was feeling like a bloody long time.

As the week progressed I became more accustomed to them, and as expected, they felt looser through the week as my mouth began to adjust.

4. Extra Benefits

Apart from the alignment of my teeth, this process has brought with it two added benefits so far.

  1. I can’t bite my nails!
  2. I’m not snacking. Purely breakfast, lunch, dinner. I don’t want to spend all day brushing and flossing (required before putting the aligner back in), so I wait.

Perhaps I’ll form some new habits over the next four months. Perhaps I’ll even lose a few COVID pounds.

Part 5 – Woooahhh, we’re halfway there

Six pairs of aligners later, I’m halfway through my four month schedule.

The aligners have become a normal part of life now. My wife still finds it weird hearing me say “need to put my teeth back in” after meals! I will admit that I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve been a bit naughtier with the food, and there was one day where I flat out forgot to put them back in for three hours. Other than that, progress has been steady. I had to send several photos to the dentist so that they could check progress, and it’s all good so far.

My teeth have changed position. The big two top teeth are more aligned; if I run my finger or tongue over them there’s no ridge where one is further forward. So things are definitely moving in the right direction. For me though, it’s the back half of the process that is more important. If the aligners can raise up the left tooth of the bit two so it’s more in line from a front on view, we’ll have a winner!

That’s it for now! If you have any questions, please ask. This is all my personal experience, but I’ll help if I can. And I’ll come back to update this soon!

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