Should I brace myself?
May 6, 2014 3:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 27-year-old voice over artist / actor and have been looking into getting Invisalign to fix some weird angles on my top teeth and crowding on the bottom ones. But is it worth it? Opinions from Invisaligners and the general tooth-viewing public alike would be much appreciated (pics inside.)

I'm graduating from a theatre degree at the end of the year so I've been thinking of trying to get my teeth sorted - or at least get the process started - while I'm still at uni. Cost is not a concern thanks to private health insurance, so I'm thinking Invisalign would be a good option (removable for auditions and VO jobs, mostly invisible, etc). But my teeth aren't horrendous, so is it going to be worth it?

- I work in an image-focused industry (theatre/TV) and though I currently mostly work as a voice over artist, I would like TV acting / presenting to be an option.
- Vanity. It'd be nice to have a straight smile.
- One of the bottom teeth rubs my cheek and feels mildly annoying, so it'd be great to get that sorted.

- Invisalign requires a pretty full-on lifestyle commitment (brushing after every meal, cleaning the aligners every day, only taking them out for a maximum of two hours a day, limited snacking and tea-drinking opportunities). I'd like to travel next year and I'm concerned that having Invisalign will make that more difficult.
- The likelihood of pain and jaw tension.

Here's the situation:

Normal smile
Open mouth smile
RRRR! (upper and lower teeth)

What do you think? Should I get Invisalign, or is it not worth it? Frank opinions on the state of my teeth are most welcome.
posted by lovedbymarylane to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Your teeth look fine. I wouldn't ever notice this if I knew you.

That said, if this would increase your confidence, it might be something to consider. I think your personal confidence about your appearance matters more than your actual appearance.
posted by arnicae at 4:07 AM on May 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

I never had braces, so can't help with the technicalities. However, I am of the opinion that braces are a great tool. And I don't mind the look of traditional braces.

To me your upper teeth look really good, the pic does not show any weird angles, they look straight. I would get braces for your lower teeth, though. Since your teeth are not horrendous, it might take shorter than you'd think to get them straight (<1>
Is there a dentistry faculty where you are? You could go there to get opinions from future dentists for free. One of my roommates in uni was studying to become a dentist and he liked to look at people teeth, even in his spare time. And I know they did a lot of procedures on fellow students.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:14 AM on May 6, 2014

I meant to write: <1 year. Sorry. Missed the edit window. Can't add the apostrophe and s either....
posted by travelwithcats at 4:25 AM on May 6, 2014

I am one of those people who has perfect teeth. While I, personally, don't give one tiny crap about the straightness of other people's teeth (your uppers look straight to me), I do get about 1 comment a week from strangers saying "wow, you have perfect teeth," so I get that this is a thing people notice.

That said, I had traditional braces, and they were awful. If I could go back in time, I would have done anything and everything in my power to have my parents put me in Invisalign. I have a few friends who had Invisalign as kids, and comparing my experience to theirs, they came out way, way ahead in the pain in the ass game. Same perfect teeth results, less bullshit.

Anyway, long story short, if you want straighter teeth and can afford it, have at it. I don't think it's necessary, but if you want to, go for it. And Invisalign should work just fine for you.
posted by phunniemee at 4:54 AM on May 6, 2014

Member of the general tooth-viewing public here. Your uppers look fine, your lowers could use some straightening *IF* you think you are going to be expected to grin that much for it to matter.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:06 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think your teeth look fine. No, they're not perfect, but they're not jacked up and no one would ever say, "there's that chick with the teeth."

A co-worker of mine did get Invisalign braces and she wore them for about 18 months. Personally, I didn't notice a huge difference, but that might be because I don't stare at people's teeth.

When you first get them, they make you sound funny when you talk. I wear a bite guard that's basically an Invisalign, hard plastic retainer. I find it comfortable, but it's keeping my teeth together, not moving them around.

The one part that is concerning is that you're unhappy with the way your tooth protrudes, have an orthodontist look at that and get an opinion. There may be an appliance you can wear to correct it without the expense and committment of Invisalign.

Now, if you have the money, and it's something you want, I say go for it. They are a lot better than traditional braces and head gear (ask me how I know).

Be aware that your teeth move around your whole life. I've worn some kind of retainer since I got my braces off, 35 years ago.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:16 AM on May 6, 2014

I just finished straightening my teeth with Clear Correct braces, which are basically like Invisalign.

I'm so happy I did it! Most people would've said my teeth were pretty straight, but they bothered me and that's what's important. The clear braces were a walk in the park! I never felt like they were any imposition or huge commitment.

I had wired braces with head gear in junior high which was tortuous and awful, and hated the experience so much that I never wore my retainer and my teeth eventually shifted. In comparison, the clear braces were almost fun to wear! I never had significant pain and I'm already a teeth grinder so the clear braces replaced the night guard I used to wear.

Part of my inspiration to do this for myself was my parents. They both have very crooked teeth they are self-conscious about, and I didn't want to be like them, feeling uncomfortable my whole life about something that is an easy fix.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:04 AM on May 6, 2014

I work with voice-over artists in my job and I would be concerned about how Invisalign would affect your speech. I would recommend you take a break from VO work until you're done with any braces.
posted by Dragonness at 7:10 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can take the aligners out at any time, so they wouldn't affect your speech while working, I don't think.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:14 AM on May 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had Invisalign as an adult. It can take anywhere from 9 months to 18 months (I was the latter, but have a friend for whom it only took 9 months. No way to know without talking to an orthodontist). I think it was well worth it.

I honestly didn't feel it was that much of a burden - snacking opportunities are fewer, but that's not necessarily bad. Travel can be annoying if you're going somewhere that lacks good restroom facilities. You will definitely have to wear a retainer at night for the rest of your life.

There is some pain on the first day or two of each new aligner, and some aligners are more hurty than others, but it was never tragic. And the nice thing is, you can always take a break for a minute and get some relief before sticking them back in.

It will likely affect your speech, especially the first month or so as you are getting used to it, although no one seemed to notice except me. But if you're doing more than a couple hours a day of voice over work, it may be difficult to continue because either your speech will change or you'll have to keep the aligners out of your mouth longer. I was pretty diligent and wore them 20-22 hours a day most of the time, but per my orthodontist, if you can't manage it, one solution is to simply wear each set of aligners longer than the prescribed 14 days. It's something to potentially discuss with your orthodontist.
posted by loolie at 7:17 AM on May 6, 2014

If you you can swing the invisalign braces, get them. People do notice, and there's really no downside if you can get all or most of it paid for by insurance, or can afford it outright. Who knows if you'll be able to afford it later if you decide you want it?

About the invisalign experience -- I had teeth about like yours, and I think I wore my invisalign "braces" for a year and a half. But I only wore them at night, even though they said to wear them all the time. Worked fine with only the night wearing, and my orthodontist blessed the practice when he saw it was working. Very little pain, and not irritating at all. And it was amazing to see the comparison of the full mouth molds before and after!

Two other points touched on lightly above:

1. If you don't get them straightened and keep them straight with ongoing maintenance, your teeth will get worse as you age. My mom had naturally straight teeth when whe was in her 30s, and now that she's in her 70s, they're all over the place. Dad too. It seems to be a thing, although I haven't researched it. So, getting invisalign now will get them straight and keep them straight.

2. It's easy to get lots of cavities with invisalign braces. So you have to be extra vigilant with the flossing.

3. I disagree with loolie, you will NOT have to wear a retainer at night for hte rest of your life. I don't, because of the cavity issue. If I notice my teeth starting to visibly shift, I wear the retainer for a while until they settle down again. If you don't want to wear the retainer, you don't wear it, and your teeth will just begin to slooooowly shift back.
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:43 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

bluesky - that's interesting. My teeth noticeably shift if I fail to wear my retainers for two nights in a row. I also could not have gotten away with only wearing the aligners at night. The process would've taken way, way longer. Everyone's different!
posted by loolie at 8:28 AM on May 6, 2014

If you want to be on-camera, and you're younger than Hugh Grant, get them straightened. In daily life, no one would notice, but on a big screen--you might as well bite the bullet (yes, it's a pun) and do it now.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:08 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

i obsess over teeth. probably because mine are not perfect despite braces as a kid and much money spent since.

if you're going to be an actor, i'd say do the invisalign. hell, even if you aren't and it's something you can afford, do it. teeth are something people notice and care about.

your teeth aren't teeth that would really bother me. but they aren't perfect.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:21 AM on May 6, 2014

This isn't entirely on point, but I had braces on my lower teeth as an adult, and basically nobody ever noticed. (Like you, I don't show my lower teeth when I smile.) Although I can't speak to VO work, having traditional braces on your lower teeth may not be problematic. Also, when I got my braces off, I had a lingual wire installed, which I still have a decade later, with no problems.
posted by waldo at 9:36 AM on May 6, 2014

If you're an actor then yes you should definitely do the invisalign.
posted by fshgrl at 9:37 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have Invisaligns right now. My teeth were about as crooked as yours, and almost exclusively on the bottom, like yours. My dentist suggested braces because my lower teeth were pushing forward and crowding, and flossing was becoming a challenge. He was worried about cavities and root canals in my future. I can't have braces only on the bottom, though, because the top teeth need to move to make room for the new locations of the bottom teeth and to align my bite. This is the case for pretty much everyone according to my orthodontist due to the interactive nature of teeth.

I'm scheduled to wear them for 13 months, but will wear them more like 18 because I can't/won't wear them 22 hours a day. It's too difficult for me. Can't savor coffee or wine, forget to put them back in, can't taste as I cook, things like that make it so I wear them more like 16 hours a day on a good day.

The pros are that I can take them out when they bug me, which is often, and they aren't super visible. They're the same price as traditional braces, and they work pretty quickly. I can also use the trays for whitening (once I'm done - can't do that until then because of the attachments, see below). (They're also nice for F2M oral sex, which is a surprise bonus.)

The cons are that they aren't invisible and I feel self-conscious when I speak to someone close up. My smile has become a shadow of what it once was. My speech is significantly affected, so I take them out when on the phone or speaking to a group (after 8 months it's still an issue, although it's better).

Like most wearers, I have had little attachments glued to certain teeth (they give the braces some purchase on slippery little teeth) and these are quite uncomfortable when the braces are out, and cause the inside of my mouth to bleed. So taking them out isn't just like going back to not having braces. This affects my speech after I've had them out for a few hours, once my cheeks are sore.

Traveling is a major pain. I prefer to clean mine in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (after much trial and error, this is the only solution to nasty yellow braces with crud on them at the end of 2-3 weeks) and this is a pain to pack and set up. Even going out to dinner is a pain, because after eating I want the braces back in to protect me from the attachments, but getting up to brush and floss interrupts the flow of the evening.

The braces themselves are also uncomfortable, even after the pain of the initial tooth-shifting has passed. They have rough edges that cut the inside of my lower lip and the back of my cheeks. They also frequently peel on the bite surface, which is sharp and irritating.

Overall, they are a pain. On the other hand, they're really working. I might not even complete the treatment because my teeth look so much better. They're affordable and I like having some control over my treatment.

I'm kind of torn on whether I'd recommend them or not. If cost is not an issue, you should probably get them and discontinue treatment if you don't like the experience. I'd also talk to your dentist about other treatments. I might suggest getting caps, instead, to even up your front teeth, and whitening, so that people see that instead of your teeth. Tom Cruise has unbelievably crooked teeth, but they're so white you hardly notice. (Look closely and you'll see that one of his incisors is smack in the middle of his mouth.)

One tip: Tell your orthodontist to specify that attachments cannot be placed on any visible teeth (like the front four or eight, top and bottom) when s/he places the order with Invisalign. The braces will then be calculated based on this requirement, which will spare you having visible nubs on those teeth. (They look like tooth acne. Yuck.)

Another tip: The first two weeks are hell. Don't make a decision until you've gotten past that point, and schedule their start accordingly.
posted by Capri at 9:53 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had invisalign as an adult, and my teeth were similar to yours before I started. Here's what I did. Found out how much it was going to cost, and how much insurance was going to cover right before it was time to pick my health insurance benefits for next year, and set aside that much money into my flexible spending account. Not sure if your insurance will cover all of your invisalign, but this would help save some money if they won't cover it 100%. I started treatment in January when my flexible spending account was valid.

I had similar teeth - sliiightly imperfect on top, and crowding at the bottom. I wore the invisalign retainers for ~18 months. Frankly, I didn't see a huge change in my upper teeth because they were already fine. The only thing that was awesome is that my orthodontist filed the ends of my 2 front teeth to make them a little shorter and more in line with my other top teeth. So your right middle tooth could probably get filed to be more in line with the rest of your teeth. Ask your dentist about that first. (And by the way, I wouldn't normally notice this as "imperfection," but you asked, so there it is.) I'm supposed to be wearing my retainer every night, but like I said, I didn't see a huge change after invisalign so I just stopped.

My bottom teeth never really straightened out with invisalign itself, even after 18 months - they would be straight when wearing the retainer but would start shifting back if I stopped wearing it for a half a day, so my orthodontist put a permanent retainer on the back of my 6 front bottom teeth - sort of like braces in the back of my teeth. It is awesome because it keeps my teeth in place without me having to wear a retainer for the rest of my life. My bottom teeth are super straight now thanks to the secret permanent retainer holding them in place.

Overall, I'm really happy I did it because I was self conscious about my bottom teeth when smiling. Also, I became much better about flossing after spending SO MUCH MONEY on fixing my teeth. But I am not sure I would do it again now that I am older and less insecure, and in a committed relationship and saving up for a house, I don't think I'd spend the money again. Or who knows, if I was still self conscious about smiling, I would do it now.
posted by at 9:55 AM on May 6, 2014

Oh right, I forgot to mention the little attachments. Mine were on very visible teeth, so if this is going to be an issue for you because of your career, talk to your dentist first. Mine didn't rub the inside of my cheeks/lips at all, just felt really strange for the first few weeks.
posted by at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2014

I have had Invisalign and my teeth were much, much worse than yours. I was right on the border of people who have to have braces because their teeth are so misaligned. I had the buttons (the white pieces that are glued to your teeth, that help set where the trays sit) on 8 teeth, 13 buttons total. Here was my experience:

1) Took me about 2 days to learn how to talk with them in. If you're used to doing diction exercises (talk with a pencil between your teeth, for example) you can do them to speed up how quickly you can talk with them in.

2) I do a lot of presentations and I smile a lot. I asked several very honest people if they noticed the trays or buttons. Only one person did, and it was because they had done Invisalign.

3) I got lazy and only wore them at night after awhile. It ended up working out ok but in retrospect I wish I had been more compliant, if only because I was paying for it myself. However, they did straighten fine. The first day on new trays hurt because I was not doing it full time, that seems to be the main drawback. My teeth move really easily, though, which leads to the next thing:

4) I still have to wear the plastic retainers at night. I have to keep my teeth VERY CLEAN to keep it from causing issues (I have a bit more gum bleeding and early signs of gingivitis if I don't floss every freaking night before bed).

5) Cleaning: I brush them with my electric toothbrush daily and it's fine.

6) I haven't had issues with sharp edges cutting into my mouth at all like others have reported.

7) Stuff I hated the most: having spacings put in between my teeth. For some areas, my dentist had to shave a micro amount of enamel off the tooth or teeth in the area to make room. I hated that and I hated getting the buttons ground off at the end.

I think that's mainly the answers to your questions, but if you have any others, feel free to memail me. Overall it was a good experience and it made more of a difference for me and my confidence than I thought it would.
posted by RogueTech at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2014

Also the Invisalign lisp doesn't last long, and has the up side of removing while working vs. traditional braces where you may be tender and have a booking right after you're adjusted.

Oddly I did not have the issue of "tooth acne" that Capri references. I don't find them to be visible and only annoy me if I feel something is stuck in them even when it's not.

Also don't mind the regular tooth brushing since I tend to eat spicy and was mostly doing it anyway.

Braces as teen, Invisalign (since March) as an adult.
posted by TravellingCari at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2014

Your smile is canted, lower crowding. (Just an observation. If it bugs you, it bugs you.) That is hard to fix with Invisalign.

I tell people that if they want it done right, just get braces. IANYD
posted by Cuspidx at 10:36 AM on May 6, 2014

When I did invisalign, everyone in my family relentlessly made fun of my new lisp.
posted by xyzzy at 5:11 PM on May 6, 2014

I just finished 18 months of invisalign. It was kind of miserable, especially when my bite stopped lining up and I couldn't properly chew food, but I never had braces, so I can't compare it to that.

I noticed trouble with lisping, but I felt like I could overcome it, and other people didn't notice.

My teeth were really crooked. After being done with invisalign, they look less straight than yours do now, but they are a lot better than they were. Personally, if my teeth looked like yours, I'd leave them alone.

As for flossing, I need less flossing than I did before treatment. I have less crowding.

I do now have a gap between my k9s and whatever's after them. I feel kind of self-conscious about it. I guess most people don't notice, but I don't like it. Your dentist should show you a projected "after" shot. Be ready to walk away if you see something like this.

Also, I am left with needing to put in a retainer every night for the rest of my life. That's not good.

On the plus side, in addition to less need for flossing, my smile is much better and I smile more often. There's a lot to be said for feeling good about flashing a big smile.
posted by agog at 10:51 PM on May 6, 2014

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