Braceface Chronicles: Help, I have tooth nubs now

A photo from Invisalign. I googled “tooth nubs” and came up with a range of
baby photos and doggie chew toys. Huh.

I don’t know what I was expecting walking into the dentist’s office that breezy summer morning. I knew I’d have to write a big check. I knew I’d get some shiny trays. I figured there would be some mild discomfort. I didn’t count on being “invisaligned.”

Ever since I began treatment for TMJ* in 2007, my dentist (and orofacial pain specialist) has been badgering me to consider braces. Not only would they correct my (not-that) crooked teeth, my jaws would be aligned better, saving me pain and perhaps, the wearing of my oh-so-sexy nightguard retainer. Specializing in both Invisalign and traditional braces**, my dentist offered me a choice… plastic braceface or metal mouth. As an almost-30-something, it was no contest. Bring on the plastic trays please.

Somehow I got it in my head that wearing the trays would be like sporting my nightguard, just another retainer. No big deal. For some reason, I neglected to realize that Invisalign trays serve the same purpose as traditional braces, moving your freaking teeth around. And whether plastic or metal, that experience is less than pleasant.

While I don’t have to contend with headgear, rubberbands or wires, thank god, I have my own brand of hardwear, what I call tooth nubs. The tech bonded these porcelain-ish “buttons” to the surface of 11 of my front teeth to aid in the turning process. Consequently, my trays have outcroppings and Mr. T says I look like I have itty bitty vampire fangs now. Fan-tastic. (If only he would stop making “fang” sounds a la True Blood…)

Now one of the main selling points of Invisalign (other than the obvious vanity component) is the ability to eat and brush teeth without interference. The addition of my tooth nubs? A hindrance to both of those activities. Mr. T says I will get used to them in a couple days and my dentist insists that once my tongue and gum build callouses, they won’t scratch up my mouth anymore. But 28 hours into the Invisalign process, I’m a whiny skeptic. We’ll see.

In the mean time, I’m learning how to eat with nubs, brushing my teeth with ridiculous frequency, and fielding the “stop your bitching” comments from all of my friends who suffered through the teenage years with metal mouths. Yes, I concede, that would definitely be worse than plastic trays!

Any of you folks ever tried Invisalign? Do share your hot tips with me!


*Temporomandibular joint disorder, aka nasty jaw pain with a sideorder of headaches. So I live under extreme stress and clench my teeth at night. What?

**My guy is a triple threat. He went back to school to study orthodontics after 20 years in dentistry. Rock on Dr. Mickiewicz.

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