My Invisible-ish journey to a Hollywood Smile

I was 29 years of age when I decided to take the plunge and treat myself to the smile I had always dreamt of. Despite always being told I had a “beautiful smile”, mainly by my mother—whom also thinks I have a beautiful singing voicebut that’s utter bollocks. I still didn’t feel 100% confident. So here I share my Invisalign Journey with some before and after photos.

Growing up with growlers

“Why did you get braces? You didn’t even need them”. One sentence I despise hearing. Obviously, I appreciate the compliment and I am well aware I didn’t harbour a severe snaggletooth situationlike Tom Cruise, as seen abovenor did I look like I’d be smoking meth for 10 years BUT by no means did I have a perfect set of gnashers.

When I was a kid I moved to South Africa and attended a snobby all-girls school in Cape Town. I was deemed different because I had a weird name and was half Asian with wonky-ish teeth. I wasn’t Miss Popular but I also didn’t eat my lunch in a toilet cubicle on my own, so technically I was part of the “cool” clique. Thank God.

When I was about 13 I resembled a Mexican thug, and my best friend— in which I was inseparable with— called me ‘yellow-belly chinky fatso’. Can’t say that did much for my self esteem. When the era of ‘OMG BOOOOOYS’ started evolving into our all-girls school social life, that’s when it hit home that I wasn’t typically pretty. I would claim to be Hawaiian. In the desperate hope that the boys would find my flat chest and over-bite more appealing/attractive if posing as a hot Hawaiian beach babe. Unfortunately, the milkshake didn’t bring the boys to the yard. Ironically now, being half Chinese is far more exotic and appealing than what kids back then made it out to be. So IN YO FACE BISH-ES. 

 

And at that moment Keeo realised..

So you’re probably wondering the relevance of me boring you with my semi-sob story, of growing up as a tubby half Asian DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) in South Africa. The reason being, I’ve always lacked self-confidence in my appearance and mainly my teeth. Pairing that with zero self-esteem, it was a tough adolescent time. At 18 I returned to the British Mother Land. I went to see an Orthodontist and he told me braces weren’t necessary and if I got braces. “She will lose her voluptuous lips” (said the creepy inappropriate heavy breathing dentist). Anyway, I was gutted. I couldn’t afford to pay privately and this perverted dentist didn’t deem my teeth braces worthy. 

So, I learnt to accept my mediocre mildly goofy smile, felt ugly in photos and cringed every time I saw one of myself. It wasn’t until the day I was on the phone at work. I felt eyes burning into the side of my head. My boss suddenly blurted out, “Keeo, has anyone ever told you, you look like a horse?”. Wow…ouch, I thought. I don’t know why I let her snide remark get to me. But it did. Ironically now, she has braces…and they aren’t Invisalign 🙂 

Whilst living in China I had a lot of freedom and money. I dated an American with a perfect smile which made me wince every time I looked at him. As if he wasn’t already incredibly good-looking enough, he had to have an immaculate set of pearly whites. We went on holiday to New York and I even recall his mum scrunching her face in disgust and commenting on my teeth at breakfast one day. And it was at that moment I realised…I wanted braces. I craved that perfect smile. Also the mere thought of our wedding photo’s of me sticking out like a sore thumb with my gammy teeth amongst a sea of American smiles, made me want to die inside. (Side note: We never got married and now his teeth are yellow but he’s still incredibly good looking). 

So once we returned back to the mother land of Chengdu, China I booked straight in with a dentist and got the show on the road. I used ADG dental in the Lippo tower (wonderful service and decent prices for any Chengduers reading this, if you want a contact, comment and let me know).

 

Why Invisalign?

I don’t think it’s rocket science people. I chose Invisalign for obvious reasons.    

1. I didn’t want to look like Ugly Betty

2. I didn’t want to turn 30 and have a set of glistening metal train tracks in my mouth. I don’t exactly have a small unnoticeable mouth, it’s quite a large and obnoxious orifice. As you can see in my photoshopped picture of me with train tracks, the resemblance between Ugly Betty (above) and I, is uncanny.

Saying that there are also ceramic clear braces available which many of my friends have had and were happy with their treatment. It’s really down to personal preference and how much you can afford to spend. 

I had the choice of paying ¥30,000 for a junior dentist or ¥50,000 for the Main man. When I was quoted in the UK it was £5000 which is almost equivalent to ¥50,000. So I went for the ¥30,000  Invisalign based on the fact you couldn’t see them.

Pros and Cons of Invisalign

Pros

  • They are practically INVISIBLE
  • You can take them in and out
  • Don't need to go to the dentist to have them tightened
  • Easy to clean
  • NO danger of spinach or food debris being stuck
  • Easy to use and maintain with fewer trips to the dentist
  • No wires rubbing on your mouth causing ulcers
  • Better for people that play contact sport
  • No tooth discolouration or breakage

Cons

  • Aligner trays can be easily lost, broken or forgot about
  • Trays have the be worn for 22 hours a day minimum
  • You can ONLY drink water with them in
  • It's highly unattractive slobbering them in & out of your mouth in front of people
  • If you a smoke and don't take them out they can turn yellow
  • Slight discomfort with a new pair of trays
  • You look ridiculous chewing the "Chewie"
  • After you finish the treatment you have to wear a retainer for 2 years afterwards

The start of treatment

Treatment isn’t the same for everyone. I had a massive over-bite, really crooked lower teeth and a tooth hiding behind my front tooth. Quite bucky to say the least. I was told it would take a year and a half.

 I had to have the ‘attachments’. Which are tiny white ceramic things they attach to your teeth which don’t come off until your last tray is complete. They are a little unsightly and noticeable but I needed them to pull my teeth back and expand my arch quite a bit. The worst thing I went through during treatment was the dreaded FILING. HOLLY MOSES. Basically the dentist would stick a thin nail file type thing in-between my teeth and file them down to make the teeth thinner. It was like nails going down a black board but in my mouth + in-between the teeth. The pain was excruciating. I’m no p***y when it comes to dentists visits but this was honestly THE WORST. Especially when she got so close to the gums with the file that they bled. Thankfully this only happened 3 times and not everyone has to suffer this ordeal. 

At the start the dentist gave me 4 pairs to take home, to be changed every 2 weeks. As I was a good girl and wore mine religiously for 22 hours a day, he cut it down to 10 days instead of two weeks and also gave me 10 pairs at a time. I started to see a difference in my teeth at around the 3 month mark.

 

During treatment

Every time you take the aligner trays out and put them back in, you have to chew a small rubber thing called a chewie. Any time I was with someone and had to do this I was glared at and asked “Is that necessary?”. Yes it’s extremely necessary. I paid 30k for this treatment, and I’m following doctors orders. It was much to be desired when my housemate Mark was trying to watch a movie and I was on the other side of the room slapping my chops together like a cow.

 When I got to about the 1 year mark that’s when I had to have the geeky-ass elastic bands put on. I had to wear them all the time, on either side of my mouth. They attached a metal thing to my bottom teeth and the bands hooked onto the top aligner. Didn’t look to hot during this period of time.

I can’t stress how important it is to wear your aligners 22 hours a day or longer and not to lose them. Taking them out when you drink hot drinks, fizzy drinks, any drinks really. The only time I left them in and drank was on nights out, but I would drink through a straw and normally just have gin and tonics. Red wine is a no go. Eating with them in is an absolute no go too. 

You’re meant to clean the retainer and brush your teeth/floss after every time you eat something. This got on my my nerves so sometimes I cheated and I’d just gargle with water and rinse “my teeth” in the sink (“my teeth” are what I called my aligners. Often you would hear me say “WHERE ARE MY TEETH????”). I was never a ‘flosser’ before I got my braces and now I do it errrrrrrday. It is SO important to keep nasty rot and cavities away. I’v stopped drink fizzy drinks, avoid anything with sugar, don’t eat candy, etc. I do treat MAH SELF to a naughty sweet treat now and then though. 

This is the "CHEWIE". This is not my mouth

Is it worth it?

For me personally it’s a no brainer. YES. It was totally worth all of the money, slobbering , the 1000’s of retainer trays, chomping on my chewie, wailing WHERE ARE MY TEETH??, the dorky elastic bands I had to have in my mouth towards the end of the treatment. I will never regret getting Invisalign. Best decision of my life. If anything it changed me as a person. 31 years later I finally feel b-e-a-uuuuuuutiful, confident and proud to smile. But remember, they are much like a puppy, they aren’t just for christmas, they’re are for life. 

When something bothers you for so long and gets you down and then it’s finally gone, it’s like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. This isn’t just a teeth thing, it goes for everything. If anything bothers you and makes you feel like crap, change it. It’s not narcissistic, it’s self love. It’s important to love the skin you’re in. That doesn’t mean I condone people who spend hundreds of thousands on plastic surgery to end up looking like every other chick with huge fake tits, blowup doll lips and cat like features with a face that has zero expression, but if that’s what makes them happy, then go girl. I truly think enhancing your natural beauty is all you need to do. Don’t irreversibly change what ya mamma gave ya. 

Lastly, some people don’t even have the privilege of changing their appearance like I did so I am truly truly grateful for having the opportunity and I will continue taking care of my teeth like they’re GOOOOOOOOOLLLLDDDDDD and continue to bathe proudly in the never-ending ‘Wow you have an amazing smile!!’ compliments. Bye bye horse teeth.

BEFORE

AFTER