In a classic role reversal, Chelian Orthodontics’ lead assistant, Morgan, has gone from clinician to patient as she begins her Invisalign treatment with Dr. Chelian. Below is the first installment of a periodic blog that will chronicle her journey to a bright and beautiful smile.
The celebration was fierce, but a bit premature. After four long years of orthodontic treatment, a then 13-year old Morgan removed her retainers for the final time and did her best Rob Gronkowski imitation as she spiked them into the garbage can, putting the punctuation mark on what she believed was the conclusion of her orthodontic journey.
“I remember my orthodontist saying that I could either keep my retainers as a souvenir or throw them away at his office. So I threw them away. It was like a celebration to me,” Morgan said with a laugh. “I wore them during the time I was told I had to – things have just changed since then. Orthodontists used to tell you could not wear your retainer. We don’t tell our patients that, obviously. We tell our patients to continue wearing them, but it was just different back then.”
Since the day of that fateful spike, Morgan, Chelian Orthodontics’ bright and talented lead assistant, has gone on to graduate dental school and amass over 10 years of experience in the orthodontic industry. But as her career progressed, her teeth regressed, shifting back to their original position. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with the woman who has made a career out of straightening people’s smiles, so this Christmas Morgan decided to give herself the gift of Invisalign.
“The straightness of my bottom teeth bothers me and because I work in ortho I’m a little obsessive about these things,” Morgan said. “I also wanted Invisalign because I can see that I’m wearing my teeth down a lot and I worry about that kind of stuff. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m crazy about my teeth.”
The self-described dental nerd took the first step in the Invisalign process in mid-December when fellow Chelian Orthodontics’ assistant, Chelsea, took a 3-D scan of Morgan’s mouth, which was then sent to the lab at Invisalign. Upon conclusion of the scan, Morgan’s passion for treatment was further stoked when she saw her clinical check, which is a digital image that displays what her anticipated finish will look like.
“I’m more excited about this than people will ever know. It’s the best Christmas present I got this year,” Morgan beamed. “Seeing my clin-check made me so excited. It’s not like my teeth are just getting straightened. Dr. Chelian is re-expanding my top arch so when I smile you will see more of my teeth, and I know that makes a better smile. It’s not that I don’t like my smile, it’s just going to be better.”
One of the most critical aspects of Invisalign treatment is patient compliance. In order for the aligners to do their job they must be in a patient’s mouth at least 22 hours a day. The aligners can stay in your mouth when drinking water, but other than that they must be removed when consuming any other food or beverage. Morgan knows this because she has repeated this to patients approximately one billion times during her dental career. However, the 10-year assistant sheepishly admitted she struggled with compliance during the initial stages of her treatment.
“The first couple of days it was kind of hard, actually. I had to really make myself put them in,” Morgan said. “You wake up on the weekend and you might want to drink coffee for four hours and you can’t. That’s a long time to not wear it. So the first couple of days I think I only wore them like 12 to 15 hours a day. But after those two or three days I was like, ‘I need to get serious.’ I started finishing my coffee within a half-hour each morning and it’s gotten easier to keep them in each day.”
Morgan, who “had every appliance under the sun” during her initial treatment, said it didn’t take long to get used to wearing her aligners and that Invisalign has some distinct advantages over braces.
“It’s easy to talk with them. Within two or three days your lips just get used to them and it doesn’t bother you,” Morgan said. “I’ve always heard our patients say they are more comfortable than braces and I agree. There are no poking wires to worry about and you can take them out to floss and brush, which makes them hygienically better. If you want to eat something sticky or hard or something like that you can still have it. With braces you do have to be disciplined with your diet. With Invisalign you have a lot more freedom.”
With freedom comes responsibility. Only time will tell if Morgan will continue stay disciplined with her aligners, so make sure to check back for the next installment of Morgan’s blog this February.