Invisalign investment: Splurging on Straighter Teeth

In middle school I was a full-on metal mouth. Well, I had braces on my upper teeth but for some reason never had them on my lower. My parent’s insurance covered the costs and I hated every minute of it. Even with the braces I still had these giant gaps between my small teeth. The second I got the braces off the last thing I wanted to was wear a retainer every night. So I didn’t. And my teeth decided to return to their earlier position or something else entirely.

Fast forward into the future and I’m a 30 year old with crooked, gappy teeth. I wasn’t set on spending money on adult braces for cosmetic purposes, but on a recent dentist visit it was explained to me that my overbite was actually causing my lower teeth to chip, and the gaps in my teeth were causing food to get stuck and my gums to wear down. Since it was now also a medical issue I decided to start seriously investigating Invisalign as an option to straighten things out a bit.

My (new) dentist said she’d do the entire treatment from soup to nuts for $6000. Yikes. $6k is an awful lot of money. I could use the $2500 in my FSA this year towards the total cost, but that didn’t cover much of the full $6k. Plus – something didn’t sit right about a dentist doing orthodontic work. So I set out to scour the internet for Invisalign deals. I had previously seen some for $2500 at sketchy locations – I’m not about to trust such sketch with my mouth. I found another deal at an orthodontist office in a nice town nearby and set up a consultation for this morning. I was not planning on signing on the dotted line just yet, but they did a good job on selling me and I walked out with contract in hand for my treatment.

The good news is that I found an orthodontist who is a top specialist in Invisalign treatments (so hopefully he knows what he is doing) AND after the online deal and some negotiating I brought it down to the $4500 ballpark. Still not cheap by any means, but given the expected quality of work and compared to what my dentist was going to charge, it was quite the deal.

The office itself was kind of unsettling to me. There was nothing wrong with it, it just felt like a bit of an orthodontic factory filled with models for assistants and a very buff orthodontist who might as well be a human version of a ken doll. I prefer my medical facilities to offer some level of privacy, especially when I’m in for a treatment to have my face prodded, and this had none of that. As I sat in a dentist chair waiting for my consultation I noticed in all the chairs around me were kids who were getting braces. Finally another woman walked in to get her Invisalign checkup so I felt better about being in this dental zoo.

The consultation was free — they took one x-ray of my teeth and a bunch of photographs, walked away for a few minutes, and then said I’m a candidate for the treatment. I was walked to an office (privacy finally) for the sell. We went back and forth on price a little bit. I walked away with a really good deal, I think, but that will all be measured on how well this all turns out. I admit I’m a bit worried.

After signing nearly $5k away they took me back to the chair in that horrid crowded room and used this fancy machine to take 3d pictures of the inside of my mouth. Phew. At least I don’t have to have that gross gook put inside of my mouth to make the molds because this office has good equipment. It took a few minutes and then I was done, told I would receive a call from them in two to three weeks with my first set of trays. That was it. I’m not so sure what I just got myself into.

The great part about Invisalign is that they’re mostly invisible. The bad part is that you have to wear them 20+ hours a day to work. And based on what I’ve read online they can be somewhat uncomfortable. Every two weeks you switch trays so your teeth are pushed to their next destination. This can take anywhere from a little under a year to two years. They told me I was not a bad case so it would be 8-10 months. We’ll see about that. At least the entire treatment is included in the one payment. That’s good and bad… good in that they can’t charge me more, bad in that they benefit from getting me through treatment faster. I’ve read a few horror stories about Invisalign treatment online where teeth have been seriously f*d up, but mostly that is from people who went to dentists that didn’t know what they were doing. I’m hopeful this entire experience will fix my teeth, not mess them up even more.

So I still can’t believe I just spent $4500 on something mostly cosmetic. But previously the best $4000 I ever spent in my life was on “unlimited” last hair removal. Going from a hairy beast (thanks PCOS) to shaving maybe once a month has changed my life in so many ways. I make good money now so why not spend a little of it on something smack dab in the middle of my face? I’d like to have straight teeth for my wedding at least. And if all of this makes my teeth and gums healthier than great!

I’ll update you all on how the treatment is going once the trays come back and I get started!

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