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‘Horrible photo that cost me $10,000’

We’ve all got those photos we never want to see again.

Whether its evidence of an over-plucked eyebrow phase (been there) or from a time when you matched your eyeshadow to your fluoro pink handbag (I’m not even kidding), we all have pictures we’d rather didn’t see the light of day again.

But I have one photo that will be ingrained in my memory forever because it ultimately motivated me to spend $10,000 on a cosmetic treatment.

The horrible photo in question was taken during a skydive over Mission Beach, during a holiday to Queensland in 2013.

Of course, you can’t do a skydive without buying the photos and video footage to prove you did it – which is how I ended up with an entire DVD of images I loathed.

Taken at the most unfortunate angle, under my chin but to the left of my face, it showed me grinning from ear-to-ear in a way I’d never seen myself before.

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I’d had a slight overlap on my front teeth ever since I was a kid. It had never bothered me before.

But suddenly, looking at these photos, it was all I could see. I didn’t see a memory from a once in a lifetime moment (after all, I survived, YAY) – all I saw was my wonky tooth.

Unlike other photos from the trip, these weren’t shared on social media, and instead the disc was banished to a cupboard. Sadly, the images were burned into my eyeballs for good.
From that moment on, whenever I looked in a mirror, all I saw was this flaw.

Desperate to fix my face, I looked into having my teeth straightened but fixing it would cost me around $10,000 and I just didn’t have that sort of cash.

So I tried to ignore it and for a while I managed.

But fast forward five years and I started my first digital job that involved camera work, including interviewing celebs and shooting viral foodie videos.

Being on camera just made my insecurity worse and I became extremely self-conscious.

So in 2018, I decided to take the plunge and get the exxy orthodontic work I’d wanted for years.

The price was still the same, but after five years of feeling that uncomfortable knot in my stomach, I decided the $10,000 bill was worth every cent and set up a payment plan with my dentist.

However, Invisalign was no easy ride – and errrm, let’s just say they are not as “invisible” as I’d first thought.

But two years on and I’m fully finished with my treatment.

Whenever people find out I’ve had my teeth straightened as an adult, I’m always asked loads of questions – so I thought I’d answer the most common questions I get about my teeth.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Unlike traditional braces, this dental treatment uses clear aligners to apply pressure to the teeth and move them to where they need to be. These can be taken on and off as needed.

You don’t keep the same aligner though, with one lasting anywhere between a week to a month. When your dentist gives you the green light, you move onto the next one, slowly moving the teeth a smidgen each time.

What I didn’t realise before going into it (and what the commercials never tell you) is that most people will need “attachments” in order to help push or pull the tooth in the way you want it to move. These are small pieces of dental bonding that are attached to your tooth. It sounds fine – in fact I brushed it off when my dentist flagged it during my consultations – but they can be noticeable.

The attachments create a bump on your tooth which once covered over in the plastic of the aligner become way more prominent, especially if you have multiple attachments or large ones on your front teeth like I did.

DOES IT HURT?

Abso-bloody-lutely. Some days more than others but honestly, you kind of get used to it. The aligners apply pressure to your teeth which to me felt like a dull ache. Some people also get blisters inside their cheeks and on their gum lines where the aligners sit and rub. When this happened I would apply Bonjela to the area which massively helped. On bad toothache days, I would take a painkiller too but that was rare.

HOW LONG BEFORE YOU START SEEING RESULTS?

It varies for everyone, but I started to see mine within six weeks, probably because I was totally obsessed with my teeth at that time and looked at them constantly. Most will see progress within the first two to three months.

IS IT DIFFICULT TO EAT?

Yes, it’s so tricky. You need to wear your aligners for a minimum of 16 hours a day to get best results – so every time you take them out to eat, you’re chipping away at that clock. Then there’s the extra hygiene you have to take into account. Every time you eat, you need to brush your teeth and floss before putting your aligners back in as if you get food trapped underneath them, it can cause decay. I found I was actually eating less because I wouldn’t snack – not because I wasn’t allowed, but because I couldn’t be bothered to brush my teeth for the fifth time that day. Some people online have dubbed it the “Invisalign diet”.

CAN YOU KISS PEOPLE WITH YOUR ALIGNERS IN?

Definitely, pash away my friend. It might feel a little strange at first but you get used to it.

WHAT ABOUT WEARING LIPPIE?

If you’re a lipstick fan I’m about to bring you some bad news – but I found it REALLY hard to find a lipstick that didn’t instantly end up on my aligners. In the end I gave up which was devastating, but I like to make up for it now.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE YOU BEGAN?

I really did my research as I’d been wanting to do this for five years before I finally took the plunge – but seriously, no one warns you about the gross parts. Sometimes you can end up being stuck on the same aligner for a few weeks if you’re teeth aren’t moving as expected (usually because you’re leaving them out for too long).

After a week, the plastic gets kind of foggy and develops a bit of a funky smell. I used to soak mine in a denture cleanser while I ate my dinner and give them a good scrub after with a toothbrush. But trust me, no amount of cleaning will make the aligner see-through again.

CAN YOU WHITEN YOUR TEETH WHILE USING?

Dr. Gamer Verdian, founder and director of The Dental Lounge in Sydney, says that while it is safe to do so, he would advise anyone on Invisalign to wait until after your treatment ends. This is because whitening with attachments on your teeth can cause dark circles at the end when its removed – and no one wants that. When I finished, I went to see Dr Verdian for a Zoom whitening treatment and it really was the cherry on top.

I waited a few months though as whitening treatment can be a bit zingy and I wanted all the sensitivity from my straightening treatment to have completely worn down. Now I top up my whitening at home using a mould and the Zoom product from my dentist.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND ALIGNER STRAIGHTENING?

One hundred per cent YES. I know it is a lot of money, but if you’ve been thinking about it for a while or you have an insecurity like I did, then it is definitely worth it. Most dentists have payment plans to help make it affordable and I even got money towards the orthodontics side of it from my health care provider.

It really is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself – and even though I have to sleep with a not-so-sexy retainer now for the rest of my life, I’m so happy with the results it doesn’t bother me at all.

This column is not advertorial content. Every review is independent, honest and ad free.

If you have a question about a beauty product or an item you’d like to see road tested in The Beauty Diary, jump into our official Facebook group where you can join like-minded beauty junkies. You can also catch me on Instagram or tweet me – don’t forget to hashtag #TheBeautyDiary.

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