Scientists and spiritual teachers agree that the simple act of smiling can transform you and the world around you.
From regulating your heartbeat and lifting your mood to reducing your stress levels, improving your self-confidence and your relationships, smiling regularly can have a huge number of benefits on your physical and mental health.
Smiling is also contagious so all of those feel-good chemicals that are released into your bloodstream when you smile can have a really big impact on every single person you come into contact with.
Being able to smile, like really smile, is a really beautiful thing.
So, imagine what it’s like feeling panicky at the thought of having to smile for a photo?
Imagine what it’s like dreading social situations, as there’s a good chance that it will involve lots of smiling and laughing?
Imagine what it’s like wanting to smile or laugh and express your feelings but you stop yourself from doing it.
This is the reality for so many people and it was my reality too.
Up until two years ago, I hated getting photos taken. I’d yell ‘delete’ at Carlo every time the camera got too close to my face.
I was uncomfortable meeting people for the first time and I felt really self-conscious when in social settings where talking, smiling and laughing was the norm.
And all of this was because I hated my teeth. They were overcrowded, all different lengths and really crooked.
I always smiled with my mouth closed, which made me look completely miserable and I covered my mouth when I laughed, which made me look and feel a little strange.
I was feeling extremely happy on the inside in this photo which was taken at Iguazu Falls but my face just doesn’t convey that.
I think I look uncomfortable and the smile looks forced and that’s all because I was conscious that I had to make sure my teeth weren’t on show…
I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t I just get braces when I was a teenager like everyone else does if I hated my teeth that much?”
And the answer is because I was absolutely petrified of the one person that could actually make all of the above go away and give me my smile back.
Living With Dental Phobia
Dental phobia is a real condition and, like so many other people, I had it bad.
A study estimates that 60% of people have anxiety about going to the dentist, and about 5-10% of people have “dental phobia,” which is an actual condition in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Suffering from dental phobia is no joke and no matter how petty being petrified of lying back in a dentist’s chair may seem, it’s something that I had no control over.
Those that suffer with it will know what I’m talking about.
From hiding appointment cards that came in the post from my mam and dad to pretending I didn’t have a toothache when I was in complete agony, I did everything I could to avoid going to the dentist for 18 years.
Yes, 18 years.
But that all changed 2 years ago when I finally came to a point where I was tired of hating my teeth whilst secretly wishing I had the courage to take that first step and book an appointment.
As outlined in this post about travelling with Invisalign that I wrote back in August of 2016, me turning 30 and my sister getting engaged are the two big things that finally made me take action.
I got a few comments and emails from people over the past 2 years asking for updates on how the treatment went and if I’d recommend Invisalign so I figured a follow up post was in order.
And, after finally completing my treatment just 4 months ago, there’s no better time than now to recap on my treatment and the results…
How long did my Invisalign treatment last?
My treatment lasted for a couple of weeks short of 2 years. That’s longer than average but both my orthodontist (who was Jenny from West Coast Orthodontics) and I wanted my teeth to look as good as possible so I took all of the refinement sessions I was offered.
Am I happy with the results? Before and after Invisalign!
I’m absolutely thrilled with the results. Ok, I don’t have a smile that’s perfectly symmetrical and Simon Cowell worthy but I would have got veneers if I’d wanted that.
I still have small imperfections that not even Invisalign could fix (I’m looking into dental bonding to improve the shape of some of my bottom teeth) but the difference in the before and after is crazy and I couldn’t be happier.
Would I recommend Invisalign?
100%. But, be warned, you MUST wear the aligners for the recommended time-frame of 22 hours every day to get maximum benefits.
Being honest, I found the first few weeks difficult in terms of getting used to the sharpness of the aligners and learning how to speak properly with a mouthful of plastic but that adjustment period didn’t last long.
Like so many other people I worried about socialising with Invisalign, drinking alcohol with Invisalign, flying with Invisalign, backpacking with Invisalign and just day-to-day life in general when it came to eating and oral hygiene but I can honestly say that it was all a breeze.
Once I was committed to wearing my aligners for the required 22 hours per day, I just juggled everything around that and made it work.
When taking a long flight, I made sure to have my container and cleaning bits with me. I made sure to sit in the aisle seat as that gave me easy access to the bathroom after meal times.
When going out for dinner and a night out with friends, I took the aligners out when eating and put them back in after brushing and flossing. I then stuck to clear drinks and drank with a straw when possible.
When I left the aligners out for longer than I should have on a particular day I wore them for an extra day before changing to the next.
It’s all of these little adjustments that made my treatment so easy and stress-free.
After 2 years of living with Invisalign, I would highly recommend this option to anyone who’s looking to improve the appearance of his or her smile.
The aligners are virtually invisible which is a great option for those that don’t want to wear traditional metal braces because of how noticeable they are.
Invisalign is also really flexible as far as brace options go.
I could take them out for special events and could eat whatever I wanted with the aligners removed. With a bit of commitment, maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping the aligners clean is also super easy.
And, most importantly, the results that can be achieved are remarkable and watching my teeth move day by day was the best feeling.
We live in a world where images of “ideal” beauty and people with big bright Hollywood smiles bombard us daily so it’s easy to feel self-conscious with our imperfections.
But feeling self-conscious about your teeth doesn’t just have physical implications.
Things become a lot more difficult and problematic when those imperfections also keep a person from expressing their feelings and enjoying life to the full.
That was life for me pre-invisalign but I’m so happy to say that all of that has changed.
If you hate your smile as much as I did but you can’t bring yourself to make an appointment out of total fear of having to let your dentist look at your teeth, I hope that my experience might give you the confidence to change your mindset and take that first step to getting the smile you’ve always wanted.
Having the confidence to smile whenever you want without having to think about covering your mouth or moving your face to a specific angle is possible. And being able to get a photo taken and face the camera head on with a big smile without feeling uncomfortable is also possible.
Whether you visit a dentist in your own country, in the UK (I’ve heard great things about vallancedentalcentre.com, who are based in Manchester) or further afield – the main thing is that you do take that first step and get an appointment!
And, trust me, after coming out the other side, I promise it will be totally worth it.
Have a question or comment about Invisalign? Just pop it below and I’ll be sure to respond.