My Invisalign Experience (So Far)

Every other Friday, I get to pop in new Invisalign trays and it feels pretty much like Christmas morning. I’ve talked about my jaw pain on the blog before but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m halfway done with an Invisalign treatment! I’ve had TMJ issues for about 6 years now and when we lived in Charlotte I saw an amazing physical therapist who almost completely eliminated my pain with massage, stretching, and some dry needling. After a few years it started to come back and I mentioned it to my new dentist here in California. She told me that she’s had a few patients who tried out Invisalign, and 3 out of 5 of them had less jaw pain by the end of their regimen. My insurance covered a lot of the treatment, so I decided to give it a go.

So far I feel like my pain has subsided significantly—I still probably need to get back to PT or get the monthly neck and shoulder massages my therapist had recommended but I never ended up getting, but overall I’m really excited about how much improvement I’ve seen just from four months of Invisalign. I briefly had braces in high school so my teeth were pretty straight, but I did have a couple little cosmetic things that have also been a really nice secondary benefit to the TMJ relief.


I got a few requests from people on Instagram asking me to share about my experience in a blog post, so I asked for specific questions that I could answer. Most of the questions I got were something to the effect of the ones I’ve included below, so I’ll go ahead and get to them now!

How long did it take for you to speak normally? Or was it never an issue?

I definitely felt like I had a lisp for a few weeks. I was still teaching Pure Barre at the time and the day after I got my first aligners I had to get on the mic for two back-to-back Saturday morning classes. Everyone said they couldn’t tell, but I kind of think they were just being nice—I really felt like I sounded unlike myself. But I got used to it and now you can’t even tell!

On a similar note, it was so weird having something in my mouth constantly, and the inside of my lips even got a little irritated. After a few days that got better, but I noticed that every time I put in new trays the irritation would come back. Now that I’m well into the treatment that’s not an issue anymore, but it was something that surprised me so I thought I would include it!

How long have you had Invisalign?

Four months! I started in January.

How long does it take? Is it just retainers or brackets on your teeth too?

I think this depends on your goals and how your teeth are currently—I only have to wear mine for 10 months but I’ve heard of some people having them for a lot longer. Because I’m doing it for TMJ and not necessarily to straighten my teeth, my dentist is actually considering letting me finish up about six weeks early, because the final 3 trays/aligners are apparently a bit more aggressive about “pulling” your teeth in, and she doesn’t want my bite to get too tight and possibly irritate my jaw.

Some people just have the trays/aligners/”retainers,” but I think most people get little brackets on their teeth. I have 8 or 9! They’re called “attachments” and they’re just enamel-colored bumps made of dental bonding that line up with the Invisalign trays. If you look closely in the above photo to the left you can see them on me. They really bummed me out at first because I thought they were really noticeable and I could feel them when the trays weren’t in, but I got used to them really fast. (I will be happy to see them go, though.)

What is the cost, pain, maintenance?

I think the price varies (a quick Google search says the average rate is between $3,500 and $8,000). My dentist charged $5,000 and our insurance covered more than half of it, which is the only reason I decided to do it.

The pain is not too bad. Your teeth definitely feel tight and sore the first few days of a new tray, but by the end of the two weeks you barely even feel a thing.

You’re supposed to wear them for 22 hours a day, which I think is aggressive, but basically you take them out to eat and then you’re supposed to pop them right back in. If I drink water or tea or even coffee sometimes I’ll keep them in even though that’s probably gross, but I feel like I have an invisible clock going every time I take them out so I try to keep them in as much as possible. You brush them and you can also get these cleaning crystals for them but I’ve only used them once or twice. Two weeks per tray is not very long, although they do get a little raunchy by the end of that time.

Once you’re done with your plan, they make a retainer for you based on the final trays and then you just wear those at night. If you have the aligners, they remove those so your teeth are smooth again. I’m excited to be done but I’m also really glad I did it!


Have you done Invisalign? What was your experience like? If you have more questions let me know, I’d be happy to try to answer them!

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Easy Baked Eggs (Paleo, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)
Easy Baked Eggs | Freckled Italian

One of my favorite easy meals is a quick, chunky tomato sauce that comes together in a cast iron pan before I drop a few eggs in to cook slowly. What really makes the whole thing sing is a couple slices of crusty toasted sourdough, but it is still just as delicious on its own. This makes a great breakfast but an even better lunch/dinner when you don’t feel like cooking or doing the dishes—trust me, I’ve been there more times than I care to admit.

Easy Baked Eggs | Freckled Italian

Ingredients:

  • About 20 ounces of cherry tomatoes

  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed

  • About 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicier)

  • 3-4 eggs

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Fresh basil or parsley

Instructions:

  1. In a cast-iron skillet, warm up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and stir gently until browned and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oil after a few minutes so it doesn’t burn.

  2. Add the crushed red pepper to the oil and stir. Add the tomatoes and allow to cook gently for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once they start to soften you can begin smashing the tomatoes gently with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Once the tomato mixture is nice and liquid-y, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for another 8-10 minutes.

  3. Remove the lid and check your tomatoes—are they simmering? Use a spoon to create a few wells and gently crack eggs in. Season eggs, cover again and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until whites are set but yolk is still runny. If you like them cooked more, then allow more time.

  4. Remove from heat and carefully spoon eggs out with tomato sauce. Serve as is with a sprinkle of herbs or on toast (or over a bowl of rice! It’s good on everything).

Easy Baked Eggs | Freckled Italian
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On Faith and Choice
Thoughts on Faith and Choice | Freckled Italian

Something that might surprise you if you didn’t know me as I graduated from high school in 2006 is that when I went to college, I once spent about two weeks volunteering at a Pregnancy Support Center in Farmville, Virginia. (Click here for an excellent exposé by John Oliver on crisis pregnancy centers.)

I now look back on the few hours I spent there with a bit of shame. Why did I do it? Mostly I think it was guilt left over from my Catholic school indoctrination, the same one that told me I was like a piece of paper who became ripped if you had sex before marriage and couldn’t be put back together again. “Who’s going to want that?” they asked as they held up two shredded pieces of paper.

My freshman year of college was my first time not being in a religious environment full of people who more or less believed the same things I did. Girls acted a certain way and boys acted a certain way and those who were different were held at an arm's’ length, often by me. One of my first friends at Longwood was also Catholic and showed me where the church was and so for a few months I went to Mass on Sundays. It was what I had always done and I didn’t know anything different. Almost immediately the director of Catholic Campus Ministry reached out to me and invited me to some of their weekly meetings and activities.

I was a bit of a retreat and Youth Group junkie so I jumped right in, spending a couple hours every week at a dinner event and eventually a team meeting—years of being class president in high school meant I didn’t get involved in anything if I couldn’t at least be the secretary. So I took notes, and I wrote up and emailed the newsletter, and I uncomfortably pushed through for months after being in the group stopped feeling like a natural fit.

Over pizza theology (a really awkward bible study where students were bribed with the promise of free pizza), the director asked if any one might volunteer for the local pregnancy support center. My faith in the church was waning and I had one foot out the door of Catholic Campus Ministry and the entire thing had been making me sad--who was I without the church? It was a question I wasn’t ready to answer yet. But I had always identified as pro-life and I truly thought well maybe this is how God wants to tell me something.

And that’s how I ended up in a musty armchair, drinking bad coffee out of a borrowed mug and watching anti-abortion videos disguised as training materials.

I had just been dumped by an incredibly conservative, Christian boy I truly believed was meant for me. He was Methodist and I went to church with him a few times and actually wondered if that was where I should be spending my time on Sunday mornings. They seemed softer and more welcoming--an encouraging people that didn’t immediately make gay or divorced people feel like they should get the hell out.

Before my actual pregnancy support “training” took place, I met the woman (let’s call her Dianne) who ran the center at a Chili Cook Off put on by the local Catholic church. It was autumn in Virginia and we were bundled up—I was wearing this black North Face jacket that I still remember today. I was most definitely wearing a low-waist pair of very early 2000s-esque jeans and my hair was probably pulled back into a low side ponytail with a ribbon (my signature look at the time), but for some reason the black jacket I can picture perfectly still today, over 10 years later.

When I let it slip that I was recovering from a breakup, this woman who knew nothing about me and my relationship said “well maybe you can get back together.” A sad college girl with her entire life ahead of her stood there before Dianne with sadness in her eyes and a styrofoam bowl of too-spicy chili in her hand and her first instinct was not to tell me to spend more time with friends or find a therapist or read a book or get a manicure--it was to offer some false hope that getting back together might be the best option, no matter how wrong that relationship might have been for me or how little that boy wanted me anymore.

Maybe this isn’t the norm, but most of the women who came into the “clinic” over the few weeks I spent there seemed to have zero intention of acquiring an abortion—in rural and poverty-stricken Farmville, Virginia I honestly don’t think they even thought it was an option. They were there for the free pregnancy test, the free coffee, and the possibility of some free diapers. Most had kids already. Most were married or at least partnered. Most of them were not helped by this place. But Dianne and her staff felt justified handing them a pregnancy test, reading them the results, and aggressively reaching for the very inaccurate models to demonstrate “how big your baby is right now already.”

I do believe she was trying to help. But after just a few days, I realized that this wasn’t the way to do it. And it struck me for the first time that whatever your personal beliefs about abortion are, the fact is you should mind your own business if you aren’t actually going to help someone. A free pregnancy test, while convenient, is not really a “big picture” solution.

Things that actually would have helped: free birth control, comprehensive sex education, higher wages, affordable child care, paid family leave, a Planned Parenthood that was closer than two hours away.

Instead they sent these women home with a pack of free diapers and a pamphlet with Psalm 139:13 printed on it.

The training was incredibly basic—no concession was made for the victim of rape, the woman with a health condition, the woman carrying a fetus that sadly would not live to or past its due date, the woman whose birth control failed, the woman in an abusive relationship; and you can forget about the woman who just didn’t want to be pregnant or have a baby. The script was always the same—we would be presented with a woman who didn’t yet understand how blessed she was to be pregnant.

One afternoon a woman wearing a hijab came in, took a pregnancy test to confirm what she already knew was true, and very directly asked if there were any free toys she might be able to take home for her older daughter. She didn’t want an abortion, she didn’t want to know how big the baby inside her was (spoiler alert: it was probably the size of a poppy seed, not the fully-formed baby doll that Dianne always attempted to scare them with); she was just poor and overwhelmed and her husband worked all the time but they still couldn’t make ends meet.

“Tell me about your faith life,” Dianne prodded. Steering the conversation to attempt a possible conversion was always the next goal after convincing the pregnant woman to keep her baby.

After explaining to us that she was a practicing Muslim who had no interest in becoming a Christian, she took her diapers and a small bag of toys and left. It was a relief for me to see someone come and go and manage to take their dignity with them--to not be preached at or talked down to through a list of uncomfortable bullet points on a clipboard.

She had received what she came for--we had helped her! But Dianne seemed disappointed, like she didn’t get the dramatic save of either a fetus or a soul that she had hoped for.

I left that day and I never went back. But I learned a couple things I really needed to know: God is bigger than just one specific faith. And we don’t live in a world so simple that outlawing abortion doesn’t have extremely complex and dangerous implications.

This is why I’m pro-choice.

‘The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone...

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.
— Dave Barnhart
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