When I was a little girl, my mom would help me take out my loose baby teeth by tying dental floss around my tooth and the door knob and then slamming the door. It may sound intense or painful but it was actually quick and painless, like taking off a bandaid! It was a thrill, a testament to growing older, and initiation into becoming a "big girl" with "adult teeth."
My teeth grew in straight for the most part, but I had some crowding on my bottom teeth that made flossing extremely painful, and my two big teeth on the top were crooked (see photo above). It was noticeable, and I was always insecure about it, as peers were flaunting their braces and eventually their straight teeth. I never got braces as an aftermath of my parents' divorce, and my dad refused to consider Invisalign, and later Smile Direct Club, because he thought they were more expensive (SDC was and still is significantly cheaper than braces, although Invisalign is not).
When I was 19 years old I decided to get my teeth fixed myself. I knew I didn't want braces, and Smile Direct Club was an easy choice because of how convenient they are. I went to a local Smile Shop and had impressions and photos taken with a very fancy camera. They also offer at home impression kits that cost $30, and once you send back the kit and your impressions, they refund you the $30. They told me a 3D printer would create all of my aligners for the next 6 months, and afterwards I would pay $100 and receive my retainers that are meant to be worn 24/7 for two weeks, and then only 10 hours a day after the two weeks.
Mu aligners arrived within a week of my appointment in a big purple box. I don't have the box anymore or a picture, but it was aesthetically pleasing and came with free gifts such as teeth whitening gel and LED lights in the shape of a standard mouth, quote cards, and chapstick. The aligners were neatly wrapped and clean. Every week I recycled my previous aligners and wore the new ones all of the time, minus when I was eating. I brushed my teeth in between each meal and began to experience pain free flossing. It was really interesting to see my teeth move, and about 3 months in I noticed a significant difference.
After the 6 months was complete, I order my retainers and was on my way. After the two weeks, I began leaving the retainers at home and only wearing them at night. To my surprise, my teeth would begin to shift back after only a few hours without my retainers in. I had heard of this happening before, but did not believe that it would happen to me. But I was humbled, because it did and I needed to fix the problem.
My dentist had no suggestions, as invisible aligners are relatively new. Smile Direct Club recommended that I wear my retainers 24/7, as I did with my aligners, for 6 weeks. I did so, but nothing changed. I struggled with this throughout 2020, and when it was safe to go, I saw my dentist again and discussed options with him. Since the aligners and retainers worked but did not provide me lasting results, my dentist suggested seeing an orthodontist. I have not been yet, but according to my dentist, my options are braces for 2-3 months, or a permanent retainer in my mouth.
I'm a little disappointed. I paid $1700 for the treatment and $100 for retainers, and wore them correctly for almost a year (longer than the 6 months that they guarantee), just for my teeth to move back to where they were before, crooked, within a matter of hours.
I can't honestly say that I recommend their product and services. They seem to have helpful and knowledgeable customer service representatives and orthodontists. They clearly care about creating a seamless process for their customers as well. Unfortunately, their product just simply doesn't work the way that they advertise that it will. There is no guarantee, unlike what they promise on their website, coined "Lifetime Smile Guarantee."
With that being said, everyone's mouth is different and it is unfair and illogical to give everyone the same 6 month treatment when we all have different situations happening in our mouths. So just because it didn't work for me longterm doesn't mean it won't for you. Simply put, it is something to go into with caution if this is the route you choose to take to straighten your teeth.
Unlike my experience, there are some patients who had worse outcomes such as migraines and dental issues that did not exist beforehand. There are also many patients complaining of the same issues that I have and am experiencing (straightened teeth don't stay straight). These issues have turned into lawsuits, which can be explored with the following resources:
To sum it up, choose wisely or stick to your current smile.
WINTER 2021 UPDATE
As previously mentioned, I saw the orthodontist. He told me that slight shifting in the teeth, as I was/am experiencing is normal and to continue wearing my retainers at night as directed. He said that the treatment was successful and that I have nothing to worry about. To further ease my worries, he showed me his own slightly crooked teeth (which were significantly more crooked than mine) and said that he wears his retainers at night and his teeth move throughout the day as mine do, and it is completely normal.
I'm a little irritated that SDC did not clearly explain this to me and online dental work eliminates the option for them to see with their own eyes what I was talking about. However, it is never a bad idea to get a second opinion.
As of this writing (Spring 2022) I am still wearing my retainers at night as directed and feel slight shifting throughout the day as before but it is not painful or hindering to my daily life. So I am now calling the treatment a success.
Maren Hoflund MT HHP, is a massage therapist and holistic health practitioner based in Southern California. Oath of a Pearl is website where articles and creative pieces on different topics within the theme of healing, health, and wellness are formed with the intention to highlight life lessons learned, share ideas, and explore the world we all interact with.