Straight Ahead with Invisalign®

Henna Patel has something special planned for the end of March. She plans to debut a new smile. To get there, however, Henna first had to overcome her longstanding aversion to dentists.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Henna shows off her engagement ring as well as her new smile.

“When I was younger, I was really afraid to go to the dentist,” she admits. “I never had a bad experience. I think it was just the stigma of going and how everyone made it out to be scary. When I was about thirteen, I had to go. I was in pain and needed to have a root canal.
“While I was there, my mom asked about braces because my teeth weren’t straight. My two front teeth were hiding the teeth next to them, so all you could see was half a tooth on each side. My two front teeth just stuck out.
“When the dentist said he’d have to pull two teeth from the upper jaw and two teeth from the bottom to make space for the rest of my teeth, that scared me even more. I didn’t want to lose four teeth and be in pain just to have my teeth straightened, so I never went.”
Henna’s dental phobia persisted into adulthood, when she finally plucked up the courage to correct her smile and went to see Amir Boules, DMD, and Melanie Leung, DMD, of Oakfield Dental in Brandon. Not only did Dr. Boules’ and Dr. Leung’s compassionate care help Henna feel better about dentists, they also made her feel more comfortable about having her teeth straightened.
“They looked at my teeth and said there was no reason to remove any teeth,” relates Henna. “They said there was plenty of room, and we could do Invisalign rather than traditional braces. I agreed to that.”
Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that involves wearing a series of custom-fitted plastic aligners, or trays, that over time help shift the teeth into proper position. Unlike traditional braces, which are metal, obvious and fixed, Invisalign aligners are clear, nearly invisible and can be removed for eating and cleaning.
“When I got my trays, the dentists gave me instructions on how to remove and clean them,” describes Henna. “They explained how often to wear them, which was all day every day, except when eating or drinking a hot beverage. They reassured me about the discomfort that might occur when I first put them in.”
“Henna was concerned about crowding, and she was getting married,” confirms Dr. Leung. “We recommended the aligners to straighten her teeth for a nicer smile for her wedding pictures.”

The Adult Option

Like Henna, many people with misaligned teeth did not get braces as teens but now desire better smiles. Many, however, are hesitant to get braces at this time in their lives.

Photo courtesy of Henna Patel.

Henna Before

“Having metal on your teeth as a twenty-, thirty- or forty-year-old is one of the biggest barriers to adults getting orthodontic treatment,” asserts Dr. Leung. “Because the aligners are clear, Invisalign allows adults to straighten their teeth with almost no one noticing. Probably only the patients and their dentists will know anything’s there.”
Treatment times with Invisalign vary depending on the amount of straightening needed. Minor crowding cases can be corrected in as little as ten weeks. More extensive cases, however, can take up to two years to complete. Traditional braces, on average, require two years of treatment.
“Invisalign uses a series of trays, and it used to be that patients progressed from one tray to the next every two weeks,” explains Dr. Leung. “In many cases, because of the newer technology, patients can move to the next tray every week. This can cut treatment times in half.
“We tell our patients to switch every week or two. If their teeth are very sensitive from the movement, they should wait longer. If they feel that the trays they currently have in their mouths are getting loose, it’s time to move to the next tray.”
Invisalign has a clear advantage over metal braces when it comes to oral hygiene. With braces, it’s difficult to get access to the teeth to brush properly, and special threaders are needed to get under the braces to floss. Invisalign aligners, however, can be removed, and brushing and flossing can be done normally and thoroughly.

“I’m on my seventh Invisalign tray out of ten. I’m really happy with the improvements thus far.”- Henna

Dr. Leung also stresses that while most people look to orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign to straighten their teeth and improve the appearance of their smiles, dentists look at it differently.
“People think of braces and Invisalign mostly as ways to make their teeth straight to look nicer,” she observes. “As dentists, however, that’s more of a secondary issue.We care more about the health of our patients’ teeth. For us, the critical thing is proper occlusion, the way the teeth come together when the mouth closes.
“When there’s a problem with occlusion because the teeth aren’t straight, they break down quicker. When the teeth are biting and hitting at the wrong angles, there will be chipping. There will be gum recession with tooth sensitivity. There will be loosening.
“Dentists see orthodontic treatments as good for the overall health of the teeth. That’s what’s most important to us.”

On Target

Henna’s case isn’t a complicated one, but she still hasn’t reached the end of her journey. She had a brief setback during her Invisalign treatment, but now she’s back on target to be completed by the end of March, just in time for her wedding.
“I had a slowdown in the middle when I wouldn’t wear my trays throughout the day; I only wore them at nighttime,” she shares. “That slowed down my progress. The dentists at Oakfield Dental assured me that if I started back and kept wearing the trays during the day, my teeth would be ready for the wedding.
“My teeth already look much better than they used to. Now, you can actually see there are teeth next to my two front teeth, and you can see a full tooth there now, where before you just saw half a tooth. I was never really embarrassed by the way I looked when I smiled, but I feel more comfortable now because I feel better about my teeth.”
Finding Oakfield Dental was like a two for one deal for Henna. In one
dental practice, she was able to overcome her anxiety and correct a dental issue she’s had since childhood.
“Dr. Boules and Dr. Leung at Oakfield Dental helped me get over my fear of dentists,” states Henna. “They knew I was scared. I was scared to even have my cleanings done, but they made me feel really comfortable. That’s why I went along with the Invisalign.
“I’m on my seventh Invisalign tray out of ten, and everything is going
perfectly well. I’m really happy with the improvements in my teeth thus far. My parents and my fiancé can tell a difference in how they look. They’re happy that I feel more comfortable with my teeth.
“I definitely recommend Oakfield Dental,” enthuses Henna. “Everyone there – Dr. Leung and Dr. Boules, the hygienist, all the staff members – they’re just great. They’re genuine, friendly people who want to make every visit a pleasurable experience for me.”

Print This Article
    • Oakfield Dental

      At Oakfield Dental, they uphold their commitment to the highest quality of care by combining state of the art technology with passionate clinicians and staff. They are constantly striving to improve by attending continuing education courses an... Read More

    • Amir Boules, DMD

      Amir Boules, DMD, earned an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences and biophysics from the University of South Florida in Tampa. He went on to earn his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental... Read More

    • Melanie Leung, DMD

      Melanie Leung, DMD, completed her undergraduate education at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. She remained in Pennsylvania to earn her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Med... Read More