That Perfect Smile

Did some other drawings today. Posted below,and on my DeviantArt.

How much are you willing to pay for the perfect smile?

And I don’t mean in just monetary terms. I mean in time. I mean in life.

I’m trying to decide that now. With my time off this month, I scheduled a few consultations with dentists for Invisalign. There were two appointments today, one with a dentist who’s highly ranked on the Invisalign website itself, but is known to charge an exorbitant amount of money for his services. He also graduated from the same place that my boyfriend is attending for med school, so that’s a plus in my book. Unfortunately for the world, reviews on doctors and dentists are still scarce and suspicious. It seems to be much more common for practices to request users to take down bad reviews…and what’s worse, users comply!!! Hold true to yourselves and your experiences in this world, people! Anyway, the first dentist told me this:

  • He can put Invisalign retainers on both the top and bottom teeth to straighten them out.
  • He will sand down some of my teeth using some kind of floss, to make the extra room he needs.
  • Duration: 10 months.
  • It will cost $6500 – this includes all retainers for treatment, x-rays, molds, etc. Final maintenance retainer is separate (most likely costs $200).

Holy crap, that’s a lot of money.

The second appointment was in Chinatown, from an orthodontist that was recommended by my uncle’s dentist. When I called at first, they said there was a $50 consultation fee….the receptionist heard the hesitation in my voice, and after finding out that I was on Medicaid, offered to waive the fee for me. WHICH IS SO AWESOME! Yeah, if you haven’t been paid in like 8 or 9 weeks from work, $50 really does matter! So I went in after lunch and was told about:

Option A: Straighten top teeth, pull and push bottom teeth.

  • Clear retainers on top (not Invisalign brand but same thing) to straighten out my top front teeth. Cost: $1200 ($300 per retainer), takes about 1-2 months per retainer to shift teeth.
  • Actual braces on the bottom teeth, to pull some forwards and some backwards. This will even out the slant in my bite. Metal braces, $2800. Ceramic braces (tooth colored), $3100.
  • Fee for x-rays and molds: $500.
  • Time estimate for both top and bottom: 8-10 months.
  • TOTAL: $4500 lowest cost.

Option B: Pull in both top and bottom teeth.

  • Full braces would be needed to accurately match together my bite, and to eliminate buck teeth (teeth that stick out and affect lip profile).
  • Bottom braces: $2800.
  • Top braces cost more than bottom, forgot what she said. Let’s pretend, $3000.
  • Requires (4) teeth extraction to create room for pulling the teeth inward. Estimating this myself at $200 per tooth.
  • Time estimate: 2 years.
  • TOTAL: $7100+

Conclusion? Orthodontics are way, way too expensive. :(

Honestly, I’m okay with how my teeth are. But my mom and dad always bug me about my teeth. They grab my head and pull my jaw open like I’m a farm animal and look at them, then complain about how they are not completely straight. It’s actually not that bad, which is why I qualify for Invisalign in the first place. It’s kinda funny that they judge my teeth so harshly though, since they lack probably half of their true teeth. In the Philippines, if something is wrong with your teeth then their solution is PULL IT OUT. No matter what. And anyway, they love sugar over there, so rotting teeth is not a rarity. My mom’s teeth is almost all fake. So naturally, they look rather nice. My boyfriend used to complain about my teeth too by asking when I was gonna get them fixed, but he says he’s gotten used to it by now and no longer cares. His mom has mentioned to him that she thinks I need braces, however. Has to be perfect, I guess.

But the cost is too high, it really is.

Some of my other friends say I don’t need more braces, that what I have is fine. I’m inclined to agree with them. They think my smile is great, and despite my usual lack of self-praise and my distorted self-image….I really like my smile. I think it’s one of my limited good points. So perhaps the solution is I should simply smile all the time, then no one can say anything about my overbite! But maybe straighter teeth would get my mom off my back for at least this one thing. She still has my haircuts to complain about (it makes me look like a housemaid), my clothes (leggings under shorts are not appropriate), my career (join pharmacy school). It would be nice to hear one less complaint in the onslaught I receive whenever I see her.

In response to Option B, I do not think it is worth it at all. The reason they need to remove 4 teeth is because what you do to one side (or quadrant, if that helps you visualize the mouth), you must do to all the others to keep it even. You can’t just take from the top, you have to take from the bottom to keep the bite matching. So the dentist wanted to take all of my 2nd premolars out to create enough space to pull my front teeth inward. Except. That’s a LOT of space!!! I’d estimate my 2nd premolar is like 0.5 inches laterally. And this is the smallest tooth available for extraction. That is a huge gap, my teeth have to move very far to close it. And to think I’d have to do that for the bottom teeth too….plus these are 4 perfectly healthy teeth. The dentist even complimented me on my brushing, which NEVER HAPPENS!!!! To anyone who has ever BEEN to a dentist ever, it NEVER HAPPENS!!!! But she did because she said if I sucked, there would be build-up around the bonded metal bar on my lower front teeth, and there would be marks where the braces used to be on my teeth. Kind of like when you remove a painting from the wall that’s hung there for decades…and it has an outline. I haven’t had floride treatments so….I’d say she’s correct :D I brush well! Yeah!

Anyway, those teeth are healthy and awesome and I use them like EVERY day, three times a day. No way do I wanna pull them out for simple aesthetics. Sure, I’d be able to fully close my lips without effort if I do so. But I don’t think it’s worth the cost to my body.

But this dentist was VERY informative, way more so than the other guy. She explained everything and gave reasons for everything. Like the sanding thing that the other guy was talking about? I asked her if we could sand my teeth instead of extracting, and she said she severely does not recommend it. If you sand the tooth, it destroys the enamel – And enamel never grows back. This means you are forever more prone to heat, to cold, to cavities, and bacterial infections that could lead to a root canal. My uncle had one of those, I do not want one at all.

Thankfully, when I told my parents (mom and uncle) about the extraction thing, they suddenly decided that fixing my buck teeth is totally not necessary. Of course, I could always straighten my teeth now and do the extraction thing later on, if I (or others, more like, who have power over me) am still not satisfied I can go and extract the teeth to pull my front teeth in. Once I extract, I cannot go back.

It has just occurred to me that nearly all the friends who told me my teeth were absolutely fine were non-Americans or were not raised in America during their formative years. I wonder if it’s a culture clash thing. I wonder why I don’t really give a damn about fixing my teeth to perfection? Maybe cuz I have friends like these? No doubt, this is all about aesthetics.


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