The Buck Toothed Girl's Guide to a Colgate Smile
You know what, this blog has been one of the hardest to write.
In fact, I’ve put it off for WEEKS. I’ve sat down to write it at least 5 times and instead alphabetised my bookshelf and Marie Kondo-ed my activewear draw.
Because I’m talking about one of my life-long insecurities and apparently, that’s more terrifying to me than say, opening up about my anxiety or sharing my experiences with heartbreak and rejection.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated my teeth. And for good reason. They were a mess, a total shit show.
Firstly, I sucked my thumb for waaaayyyyyyy too long. Like, well into my teenage years. I’m not going to tell you how old exactly because it is mortifying, nor am I going to touch on the psychological reasoning behind it (hellllooooooo abandonment issues!) but the bad habit had resulted in a pretty severe overbite and buck teeth.
On top of that, my little brother had long ago accidentally pushed my head into a door handle during a wrestling match so one of my front teeth had a triangle-shaped chip (that had been badly repaired and was threatening to fall out at any minute).
I also had one of my top teeth go through my lip as as result of a rowdy house party at 23 which left me with a dead tooth (not to mention a fat lip!) This bad boy was particularly annoying because it would slowly turn grey if I didn’t get it bleached from the inside-out every couple of months. Hot right?
Finally, I had a crowded mouth on the bottom. All up, my mouth was a total clusterfuck and looking back, I’m honesty surprised I had ever convinced anybody to kiss it.
I have vague recollections of my parents trying to get me braces when I was younger but even as a child, I hated the idea.
Conversely, I have very vivid memories of modelling agents and casting directors telling me I needed to get my teeth fixed if I wanted to book jobs. I’ve got horrible, repressed flashbacks of being told to “smile” by photographers and then immediately “okay, maybe don’t smile”.
More worryingly however, as I got older, my teeth were really affecting my self-confidence. I was so aware of them and convinced everyone was just as fixated. I had perfected the art of smiling without showing them but it made me sad. I hated looking in the mirror.
By 2011 I had started my first “big girl” job in advertising and was suddenly having to give important presentations in front of my clients and co-workers and my teeth hang-up was getting out of hand.
I decided to do something about it and began by researching the best dentists in Sydney. I’d never liked going to the dentist- who does? What on earth is there to like? Big needles and blood and pain and ginormous dental bills… thank you, next.
But my first consultation with Dr Angelo Lazaris was nothing like that.
He was hilarious, for one. (Who knew dentists could be funny?!) But also no bullshit. After a thorough examination and a billion x-rays, he gave it to me straight: I was fucked. There was a LOT of work to be done. Even some work to be UN-done. Work of previous, less experienced dentists that Dr Lazaris would have to go in and fix.
I was devastated. And overwhelmed.
However, Dr Lazaris assured me he had a game plan. That he was committed to helping me get that Colgate smile I’d been dreaming about for years. I felt hopeful but knew there was a looooong journey in front of me.
STEP 1: Repair & Replace
The first step was to fix all the damage. All the cavities were plugged up and polished. All the dodgy work replaced. The grey tooth was freshly bleached. And I had my first proper clean-out by the dental hygienist. I even had all my wisdom teeth pulled out, in the chair. That might all sound pretty simple but this took quite a few appointments and a lot of hard work by the team at Dr Lazaris’ practice, not to mention a bunch of happy gas and stickers for being a “Good Girl”.
STEP 2: Invisalign
This was probably the biggest step in my journey to perfect fangs. As previously mentioned, I was dead against braces. I’d seen so many of my friends suffer through them during high school (including my little brother) and they always seemed so painful and annoying and complicated. Not to mention OBVIOUS and by this point, I was in my 20’s and super concerned about my ability to get laid. Old-school braces with all the metal and elastic bands and tightening just weren’t an option for me. Not one I was willing to contemplate anyway.
I’d heard about Invisalign obviously, but it was still pretty new technology and no one I knew had experienced it so I had about 101 questions and a lot of concerns.
However Dr Lazaris was able to put all of them to bed by showing me how my teeth would slowly straighten up and change over time, via the magic of computer animation.
For those who have no idea what Invisalign is- imagine a transparent mouth guard that you wear 22 hours a day, except unlike the ones you see in sporting games it’s super thin and fits snugly onto your teeth. Hand on heart, almost invisible.
Each week, you upgrade your Invisalign retainer to a slightly different shaped one that slowly but surely straightens your teeth. No wires. No stupid coloured bits of plastic. No getting food stuck in your metal train tracks. It seems too good to be true right?
Well, here were some of my questions and their answers…
Is it expensive? Firstly, I can’t give you an exact quote or even a ballpark because everyone’s case will be totally different. Some might only need Invisalign for 6 months, others for years. What I will say is that I always looked at it as an investment and now that I’m done with it, absolutely worth it. No regrets. Zero.
Does it hurt? Long story short: no. When you first get your retainer it feels tight and uncomfortable and foreign in your mouth but you get used to it pretty quickly. Full disclosure: I also had a little lisp at first whilst I got used to talking with my retainer in but again, you get used to that very quickly and the lisp disappears.
Do you really have to wear them 24/7? The official timing is 22 hours per day, so that doesn’t include meal times. You’re supposed to take them out whenever you eat or drink anything which can get annoying at first. It’s a lot of admin and you feel like you’re constantly brushing your teeth/retainer BUT it did stop me from snacking so much so… silver lining? (Full disclosure, again: I still had my retainer during Big Brother but didn’t want to wear them every day whilst being filmed for TV so I broke all the rules and would only wear them at night which definitely extended my timeline. Hey, if it’s good enough for Justin Bieber, it’s good enough for me. Spoiler alert: Dr Lazaris was not happy.) The best thing about Invisalign though is that you CAN just take them out. Whether it’s for a selfie or a hot date, you can pop them out whenever you need to which simply isn’t an option with traditional braces.
Is Invisalign really “invisible?” Now, this was the one aspect I felt a little…mislead by. When you first get your initial retainers, they just slide onto your teeth no problems and look just like every pretty Invisalign pamphlet you’ve seen. However a few weeks down the track, I was surprised with the news that I now had to get my “attachments” or “buttons” put on certain teeth. This was news to me and suddenly made me feel (and look) like I almost had those old-school, transparent braces attachments, just without the wires. I was told this was to help the more stubborn or crooked teeth (of which I had many) to move but I wasn’t happy about it. Again, the number of attachments will vary case by case: some people might not need any and some may only need a few and only on the back teeth so they’re totally hidden but in the spirit of laying it all on the table- that’s the 411. So make sure you ask about this step before you proceed! (To be honest, the attachments became such a non-issue that friends I’d known for years would suddenly ask me “Since when did you have those things on your teeth?” a good year after getting them on. So, yeah. They can’t have been THAT obvious!)
By the time my Invisalign treatment was finished, I was blown away. My whole mouth shape had changed. My teeth were straight, my overbite gone. And the whole process (whilst longer than originally planned) was basically pain free. I honestly could not recommend Invisalign enough- it changed my life.
STEP 3: Porcelain Veneers
SURPRISE! I bet most of you weren’t even aware I HAD veneers and that’s precisely the way I wanted it!
Veneers were never something Dr Lazaris and I had discussed all those years ago during my first consultation. At that point, my teeth were so bad, my only concern was fixing what I had, if that was even possible (and I wasn’t entirely sure it was.)
However once my Invisalign journey was done and dusted, Dr Lazaris explained that some of my biggest tooth issues were still going to cause me grief in the long-run.
Yes, my teeth were now straight but I still had that old grey tooth that needed constant bleaching. I still had the chipped front tooth that was so fragile, it was really only matter of time before it fell out at a dinner party.
My initial reaction was: “Well, can’t we just replace those two?” but as Dr Lazaris explained, it would look very odd replacing only two of my front teeth with brand new, sparkling veneers. So he suggested replacing the front 4….and then upon further inspection and after designing my “smile” on his fancy computer, convinced me to get 6 porcelain veneers on the top only.
I was very apprehensive. I liked the look of natural teeth, I didn’t want huge “horse teeth”, just teeth I felt comfortable smiling with. He however assured me they would still look very similar to my own teeth, just more symmetrical and less problematic.
By this point I was one of Dr Lazaris’ star patients (and good friends) and trusted his judgement so agreed to go ahead with the veneers.
After a few looooonnngggg days in the chair, we were done.
He had put the cherry on top of the shit-teeth Sundae.
The icing on my mouth-cake.
I now had beautiful, even, white teeth that weren’t too big, weren’t too small. Weren’t too long or too blinding- they were perfect.
So natural looking that my own best friend didn’t notice anything different and that’s EXACTLY what I had hoped for.
It had been an extremely long journey (my fault, not Dr Lazaris’) but we had made it. I was blown away at the transformation and ecstatic with the results.
I’d like to take this time to give my sincerest thanks and gratitude to Dr Angelo Lazaris and his hard-working team. You took a nervous little wreck with awful teeth and a fear of dentists and turned her into a confident woman who smiles so big it sometimes hurts my cheeks.
You are not only the best dentist in the world but now also someone I consider a dear friend. Your patience, sense of humour, professionalism… your flexibility and willingness to squeeze me in last minute or after-hours, knowledge and expertise has resulted in a smile that has honestly changed my life. On top of all that, you held my hand and made me laugh the whole way through. I could not be more grateful for everything that you have done for me and will continue to recommend you to anyone who will listen.
They say you’re never fully dressed without a smile so thank you for making sure I always look the part and more importantly, that I feel it.
Tooth be told, you’re the best.
(If anybody has any questions about Invisalign or veneers in general, feel free to leave them in the comments below and either myself or Dr Lazaris will do our best to answer them! Finally, in no way was this a paid collaboration.)