Lingual braces V Aligners

Hello ūüôā In my last post, I promised a video which would detail how I was getting along with the new aligners.¬†Luckily for you, I decided against using my rough¬†film-making skills¬†and have¬†proceeded with¬†a bit of writing instead.

Aligners?¬†¬†Clear aligners look a bit like a clear, thin mouthguard. You get a smaller size as you go along and they are a system which is gaining popularity in the world of adult tooth straightening. I was given a set of three aligners which¬†were designed to pull back my lower teeth so that my top teeth wouldn’t clash with them and treatment could be finished.

I thought it’d be a good idea to give an account of my short experience and compare it with my lingual braces which have been fixed onto the back of my top teeth for just over 10 months now. Here’s my verdict…

The Good

I am¬†really glad that I have been using these aligners because they have helped me move closer to having the teeth/smile¬†that I desire. Secondly, if worn for the amount of time that Dr Chatoo suggests (twenty¬†hours a day), the aligners seem to work quite quickly. I am lucky that my¬†lower teeth weren’t as bad as my top set. They had just a few mild,¬†wonky issues and because of this, I¬†saw movement after just three-four days of wearing the first aligner.

The bad

I wasn’t sure whether to entitle this section ‘ the bad’ or just ‘I’m bad’ because to be honest, the negative bit¬†of having my aligners is really down to me being a bit naughty. You’d think that being able to take my aligner out when I wished would have been a perk but in my experience, it became a bit of a curse. Knowing that I could just pop that bit of plastic out of my mouth when it got irritating or when I felt like it, was overwhelmingly tempting and¬†I¬†found that I started to¬†do it a lot. It got so bad that one morning, I spotted¬†my aligners on the floor, on the other side of the room-carelessly flung out of my mouth in middle of the night.

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Why I like lingual

Maybe it’s just that certain systems suit different people or maybe it’s lack of willpower on my part but I did find the aligners quite¬†hard¬†to get used to.

Discovering that I had a reckless attitude towards aligners is another reason why I am pleased that I chose to have lingual treatment on my upper teeth. Yes, the braces took some getting used to but because they were fixed to the back of my teeth, I had little choice but to get used to them and after just one to two months in, I even started to forget that they were there.

Before I got braces, I remember worrying a lot about what I would eat but later found that this was only an issue for the first few days. During this time, I ate as much soft food as I could. It was also quite easy to be creative with food choices. ( See an earlier post for some ideas!) By the second week, with just a little more care, I was eating whatever I wanted.

Both systems have played their part in creating my ‘new smile’. In some ways, having my teeth straightened has been a journey, I no longer hide behind a hand when I laugh or cringe at the size of my gap in pictures.¬†In others way, it’s been an¬†easy ride. Being able to see the gap in my teeth closing has been really exciting and I can’t believe that it won’t be long until the braces come off. What I’ve learnt so far is that with a good orthodontist and the right treatment, the positive side of lingual braces far out ways the negative.


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The joys of seeing a hygienist

Last week I decided to add a hygiene session into my usual tightening/ wire change appointment. I know that I sound pretty strange saying¬†that I enjoyed my time having my teeth cleaned and scaled- it was great! Sarah Urquhart is the in-house hygienist at my orthodontic practice and her services are more than just convenient. As well as¬†finding¬†some common ground in our ancestry from up t’North, she was really¬†friendly and the session was thorough and educational.

The best part of the appointment (which lasted around 45 minutes) was the Prophy Jet clean. Slightly¬†contrary to use¬†the words ‘gentle’ and ‘blast’ in the same sentence but this is exactly what the experience was. Sarah used the¬†small hand held device to meticulously blast around my teeth just after she had completed her hygiene routine. There was definitely a ‘licking own teeth’ moment as I walked¬†back to the tube station.

You can find out more about¬†Sarah’s¬†appointments here:¬†

Bad breath and braces | 5 ways to avoid it

No one likes to¬†talk about it and it’s something that everyone wants to avoid.

Bad breath

The truth is that wearing braces can increase your chances of having bad breath.  The reason for this is that there are more places for food particles to get trapped. In my experience, having braces fitted to the back of my teeth, with my tongue in constant contact can quickly make my mouth seem quite dry. Dehydration and left over, trapped food can cause problems with smelly breath. To help totally avoid the dreaded stink while you are having orthodontic treatment, follow my 5 tips:

  1. Stay on top of your dental health-¬†A good dental health¬†routine¬†is important even if you aren’t wearing braces¬†but for the time that you are, sticking to it is absolutely essential. When your braces were first fitted, your orthodontist probably ran through some ways that you should be using your tooth brush. I have found that you have to be much more thorough and really get in between all of the gaps and brackets. Floss is way¬†more difficult to use when you have braces. To be honest,¬†I don’t always do it but on the whole, orthodontists and dentists recommend using it so just try and work with it! ¬†With lingual braces, you should spend quite a lot of time cleaning the BACK of your teeth. Don’t forget that teeth have 5 sides, so paying attention to all of these as well as your tongue and gums ( be gentle) is essential.

2. Carry a travel kit- Carrying a travel sized toothbrush, paste, mini mouth wash, if you are a new brace wearer- ortho wax and floss is a really good idea. With a travel kit in your bag, you never have to worry about getting caught short after a meal or worrying about lingering bad breath when you’re out.

3. Drink lots of water- Have you ever had dry mouth¬†or¬†know that pang of worry¬†when your mouth starts to taste weird and you’re in mid-conversation? I can tell you that this feeling is increased by 100%¬†when you have braces! Aside from the obvious reasons, drinking lots of water will help wash away in unwanted food particles and stay¬†hydrated, thus helping to avoid bad breath.¬†In 2010, a report from The EU¬†Food Safety Authority suggested that the minimum levels of water we should all be drinking is¬†2 litres for men and 1.6 litres for women. It’s good for your skin, your brain and your mouth so just grab yourself a bottle and try to carry water around with you when you can.

4. Avoid sticky, moderate sugary and don’t eat smelly foods when you’re about to head out-¬†This is a no brainer for anyone, even without braces. Eat delicious onions, garlic and strong cheese to your hearts content… but remember that they can linger on the breath so not always best¬†eaten before a meeting or night out. The stuff to moderate is sugar. Frequent contact with sugary drinks and food can and will cause tooth decay which is bad in itself and poor dental health can contribute to bad breath. Although I have been found guilty of continuing to chew chewing gum with my braces on :/ , sticky stuff will get stuck in your braces. It is hard to clean away and the best practice is just to avoid it altogether.

5. See the hygienist-¬†Luckily, my orthodontist offers a hygiene service and if yours does too, make sure you book in at least once a year during your treatment. If this service isn’t on offer, just make an appointment at your dental practice with your normal hygienist. Regular examinations and cleaning are an essential way of helping you stay dentally healthy and smelly breath- freeee!

Why did I get lingual braces in the first place?

After booking in for a¬†last minute appointment this week (in a surprising un-painful fashion, my gum, got trapped between brackets but appeared¬†to right itself a few days later) I found myself¬†scanning through my orthodontist’s¬†website and came across a video that I took part in before starting treatment.¬†It’s a kind of patient story and¬†was filmed last year. Strange to see it pop up again but I thought it would make a good addition to the blog and provide some more insight into why someone might want¬†hidden braces¬†rather than traditional ‘labial’ ones.

Captain’s vlog

So here’s my first lingual brace¬†vlog addition! It’s been quite strange talking to a little hole in the laptop screen¬†but¬†I’ve tried to cover¬†a few eating tips, some¬†travel essentials and¬†how it feels to have the wire changed and tightened up for the first time.

Food that got me through my first week with lingual braces


Before I got my braces, lots of people said that the early stages were a difficult time for eating and a great time to lose weight. The idea of giving up my normal pile of food at meal times made me feel angry!

I therefore made it a¬†mission to find some¬†meal ideas that I could enjoy without damaging the¬†brace or applying too much pressure on my¬†teeth. A lot of it is about substitution and avoiding really hard and crunchy food. Here’s an example of what worked for me¬†during the first few days.


David Blaikie Flickr CCL
David Blaikie Flickr CCL

Cook some porridge or use muesli as a base. Add some fresh blueberries and raspberries or whatever fruit you have in the house. Layer on plain yogurt and drizzle some honey. I found this to be a good substitute for crunchy cluster-type cereal. Exchanging the clusters for porridge or muesli makes for a smoother ride all round!


Nicoise Salad

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Any type of salad is gonna be good although it can get caught in the back of the brace. If you have a tooth brush handy, this isn’t a problem. Gobble to your heart’s content!

It’s easy: Fresh salad, hard boiled eggs, tuna (tinned) , raddish, green beans (boiled for a few minutes), new potatoes ( pre boiled) , tomatoes and anchovies if you’re feeling salty! ūüėČ


Ricotta and spinach lasagne

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Without laying on the mush, this was kindly made for me by my boyfriend on my first night¬†with braces. It’s a great version¬†of the Italian classic and it’s soft texture makes for a no-skimping, hearty meal¬†without the tooth ache.

You will need:

  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Stock
  • Fresh basil
  • 2 x punnett of ricotta
  • Spinach ( fresh or frozen)
  • Parmezan
  • Mozerella
  • Fresh Lasagne sheets
  • Salt and pepper


The tomato sauce

1) Finely chop one onion, a stick of celery and a carrot. Sweat these in a sauce pan with virgin olive oil for a few minutes. Add one crushed clove of garlic, cook for a few minutes before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes.

2) Make up a cup/half a pint of stock and pour that into the sauce pan and then season with salt and pepper to taste as well as a handful of fresh basil.

Tip: If you find that the sauce is a little bitter, add a tiny bit of sugar. If it’s slightly sweet, a tiny bit of vinegar.

3) Let this simmer on a low heat and leave to cook for 15- 20 mins or until it has reached a nice consistency.

The Ricotta Mixture

1) Mix 2 punnetts of ricotta into a bowl with grated parmesan cheese and a small amount of fresh ( if you can) or frozen spinach.

2) Add 3 tea spoons of grated nutmeg and black pepper.

Putting it together

1) Part boil your fresh lasagne sheets and lay a few in the bottom of a good sized baking dish

2) Start making alternate layers of your tomatoes based sauce, ricotta mixture, pieces of ripped mozerella cheese, grated parmezan and your lasagne sheets. The last layer should be a sheet of lasagne and feel free to add some of your parmesan to the top of this to crisp in the oven.

3) Once your lasagne has been layered, pop the baking dish in the oven for half an hour on 180 ‘ or until lightly golden.

Top lingual braces go on

I took the tube to Oxford Street for my first appointment on Wednesday and took it home again with my top braces fitted!

What happens during the appointment?¬†My appointment¬†lasted just under¬†2 hours. During this time, I had¬†a chat with Asif before getting into the chair and having brackets fitted to the backs of my teeth. This was done by him with the aid of an orthodontic¬†nurse. Afterwards, the¬†orthodontic therapist, Fiona took loads of pictures of my teeth with a little wand device. This in turn led to¬†a virtual 3D model popping up on a nearby screen. Apparently, this is part of the SureSmile system and helps their lab to create accurate, custom wires for future ‘tightening’ appointments.¬†After this bit, the first¬†wire was put on.

Sprout_Lightbulb¬†¬†TOP TIP: Asif provided lip balm but it’s worth bringing¬†your own along incase your ortho/dentist doesn’t have any. Your lips will get dry¬†whilst they are fitting the brackets and wires.

Here are how my braces look.

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There was one burning question before this appointment, that only experience could answer… Would the fitting hurt?

A: No. I was genuinely¬†surprised to find that the fitting of the brace wasn’t painful. Everyone feels¬†different in the chair but I found that Asif Chatoo was super gentle and fast working. I also felt assured when he said that we could stop at any time. It was a little bit¬†strange when I first¬†lay back to have the brackets put on,¬†as the chair is tilted quite a way back but it was¬†not uncomfortable. One of the products used to spray on my teeth didn’t taste so lovely¬†but aside from that, I felt¬†relaxed and actually ended up zoning out! At the end of the appointment I was given a branded¬†ortho-care pack to take away,¬†a useful ‘how to look after’ tutorial as well as a¬†warning of some upcoming dull aches and pains.