I'm gonna share something very intimate about me today. You are going to see a very private part of me paraded in various poses and contortions - MY MOUTH! Teeheehee.
For the longest time, I was unsatisfied with my smile. I knew what I didn’t like, but didn’t know how to fix them, or if fixing them was even possible.
6 things I didn’t like about my old smile
1. Misaligned teeth
I had braces when I was 18, those super ugly metal ones that no matter how colorful and luminous I chose my bands to be, remained UGLY.
Not to mention painful and uncomfortable! Ulcers were a constant thing throughout the agonizing 3.5 years that I wore them. I remember having to wear these tiny elastics to improve the bite of my upper and lower jaws. There were bands, hooks, wires, brackets in my mouth and I always had food stuck in between and everywhere else.
Ah, the price to be paid for not having naturally straight teeth! Mine were all over the place, some hiding behind one another, some growing like cactuses reaching out for the sun. During the period when I was wearing braces, I don’t think I had that many suitors. WAHAHA.
My teeth were pretty straight after that but one day my retainers disappeared. I asked my dentist if I should make new ones and he said “Nah, it’s alright. Some natural crookedness will make your teeth look nicer”. (And I believed him!) Whuuutt…?? WORST ADVICE EVER. =.=
2. Yellow teeth
I don’t smoke, I don’t take coffee or tea, not even coke. I just had yellow teeth. =(
OH GAWD. I would never have had to courage to post all these photos of my unsightly teeth if not for the fortunate fact that they do NOT look like that anymore.
3. Receding lower gums
When I ate ice cream or any cold stuff, my lower teeth hurt.
This sensitivity was caused by receding gums, which caused teeth to be exposed more than necessarily. The exposure was caused by having my teeth ‘bent inwards’ to close up the gaps from having 4 teeth removed for the braces. My mouth is too small to accommodate that many teeth so they had to be extracted.
By the way, I have 8 teeth less than most people – 4 extracted for braces, 4 wisdom.
4. Ugly crown
The condition of my receding gums deteriorated so much that I couldn’t eat chocolate without wincing in pain. Yes, CHOCOLATE.
That was it. I HAD to seek help.
So I went to a dentist near my house and he pasted something over one tooth (the one that caused the most pain) and called it a day. It did improve the sensitivity, but left me with an ugly-looking tooth. Look at the above picture showing an abnormally long tooth on the left - that's the crown. That picture also shows the slight crookedness of the lower teeth.
5. Uneven gum line
The heading says it all. Having an uneven gum line meant that my teeth looked messy and my smile crooked.
This was eventually solved with Gum Grafting Surgery (it's a bit graphic, so brace yourself!)
6. Hidden smile
As mentioned, my teeth were all moved inwards to close up the gaps as a result of having 8 teeth extracted. So not only did my gums suffer, the irony of having straight teeth was that my smile got brought backwards and 'hidden'.
Smile Makeover Journey
I decided to do something about my smile. But I was scared. Having had plenty of bad experience with dentists during my childhood and even during my adolescent braces-wearing days, I was sceptical that any dental visit would be any better. I mean, "I love going to my dentist!!", said no one ever.
But after hearing and reading plenty of positive reviews about Orchard Scotts Dental (OSD), I had my first consultation with Dr Jerry Lim.
This is Dr Jerry! I've seen pleeeeennty of dentists my whole life and I must say Dr Jerry really is my favorite dentist. =)
I was initially interested in Invisalign because I had seen promotional posters and ads everywhere recently and thought that might be a solution to fix my misaligned teeth, and probably some whitening kit to get rid of the yellowness.
Instead of just agreeing to whatever I asked for, which was Invisalign, Dr Jerry asked if I’ve heard about porcelain veneers and a Smile Makeover. I was like ‘Whuuutt?’.
I had never heard about either or them so was excited to hear more about them! The sound of a 'makeover' always sounds super exciting! 💁🏻♀️
Visit 1 – Consultation and analysis
I only knew about my ‘withdrawn’ or ‘hidden’ smile after that consultation. No wonder no matter how wide I used to smile, it didn’t have that kind of beaming effect.
Dr Jerry explained to me that a Smile Makeover is a complete makeover for how you look when you smile. Not just making superficial changes like teeth whitening, but about making highly customized changes to your smile - changes made specially for you, according to your face shape, facial proportions, size of your mouth, level of your gums, desired shade, and so on.
To do all that I wanted, Dr Jerry said veneers would make me realize my dream. I will talk about porcelain veneers in Part 2.
Invisalign would be great for people with very crooked teeth, but mine were not that bad from wearing braces so Invisalign would ultimately not give me that kind of ‘beaming smile’ I yearned for.
I really appreciate that Dr Jerry didn’t just go "Okie you want Invisalign? Yes, we have Invisalign. Come, sit down, we shall give you what you asked for".
Instead, he listened to what I truly envisioned and conveyed the appropriate procedure in layman’s terms so that I could understand and make an informed decision.
Visit 2 – Smile trial
During the last visit they took a mould of my teeth to make a set for the Smile Trial, to see if I liked the effect of a brighter and wider smile. This was me wearing the trial teeth.
Dr Jerry asked if I liked them.
OF COURSE I LIKED THEM!
I LOVED THEM!
It was hard going back to my old smile after that. And it made me even more determined to complete my Smile Makeover.
We took another mould for the actual veneers.
By the way, I loved watching the videos played on the tv at the reception area. My eyes were forever transfixed on these real people sharing real stories on how their new smiles have changed their lives – better oral hygiene, a brightened appearance, greater confidence in talking to others, improved general well-being. It’s so amazing how a better smile can bring such huge improvements to a person’s life.
Oh yes, the lighting at the reception area is always excellent. Please take plenty of selfies there if you ever want to try their dental services. The first picture of this post was taken at the reception area. ^_^*
Couldn't wait to get rid of this...
This is a comparison of my actual teeth (before) and the trial veneers made for the Smile Trial (after).
Because they're not real veneers, just a sample to let me feel the fit and picture the final result, they don't look that real IRL. You probably can't tell from these pictures, but they are more plasticky, slippery and fake-looking than the real deal (the final results are in My Smile Makeover At Orchard Scotts Dental – Part 2!).
Visit 3 – Laser gum recontouring
I was REALLY excited to get started on the makeover.
I felt like I was undergoing a life-changing transformation, like those participants in reality shows, and after a few weeks they strut down the runway to a madly applauding audience. Hahaha! I bet you’ll applaud for me too when you read my next post where you’ll see just how much my smile has improved.
No, ‘improved’ would do it injustice. More like, ‘perfected’. Heh.
The first thing we did for the makeover was to make my upper gums more aligned. Before that, let me take a mandatory selfie. BAHAHA!
I love how meticulous Dr Jerry is in everything that he does. While you're lying there feeling all vulnerable with your mouth wide open, your senses seem to be more attuned to everything that is going one, like every nudge and prod is magnified.
Having been in and out of numerous dental clinics my whole life, I can tell when the dentist really cares about my well-being and wants the best for me. At this clinic, I never felt that kind of childhood fear that I had when in a dentist chair.
By the way, if you're going to be lying there for hours, staring at bright lights, sometimes dozing off from the soothing music and boredom, better make sure you're wearing a smudgeproof mascara (not just waterproof) so that you won't wake up with gorgeous teeth but raccoon eyes. Hehehe!
Laser Gum Recontouring, as the name already implies, is the correcting of uneven or excessive gumlines with laser.
My gums cover a large portion of my teeth, especially on the right, making the teeth look smaller. Larger teeth make one look more youthful and healthy.
I asked if it meant having some of my gums removed coz how else do you correct an uneven gumline without removal, right? Dr Jerry said yes, but it's done with laser which is much less invasive than practices of the past. Traditionally dentists really used a knife to shave off excess gums. Shave+gum+knife = @[email protected]""
Here we go. The pink light is the laser. How pretty! (The pink light, I mean, certainly not me in this pose)
I didn't feel a single thing throughout the whole procedure, just saw a lot of things going in and out of my mouth, and some smoke. Cool.
As you would have seen from previous pictures, my right gumline was much lower than the right, causing the slanted gumline, so more work was done on the right.
Let's compare the appearance of my gumline before Laser Gum Recontouring and after.
Teeth still very YELLOW-YELLOW-DIRTY-FELLOW, but you can see that the gumline is much more even!
A full face comparison so you can see just how much my smile improved with only Laser Gum Recontouring.
To be honest, before I started on my smile makeover journey, I always hated and avoided taking frontal shots because I was conscious about baring my slanted gumline and uneven-looking teeth to the camera. Right portraits were totally out because it was the uglier side with the yellower teeth and uneven gumline.
Right after I saw myself in the mirror for the very first time after the Gum Recontouring, I was like 'You wanna take my picture? HELL YEAH, TAKE MORE MORE MORE!'. =D
Improvement from one session
Can you see just how much my smile improved in one session?
Dr Jerry said a nice smile is when the teeth and a smooth gumline show when you smile and follow the curve of the lips. That day, I felt like my enhanced smile improved my overall appearance by 60%.
I'm so glad to live in this era of laser treatments and equipment. There was hardly any bleeding (I can't imagine the horrifying bloodshed from having gums shaved off with a knife in the past), everything was done in a jiffy and the healing time took less than a week.
I really wanted to share my Smile Makeover with you guys much earlier. The Laser Gum Recontouring was actually done in May 2013, but SHIT HAPPENED, and I just couldn't bring myself to talk about my teeth when I was fighting larger battles, like trying my best to help my skin heal and receiving lawyer letters from the facial place threatening to sue me for defamation.
When I got better, I returned to Orchard Scotts Dental to continue on my Smile Makeover journey and was touched to know that everyone at the clinic was so concerned about me.
If you are interested to know more about Laser Gum Recontouring, or Invisalign, or a Smile Makeoever, or anything dental-related, please don't ask me. HAHAHA! No, really, I don't want to dish out advice I am not confident of giving. Ask me what kind of eyeshadow brushes a beginner should start with, I can rattle on easily, but dental-related, please pick up the phone and give OSD a call, okie? =)
My journey continues in the next post, so I'll see you soon! *muack*!
This post was written in collaboration with Orchard Scotts Dental. I co-paid for my smile makeover. All my opinions are based on my own experience with the clinic and dentists, which may not be the same for everyone. It is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a dentist regarding any dental related diagnosis or treatment options.
Smile makeover series