After what felt like two endless years, the day I'd eagerly awaited had finally arrived: I was getting my braces off. Over 10 years ago, my orthodontist told me that in addition to wearing braces for years due to overcrowding, all of my wisdom teeth would also have to be removed and one of my bottom teeth would have to be extracted to make more space. When the big day finally arrived and I left the orthodontist’s office with brace-less, straightened teeth, I swore to diligently wear my retainers. And I did — for years — bringing them along to camping trips and vacations abroad. But like other reckless teenagers, I got lazy and dismissed the warning that my teeth would eventually start shifting if I stopped wearing retainers. My new smile ended up being unfortunately short-lived.
My teeth never reverted back to their original crooked state, but they did start to move around, resulting in a slightly crowded overbite and off-center midline (meaning my bottom and top teeth didn’t match up perfectly). In the years after I stopped wearing retainers, I decided that I wanted to do something for myself and feel more confident in my smile.
Because I didn’t have the finances for a second set of traditional braces or the time to find and regularly visit an orthodontist, I went to Candid, a company that offers teeth-straightening, clear aligners for a fraction of the cost of braces and never requires you to step foot into a traditional orthodontist’s office. There are two ways to get started: Opt for an at-home starter kit ($95), or go to one of Candid’s studios for a scan done by a trained specialist (free). Both options allow you to have the full set of aligners ($1,900) sent to you at a later date. I decided to go with the latter.
Before going to a Candid Studio in New York, I took a short survey online, which asked me about my specific concerns and history with braces and retainers. Candid will let you know if you’re an eligible candidate or if your case falls outside of mild to moderate imperfections. With the at-home option, you’ll be able to take photos and impressions on your own time, which is especially convenient if you don’t live near a Candid Studio or don’t have the time to visit a specialist in-person. If the assigned orthodontist determines from your starter kit that Candid is not the best treatment option for you, you’ll get a full refund.
Overall, my experience with Candid was surprisingly easy and pain-free. After arriving at the spa-like studio and being instructed to fill out a few consent forms and brush my teeth, I was assigned a specialist, who explained the entire process to me. First, she asked me questions about my smile, specifically if I had braces in the past and what I ultimately wanted to achieve with invisible aligners. Although I told her that my treatment plan with Candid was ultimately for cosmetic purposes, she told me that the plan is also medical, because it serves as preventative care against my teeth shifting in the future. She also answered any questions and concerns I had about the treatment, including whether or not I would have a lisp (potentially, but she reassured me that my palate will get used to the aligners very quickly and it would go away soon).
The specialist took two sets of diagnostic imaging: three photos of my face and jaw structure and five of my teeth and gums. She used a laser scan, which is essentially a camera that took hundreds of photos of my teeth. Then, she showed me the 3D interactive model of my smile. It takes around two and a half weeks to receive a customized treatment plan with a visual video of how your teeth will look after treatment. After you approve the plan, you’ll receive a full set of aligners in the mail. The entire process for getting aligners usually takes around five weeks.
The plastic aligners themselves gradually move and straighten your teeth over time, and the length of your plan depends on your specific treatment goals. When I wore braces, I remember the annoyance of eating and getting food stuck in my teeth, but the invisible aligners can be easily taken out (they should be worn for 22 hours a day to gradually transform your smile). After you’ve completed the treatment, you'll want to order a retainer, which looks and feels similar to the aligners.
Every step of the way, Candid’s team was incredibly helpful and professional about answering any questions I had about my treatment plan. Because Candid also only works with orthodontists, I really felt like I could trust their expertise with my teeth and that I was in safe hands. All in all, the experience was incredibly convenient and cost-effective, considering traditional braces can cost up to thousands of dollars. My biggest takeaway? I definitely learned my lesson and will pledge to be more responsible with wearing my aligners from here on out.