Invisalign: trays #2

Last night, I said goodbye to my first set of Invisalign aligners. I have to admit, I felt a little sentimental about it. I gave them a good cleaning before putting them back in their plastic baggie for safekeeping. I’m looking forward to comparing them to my final set.

I was a little nervous to try out set #2, but surprisingly, they clicked into place with ease. I can tell they feel a little tighter than I felt in the last days of my last set, but there’s absolutely no pain and barely any discomfort. In fact, when it comes time to remove them to eat, they’re even easier to take out than the first set – not sure why that is.

I’ve relaxed a tiny bit when it comes to keeping track of hours I’m wearing them. I allow myself about a half hour each for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an evening snack. On days when I’m in the mood for an afternoon coffee, I might skip the evening snack. What’s nice about the coffee break is that I don’t have to floss before placing the aligners back in – just a rinse with water and a quick brush of the teeth. Overall, I’m averaging 22 hours with the aligners in. The company recommends 20 – 22 hours, but I feel safer adhering to a 22-hour minimum.

Next week, I have an appointment with my orthodontist and a representative from OrthoAccel, the company that makes AcceleDent, who will be demonstrating the device for my ortho’s office. I’m happy I was able to convince my orthodontist to try out the device with me – I’ll be her first patient to use it. I can’t believe how lucky I was to come across mention of AcceleDent (I believe it was on on the first day of my treatment. If I hadn’t been so obsessive with reading about Invisalign, I probably would never heave heard of AcceleDent. If I start using the device when I begin my 3rd set of aligners, I might be finished with my entire treatment by November 13! With AcceleDent, it’s possible to change your trays every 7 days instead of 14. Previously, I was looking at end date of June 25, 2014!


My Invisalign ClinCheck video

Here’s an animation of my Invisalign ClinCheck proposed treatment:

The first frames of this video make my teeth look a lot more messed up than they appear in real life.

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Invisalign + AcceleDent

I’ve been doing a lot of online research on Invisalign over the past few days – I’ve found a lot of helpful advice from other blogs and forums. I was surprised to read that some Invisalign wearers are switching their trays every 10 days instead of the standard 14.


AcceleDent is a new medical device from a company, OrthoAccel, which recently received FDA clearance. It’s basically a battery-powered vibrating device (I wonder how many hits this blog will get with those keywords!) used by an orthodontic patient for 20 minutes daily, and allegedly can reduce the length of orthodontic treatment by as much as 50% without any adverse effects. At first, I was very skeptical to these claims – sounded a bit too much like some sort of “as seen on TV” product. However, there are quite a few orthodontists around the country now offering this product in conjunction with braces. I took a look at the research, and AcceleDent looks very promising. I’m crossing my fingers my orthodontist will agree to try it out on me.

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Invisalign Day 3 – SO. MUCH. DROOL.

I’m well into my third day with Invisalign, and already they are feeling much more comfortable. Yesterday, I totaled about 21.5 hours with them in (with breaks for breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee, dinner and bedtime prep), and so far today, I’m on track for 22+ hours of wear. My biggest complaint today has been the drooling, which is abundant! I have to swallow constantly while talking to get rid of  the excess drool. It’s gross and I feel like a dork.

Removing them is getting a little easier, but my finger tips are raw from digging into the plastic.


First 24 hours with Invisalign

I can see that this is going to be a HUGE test of my commitment, self-discipline and patience! However, I AM impressed with how relatively inconspicuous these Invisalign braces are.

Here’s a cropped photo of my new aligners:


I received a call four days ago from my orthodontist’s office letting me know my trays (aligners) had arrived.  I went in yesterday to pick them up. I was so nervous – at this point, I didn’t know exactly how long the treatment would last or where my attachments (those little buttons to help move teeth) would be placed. I was placed in an exam chair in a large room next to two other patients. The guy next to me was apparently getting a new set of Invisalign trays (another term for aligners). I still hadn’t seen a real live person wearing Invisalign, so I asked him how he felt about them. You couldn’t even tell he was wearing them, which was very encouraging, and he said it had been a great experience so far. An assistant came out with my first three sets of trays and immediately had me place them into my mouth. They clicked into place very easily. I was surprised at how smooth and inconspicuous they felt in my mouth – but when I first spoke, I had a terrible lisp! Within minutes, my lisp had dissipated a great deal, but was still present.

I was told I’d have 32 trays for my top teeth and 35 trays for the bottom, so my treatment should altogether end on June 25, 2014 – 16 months from now! My orthodontist briefly showed me my ClinCheck animation so I’d have an idea of how the treatment would progress. Basically, in order to make room for my crowded front teeth to fall into place, my molars in the back need to move backward one by one. So for the first 20 trays, I probably won’t see anything happening up front. 20 trays = 40 weeks = sometime around Thanksgiving! Ugh.

Anyway, 24 hours have passed. Here are some of my observations:

- These aligners are very difficult to detect unless someone is standing very close and concentrating on my teeth. However, I’m still really self-conscious about them and am avoiding going out for now.

- I still talk a little funny, but it’s getting better. I’m swallowing frequently, so I have to pause a lot when speaking.

- So far, taking them out has been VERY difficult. There’s been lots of cursing and drooling. I’ve taken them out 4 times in the last 24 hours, but this last time was easiest. I can see that it will get better.

- Even though the aligners are just a fraction of a millimeter thick, I think my lips look funny when closed – they protrude a little more. No one else says they notice this, but I do. I also can’t completely close my mouth in the back – if I try, it feels really weird to have the upper and lower molars touching.

- It’s a big ordeal to take them out and put them back in, with all the flossing and brushing. I’ve got two young kids (ages 2 and 5), and adding this much extra work to my regular schedule is kind of a big deal!

- Pain is minimal – it’s more an overall, even feeling of pressure. The edges of the aligners are a little sharp, but I seem to be getting used to it.

- I never realized how often I snack. It’s just too inconvenient to do now. I expect I’ll be losing some weight!

- My hands are getting very dry from washing so often. I won’t touch my mouth or aligners without washing first. My finger tips are also a little raw from pulling the aligners out of my mouth.

I occasionally panic a bit while wearing them – I feel a little claustrophobic, and the constant pressure is a bit annoying. I keep reminding myself that it’s just 16 months of discomfort, but I’ll have a much better smile for the rest of my life. My biggest issues are 1.) self-consciousness – even though these aligners are practically invisible, I feel like they give my already-large teeth a greater prominence and 2.) inconvenience – for instance, I’m not sure I’ll be able to enjoy a spontaneous ice cream or snack when going out with the family.

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Fixing my teeth with Invisalign

After a year and a half of deliberating and waiting for the right moment, financially, I have finally decided to start Invisalign treatment for my crooked, 35 year old teeth! I had braces way back when I was a young teenager – I can’t even recall my specific age or the length of treatment at the time. Evidently time, genetics, hormones and whatever else have taken their toll on my teeth because they need fixing again!

Below is a photo of my teeth as they look right now. The uppers aren’ts too bad, though one is starting to poke out in front of the other. But the lowers have been gradually growing more and more crooked for the last 10 years. That lower tooth that’s sticking out is on it’s way to becoming a lovely snaggletooth!

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I’ve seen five different orthodontists for opinions on my teeth. The first orthodontist told me I’d need a lower incisor removed – gasp! I took his word for it and procrastinated moving forward with the treatment. One year later, I realized I could always get another opinion, so I called another orthodontist in the area. She didn’t think I’d need a tooth removed, but recommended a full course of metal braces with rubber bands, which I definitely knew I couldn’t handle. So off to a third orthodontist … this third one had almost the same opinion and recommendations as the first (tooth removal), so I was beginning to think that the tooth extraction was inevitable. But honestly, I was having severe misgivings about giving up a precious tooth, so I found a fourth orthodontist. THIS one believed I wouldn’t need a tooth removed, but the doctor was a little creepy so I decided to move on.

Finally, I took a look at the Invisalign website’s doctor locator. The first one that popped up was listed as a “premier preferred provider,” the only one in my area at that rank, which means she has treated many more patients with Invisalign than most others. I met with her for a consultation and was so pleased when she determined I would not need a tooth removed. Based on her extensive experience with Invisalign and the fact that she would not be recommending tooth extraction, I decided to sign up with her right then and there. My impressions are scheduled for two weeks from now – January 2, 2013.


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More pergola …

We determined that a full pergola wasn’t in our budget, and I’ve since revised my design so that it’s more of a “half pergola,” with three posts/columns and two supporting beams. I think I like this better, anyway – I was worried that a full pergola might block out too much light from our indoor dining room and kitchen.

Intex Millwork ( makes reinforced cellular PVC (Azek is one brand) pergola parts. Their listed prices scared me off at first, but I’ve since learned that the prices you’ll end up paying are much less than what’s listed. I like the Intex option since the pergola can still be painted, is virtually maintenance free, and will match the Azek trim throughout the exterior of our home.

Here’s my updated pergola using Intex’s column wraps and structural pergola beams with decorative tails:

I hadn’t considered using column wraps for the pergola before, but I like how they’ll match the pilasters from our front entry:

We’ve decided to go with Azek decking in “Cobre” – it’s a nice warm color and is fairly close to the color of our front door and interior oak floors.


Pining for a pergola …

We’re moving on to the yard now. We don’t have a deck, but fingers crossed – might actually have one this spring. We’re considering Azek decking for a low maintenance option. I’d also like to bring a little shade to our deck, and a pergola seems like the perfect solution. I’ve pinned a zillion pergolas on Pinterest (check them out here) and have found that they seem to range from detailed and ornate to rather primitive. I’m not exactly sure what I want at the moment – once we have an estimate for some of these options, I’m sure that will narrow things down a bit. :)

Here’s a mock-up of my attached pergola, based on this design:

I’m hoping for cedar for the material. I’d prefer Azek, but from what I understand, Azek beams could end up sagging unless they’re reinforced with steel. That sounds like it could get pretty expensive.

I can’t wait to hang some white string lights among the rafters and enjoy these unusually warm spring evenings outdoors on our new deck:

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Progress Report

I’m really loving how the house is turning out:

The copper cap for the door surround was installed yesterday (there’s a protective plank covering it in this photo). The trickiest part for our contractor will be installing the fascia board up at the top corner where our electrical wire meets the house.

Once this project is done, all that’s left will be adding shutters. We’ve got our old black shutters covered in a tarp in the back yard – we’ll be putting those back on the sides of the house. They’re a tad too wide for the width of our window openings, but they’ll never be closed. However, the top three windows on the front of the house need 14″ x 51.5″ shutters since the center false window needs shutters to fit perfectly in the opening. For the ganged windows, we’ll have to fashion some bi-fold shutters out of 14″x51.5″ shutters so they’ll appear to be functional.


Progress Report

Things are really moving along now on the exterior renovation. A good portion of the siding is up (James Hardie fiber cement in “Evening Blue”), and the door surround is taking shape:

We had to modify the plinth on the base of the pilaster – I disliked the gap between our Thermatru door’s threshold and the edge of the originally designed plinth, so we widened the plinth and added a sloped “cap” on top of it to soften the edges and ease the transition from the base moulding to the plinth:

I’m really happy with how things are going. Our contractor, Brian Burris (Nicely Done Co. in southern NH), and his crew have been really great (even in these frigid January in New Hampshire temperatures) – and I’m an admittedly picky customer. They’re doing a fine job and I’m looking forward to calling them back to build us a deck and pergola – hopefully this coming summer.

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My Google Sketchup home

We began the renovation process over a month ago – a new sliding door was installed in our dining room, new windows in the piano room, and a new front door. So far things have gone fairly smoothly, with the exception of a few areas of rot thanks to some hungry termites or carpenter ants. Fortunately, the damage seemed to have occurred a long time ago and there wasn’t any evidence of a recent infestation.

I finally nailed down the look I wanted for our home. Looking back on my older posts, I’m kind of embarrassed at my taste – and that was only a few months ago! I settled on a traditional colonial look – after all, our house was built in that style. I selected James Hardie Hardieplank fiber cement siding in “Evening Blue.” The front door is Thermatru’s fiberclass Classic Craft American – we had it stained in light oak. They’ve just begun putting up the siding and I’m relieved – I’m happy with the dark blue color.

Here’s my most recent Sketchup/Kerkythea render:

My only concern is that the light fixtures might be too big. They’re Hinkley’s “Cape Cod” onion lantern style in the largest size offered. Each one is a full 26″ high, including the tall hook. I’d read that two light fixtures flanking the front entrance should measure about 1/4 the height of the door, which would be 20″ in our case. Since the bulk of our fixture is probably about 20″, it should be OK.

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Open Sesame, Part Two

Decisions, decisions … our contractor wants our final selections on the doors and fiber cement siding next week. Since my last post, I’ve pretty much scrapped my plans for the projecting door surrounds I posted earlier and have reverted to going with some sort of typical New England colonial/Georgian/Federal door surround. I also THINK I may have settled on a new color – James Hardie fiber cement siding in “Evening Blue.”

Again, a reminder of what our house currently looks like (click for larger version):

We’ll be keeping the existing shutters. One of them fell off in a recent windstorm and is sitting in our garage right now.

In a nutshell, here are my current questions & concerns:
1. What kind of door surround would look best on our house? I’ve been told it’s best to have our contractor build it from scratch rather than going with a Fypon kit. I would like something that looks solid and correctly designed. It would be nice if the cornice projected a bit, as it currently does – I’ve seen a lot of historical homes in Portsmouth with this. It would be neat to have small corbels appear to support this cornice in some way, but I haven’t seen much precedent for this other than the photo I snapped in Newburyport (see below). Our budget is not particularly big for this door surround (not including the door) – $2,000 – $3,000 materials & Labor. Our granite stoop is 8′ wide.

2. What can we do about that little window over the entry? I think it look rather odd and out of place. The window straddles two closets for the upstairs front bedrooms – in fact, the dividing wall between the two closests appears to be molded right into the center of those glass bricks! So putting in an equal sized window to the other two is out of the question. One idea I had was to board up the current one and trim it out to look like a larger window with two closed shutters. I’ve even thought of putting a real window there but boarding it up behind it with a black background!

3. What kind of window header treatment for the two ganged windows can we install to add some more interest to the front of the house?

4. How wide should our corner trim be? We’d like to add a water table, too.

5. I like the look of dentil trim around the subfascia of the house. Would this be appropriate on our home? There’s not much room between our upper windows and the roof.

6. The door I’ve chosen is most definitely a Craftsman style door, but I really like it. I would go with a more typical 6-panel, no-glass door if we had sidelites or a transom. We have very little room to add sidelites (and zero room for a transom), so we probably won’t be doing that.


Here’s a door surround I came across in Newburyport the other day. This is a home that was only built a few years ago, but fits in nicely with the historical neighborhood in which it’s located (click for larger versions):

… and the window headers:

I also thought this door surround was pretty cool with the brackets supporting the cornice, though I’m not sure how “architecturally correct” it is:

Soooo … here are some of my current Google Sketchup / Kerkythea mockups of my house with various color and door surround options:

James Hardie “Evening Blue” with some sort of off-white, cream-colored trim (which REALLY makes me regret our white vinyl replacement windows!!!!):

… with a shuttered fake window over the entry:

… close-up of entry:

… with a triangular pediment:

And other color options:
James Hardie “Harris Cream”:

… I love yellow, but I think I prefer it in smaller doses.

Certainteed Weatherboards “Olive”:

As far as color schemes go, I’d really like the trim (and gutters) to be painted an off-white color as opposed to pure “Azek white.” However, with those vinyl windows, I’m not sure how bad it will look to trim them out in another color. How I wish I could turn back time and go with new construction windows at the same time as re-siding the house! I love the look of black windows with off-white trim.

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Open, Sesame

The saga of the front entrance design continues. Below are some new designs I’ve come up with – but first, here is a reminder of what our house currently looks like:

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Here are my favorites so far (Sketchup files rendered with Kerkythea):

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… and the Sketchup image:

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— and also a version with a pediment instead of the eyebrow arch —

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*** UPDATE September 9, 2011 ***
Last night while driving through Dover, NH, I came across this entrance on a hip-roof colonial on Cushing Street:

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… I would be very happy with something like this (minus the fanlight and sidelites – no room for those in our setup). The columns are “engaged columns,” which means they’re rounded and appear to be about 3/4 of the column protruding from the face of the house. The pediment doesn’t extend very far from the house. I’ve been looking for commercial sources for engaged columns, but can’t seem to find them.

Other options:
Pilasters and pediment:

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Pilasters and crosshead (also note the false window covering the current small one with closed shutters):

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And what our architect came up with (he also designed benches to flank the front steps. I added a stone barrier instead):

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The architect’s original sketch:

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The stone might be a bit much around the front steps. For now, it’s just an idea. We wouldn’t even attempt to design & install them until next year.

All of the gray siding examples are Certainteed’s fiber cement Weatherboards (5″ straight-edge shingles) in “Silver Plate.” The greenish-gray siding is Certainteed’s “Nantucket Gray” color.

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Selecting a Certainteed Weatherboards fiber cement color

Deciding on the color of your home is pretty stressful, I’ve discovered. In a way, it’s nice that I’m limited by the slim selection of prefinished fiber cement colors offered by Certainteed and James Hardie. If you’re considering fiber cement, make sure – at the very least – you get a printed fan deck of both companies’ colors. And even better than that, get the actual fiber cement samples. James Hardie will send them to you if you fill out a form on their website. It’s a little more difficult to get them from Certainteed – the company won’t send anything directly to a homeowner (believe me, I tried), so you’ll have to go through a contractor or a dealer/distributor. In my area, Certainteed fiber cement doesn’t seem to be all that popular, but I managed to track down a printed fan deck and a really cool folder with actual FC samples of all their colors from our local Harvey building products warehouse.

Certainteed and Hardie fan decks:

I think I’ve settled on a Certainteed fiber cement color – “Olive.” It was hard to come to the decision, but what really helped was getting equivalent paint colors and painting large squares of cardboard, placing them in front of the house and then stepping back to evaluate. SO … if you’re interested in Certainteed fiber cement colors, get yourself to a Sherwin Williams store – they have an agreement with Certainteed and have formulas for all their colors. Buy samples in all the colors you’re interested in – even the ones you aren’t – you never know!

I also had a hard time finding good photos of homes with Certainteed fiber cement online. But then I had a pretty good idea – I borrowed Benjamin Moore fan decks (Classic Colors, Color Preview, Historic Colors and all the rest) from my local hardware store and used a swatch book from Certainteed (I picked one up from a local dealer) and actual Certainteed fiber cement samples (also from a local dealer), matched them with the closest equivalent Benjamin Moore paint colors. By googling the Benjamin Moore colors, you can get a sense of what the exterior of your home might look like with the Certainteed equivalent. If you’re here because you googled Certainteed weatherboards, I hope this little chart helps you out:

Certainteed Weatherboards color Similar (but not necessarily perfect) Benjamin Moore matches
Antique White Limestone (513), Carrington Beige (HC93)
Silver Plate Baltic Gray (1467), Coventry Gray (HC-169)
Autumn Red Garrison Red (HC-66), Boston Bride (2092-30), Sweet Rosy Brown (1302)
Coastal Blue between Water’s Edge (1635) and Providence Blue (1636)
Butter Golden Lab (178), Vellum (207), Harvest Time (186), Philadelphia Cream (HC30)
Desert Gold Summerdale Gold (HC-17), Grenada Hills Gold (229)
Newport Taupe Fairview Taupe (HC-85)
Heritage Clay Raccoon Hollow (978)
Wicker Sag Harbor Gray (HC-95), Embassy Green (1523)
Linen Coastal Fog (976), Revere Pewter (HC-172)
Merino Tan Sierra Hills (1053)
Olive between Sage Mountain (1488) and Devonshire Green (1489), Antique Pewter (1560)
Pewter Sweatshirt Gray (2126-40)
Heather Squirrel Tale (1476)


And finally, you should do your best to get this sample book if you’re interested in Certainteed Weatherboards from a contractor or dealer:

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Renovation frustration

I don’t know if this is what everyone else experiences when renovating, but I’m finding it unbelievably frustrating to get quotes on prices for doors, windows, etc. For instance, I’ve been looking at Simpson Doors and have twice filled out their quote request form, which is supposed to send it off to various local dealers, and have not yet received a response from the 5 or so dealers I requested quotes from. I’ve even emailed Simpson customer service and haven’t received a response. I don’t feel like verbally discussing the specs over the phone with each and every dealer – not only does this open up room for error in transcribing what I want, it’s a tremendous waste of time.

Sometimes I just feel like throwing in the towel and forgetting about this whole renovation. :(

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