Answers to your Invisalign questions

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I never thought I’d say this but I’m loving Invisalign after three weeks on it.

I don’t really know why, especially since I had such a hard time with it initially.

Maybe it’s because it gives me some purpose in life, something to look forward to, even though I’ve never really thought about having my teeth corrected. (I’m doing it now because I’m sponsored. Why not, right?)

Maybe it’s because I thrive on the challenge of keeping to the rigid ritual of tooth-brushing and aligner-cleaning that I have to go through several times a day. I’m the sort of person who really hates rituals and sameness, so this is quite a challenge for me.

I’m not loving it to the extent that I want to have it on forever. I still can’t wait for it to be done because it is inconvenient and sometimes painful, but I’m actually beginning to enjoy the process.

 

Sheylara

 

When I was still in Singapore, I started worrying about cramping Piers’ lifestyle because he would always have to wait for me to clean my teeth and aligners after every meal, a process that takes about six minutes at home and longer outside because I have to fix my makeup and hair afterwards.

We can’t now just sit back and relax after we’re done eating, continuing to enjoy, without interruption, our music or TV show or conversation.

But Piers has been very patient and supportive and taking it in his stride. He even does the washing up while I’m cleaning my teeth so the kitchen and our dining table are spic-and-span by the time I’m done, and we can get on with our evening enjoyment.

It makes me feel very bad, especially since he does the cooking, too, most of the time, but he refuses to let me do the dishes and always chases me off to the bathroom to do my teeth.

It helps a lot to have such an understanding partner.

=D

 

Pasta dinner

 

Okay, Q&A now! Here are the questions I’ve been asked:

 

Q: How much does Invisalign cost?

A: It varies from case to case. Mine costs about S$8,000.

 

Q: What’s the process of getting Invisalign?

A: First, you have to go for a consultation to assess whether you’re suitable for it. You’ll have everything explained and all your questions answered. Your next appointment will be to take x-rays and photos of your teeth, and have a mould done. About two weeks later, you get to see computerised pictures of how your teeth will move throughout every stage of your treatment. Six to eight weeks later, you’ll receive your first Invisalign aligners as well as get attachments bonded to your teeth.

 

X-Ray room in Neuglow Dental

 

Q: How long does the treatment last?

A: About one year, typically. Some people finish in six months while some take two years or more.

 

Q: Can I just do one row of teeth if my bottom (or top) teeth are okay?

A: It’s possible to do only one row, but it’s not advisable because both your rows of teeth will be a bit out of alignment when you only wear one row, so you won’t be able to bite down properly. Also, the cost is about the same whether you do one or both rows. Some orthodontists might not do it.

 

Q: Do I have to extract any teeth to do Invisalign?

A: In severe cases, teeth extractions have been done. But this is a question that only your orthodontist can answer after examining your teeth.

 

Q: Can Invisalign close gaps between teeth?

A: Yes it can. In fact, if you have “triangles” between your teeth due to receding gums (those tiny triangle-shaped holes), Invisalign can help to reduce the appearance of that.

 

Sheylara in dentist chair

 

Q: What are the pros and cons of Invisalign and traditional braces?

A: Let’s break this down into different aspects:

Looks – This is the most obvious difference, of course. People really can’t tell you have Invisalign on unless they look really closely, like almost kissing distance. And if you’re still self-conscious about it, you can remove them any time, for an important meeting or photoshoot or whatever.

Cost – Invisalign is significantly more expensive. In some cases, it could be double the amount of traditional braces.

Discomfort – Invisalign causes pain and discomfort just like traditional braces do but I think to a lesser extent. Some people report very minimal pain and discomfort with Invisalign, so I think it varies for different people. You do need to have various numbers of attachments bonded to your teeth, which could also cause some discomfort when they rub against your mouth, but I think they’re a lot better than braces.

Eating – Invisalign is more inconvenient in this area because you always have to remove your aligners before eating or drinking anything other than plain water. And you have to brush your teeth after every meal before putting your aligners back on. That makes it very inconvenient for when you want to eat out. On the other hand, wearing traditional braces means you have a long list of restricted foods, plus metal braces are harder to brush.

 

Sheylara in dentist chair

 

Q: Do you sound or talk differently with Invisalign?

A: For the first week, I spoke with a lisp but my tongue slowly adjusted so now I’m talking almost normally. I think now there is a very slight difference that only I can tell. Piers says I sound the same as I used to. =P

 

Q: Your teeth look perfect. Why do you need Invisalign?

A: My teeth do look okay in some angles, especially from the front, but they are quite crooked in actuality. Here are the computer visuals of my teeth. The top picture shows what my teeth are now. Below that shows what my teeth will look like after the treatment.

 

Before:

Before Invisalign

 

After:

After Invisalign

 

That’s all the Q&As I have. If you have other questions, ask them here and I’ll try my best to answer.

If you’re planning to get Invisalign, do make sure you get it done by an experienced orthodontist who has been trained in Invisalign procedures, so that your treatment will be smooth and without complications.

I am lucky to be treated by Dr Poon, courtesy of Neuglow Dental @ TripleOne Somerset. She’s very experienced and also very sweet, gentle and patient. But I don’t have a proper photo of her because she’s also very camera shy, lol.

 

Dr Poon, Neuglow Dental

 

You can see in the background her two doggies which she gives to patients to hold on to for comfort when undergoing uncomfortable or boring treatment. They’re mostly for her children patients, I think, but she always gives me Winston the bulldog whenever she has to do stuff to my teeth.

Anyway, it’s quite important to get a nice orthodontist because you’ll be meeting him or her a lot during the process of your treatment.

I’m planning to be done with my treatment within seven or eight months. Hope my teeth cooperate! Can’t wait to see how I look, even though I’ve already seen the “after” picture in the computer program. Will be so weird to not have to bother with aligners again!

Will leave you with two more photos. They show how unnoticeable Invisalign is!

 

Wearing Invisalign:

Sheylara

 

Not wearing Invisalign:

Sheylara

 

That strange Singaporean bond

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Singaporeans are a funny lot. Possibly because of our cultural values and traditions, we’re a mixed bag of contradictions. We’re humble, yet competitive. We’re kind, but we’re wary of strangers. We pursue luxury, but we work too hard to give ourselves time to really enjoy it.

As a result, we come across as aloof. We do what we have to do and then we retreat within ourselves. Random acts of kindness are more exception than norm because we’re too shy or wary to interact with other people.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t feel any connection with our fellow countrymen. We’re just a culture of people who don’t often say or show what we feel. It takes certain special occasions to have this bond manifest itself.

 

Hello Kitty queue

 

One of these occasions is when we’re overseas and we miss our homeland. We might chance upon the familiar cacaphony of the Singaporean accent and suddenly feel delighted for the chance to demonstrate our bond with the source of the voices, even if we’ve never met them before.

Once, I was in Hong Kong with my friend, Elyxia. We were making our way through a busy market chatting animatedly when, suddenly, a voice came behind us, “Excuse me, are you Singaporeans?”

He was a smiling guy dressed in smart clothes. He introduced himself and told us he was a Singaporean working in Hong Kong and couldn’t help recognising our accent. We stood there and chatted for five minutes, thrilled by the chance encounter.

 

Sheylara in Hong Kong

 

You’d hardly catch us in Singapore stopping strangers in the streets to chat for no reason.

Recently, when I was in England for a long holiday, a Singaporean blog reader studying in London contacted me and said she’d love to meet me. We’d never had any contact prior to this.

We got along immediately, as if we’d known each other for ages.

We ended up meeting twice within a week, spending two whole days together, even though we were staying almost three hours apart from each other.

 

Limin and Sheylara

 

In Singapore, we wouldn’t travel three hours to meet up with a fellow Singaporean, assuming Singapore’s big enough to require three hours to travel anywhere.

It must be the Singapore spirit, that invisible cord that binds us together, manifesting when we least expect it.

PM Lee noted last year during the National Day Rally that the Singapore spirit is about “shared loyalty and commitment to Singapore; shared responsibility for one another and pride in what Singapore has built together; as well as shared memories, dreams and aspirations”.

I think it’s really true. We might be outwardly aloof, or we might have petty quarrels, but we really love our fellow countrymen deep down inside.

 

Love blossoms anywhere

 

National Day is another time that this kinship we share reveals itself in full glory under a fireworks-lit sky during the birthday celebrations of our nation. Especially at the National Day Parade, you can see faces well up with pride and belonging when the National Anthem is being sung.

Actually, now that National Day is nearing, it’s a good time for us to reflect on how every individual Singaporean, since independence day in 1965, has worked and fought hard to help make what Singapore is today.

Playing the new Facebook game Lion City on the NDPeeps Facebook page put me in the mood.

In the game, you’re given an island to populate with people and improve with infrastructure and decorations. It’s not a challenging game or anything, but it kind of makes me feel nostalgic about a past which I never knew — the beginnings of Singapore.

 

Lion City

 

You start off building attap houses and farms and puppet shows, which is so retro it’s cool. And while doing that, you kind of gain an insight into the kind of tribulations, as well as joys, our forefathers must have experienced building a new city from scratch.

No matter that they all came from different parts of the world, the shared challenge must have helped forge a national identity.

I like to think that our country’s origins and multicultural background make us a very unique people, and that’s something we can take pride in. Despite all the times people annoy me (like kiasu people in MRTs) I know I do love my fellow Singaporeans and will always be proud to belong to Singapore.

“Singapore is a young nation, but it distinguishes itself by its people, who are forward looking and idealistic as well as dare to transform themselves and the city repeatedly,” PM Lee had said.

 

Love blossoms anywhere

 

Indeed, the people are the Singapore spirit. Our common goals bind us together and help us identify with each other.

And that’s why we can always recognise a Singaporean abroad.

Okay, the accent helps very much.

But that’s what makes us so very special!

What do you think defines the Singapore spirit? What does being Singaporean mean to you? Share your thoughts at the NDP website and NDPeeps Facebook page!

The first few days on Invisalign

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Getting Invisalign is life-changing in two ways.

First, there’s the permanent effect of having a more beautiful smile, although that comes after the treatment is done.

What’s more immediately life-changing is the fact that you’ll have to make a few adjustments to your lifestyle while undergoing treatment.

Before I begin to share my experience, here are two things I need to introduce:

Attachments. These are tiny tooth-coloured blocks bonded onto the teeth at the start of the treatment. They provide the grip for aligners to move the teeth.

 

Attachments

 

Aligners are the invisible braces in the Invisalign treatment.

 

Invisalign

 

These two things are going to live with me for the next one year (maybe nine months if I’m very diligent) and I have to adapt my life around them.

 

Now, my initial experience.

 

Day 1

I spent more than an hour at the clinic having the attachments glued to my teeth and then going through a practical session learning how to wear and remove the aligners.

When it was all done, my mouth felt distressed with all the extra guests in the house. It felt strange and uncomfortable. And I worried about taking the aligners off on my own when I had to eat next.

The first thing I did was look in the mirror and smile. I was really surprised at how inconspicuous it was. No one would be able to tell I was wearing anything in my mouth unless they were like 10 inches from my face and studying my teeth whenever I smiled too widely.

 

Invisalign
The amazing invisibility of Invisalign

 

I couldn’t stop salivating. Dr Poon said that was going to last a few days. She also gave me three strong painkillers, each supposed to work an entire day. She said the tightness would hurt four hours later.

So I went home and braced myself. When it was dinner time, I sat in front of the mirror and started picking at my aligners. You can’t possibly imagine how tough it is to remove them until you’ve tried it yourself. I certainly wasn’t prepared for it to be that tough even though Dr Poon had repeatedly warned me about it.

“Don’t get a manicure,” she said, “You will definitely break your nails.”

She also said it would take about 10 minutes to remove it in the beginning.

She was almost right. I took eight minutes and broke one nail and almost got into a panic when one side came out and the other side refused to, so it was just dangling halfway in and out.

They are definitely not like dentures, which you can pull in and out as you please. They have a life of their own and will cling on for dear life.

I trimmed my nails shorter after that and told myself I was just going to have one meal a day for the rest of the year.

 

Short nails

 

Eating was a task. The attachments made me feel like I constantly had food stuck in front of my teeth. The inside of my left cheek had gotten swollen and I kept biting it when eating, causing it to bleed a bit.

The clinic had anticipated that. They had given me ulcer cream.

Later in the night, it still didn’t hurt or feel the slightest bit tight. I just felt uncomfortable and my jaws felt tired from not being able to close my teeth together fully.

 

Day 2

I woke up the next day and still didn’t feel any pain like I was expecting to. Worried that it wasn’t working as it should be and I might be wearing the aligners for nothing, I rang up the clinic to ask. They said it’s normal.

I had my first meal of the day in the early afternoon. This time, it only took me three minutes to remove the aligners. What an achievement. A few teeth hurt in the process because the aligners pushed against them quite forcefully as they were being yanked out.

At this point of time, I think the teeth are beginning to become sensitive from having started their journey to their newly assigned place in life.

I ate quickly and put the aligners back on. Teeth and gums hurt when snapping the aligners on. Really hurt. So I took a painkiller (which had a mildly drowsy effect) and then went to sleep for eight hours, waking up at midnight.

Sleeping was a luxury because then I didn’t need to feel the discomfort. I didn’t like the feeling of my teeth being trapped in a case. My gums itched all over. My jaws were still tired. I was swallowing saliva every five seconds. My ulcers were annoying me.

The only thing I expected to have which I didn’t actually have was pain. I guess the painkiller took care of that.

 

Getting Invisalign

 

Day 3

My jaws stopped feeling tired, having acclimatised to their new position. The aligners felt slightly thinner (this is purely psychological, as the body adapts). There was only very slight pain whenever I removed the aligners, and a stronger pain when I snapped them back on, but at a level at which I didn’t even consider taking a painkiller. The pain would go away very quickly on its own.

The only thing that bugged me were itchy gums and saliva. My gums drove me crazy and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I just sat there and swallowed saliva most of the day, tried to dissociate myself from my gums.

I ate two meals.

The first meal, I still kept biting that swollen bit in my cheek, so I chose to eat ice cream for my second meal.

Ice cream is great. It numbs the itchy gums, doesn’t require any painful chewing, fills you up and is delicious!

 

Sheylara
Wearing Invisalign.

 

Day 4

That’s today. I’m beginning to believe that I can eventually get used to this. The aligners feel even thinner today, my gums itch less and saliva production is almost at a normal level. The pain of removing and putting on the aligners is insignificant and I only bit the swollen cheek once today.

It takes only a minute for me to remove the aligners now, although I still hate doing it and try to put off eating as long as I possibly can. I also still don’t like the feeling of the attachments in front of my teeth while eating.

But, looking forward, what’s going to be challenging is caring for my teeth and aligners when eating out. I’d have to remove them and put them on in a public restroom. I’d have to brush my teeth in public. And I’d have to take care not to have too long meals so that I won’t have to have the aligners out for two long.

The recommend duration of wearing them is 20-22 hours a day, so that means you can spend two to four hours a day eating and cleaning your teeth. You have to brush your teeth each time before putting the aligners back on.

The best thing about all this is that I’m going to be healthier. Sure, I’ll become skinnier than I can technically afford to be, what with trying to eat as little as possible, but it does mean I’ll be healthier because I eat junk food most of the time, anyway, and my body can certainly do with less junk.

When doing Invisalign, you stop snacking because it’s just not worth going through the hassle of removing the aligners and brushing your teeth just for a little snack. Plus you want to wear them as long as possible every day so that your treatment can be over faster.

And that’s all good, right?

I’ve read online that many girls actually get Invisalign as a weight loss tool. Haha. I think it’s a really good deal. You get a slim figure and a beautiful smile at the end of your treatment.

For this, I have Neuglow Dental and Dr Poon to thank!

Neuglow Dental sponsors my Invisalign treatment and Dr Poon is my awesome orthodontist, very patient and kind, taking the time to explain everything properly.

 

Neuglow Dental

 

Dr Poon

 

Will do an Invisalign FAQ next time so ask now if you have any questions!

SHINE Youth Festival is back

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July is the best month of them all.

Why?

Because my birthday’s on that month!

Okay, that’s not why, really, although it is my birthday month.

July is the best because it’s the month of the SHINE Youth Festival, powered by the National Youth Council and MCYS.

Yes, it’s coming once again, an entire month of nonstop celebration. July is the month for youths (18-35) to showcase their talents in all areas of artistic and creative endeavours, and for everyone to have loads of fun and laughter!

 

SHINE Youth Festival 2011

 

Love the cartoon Ultraman.

You can’t read the text but that’s a list of stuff happening this year for the festival. Go to www.shine.nyc.sg to find out more.

In the meantime, I will tell you the important stuff.

Are you ready?

 

 

SHINE Youth Festival opening on July 2nd

Opening day will probably be the most happening because it’s customary for all festivals to open with a huge bang.

Kicking off the celebrations will be a SHINE concert at *SCAPE showcasing local talents such as Derrick Hoh, JuzB and Tay Kewei.

 

Derrick Hoh

Derrick Hoh

 

JuzB

JuzB

 

Tay Kewei

Tay Kewei

 

Also making an appearance will be DJ KoFlow, Jack and Rai and Bloco Singapura.

If concerts are not your thing, then get busy with these!

Competitions: Pillow fight, eating.

Workshops: Photography, beatboxing, DJ turntablism, percussions

Others: Cosmo Youth Parade, flea market

There will be 400 cosplay costumes available for anyone to try out, so if you’ve always wanted to dress up as your favourite anime or game character, this is your chance! More info here.

 

Cosmo Youth Parade 2010

 

 

Singapore Street Festival

This year, Singapore Street Festival joins hands with SHINE Youth Festival to create a bigger and better event than ever.

Get onto the streets and participate in adrenaline-pumping activities such as muay thai, bellydance and breakdance.

There will be competitions to watch and classes to attend. Find out more.

 

Singapore Street Festival 2011

 

 

Fund-raising Fun

Youth is not only about fun. It’s also about giving back to society and engaging in worthwhile causes.

This year, students of Singapore Management University are hosting many fund-raising activities, one of which is a car foam party happening on July 16 and 17 at Holland Village Car Park.

The aim is to wash the most cars and raise the most funds within 24 hours and get into the Singapore Book Records. Read more here.

 

starringSMU'11

 

 

SHINE Youth Festival Facebook Game

If you’re a couch potato, you can still join in the fun by playing the SYF Facebook game, Power 2 Shine (www.power2shine.sg). (But only available from July 2 onwards, sorry.)

In the game, you’re on a journey to collect power eons to light up the SHINE logo. Overcome obstacles and kill zombie things in record speed.

The two fastest players will win an iPad 2 each!!!!!

Other prizes also available, so don’t fear the competition!

 

SHINE Youth Festival 2011

 

Wow. That’s a lot of stuff.

I shan’t go on anymore because I don’t want to overwhelm you. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed myself.

Bookmark the SHINE Youth Festival website to keep yourself updated on happenings and join the Facebook page.

Enough Talk, Just Do!

Yep, same slogan as last year. It’s a good slogan, though, isn’t it?

Alienware M14x — Uber and stylish

Gamer Girl Friday with Alienware

 

I thought I was going to have to give up playing MMORPGs for a couple of years or so, what with my frequent travels.

From the perspective of a rabid MMORPG fan, that is the equivalent of a regular person having to give up drinking water or breathing air.

Yes, it’s very serious. I was stuck in England for two whole months without access to a gaming machine so when RIFT launched, I couldn’t join my friends in it. That was almost criminal.

But I came prepared this time!

Behold…

 

Sheylara and Alienware M14x

 

The Alienware M14x

 

What a beauty! I borrowed a set from the fabulous people at Dell in order to play RIFT while visiting England for a month this time.

It’s very comforting to know that I can instantly boot up a game any time I feel like playing an MMORPG, and not have to wait till I return to Singapore.

It’s quite graphically intensive, RIFT is, but a piece of cake for the Alienware.

On the M14x, I can play RIFT on maximum graphics with no problems. The gameplay is smooth and it’s beautiful, even when I have my regular applications all running in the background: Photoshop, Firefox, Tweetdeck, MSN.

 

RIFT

 

Running on Intel Core i7 processors, Turbo Boost 2.0 technology and NVIDIA GeForce graphics, there can’t be any other 14″ laptops better for gaming.

But because of its supreme processing power, the battery life of the Alienware M14x is not as long as I’d like it to be. On a full charge, RIFT gaming lasted 75 minutes.

It does last three to five hours when doing less intensive tasks such as word processing or web browsing, which is decent. When not needed, the Nvida Optimus technology switches off the GPU to rely on the default Intel integrated graphics. Some users have even reported usage of six hours.

But I see the M14x as a portable second-home PC so the battery life is not too crucial for me. It’s great for taking to the office for some lunchtime gaming, or for overseas trips, or having LAN gaming sessions at your friend’s place.

In these cases, you want something small enough to carry comfortably but powerful enough to play intensive games and you can always leave it on AC power.

If you want more portability off the AC, there’s always the M11x, but then you’re giving up the 1600×900 resolution HD screen of the M14x. (Although I’m at 1366×768 for RIFT, which is good enough.)

 

RIFT

 

The M14x gets quite hot after about half an hour of intensive gaming, although not to a degree I would be concerned with. What’s more noticeable is the noise the cooling fan makes when it kicks in. But even that doesn’t bother me too much when I’m engrossed in a game, which is good. (Although the fact that I get too engrossed in games isn’t so good.)

 

RIFT

 

What really thrills me is that the M14x is also a model of stylish perfection. I think you can up your cool factor a lot just by being seen with this gorgeous piece of killer machine.

I feel great using it everywhere because it at once identifies me as a gamer and as a person of discerning taste.

 

Sheylara and Alienware M14x

 

Here’s Ringo the cute dachshund (belonging to Charlotte, who is Piers’ sister).

You can immediately tell that Ringo is a fashionable gaming dog.

 

Ringo and Alienware M14x

 

Ringo’s favourite game is Pet Society.

I tried to introduce him to the fantastic world of MMORPGs, but it might take him a while to get there.

 

Ringo and Alienware M14x

 

In the meantime, he really enjoys playing on the M14x.

 

Ringo and Alienware M14x

 

Still on style, the colour-customisable backlit keyboard is just amazing. I’ve got my lights all in red to match the lid, but each section of the keyboard, even the touchpad, speakers and Alienware logos, individually, can be any colour you like.

It’s kind of fun changing the colours every few weeks or so, too. Makes you feel like you’re using a brand new machine.

 

Alienware M14x

 

I really love the keyboard. I think Alienware makes the best keyboards ever. (I’m also using an Alienware keyboard and mouse with my home PC.)

On Alienware laptops, the keyboards have a traditional tapered design which provides more space between individual letters. That makes it a lot easier and very comfortable to type and play games. Quite a welcome feature for FPS and MMORPG players who rely on the keyboard a lot for movement.

 

Alienware M14x

 

Now you want to know specs and prices, of course. The Alienware M14x starts at S$2,299 for the regular machine, which is what I’m using now. You have the option to pay more for improved processors and graphics cards and RAM and so on.

Click here to view full specs.

Oh, don’t forget that there’s now an Alienware concept store in Singapore. I think it’s slightly cheaper to buy from there than from online.

The store is at Suntec City Mall, #02-010C.

Or go to the PC Show this weekend. If you buy any Alienware laptops there, you can get free gifts with your purchase!

By the way, RIFT is a really great game. I don’t want to give my Alienware M14x back now!

 

Sheylara and Alienware M14x