Pacquiao vs. Marquez. Tito Sotto vs. bloggers. Obama vs. Romney. For all of the great debates that have been controversial this year, no brave soul has dared to tackle traditional metal braces vs. Invisalign braces and feature it as a trending topic in the country.

I know most people are already familiar with traditional braces. What about Invisalign? It’s not yet a popular choice in the Philippines. Actually, it’s a fairly newer method of teeth straightening which I discovered only last year in Singapore through Xiaxue’s blog.

It was tempting to opt for Invisalign—those clear plastic aligners—because they appear almost invisible. Moreover, the shifts and transformation process of the teeth can be 5-10 times faster. What wearing traditional braces can accomplish in two year’s time can be done in like 10 months. I just could not spend that much of money (average of 6000SGD) just for teeth cosmetics!

Also, from what I heard, aside from the price, one major disadvantage of using Invisalign is that it has to be removed when eating and/or drinking. This is unless you want the thing stained. So if you’d be an obedient patient, you must abide by the golden rule: Don’t consume any food with them in.

I imagine putting them on and off in the public…and I think what an embarrassing act it will be, especially when dining out with friends. It’s also strongly advised not to drink hot water (even if color is clear), else you will put your teeth at extra risk.

Invisalign can work for those with minor dental issues and may not work for everyone. For these reasons, I chose to go with traditional braces. Same result will be achieved anyway…

Since I was in college, I have been wanting to put braces on my teeth. No, it’s not for aesthetic display as some people wear braces as accessories. They are for real—to straighten my misaligned teeth.

A lot of people don’t notice but I really have an imperfect set of teeth, sadly. The problem is not overcrowding, a serious overbite, or having wide spaces that make my teeth appear like they are enemies. It’s just that my first and second premolars on the right are like hiding at the back of my canine. They grew at an odd angle.

The flaw is so evident especially when I smile with all teeth flashing out. (Don’t you agree?) I get bothered by this every time I look at myself in the mirror and on pictures.

I also have crooked lower incisors that are shaped like a ‘V’ or a ‘butterfly,’ as dentists call it. This one is less prominent though, because I can hide it when I smile or when I talk.

I waited for years until I get the perfect timing. I thought I’d have massive headaches and toothache when I have dental braces on. I could not compromise on having an irksome feeling while I had to keep my fitness to concentrate on my studies as a student. Also, I would not have the time to visit the dentist’s clinic for regular monthly checkups back then. I was too busy.

A year and a month after college graduation, I had my two left (upper and lower) impacted teeth pulled out. They were not hurting, but my dentist advised to pull them out else my other teeth will be pushed and they will become an eyesore after some time.

And just last March, the remaining two right (upper and lower) last molars were also taken out as well. This was already in preparation of the application of braces on my teeth.

* Deep breaths *

That time, I just came back from Singapore. I still had not applied for jobs in Manila, so I spent the [vacation] time for healing after the surgery.

When the wounds were completely healed, I managed to secure a consultation in the orthodontic clinic. To avoid the wait list, Mom and my sister went with me to our dentist-of-all-times. He offered a good price so I could not refuse anymore.

I knew definitely that having orthodontic braces will be painful at the start. But I made the leap to fill my mouth with metal. The day was May 28, 2012.

Every last week of the month, I am scheduled to have the rubber wires adjusted for tightening. After every adjustment, I would take photos of my teeth only to see if there’s any improvement. I’m really in close anticipation that they will move as I wish them to.

Of Braces and Discomfort

The most difficult part is eating. I had become too conscious when I know I have bits of food stuck on my braces with each bite. It’s also rather impossible to chew on crackers, an apple and other hard and rubbery solid food. During the initial two weeks, I only ate soft food to avoid pressure on my teeth. I’m lucky to have my Mom who cooked me delicious soups, porridge, mashed potatoes and vegetables and bought me jelly, yogurt, ice cream, etc.

Second hardest is talking. The top part of the buccal tubes has small “antennae” that would often touch with the inside of my lips. When irritated, they hurt like crazy. I thought the feeling would remain that way and felt glad that it didn’t. I had experienced bleeding gums, oh yes. My dentist was just kind enough to spare me a small box of wax for free to put on the affected dental tubes.

The wax gave me much comfort. However, I wouldn’t want people in public to see me with wax on my teeth. They may think of it as some off-white dirt clinging on my fangs. It’s funny now when I realized that I wore wax during my job interviews.

To reduce the swelling, another good practice I followed was cold compress and swallowing of ice.

Smiles Change Lives

Braces create not only nicer smiles to cameras and crushes but also contribute greatly to oral health. Straight teeth are more than just for attraction; straight, aligned teeth can make it easier to chew food and can reduce my insecurity about my appearance a big step down the line.

I expect that these braces will be removed in the third quarter of 2013. *crossed fingers here* For now, they may not look the prettiest or the least conspicuous, but I hope that the result will be worth the effort and patience!

Next update: Orthodontic Treatment and Braces are Worthwhile? – My Thoughts


Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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56 Responses

  1. jane

    omg! goodluck! and remember you’re beautiful and always be beautiful even though you have that braces. Just be confident and be yourself! I love xiaxue also haha xx

  2. Algene

    I believe the braces made you look prettier! 🙂 Kaya nga love na love ko rin ang dentist ko because I want to take good care of my teeth. Lol

  3. Franc Ramon

    The invisible braces is really expensive but it’s good that you finally have braces to fix your teeth. I’m sure by the end of the year, you’ll have an even better killer smile.

  4. Joy Felizardo

    wow! This write-up is great. My daughter is planning to her upper teeth on braces. I’ll have her read this as well so she now the risks and how it will really hep her. Thanks for sharing your experience to us.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      My dentist gets his materials from Rocky Mountain, US and says that these are the best. The pain only lasted in the first two weeks. So far now that I’m using a better quality of orthodontic wires, the movement is quite fast. 🙂 Tell your daughter that there’s nothing to be afraid of, although the wait requires patience!

  5. special education philippines

    Your photo on the dentist chair makes my knees feel weak already. I also do not like the idea of pain especially in my mouth but a trip to the dentist every year is important. I really dont think you’re smile before the braces is not perfect but of course there’s always room for improvement and if having a perfect set of pearly whites will give you that extra boost then hooray for you!

    Right now, I am considering to visit a recommended dental spa found in Makati. It’s called Fashion Smile. Maybe the idea of spa will lessen my nervousness. 🙂

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Since I was a kid, I have always been scared of dentists. To get over the fear, my mom had to bring me small bears and even the dentist had to award me with little gifts after each procedure. Good thing my dentist now is just cool and friendly. I trust him a lot like a friend. 😀

      • beng

        I have also used that reward system with my daughters just to replace fear with excitement during their visits to the dentist..but may i ask if the set of retainers is part of the 50k package? my eldest is into her 2nd month with braces and it cost me the same amount too…

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Hi Beng. The cost of the retainers is not yet included. My dentist gave me two options for the retainer type. One is the clear aligner-type, which looks similar to the Invisalign tray system, and the other is the regular kind with a wire that holds the teeth in position. I chose the clear transparent plastic designed to fit precisely over my teeth. It’s more expensive but I just prefer it.

  6. R.O.M.E.L.O.

    I have no idea what’s a traditional brace is and how it differs from a non-traditional brace… besides, I still don’t know why people get braces… I had a classmate before who said it was a painful experience…

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha surely it’s a painful experience as the teeth and the bones will start to move. With each tightening, the root system of the teeth are “broken,” thereby allowing the teeth to move into the proper alignment.

  7. ralph

    if that improves your self-esteem and confidence, then its worth going through it. happy new, and keep taking good care of your teeth. Yahweh bless.

  8. Paolo U

    I like the part how you start your article.

    I have been thinking about getting braces too, but I just don’t have the money yet.

    Don’t be sad and think that it doesn’t look good on you. Just think about how good you look when the braces are finally out.

  9. jsncruz

    Braces, no matter what kind, scare the heck out of me. I have good genes to thank for my good set of teeth! 😛

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Good for you! Those teeth should be well taken care of until you’re old so you won’t have to have false teeth and other of those unnatural colored materials (like gold and silver) for replacements.

  10. che

    Once I asked my dentist if I need to wear braces since my teeth are misaligned, upper and lower. My lower set doesn’t show when I smile. But he told me I don’t need to. So I settle with it.
    You’re still lovely even with that misaligned tooth. 😀

  11. papaleng

    Good thing , my sister is a dentist, and I and the whole family have free-of-charge regular dental check up. My daughter has braces and she swears that at times she feels awkward having one. In your case, kita naman na yuo look lovely wearing those invi-braces.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      We also have dentists in the family but they’re living in the provinces and practice their profession there. For cleaning, we also are not required to pay any. 😛 well, thanks for the compliment but I’ll be getting the invisible set only for retainers.

  12. falz

    Wow! This maybe also the solution for misaligned teeth but I don’t have the money yet.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      If your teeth are not that bad or crooked, or if you’re satisfied with how you look then you can be good without braces and spending money for them. 😀

  13. Sumi Go

    I’ve had friends who went through hell (I quote them) during their first few weeks, but your post shed more light in me. Btw, I’ve heard about Invisalign but I didn’t know you can’t eat with them on pala! I personally don’t have teeth alignment problems, but my little sister shares something similar with yours. A tooth next to her canine seems hiding at the back. Not crowding, just the angle of the growth is wrong. She loves it though, lucky tooth and cuteness factory daw :))

    Anyway, good luck and I hope your teeth can go braces-free soon! 🙂

  14. Gemma|My Dailies

    I had braces when I was in college. I guess the dentist didn’t do a good job with it since after more than 10 years I’m back to having braces again! I kinda like it the second time around. Lol!

  15. Mark Morfe

    I’ve never heard about invisalign braces until I’ve read your post. I used to like having braces until my teeth slowly cracks almost one by one.

  16. Pal Raine

    Same here sis I have a problem with my teeth too. But as time goes by I manage to handle it,I can even hide it when I smiled. Hahahahaha….anyway, you’re still beautiful in and outside. So there you have it, smiling really does help you: it makes you happy, makes you look nice, and keeps you healthy! Now that you know the importance of this pleasant yet easily forgotten task, start actively working to smile more often. Have a happy SMILE sis. Have courage.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha my mom has a different problem–she shows a “surplus of her gums,” as we call it. But then through the years, she also has managed to hide it when she smiles. Thanks, sis. 😀

      • Nica Villas

        I’ve been wanting to have my braces too since I was in college because of my misaligned teeth of course and not just because of trend. However, I don’t have enough money that time. Now that I’m working, I can save money for braces. The problem is I can’t see a perfect time to put those braces on because of my work. I’m an online teacher and I need to talk everyday in my work and I know that by having braces I’ll have a hard time talking which is really a big problem in my work. You’re lucky to have enough money at the right time in putting your braces. 🙂

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Hi Nica. Thanks for sharing your story here. 🙂 I just saw this opportunity to have my teeth done before I go back to the corporate world again and work. It’s a great investment anyway as it boosts self-esteem especially (you’re right) when talking to people. I also do talk to people all the time – clients, vendors, teammates, business sponsors and other people in the organization, therefore I feel you. Question is, how much is “enough” for you? There are many online deals now that offer relatively affordable dental services for ortho cases (for as low as PHp 8,000) and I think you just have to pay extra for the maintenance until you finish the procedure. You can also find dental clinics or dentists that accept installment of payment. In that way, you are not pressured to cash out all resources in one go. 😀

      • Nica Villas

        Thanks for that! It really helps me a lot. I’m really planning to find dental clinics that accept installment. But I can’t have my braces now ,like what I said, because of my work. I’ll have a hard time adjusting that’s for sure. Maybe I can consider putting braces few months later. Thank you for your suggestions. I’ll follow your site starting this day for sure 🙂

  17. Maki

    Hi, Rochkirstin I like you’re blog.
    I really wanted to have braces but I cant afford it.
    I wanted to ask if kung ano yung included sa 50k? Included na ba dun yung wisdom tooth extraction?
    Thanks in advance.

  18. Maki

    Thanks for replying Roch.
    I guess I need to save up more.
    You have a really neat and nice blog.
    More power.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks and you’re welcome! 🙂 Just to share, in my case, I took advantage of our company medical benefits and SSS reimbursements so I only paid the amount not covered.

      • Rochkirstin Sioco

        You can go to any local dental clinic and seek for advice. Through orthodontic treatment, problems like crooked or crowded teeth, overbites or underbites, incorrect jaw position and disorders of the jaw joints are corrected. Your dentist will know what appliance is best for your particular problem.

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  20. Eloisa

    Hi! ^_^

    Love this post . 😉 Braces really hurts in the first week. But months goes by you will be immune and manage to smile also.. Hehehe… It is so important to take really care our teeth and go to the nearest Dental Clinics every now and then . We can’t afford not to smile and being happy is the best way of smiling. ^_^ Thanks also to my beautiful and always smiling Doc Pam from D&P Dental Center( who really take good care my teeth and not only me to my family also.

    Thank you ^_^

  21. Cosmetic Dentistry

    Guys I’m getting braces on Thursday and I have been waiting 3 years but now it’s compulsory to wear face masks in public so now i can’t show them off :/ how sad it is 🙁

  22. Scott Fonseca

    The info for orthodontic braces users that dentists give is the importance of having the bite corrected. This ideal position keeps the lips and the cheeks from being bitten. The lower teeth must also protect the tongue. In addition, having a correct bite makes for easier chewing and of food and could put a worsening condition at bay. This is because malocclusion makes it more difficult to clean the teeth, and there is a higher risk of tooth decay and gum diseases.


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