Brides- and grooms-to-be now include teeth straightening on their pre-wedding checklists.
Cara Mollise carefully checked off the completed items on her wedding list. Wedding dress: tailored. Band: booked. Invitations: mailed. Teeth: straight.
When Mollise, 24, walks down the aisle of St. Joachim Catholic Church in Costa Mesa, Calif., on June 17, everything has to be perfect, including her teeth.
“It is the one day that you will take pictures and videos that you want to remember for the rest of your life,” says Mollise. “You don’t want to look back with regret and say, ‘Oh, I wish my teeth were straighter.’ ”
So few days after getting engaged in June, Mollise visited a dentist. In doing so, she joined hundreds of soon-to-be-wed men and women across the nation who now include teeth straightening on their pre-wedding to-do lists.
“For many people, a beautiful smile may improve self-confidence—especially for someone who has a special day coming up,” says Robert James Bray, the president-elect of the American Association of Orthodontists in St. Louis.
The trend is so prevalent that some wedding planners now keep a list of dentists, along with photographers, caterers and bands.
Candice Benson, senior event consultant for the Finishing Touch, a wedding- and event-planning company in West Orange, N.J., refers her clients to Vladimir Gashinsky, a dentist in Millburn, N.J.
After conferring with her dentist, Mollise chose Invisalign over regular braces. A clear and removable treatment for the teeth, Invisalign consists of a series of clear plastic aligners that users can keep on their teeth for most of the day and is considered an alternative to traditional braces. Mollise only takes off her top and bottom aligners, which are essentially clear plastic moldings, when she is eating or drinking anything but water.
Every two weeks, Mollise gets a new set of custom-made aligners that gradually shift her teeth into place.
“I like them because they don’t interfere with my life and they are definitely more comfortable and convenient than metal braces,” Mollise says.
Indeed, Invisalign seems to be the dental instrument of choice for these soon-to-be-wed women (and some men), rather than traditional metal-heavy braces. “After a certain age, it’s just not acceptable to have braces,” Gashinsky says.
Costs vary according to the severity of the misalignment. They can range anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000, say patients. Benson, the wedding planner, says about 30 percent of her clients opt to get Invisalign, regardless of the cost.
“A lot of my client’s wedding budget goes toward photography, so for many brides, it’s about looking your best and knowing you are your most beautiful on that special day,” says Benson, who has owned her company for six years.
For one bride-to-be, Invisalign proved to be a quick alternative to an erstwhile beauty disaster. Jonathan Nicozisis, an orthodontist in Princeton, N.J., had one patient who came to him with a missing front tooth, which she was born without. To remedy the problem before her wedding, he custom-made an aligner with a filler for the missing tooth.
“With Invisalign, the bride is in total control of the entire process and can manage her own results,” Nicozisis says. “It offers a kind of mental stability in an otherwise unstable and chaotic time.”
Many begin the Invisalign treatment soon after their engagement, but Sarah Amato, 22, got a head start. A sales and marketing associate, Amato started the treatment in anticipation that she will soon be engaged to her boyfriend of 2 1/2 years.
“When we do get married, I want my teeth to be good, and I want to be happy with them,” she says.
The stress of planning a wedding, however, is not just for the brides-to-be.
Anatoly Lipetsky, 33, vice president of sales at U.S. Bank in San Francisco, had a lower and upper gap in his teeth before his wedding in September 2007. Lipetsky says he would not have bothered fixing his teeth if Invisalign were not an option. “When you are older and have clients to meet and work full time, it’s hard to have braces and still be professional,” says Lipetsky, a former high-school-cheerleading coach.
That’s not to say Invisalign is for everybody. Adam Goodman, an orthodontist in New York City said that although he has treated more than 1,000 patients with Invisalign, he still prefers to use braces because he thinks they can provide a better result.
The length that someone with a moderate case of misalignment has to wear braces is six to 15 months, about the same amount of time as a similar patient using Invisalign, Goodman says. However, Invisalign results can vary because the treatment depends completely on how often a patient remembers to wear his or her aligners. “It takes discipline to get to that perfect 100 percent point, just like losing that last five pounds,” he says.
Regardless of which type of treatment a patient chooses, Goodman says he has seen a spike in the number of adults who have asked to get dental work in the past 10 or 15 years. According to Align Technology, the company that designs, manufactures and markets Invisalign, 82 percent of Invisalign patients in 2008 were over the age of 18.
Since it received Food and Drug Administration clearance to market Invisalign in 1998, Align Technology has treated 944,000 patients worldwide. Out of that number, 70 percent of patients were women.
Much of its popularity is attributable to patients, like Mollise, who strive to have the perfect smile for their wedding day. However, her fiancé, Anthony Spezza, doesn’t think his bride-to-be needs Invisalign.
“I’ve always told her that her teeth look fine, but if this is what she wants for our wedding, then I just have to be supportive," says the 26-year-old, a store manager at Best Buy. “I think she’s pretty no matter what she does.”