Dr Wesley’s Invisalign Journey Episode 14: The T(r)ooth Hurts

I have a secret to share….. Doctors are human too! It has been far too long since I had shared my Invisalign journey with you all because frankly, there was not much to share. Except perhaps that when COVID struck, I (like you all) developed some poor habits. One of which was not wearing my Invisalign or my elastics to my Motion appliance. I will admit that when we had to shut down our office, I was shaken. My energy night and day went to managing my patients, making sure my team was surviving, and keeping the doors open on the business.

I could go on with the excuses but the fact remains that I, like you, have to face the reality and consequences of my poor compliance. This includes prolonged treatment time and maybe even a less than ideal treatment outcome! I thought of a million ways to say it but inevitably we all know that to good old fashion TRUTH will set you free!

It is time to put that behind me and carry on with MY Invisalign Journey. In this episode, I share with you some T(r)ooths regarding rubber bands, Invisalign, and orthodontics in general.

Video Time Points

2:59 T(r)ooth #1: Successful orthodontics is a team effort! Your orthodontist is like your coach. They cannot play for you.

4:39 T(r)ooth #2: What happens when you don’t wear you aligners or rubber bands? Hint: Your teeth shift back to where they started.

7:30 T(r)ooth #3: Will your teeth hurt when you don’t wear your aligners or rubber bands for a while? Can’t I just jam that plastic right back on my teeth or double up on my rubber bands?

10:20 T(r)ooth #4: Can my orthodontist tell if I have been wearing my rubber bands?

13:19 T(r)ooth #5: Do teeth move as easily in adult as they do in children?

Dr Wesley’s Invisalign Journey Episode 13: Dink N Flicka (Elastics)

In this episode Dr Wesley discusses his experience with wearing his rubber bands (sometimes called elastics). He talks about the importance of rubber bands and why you must wear them full time. He even gives you his technique for placing his rubber bands that he coined “Dink N Flicka”. All of you who are fans of ‘The Office’ might appreciate this! 😉

Here are some of the highlights that you should consider:

  • Your orthodontist knows if you’ve been wearing you rubber bands. The teeth that the rubber bands are being worn on will be loose and you will begin to see a space between that tooth and the tooth in front of it.
  • Follow the instructions that YOUR orthodontist gives you. Everyone is different and you may need to wear elastics a different way and for different amount of times than your friend at school.
  • Wearing rubber bands 12 hours a day is just as good as not wearing them at all. The 12 hours that you are wearing them are just getting the cellular activity that moves teeth started. There are tiny fibers that hold your teeth where they are. These will stretch and will pull your teeth back to their original position if the rubber bands are not consistent. Therefore, everything you gained in the first 12 hours of the day will be reversed in the second 12 hours of the day.
  • Do NOT get discouraged! It takes practice but you will be able to do this without looking soon enough. Just practice and commit to it! The better you wear these, the better your treatment result will be.
  • Try Dr Wesley’s Dink N Flicka technique! This works but it is not the only way. You may have an easier time placing the elastic on the back tooth and then stretching it forward. Find your way!

Please reach out any time if you need more rubber band coaching!

Dr Wesley’s Invisalign Journey Episode 12: Bonding the Motion Appliance

Today is another huge milestone in my Invisalign journey! In this episode, we have a very special guest. Someone who I admire deeply and is one of the greatest orthodontists I know. The things I’ve learned about perseverance, hard work, and attention to detail all originated from this man. I am honored to have my original orthodontist, my father, Dr. Gerald Martin Wesley with us on this episode.

On this episode, he joins me at my office to remove the Invisalign attachments and then bonds the Motion Appliance. This Motion Appliance is designed to correct my bite by reducing the overjet. (Overjet= the way we classify the relationship of the top teeth to the bottom teeth from front to back).

The Motion Appliance works to do this in following ways:

  • It tips the occlusal plane
  • It distalizes the maxillary dentition
  • It derotates the maxillary molars
  • It proclines and mesializes the mandibular teeth

What do you mean you don’t understand this?! Don’t worry, I have this all covered in more detail in the next episode. Episode 13. In the meantime, I discussed the Motion Appliance in more detail in this blog. Check it out here: https://lifetimeortho.com/motion-appliance/. In this blog, you will also find a video of me placing a Motion Appliance. It is cool to see the difference in techniques between the way I place them and the way my father places them. Here is a short cut to that video:

Video Time Points

If you are living and evolving in this digital world then you, like most of us, only have an attention span of fruit fly. For this reason, I laid out some timepoints in the video that you may enjoy. If you are one of those weird folks that just likes the hum of a drill then by all means, watch the entire video. It is quite interesting.

Dr GM= Dr Gerald Martin (the older Dr Wesley)
Dr GW= Dr Gerald William (Me, I am named after both of my grandfathers)

2:20 Dr GM discusses his preference to be assisted on the opposite side than what GW prefers

3:18 Dr GM shares a story from Dr GW’s childhood. This one left a scar…..literally.

5:02 Dr GW realizing what his patients go through when they are having their braces or attachments removed. Dang that drill it cold! Noted!

5:10 Dr GW compliments his father’s attention to detail. There are few like this around. When people come to my home they ask how I keep things so orderly. They have no idea how deep that goes haha

6:40 If you’re a dental hygienist…..help! Dr GW is going insane because he is unable to clean part of a tooth.

7:07 Dr GW describes the Motion Appliance to Dr GM. This is actually his first time placing this particular appliance! Spoiler alert: He nails it! They then remeasure to make sure they have the right size.

9:23 Etching the teeth. This is a process that kills all of the organic material and creates micro-pores in the tooth. These micro-pores are what allow the adhesive to stick to the tooth.

10:55 Dr GM then places sealant. Sealant fills those pores and is the “middle man” between the tooth and the adhesive.

11:40 He is lining up the Motion Appliance and begins cleaning the extra glue.

12:48 Dr GW approves the placement before Dr GM cures (hardens the glue) with the light.

15:00 Dr GM begins placing the hooks on the lower arch. These will be used to attach the elastics on the bottom.

18:16 Party

18:30 Dr GW attempts to put in his elastics for the first time. This is disgraceful! Cynn (who has been wearing these for several months now) coaches Dr through it.

19:55 PSA: No excuses kids! Victory!

How To Clean Your Retainers

In this video, Heather shows you how to take care of your orthodontic retainer. Remember all of the hard work that you went through to get your beautiful smile. Everything in our body is constantly changing. Our teeth are no different! The best way to make sure that you keep them nice and straight is to wear your retainer. Retainers may wear down over time but if you take good care of them they can last many years before they need to be replaced. Tips from this video will help you to get the most out of your retainers. If you have any questions, please share in the comment below.

Dr Wesley’s Invisalign Journey Episode 11: Getting “The Tooth” Extracted

Dr Wesley continues his Invisalign Journey after a small hiatus. In this video, he finally gets the rate limiting step out of the way. That is, he gets “The Tooth” taken out! There are some semi-graphic scenes of the tooth and some medical equipment. If that kind of thing does not sit right with you then you may want to skip this episode.

We want to send a special thanks to Dr Gary Forgach and his team (Paige and Nancy) for taking good care of Dr Wesley. The process and the recovery have all been completely seamless.

Enjoy this episode!

Motion Appliance

If you had braces, it is likely that you have heard the term elastics (rubber bands). You probably had to wear them! Does this conjure up some fond memories for you? Memories of your parents yelling at you to put them on. Memories of your disappointed orthodontist. Memories of flinging these little rubber bands across the classroom at your friends! I know there are a few of you that are the exception but for most there is typically a cycle to your orthodontic experience that goes something like this.

  • You’re super excited to get your braces on!
  • They hurt the first 2-3 days but then you find your routine and no problem.
  • You enjoy matching colors with your friends and for holidays.
  • You get to the halfway point of around 12 months and then your orthodontist tells you that you need to begin wearing rubber bands.
  • They hurt at first, but you give it a shot.
  • You get tired of trying to remember your rubber bands.
  • Your orthodontist gives you a massive guilt trip.
  • Your parents ground you for not wearing your rubber bands (amongst other things).
  • Your orthodontist gives you a talk about your elastics and how it will destroy your entire life if you do not wear them better.
  • You wear them better for another month.
  • You are now in braces for 18 months and just want them off.
  • You fear going to the orthodontist because he is going to be incredibly disappointed in your poor rubber band wear.
  • You go anyways and try to wear 5 rubber bands the day before to compensate.
  • Your orthodontist calls your parents back to the clinic to share that he will not be able to get your bite to be perfect without rubber bands.
  • You try for another 6 months but only halfheartedly.
  • Your treatment is extended, and your hygiene becomes poor.
  • Your orthodontist gives up and recommends that braces come off with a less than perfect bite.
  • Braces come off and you are so burnt out that you neglect to wear your retainer.
  • Orthodontist has a life crisis when your teeth shift.

Listen folks! I’m tired of these mini life crises. Luckily, they rarely happen these days. That is in thanks to the technology that we have implemented as well as our treatment strategies. One of these examples in particular has been the implementation of the Motion Appliance. I am going to go in depth about the Motion Appliance in this article but let me summarize its benefits. Imagine that orthodontic cycle that I just walked you through and just take a breather. Imagine now that instead of your orthodontist telling you to start wearing your rubber bands after you have already had your braces on for 12-18 months that he/she tells you that you are nearly done! That your braces are coming off early! Imagine if you wore elastics at the very beginning of treatment and got all of the heavy lifting done in the first 6 months. What if you got to wear rubber bands before braces were even placed and you were super excited about it?! And….you were still excited to get your braces on so you wore your rubber bands really well so you can get your braces on sooner! “I know, Dr Wesley, let’s calm it down for a second here.” It is exciting and these are just some of the reasons that I find a lot of success with the Motion Appliance.

It allows me to fulfill my ultimate goal of providing you with an outstanding experience at Lifetime Orthodontics.

What is the Motion Appliance?

The Motion Appliance is an appliance used to correct a “Class II Malocclusion” (There is a Class III version that I will touch on as well). It is an awesome appliance and we have seen tremendous success with it with the patient’s in our practice. It corrects a “Class II Malocclusion” by dentoalveolar tooth movement (it moves teeth through bone, opposed to moving the bone/jaws themselves). It corrects this by 4 distinct means of movement.

  • It rotates the upper molars distally (backwards)
  • It tips the occlusal (biting) plane downward
  • It moves the teeth distally (backwards)
  • It partially move the lower teeth forward (this is usually not a desired outcome)

There is debate as to whether the Motion has any skeletal changes (changes in the relationship of the jaws). I do believe that improving the way that the teeth come together during adolescent growth can help to improve the way that the jaws grow. I do not believe that the appliance itself promotes growth. The company claims this, and you will see this in the video below. I do want to be clear that there is not any reliable research that has been published on this. That is ok, because it is still a fantastic appliance that does a much better job than rubber bands alone can do. In summary, it consistently helps to achieve our treatment goals. Watch the animation in the video below to get a better visual on how this appliance works. You will see that they discuss the jaw moving, the condyle/TMJ improving, and airway improvements. I do want to be clear that I do not support those claims and neither does any decent research. I still post it because it is a great animation to show you what it can do. I promote and use this appliance because it is still a great appliance for what it can do.

What is a “Class II Malocclusion” and a “Class III Malocclsuion”?

A “Class II” is a relationship between your upper and lower teeth. It is when the upper teeth are too far forward relative to the lower teeth. This might mean that the top teeth are too far forward or that the lower teeth are too far backward. It is all relative! It can also be a “Dental Class II” or a “Skeletal Class II”. A “Dental class II” refers to the relationship where the discrepancy is in the teeth alone (not the jaws). A “Skeletal Class II” relationship if when the jaws that house the teeth are not aligned. This might mean that the upper jaw is too far forward, or the lower jaw is too far backwards. It could be a combination of both! A “Class III Malocclusion” would be just the opposite.

This is some seriously advanced stuff for most of you that follow my blog. For this reason, I will leave the descriptions here for now but feel free to reach out in the comments if you are interested in hearing more. I will create a separate blog post to dive deeper into these concepts.

How is a Motion Appliance placed?

I’m glad you asked! Check out this video that I made to train team members at LTO. It shows you the entire process as well as the instructions. This video is 25 minutes long as I am going slow to teach all the steps in detail. It typically only takes 10 minutes to get this placed!

What can you expect while wearing your Motion Appliance?

We will review all of this when you get it placed. I also reviewed it in the video above. You will wear your rubber bands as instructed. It is usually full time unless directed otherwise. It is critical that you always wear your lower retainer when the elastics are in so that your lower teeth do not shift. You will experience the following:

  • We see you at the office every 6 weeks to check your progress.
  • Your front teeth (usually canines) that you attach the rubber bands to will become loose. This is good!
  • You will get a space between the canine and your lateral incisor. This is great!
  • We will typically give you a stronger rubber band to wear when we feel that you are ready for it.
  • Your retainer may get worn down from excessive grinding. This is not great but is also not a problem. Just let us know at your next visit.
  • If you do a great job wearing your rubber bands, you will finish in 3- 6months. If you do an average job, then it may take 6-9 months. If you do a poor job, then it may never happen, and we will just have to accept your bite as it is or consider more drastic treatment alternatives.
  • We do not leave the spaces in the front teeth, but they are temporarily a part of the process. This is a great success to see this!

This patient is a 33 year old adult female. This means that her bone is more mature and therefore more difficult to move teeth through than a 10 year old. She had previously been told that she would need surgery. I agreed that surgery was ideal but not everyone wants surgery. Look at how awesome this correction is without surgery in just 5 months!

Benefits of the Motion Appliance

  • Better rubber band compliance
  • The heavy lifting is done first
  • More predictable bite correction
  • Better hygiene since the braces typically need to be on for a shorter time
  • Better hygiene relative to other “Class II” correctors
  • Quicker overall treatment time
  • More efficient mechanics (orthodontist only would understand this part)

I absolutely love talking orthodontics, teeth, or just life. If you want to get deeper on any of the content that you have seen here then please comment below or email us at [email protected]

Thank you for reading!

Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS

Dr Wesley’s Invisalign Journey Episode 10: Refinement Treatment Planning

Orthodontics is an awesome profession! It combines science, art, and critical thinking to produce and beautiful yet functional masterpiece. One of my favorite parts of Orthodontics, is treatment planning (coming up with the treatment and its sequence). It takes a lot of knowledge and though but is very rewording when you see your plan come to fruition. When we take out our refinement records, it is an opportunity for the orthodontist to sit down and analyze the progress that has been made, identify any areas of the plan that are lagging behind, or it creates an opportunity to shift the direction of the plan if they see that it needs to do so.

This video is one of my favorites! In it I review the original treatment goals, talk about the ease of my experience thus far, and discuss how I will be taking my own treatment plan in a new direction. It involves teeth extractions, my big nose, an ankylosed tooth, some metal hardware, and rubber bands! How could you possibly miss this?!

I want to share some additional commentary on the video. You will hear me discuss an ankylosed tooth. This is one of the greatest challenges for an orthodontist. Normally, a tooth is connected to bone via ligaments. This is what allows teeth to move. In the case of ankyloses, the root of the tooth is fused directly to the bone. This means it will not move! You can imagine why this is a challenge for my kind. There are several causes for ankylosis that we can chat about if you are interested. There is however, little that we can do to correct them. Sometimes these teeth can be wiggled loose like a tooth extraction so that they are mobile just long enough to move them in to position. In my case, it was decided to attempt to cut off the root of the area that was thought to be fused to bone. It was a great idea but neither were successful. You will see in this video what a challenge it has caused.

You will also notice that through the several procedures that it took to perform this “root amputation”, combined with aggressive brushing, my roots have been exposed. This root exposure created an opportunity for cavity-causing bacteria to nestle in. This was my first cavity! No matter how diligent I was about cleaning my teeth, there are just some areas, like the little groove between your roots, that are next to impossible to keep free from decay. I share this with you because I want to stress the point that a periodontal specialist MUST be seen when you have recession, bone loss, and especially root exposure. A common problem in dentistry (one that even I had to learn the hard way) is that “if it doesn’t hurt then I don’t need to go”. Proactively taking care of unseen issues saves a lot of time, discomfort, and money.

I also discuss ways that I can correct my “class II malocclusion”. Class II malocclusion means that my top arch is more forward than my bottom arch or my bottom arch is more setback relative to my top arch. This can be a problem with the size or shapes of your jaws. It could also just be in the way your teeth align. In my case, it is more of a jaw size and shape issue. Jaw issues are ideally corrected with surgery but it does not effect my quality of life so much that I want to undergo a procedure like that. I will therefore accept a few compromises (from perfection) and correct the skeletal (jaw) issue, dentally. I could have chosen to do this in several different ways but I saw it as a good opportunity to use an appliance that I use almost daily on my patients. Like my aligner therapy, I felt it was a great opportunity to understand the product from the other patient side.

This video is loaded with a lot more information and I would be happy to chat in more depth about anything that may spark your interest (even the Lions going to Miami for the Superbowl). Please comment on the blog below or email me at [email protected] .

Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS

Can I recycle my Invisalign trays?

In orthodontic offices all over the world, plastic mountains are created every single day. This is my dramatization of the mass amount of aligners that are delivered, unpacked and stored in our office every day. Like many offices, the number of aligners that come through our office each day is rapidly increasing. Just ask our “Invisaleader” who is assigned the daunting task of managing all of these aligner cases. Invisalign, the largest aligner company on the market had reported 931,045 case shipments in 2017 and 1,228,065 case shipments in 2018. A case shipment can range between 5 to 100+ aligners for each case. It has been reported that Invisalign will produce about 320,000 custom aligner each day. As you can imagine, that is a ton of plastic!
Also on the rise is the global consciousness of our carbon footprint. As an orthodontist staring at the plastic mountains that are formed every day in the office and as an Invisalign patient racing through my own plastic trays, I find myself asking the same questions that all of you are asking. Should I be recycling my aligners?

Worn Aligners

Each aligner incrementally advances your tooth movement a bit closer to your end result. On average, each aligner is worn for 1 week before you advance to your next aligner. Common practice in orthodontic treatment it to always keep your previous aligner. We ask you to do this incase you lose your current aligner and are not ready to move forward to your next aligner. Popping in your previous aligner and notifying your orthodontist allows your teeth to remain in their position while your orthodontist orders a replacement aligner. Once you are done with that previous aligner, you should throw those aligners in the garbage. Why? You cannot recycle a medical waste product! These things have been soaking in your mouth for a week and like any other plastic that is used for medical purposes, it cannot be reused. That however is just one reason why we cannot recycle aligners. What about those aligners that have not been used?

Unworn Aligners

You may find yourself with several unused aligners throughout your treatment and tempted to toss them into the recycling bin. While attending an orthodontic conference a few weeks ago Invisalign CEO, Joe Hogan, fielded some questions and concerns from orthodontist at the meeting. Amongst those concerns, was the question that both you and I have. Is Invisalign developing a program to recycle the unused aligners? What are they doing to minimize their carbon footprint? Joe brought to our attention that the patented SmartTrack material is a multi-layer polymer. It is unique in its properties of rigidity and elasticity. These qualities create ideal conditions for tooth movements. Unfortunately, a multi-layer polymer means that it is made up of several layers of plastic. If you will recall, most plastics have a number 1-7 on them. They are categorized as such because there is a different process for recycling each type of plastic and they should be sorted as such. Some of the plastics are not able to be recycled at all and have to be sorted out from the ones that are. Some facilities are only equipped to handle certain types of plastics because they are not equipped to handle the variety of plastics. Now add the fact that the Invisalign aligners cannot even be classified because they are made from a mixture of several types of plastics. This is the ultimate reason that they are not able to be recycled. At least for the time being. Joe did tell us that the scrap plastics created from the molds that the aligners are fabricated from are reused as fillers in things such as speed bumps, paneling, insultation, egg cartons, etc.

What now?

There are few things that we do these days that do not contribute to our carbon footprint. I am not here to tell you if this is right or wrong. I simply wanted to do my research to understand it a bit better so that I can more readily answer your questions as well as my own. We do know that better alignment of your teeth and jaws for some can reduce the occurrence of decay, improve your overall oral health, and improve your overall quality of life. I think orthodontic aligners are a great tool to achieve a healthy smile but perhaps traditional braces may sit easier with the more “green” folks out there. I would love to hear your thoughts! Please reach out at [email protected] or comment below.

Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS

Good luck to our Student-Athletes!

Football season is here! Growing up, a lot of my life revolved around sports. Football in particular seemed to occupy a lot of my time and energy. This past week I had the unique opportunity to return to my high school and speak to the young Marine City Mariners. Coach Glodich, who I worked with closely when I was there had reached out and asked if I could come “speak from the heart” and share what life after football was like. When I finished my speech I was blown away from the thanks that I received from the team. Nearly every one of them came up to shake my hand. I was blown away by how polite these young men were. In their thank yous however, they probably did not realize that me giving this talk had done as much for me as it may have done for them. It was an opportunity for me to reflect on those days and lessons that were learned. The lessons that are carried with me and used daily. While I came up with this talk to share with my young Mariners, I think there are messages or reminders that should be shared among all student-athletes as we enter into the new school year. While Marine City holds a special place in my heart, believe me when I say that I follow all our local teams here in Macomb County and St. Clair County. Below is the talk that I had prepared for the team last week and I share it in hopes that it may find someone else that it speaks to. Best of luck to all of the student athletes out there this season! We will be cheering you all on as our local teams but also in your individual becoming and self development.

“Thank you coach. Its an honor to stand on this field and among you Mariners.

When coach asked me to speak, I asked if there was a topic that he would like me to address. I give a ton of talks and this by far has been the easiest to come up with. He told me to just speak from the heart. That’s easy because my heart is made up of the lessons that began right here on this field.

I can never thank Marine City enough for its roll in developing the man that I have become today. I want to share with you 5 of these lessons that I carry with me daily. I want you to listen closely as they had only begun here and did not fully develop until later in life. My mind at the time could not grasp these concepts fully at the time. I share this with you today in the hopes that you can see what I could not. In the hopes that you can stand on my shoulders and see farther than I.

Have you ever wondered what your very last play on the field would be like? The final memory that you will have as a Mariner as the seconds tick off the clock? I remember mine vividly. It was in the Regional finals against Grosse Ile. We were on defense and I was back at safety as they were taking the knee for a victory. I had a flashback and to this day when I think of my playing days this is the first thing that came to mind. I had played for 2 undefeated teams. Scored 26 touchdowns that year. Two of them in that final game but I also blew coverage to give up the winning touchdown. What do you think my final thoughts on that field were? It’s not what you think it is……ponder and we will circle back to 1.

The 2nd thing is leadership. Where are my captains? Stand up. A leader is not in the title, it is in the action. So I therefore address everyone of you, especially the ones on a knee still, when I say that being a leader is taking full ownership of your actions and their outcomes. You will never hear a coach or god willing a captain blame another player. How can YOU be better? We also want to lead up the chain of command. Be a leader in your position and ask questions to get your job done. Leaders take on responsibility for everything. Especially the failures.

Which leads me to lesson 3. Learn how to fail. I graduated the top of my dental school class because noone asked as many questions as me and noone failed as much as I did. The lessons we learn from our failures far outweigh our wins. You only truly fail if you do not get back up and try again.

How do we minimize failure? That’s through lesson 4. Preparation. Marine City football has been consistent year after year. We were never the biggest or the fastest. The one thing that sets us apart is as Peyton Manning puts it, We are relentless in our preparation. You can imagine how that has served me well through my career.

A very stressful career. People assume stress is a bad thing. I call lesson 5 ‘Becoming Tempered’ . Many do not realize that I enjoy the stress. Its the glory of the battle that is the real reward. We learn this here on this field. Few people I come across are fortunate enough to realize this. This week has arguably been one of the most stressful of my life. I thank the universe for the test. Without these test we would never have the opportunity to grow.

I bring you back to the final play of your Mariner career. I played on 2 undefeated teams. Broke the all time touchdown record in my senior season. In my final game against Grosse Ile I scored two touchdowns. I also let up a game winning touchdown. So what was my flashback, my last memory?

It was first 7 on 7 lining up with Kyle Pelzer. Spending endless nights in the weight room with Craig Lindke. It was battling out with Jon Kuzma in combos. It was taking warm up snaps from Matt Schindler.It’s the time spent with my backs, Mike Parslow and Kevin Cherluck It was just coming out here and competing with my best friends every single day. You don’t know any of these names and that doesn’t matter. What matters is today. These are the days that count. Right now is what counts. So my final lesson is this……look right now at the greatness that is before you. Be here in it. NOW. At all times.

Intimidate. Dominate. Go Black.”


Facebook Thank you! This was truly an honor.


Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS