Starting from when she was an infant, honor student Michaela has had a long history of dental issues. These problems finally came to an end when she and her mother discovered SmileDirectClub.
At seven months old, she began having seizures. They could sometimes several hours, with Michaella grinding her teeth in reaction to them. When Michaella was two years old, one seizure changed her smile. She clenched her jaw so tightly, she cracked four top front teeth and had to have them pulled.
“It was very scary to deal with that, especially when you’re so young. And she almost died,” says Keisha, her mother. Michaella started anti-seizure medication in kindergarten, but her dental issues continued.
In first grade Michaella had surgery on her jaw. The added dental trauma further delayed her teeth from growing back. She spent much of her childhood with a huge gap in her smile.
When her fourth tooth finally emerged years later, it came in so crooked that it left her in chronic pain, slicing into her lip every day.
“I was in so much pain,” says Michaella , who used a numbing gel for relief. Her dentist and orthodontist recommended braces, but at a cost of $6,500, Michaella’s family couldn’t afford them.
“It was going to be a really big burden on my mom… I wouldn’t have felt great about that,” says Michaella , the oldest of four children.
Other options were also out of financial reach. Michaella almost gave up hope of fixing her smile. “I thought I was going to be left with that until I had the money when I was an adult,” she says.
Michaella grew up in the small town of Bath, Michigan. Throughout her school years she never let her painful smile hold her back. She’s played the flute since the seventh grade and is in the high school band. A self-described bookworm, Michaella enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, and doing projects with her mom, like making soap and custom T-shirts. She also acts as a second mom to her siblings, helping out her mom and step-dad when needed.
It wasn’t until that painful fourth tooth that anyone knew what she’d been hiding so well. “She could barely talk or eat because it hurt so much,” says Keisha.
A start of something new
During Michaella’s junior year, Keisha saw a SmileDirectClub ad on Facebook and read through the comments.
“I went to the website, and I looked at the line to compare… and SmileDirectClub was the best one out of them all,” says Keisha. “The reason I chose SmileDirectClub was for the price and the convenience.”
She also liked how she could complete her treatment at home without needing to go regularly into a dentist or orthodontist office. Speaking with a SmileDirectClub expert on the phone was easy. When Keisha wanted more information, she called and had an initial consult on the phone.
What’s more, SmileDirectClub aligners cost less than other brands Michaella had researched, so she was pleasantly surprised.
Michaella chose to get started by ordering SmileDirectClub’s impression kit. After sending it back, Michaella received a 3-D animation of how her teeth would align. “I’ve never seen something like that. It made me super excited,” she says.
A few weeks later, her big blurple box arrived — filled with everything she would need for the entire course of her treatment.
“When I opened it, it was like, surprise. It’s so cute and put together in a very organized way. And I was, of course, excited to start,” she says. “The lip balm is my favorite part. I love it. It’s very moisturizing.”
SmileDirectClub’s text reminders made it simple for Michaella and her mom to know when it was time to change aligners. “For a teenager, it’s easy to follow the instructions… Plus, they’re really like quirky and funny because there’s little jokes in there,” says Michaella.
Michaella also received a complementary teeth whitening kit. “It does whiten your teeth really, really fast. I was not expecting it… And your teeth will be way whiter than they were before,” she says.
Michaella wanted her smile to reflect her joy for life and what she felt like on the inside. She worried her old smile made others think negatively of her.
“A smile can definitely change the way you look. You can change the way you think about yourself, the way other people think about you, and your confidence,” says Michaella, now 16 years old and a senior in high school. “My smile (now) tells people that I am a happy person and very positive and optimistic.”
In an amazingly short time, and for a lot less money than other orthodontic solutions, SmileDirectClub helped resolve Michaella’s long-standing, painful dental issues and boosted her confidence. Compared to the two and a half years an orthodontist told her it would take for braces to fix her smile, it took only five and a half months from the day she took the impression to a smile she loves.
While Michaella says it took a few days to adjust to each new set of aligners, one thing she did notice right away was that her pain from her tooth improved immediately. “It was a huge relief to stop feeling the pain on my lip,” she says.
Michaella couldn’t feel her teeth shifting, but other people could tell. “The people around me were like, ‘Oh my gosh, your teeth are changing!'”
It came as a shock to many because with SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners, they had no idea Michaela was straightening her teeth.
“No one knew I was wearing aligners, like ever,” she says.
The give-away was when Michaella brushed her teeth at school after eating before she put her aligners back in. The SmileDirectClub routine was easy to follow whether she was at home or at school: the clear aligners come with a handy case, so it was easy for her to keep track of them. Apart from adding this new routine, she says her aligners didn’t interfere with daily life.
Watching movies with friends is a favorite past time and her clear aligners allowed her to eat her favorite snack — popcorn. “I did not want to give up any food. For braces you have to, especially like gum and popcorn,” she says.
Learning to smile again
Previously in school pictures and selfies, Michaella had avoided showing her teeth, which made for some awkward photos. “I was very self-conscious about it,” she says.
After she straightened her teeth with SmileDirectClub aligners, Michaella had to learn how to smile again, practicing in front of the mirror. “I would try it and I’m like, wait, I don’t know how to do this because I haven’t done this in a long time,” she says.
When Michaella started her treatment during her junior year in high school, she had several friends starting their braces. Some still had their braces on during their senior year.
“A few of them told me that they wish they had done what I did,” says Michaella. “Two years to a teenager is like a lifetime.”
Before Michaella had a chance to show off her new smile, her school switched to remote learning because of COVID-19. When she finally saw her friends in person, they couldn’t stop staring. Now her smile is both beautiful and comfortable, she says.
“I’m not in pain anymore. My tooth isn’t hitting my lip. And all my teeth are very, very straight.”
For many teens and their parents, it’s common to hear that only braces work. Michaela says she’s proof that isn’t true. Her advice for teens and their parents: “I would tell those people not to listen to those voices, unless you want to do it for a lot longer than you should,” she says. “It definitely helped me. It’s very, very easy, and the customer service is great.”
SmileDirectClub was a life-changing experience,” says Michaela who has big plans, including going to college and becoming a lawyer. “I think my smile is an important part of my future.”