A twenty-something's journey with braces

Friday, October 3, 2008

Update: 1 week into Phase II

It’s now been a week since my last adjustment, and things are finally back to normal. The tech wasn’t kidding when she said that would be a hard “jump” – within 24 hours my teeth HURT. I had trouble biting/chewing soft cheese pizza Thursday night. This is the first adjustment that has made me feel like I did when I first got the braces on.

I probably spent 3 days reverted back to my post-B-day routine of soft foods cut up with a knife and fork. But since then things have improved, and I’m back to eating pretty much normally, including some stuff – like nuts and crunchy things – I probably shouldn’t. (Shhhhh…I am very careful when I do that, I should point out.)

And I’m also getting used to having an actual BITE again, instead of two touch-points (the turbos). Even though my teeth meet now, it doesn’t feel like they’re quite *perfectly* lined up. But I imagine as I continue in braces that will improve, and I read on another braces blog [link] about a “bite adjustment” that involved shaving the points of the teeth down to improve alignment. I think that would really help me. We’ll see if I still need it in a few months.

I do wonder… There are no brackets on my very back teeth (second molars). My impression going into this was that they eventually be bonded and added into the “chain” so to speak. But no one’s said anything about that lately, and as my arches round out and things line up, they are starting to look obviously off-kilter. Am I ever going to get those bonded?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fourth Adjustment - Victory!!!

Or: what joy (and pain) it is to chew again. *g*

So…I never made it back around to update on my 3rd adjustment in July. My internet access has been extremely restricted since the beginning of the summer, and my previously linked-in life was dropped off on the side of the information superhighway and left to forlornly thumb for rides from the few evening hours I get on my computer (after the toddler goes to bed) when I’m not writing the novel, and/or the odd wifi network I can patch into on my iPod Touch. But I digress.

There wasn’t much to report on in July. I did finally get a new wire on the bottom, to match the .018 on my top arch. But that was about it. Turbos stayed on; elastic hook stayed on (despite me not wearing elastics anymore). The only real interesting bit was that I had to go back the next week, because the ortho (Dr. D again) forgot to crimp my wire stops on the bottom and the whole archwire was sliding sideways to really jab the back of my cheeks. Fun times.

But! In the 2 months since then I’ve seen a lot of progress. My lower arch finally leveled and evened out. And my back molars were starting to touch. So I went into today’s appointment with high hopes.

Alas, even though I called yesterday and asked specifically to see him, Dr. F was nowhere to be found today. I saw Dr. D once more, but he’s still pretty cool and the adjustment went so well (even allowing for a few hiccups) I wasn’t much fussed about it.

I took the time yesterday to write up a list of what I wanted to happen:
1. Turbos off
2. New wires (top and bottom)
3. Hook off

Imagine my joy and surprise to get all three of my wishes granted! Dr. D took a look and said I’d definitely get new wires, then agreed to reduce my turbos bit by bit and see if I could get away with not having them. When I asked about the hook, he looked closely at my bite and told the tech to take it off as well.

I asked for and got the chance to floss wire-free and then 2 new archwires – more on that in a bit – and 1 removed hook later, Dr. D took the grinder to my turbos. (Which, I should add, have worn the points off my lower canines – see pic below.) He’d ask me to close every once in a while and at length he decided to take them off completely. Woohoo!

My new wires are the rectangular .014 x .025 listed as the “workhorse of Phase II” on the Damon archwire sequencing page. I’m glad to finally be out of Phase I and into the major mechanics.

The tech warned me that most people thought this jump was the hardest, and I’m starting to see why. My teeth have been sensitive all day, even with the pre-emptive ibuprofen I took right after the adjustment. I can FINALLY actually chew with my back teeth again, now the turbos are off, but they’re so tender I’m still not quite back to normal yet. Hopefully in a few days.

I spent several minutes checking my teeth and wires for anything amiss before I left, scheduled my next appointment for November 20th (the week before Thanksgiving here in the US) and got all the way back across town to my office before I realized something was snagging the inside of my lower lip. “It’s almost like one of my doors is still open…” I thought, and pulled the mirror out of my handy-dandy DentaKit.

Yeah. It was.

No amount of careful pushing and pinching on my part would close it, and I was terrified I would pop the bracket if I tried any harder, so BACK in my car and BACK across town to the ortho’s office and they took me right back to close it. It took 2 techs and quite a bit of pushing on my poor, loose, sensitive teeth before the darn thing finally closed. I thanked the ladies and decided to stop by the restroom on my way out.

While I was washing my hands, I decided to really look over everything again before I left the building. And guess what? I found not one but TWO other open doors. I really think that because of the new thick wire, they didn’t quite get all the way closed and then came open in the car between the ortho’s office and mine. So BACK into the office I went, and the poor tech apologized all over herself and got them both closed and I got back to work just in time to get a few things done before lunch.

Moral of the story(s): check for poky wires and open doors before you leave the ortho’s office! Every time!

Here are some more progress pics. I’ve come quite a ways in 9 months!

Upper arch - no turbos or elastics! Happy day!

Lower arch. Wow...just wow.

My current smile, with my own, actual, honest-to-God bite.

Compare to the pics in this post and see the difference!

So…8 more weeks until my next adjustment and (presumably) next set of wires. I need to find time to talk to one of the orthos about timing…I realized that I have both an oral board exam (big hairy deal in my profession) and my 10-year high school reunion in/around late May of next year. As much as I like the Damons and don’t mind them day-to-day, I’d really rather not be in braces for either of those events. So I want to explore the possibility of moving to Invisalign for the last few months if it looks like I won’t be out in time. Though Dr. D has said I was progressing really well and might get done early. *crossing fingers* I guess we’ll see.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fun Between Adjustments

This is a fun little thing making the blog rounds (click the thumbnail to view full size):

It's a "word cloud" created for this blog. I dunno, I thought it was cute.

Next week is my "big" adjustment/cleaning day. It's next Thursday, the 17th. First to ortho for wires out, then next door to dentist for semi-annual cleaning, then back to ortho for 6-month adjustment. Please, please, please, let them finally put a new archwire on the bottom. Turbos off would be nice, too, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

I'll try to post an update shortly thereafter, but a lot depends on the rest of my schedule.

Those of you who left comments, I *will* respond, probably in next week's post. Life has been hectic lately!

ETA: I just looked again at the pics from my last appointment, and there has been progress on the bottom! Oh, I hope they change that archwire...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another Adjustment 6/9/08

Okay, so I'm a week and a half late posting this. Life got in the way.

But last Monday, the 9th, I was in my ortho's office for yet another "emergency" adjustment. This time it was because my left central incisor was biting down on the bracket below it:

(Yeah, *major* leveling to be done on the bottom there...)

Truth be told, I was only slightly worried about the contact. But it seemed like a valid excuse for me to get them to address my bigger concern: the turbo.

I've gotten used to the turbo, but my lower arch is still offset to the right and I was becoming increasingly convinced that it was the downward/outward pressure of the turbo in that area that was keeping it pushed out a bit.

Of course, there's no turbo on the side that was now in contact, so I figured they'd at least add another one on the left side (yay, symmetry!) if not remove the previous and put one on the left instead.

Sure enough, the tech told me the new protocol was to place *2* turbos - one on each side. (Wish they'd thought of that a month ago!) I saw yet another ortho in the office - this time Dr. T - who recommended they place another buildup of BluGloo on my left upper canine instead of a turbo:

I'm actually okay with this. I did raise my concerns about the asymmetry in my lower arch and the turbo's contribution. Dr. T assured me this would correct very quickly as soon as the turbo was removed. "When will that be?" ... "When your back molars touch without your top teeth hitting the lower brackets."

Hmmm. At this rate, not looking to get the props off by my next adjustment (July 17th - also cleaning day). Bummer.

In a twist of good timing, a commenter (*waves to commenter*) asked me how I felt about turbos vs. the buildups. Here's my take:

If given a choice, I'd choose the buildups. They don't prop my bite open quite as far (so fewer chewing issues), they're smoother and generally less intrusive. The downside: more stress and sensitivity on those teeth, kinda like wearing high heeled shoes - all that force concentrated on a small area. But that goes away after a while.

HOWEVER, I'm really okay with the turbo now. It did take a bit of getting used to, mainly because scraping my bottom teeth on it felt like fingernails on a chalkboard (in my mouth) but once my body got used to it being there it effectively "went away". I haven't had any problems with tongue irritation or lisps, though I did lick it compulsively for the first few days. My biggest beef is the deformation it's causing in my arches, but Dr. T seemed confident that was merely transient.

Hope this helps. It's kinda cool to know actual people are out there reading this, even if most of my hits are still for the Aquafresh White Trays review.

Until next month...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

2 Outta 3 Ain't Bad: Second Adjustment

[Look! She posts on adjustment day! Hehe.]

So, yeah. 2 outta 3 ain't bad. Or, more accurately, 1.5 outta 3... Here's the breakdown of my hoped-for results vs. actuality:
  1. New wires. Make that "new wire" (singular) instead. My top arch is now on to the .018 gauge but the ortho who saw me - again, not my regular, more on that below - decided to leave the Phase I .013 in the bottom for one more round. *sigh*
  2. Lose the turbo. Nope! Still there. Ah, well. I've gotten used to it.
  3. Lose the elastic. Not quite. My upper canine has shifted (see pics below) and my lower midline is back where it needs to be, but he decided to keep me in the elastics. Fred will still be around, but...ONLY AT NIGHTTIME, baby! I'm totally okay with that.
Okay, okay, I know you guys (anyone out there? ... *crickets*) just wanna see the pics. It's been just about 4 months since B-day:

My bite, as of today. Really opened up a bit, eh? And it's not just because of the turbo.

Upper and...

...lower arches. Compared to B-day pics it's a lot of improvement! My top arch is finally rounding out. But see how off-kilter my lower arch is, all pulled to the (my) right? That seems to be getting worse instead of better. I'm almost to the point of asking them to put the archwire in off-center to the other side, and see if that balances things, since they aren't going back on their own after 7 weeks of correct (centered) archwire placement.

This photo shows a little better how my lower midline is back where it ought to be, but all my lower incisors are kinda tipped toward my right. Also some MAJOR leveling to be done in the future.

And last but not least, you can see how my upper right canine has pulled back so it isn't directly over the bracket on the tooth below (compare to this pic, a little hard to see). Also notice the nifty little wire tie they wrapped around my bracket for the elastic. I got a new one today because the first one was getting wiggly.

My thoughts at this point?

The ortho who saw me today (and at my last "emergency" appointment) is nice, and very experienced, and I'm sure he's great at what he does. But I really prefer MY ortho - Dr. F - and his approach. Dr. F was the one who told me he was going to try to keep my arches on the same track gauge-wise at my first adjustment. The other guy (I think Dr. D) put me in different gauges again today. Which, hey, IS progress. But I'm going to confirm ahead of time that I will see Dr. F at my next adjustment, I think.

Speaking of my next adjustment (coming up in 9 weeks, mid-July) that will be a real double-whammy, because it will also be my first cleaning in braces. Current schedule is 9:40 to ortho for wires out, 10:00 to dentist for cleaning - the offices are literally down the hall from each other - and back to ortho at 11:30 for adjustment. Fun. I'm actually kind of looking forward to the cleaning, because all sorts of places are way more accessible now than they have been and my teeth will probably get cleaner than they have been most of my life.

BUT now the extended times between Damon appointments is becoming an issue. I really appreciate not having to miss as much work for ortho appointments. BUT when I was hoping for more progress today, the prospect of waiting ANOTHER 8-9 weeks before the next step (new wire on bottom, maybe turbo off) when it might have happened in just 4 is kind of annoying. Maybe I'll come up with some other "emergency" to get seen sooner...

Oh, and I'm still a little miffed about the 2 weeks I spent with an off-center lower archwire. I just feel like it threw everything off and now I'm treading water trying to "fix" that, which is costing me time and progress. But things are still moving, and I guess that's what matters. Dr. D even threw out the possibility of me being ahead of schedule, though I think he was just trying to mollify my disappointment at not getting new lower wire.

Funny side-effect of going to nights-only on the elastic: I've spent almost all day feeling slightly guilty about not wearing it. Like the *cough* few times I forgot to put it in after a meal, and then went a few hours without it in, enjoying the freedom but knowing I was cheating by not wearing it, hehe. I'm sure I'll get over that quickly, though.

Forgive me Doctor, for I have sinned... I realized last week that I had really slacked off on my hygiene. Oh, I brushed twice a day still, and occasionally flossed, but the days of my brush-floss-flouride or brush-floss-mouthwash-interdental every morning and evening were long since. And I never got in the habit of brushing after lunch at work. BUT my gums started bleeding when I did get around to flossing - my old foe gingivitis back again - and that plus my upcoming appointment motivated me to get back in the habit.

Now I try to floss more frequently (back up to 4-5 times/week) and rinse with Crest Pro-Health morning and evening to help with the gingivitis. That's tough because even the relatively mild CPH burns my constantly-raw-from-running-over-brackets tongue. But I'm getting used to it. The CPH also deposits little blue stringy things (pre-plaque?) on my brackets that necessitate an interdental brush. Ah, well.

Look for a future review post on my favorite Oral-B products, and if I get really excited I might post some progress pics next month instead of waiting till July. Or I might be lazy and not. *g*

Monday, May 12, 2008

T-minus 3 days

Okay, I'm nowhere near retainer stage yet (I wish!) but I thought that was hilarious enough to post.  Thanks to DH for the pic.
I am, however, 3 days away from my next "big" adjustment.  I am hoping for some combination (preferably ALL) of the following outcomes:
  1. New wires.  Okay, I know I got a new wire on the bottom last time, but really that was just moving up to the wire I *should* have started with.  I'm still in Phase 1 wires, and it's been 4 months.  My teeth have been a little squishy lately, but no real discernable movement in the past several weeks.  My lower incisors are still a little more forward on the right, but at least my midline is closer to normal.  I'm ready to get on with it and start the major mechanics.
  2. Lose the turbo.  I've kinda adjusted to having it, by changing my bite and whatnot, but yesterday I scraped my teeth on it while eating and that was like fingernails on a chalkboard...in my mouth.  I'm SO ready to be able to actually chew again, y'all don't even know.
  3. Lose the elastic.  I have the feeling this is less likely to happen than #2.  And I'd be okay with that, but I'd really hoped to avoid elastics until the end phase, and not have to wear them for the better part of 1.5-2 years.  Plus, my canine has pulled back to where it's not directly over the bracket on my lower tooth anymore.  And gaps are starting to open up between all the teeth from the middle to that point.

So, I guess we'll see in a few days.  More pics and an update after Thursday.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Meet Fred

I got more than I bargained for when I went in for an "emergency" appointment with my ortho today.

Last week I was starting to feel pressure on my bottom brackets when I bit down. I didn't want to pop one off, so I called them and they scheduled me this morning to have a look. What I thought would be a quick in-and-out appointment turned into more work than they did at my last adjustment.

The ortho (not my usual) who saw me decided to place a bite turbo on my front teeth to prop my bite open even more and then ground off my molar buildups - and caught my tongue in the drill in the process. Ouch!

So, yay for no more molar buildups, but the turbo is, I think, worse. I'd gotten to the point where I could chew just about anything but now I have to relearn because my molars are farther apart and I don't have the surface of the buildups to rely on either. Joy.

I also got a new archwire on the bottom. Same size as the last time, but THIS time it's centered properly.

Backstory: after my last adjustment and new archwire, I noticed the three grey lines that mark the center of the archwire - and had previously been aligned between my central incisors, top and bottom - were off by a tooth on the bottom.

I was worried it would pull my lower arch into an offset shape. So I called the office and explained the situation and the response I got was "It's not problem - those are just a guide. Don't worry about it."

Oooookay. Well, they're the experts. I grudingly dropped it, but I kept watching my teeth. And then my fears were confirmed and my teeth started shifting to the right. Hello - if the archwire returning to its shape is what moves the teeth, and that shape is offset, it only makes sense that my arch would start to align crooked. Thank goodness it was only in a couple of weeks.

I pointed this all out to the ortho today and all he said was "very observant!" but he DID tell the tech to replace my archwire. Better late than never. I shudder to think what my arch would have looked like if I'd waited the full 8 weeks to my next appointment.

But what about Fred, you ask? Fred is the name of my new elastics:

Apparently the different manufacturers use different designations for their elastics. Some use animal names (e.g. chipmunk, ram) and some use country names (e.g. China) but 3M uses proper names. And mine are named "Fred"...I find it somewhat amusing.

The purpose, I was told, was to pull my upper right canine back. My left canines are okay, but my right ones are directly above each other (a "Class II") and that's partly why the brackets were hitting. I'm supposed to wear it 24/7 except at meals and when I brush. Not so bad now, but I've only had it in for a couple hours. Guess we'll see how I feel in a few days/weeks.

I suspect that ALL of this is due to the way my lower archwire was placed last month. It's pretty annoying. *sigh*

Anyway, what's done is done and now it's fixed so on we go. I wasn't going to leave there today without a new lower archwire, and so I didn't. Next (regular) appointment is May 15th, or about 5 1/2 weeks from now. Cross your fingers I'll get the turbo off then - I think I was supposed to get the molar buildups off at that point anyway - and I can return to chewing as usual.

I have the sinking feeling that elastics (in some form or another) are here to stay, though.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Adjustment: 9 weeks later

And you thought I'd forgotten about this blog!

Nope, just other stuff going on in my life, and after the first few days my braces quickly became "normal" to me and I quit thinking about them so much. I do plan on updating this blog at each adjustment, but my family blog and my writing blog get the majority of my attention.

I did remember to take pics at 2 weeks and one month, and I'll post those up with the ones from today so you can see the progress. Oh boy, has there been progress! Already my b-day pics look like someone else's teeth. See below for comparisons.

As for today's "adjustment" itself, pretty in-and-out. They didn't do anything at all to my upper arch. I did ask them to scrape off some of the flash left over from the indirect bonding that they didn't get on b-day. She got some off, said some was too small to really get without a hand tool but shouldn't be a problem, and missed some that I noticed when looking at my teeth in the car. Ah, well. I'm keeping stuff clean and I'll just have them get some more at my next appointment.

The bottom arch did get a new archwire. Apparently (according to this) the standard "initial" archwire is the round .014, and that's what they put in my top arch on b-day. But my bottom teeth were too jumbled, so they went down a size (I think to .013?) in order to fit the wire into all the brackets. Now they've straightened out enough, so they fitted the .014 on the bottom and left the top one in so both arches are on the same kind of wire.

If my teeth keep moving at their current rate, I think I'll get all new wires at my next appointment (8 weeks from now). Hopefully on to Phase II, but it wouldn't surprise me to have to go with the round .016 SE for a bit first. And my ortho did say my bite was opening up enough that I'll probably get the molar buildups off "soon" - aka, next appointment. Hallelujah! With my luck I'll get those off only to have to go into elastics, but I think completely-chewed food is worth it. *g*

Oh, speaking of opening up, did I mention I have freaking gaps between my teeth now? Not that this is a problem, more of a novelty. My teeth have been so crowded all my life it was like, well, pulling teeth *g* to get a piece of dental floss in between them. Now - once I've got it threaded under the archwire - the floss just slides in. And I can see between them. Again, not a cosmetic problem, and I'm sure some gaps will close up as the teeth continue to sort out, but it's a huge indication of progress to me.

Confession time: I've been "slacking" on my dental routine. Now, I put that in quotes because I still brush twice a day - and with my beloved Oral-B electric toothbrush. (Hmmm...never did get around to reviewing the new Triumph, now that I have a working one. I'll try to do that soon.) But the floss-and-flouride every night has fallen into about 3 times a week. Hey, still not bad! But I'm also not brushing at work or using my interdental as much as I should. Next step: kit to keep in my office (the beloved DentaKit stays with me in my car) and more consistent f-n-f.

Okay, okay, I know everyone just wants to see the progress pics. Here you go (see my b-day post for comparison):

Huh. I seem to have lost my 1-month pictures. I know I took them...but they're not in the appropriate folder on my hard drive. And I delete them off the camera memory card as soon as I upload them. So where'd they go?

Anyway, look at that lower arch now! My lower incisors are sure lining up nicely. It's still a novelty to be able to keep plaque off of the back of them, now that they're not all jammed together (quite the opposite - there's a gap developing!). I'm pretty sure my canines are rotating, and they're definitely moving out. I usually can tell because I'll have a period of "squishy" teeth followed by a few days of gum irritation as the brackets rub in new places. Hydration and the occasional bit of wax take care of that. And the upper canines have pulled back a bit, making my top arch smoother in general and minimizing my "vampire" smile.

How has braced life in general been these past 2 months? As I said up top, pretty normal. I really didn't have a lot of pain at first, but I realized how much I was in fact affected about 2 weeks in. I lost 5 pounds (woohoo!) those first weeks, mainly because eating was so tedious and slow. Somewhat unfortunately, what pain/discomfort I had did go away and I adapted and now I eat pretty much the same types and quantity of foods as I did before. I'm still careful and know better than to try stuff like hard caramel or nuts. But everything else is game.

Have I mentioned how much I love these Damon system braces? Not only are my teeth moving quickly with relatively little pain, but I don't have to worry about foods with curry, or tomato sauce, or red Kool-Aid staining my ligs...because I don't have any. I've gotten quite a few comments about how "small" and "nice-looking" my brackets are.

At any rate, 2 months down and 16-18 more to go. Look for another update in about 8 weeks.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 3

Yeah, I broke down and put on wax this morning. My cheeks were starting to become more than just slightly irritated. Waxed my upper canines and first bicuspids, and my lower bicuspids (both).

Ahhh, sweet relief.

Other than that, though, I'm starting to not feel the braces anymore. My lips are even used to how far out the archwire holds them. There's just a residual soreness when I bite down (especially on the buildups), and my front lower incisors feel ever-so-slightly loose. Which is good! Things are on the move...

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Day After

I was told that even if I didn't feel pain right off after bonding, it would probably get worse the first night and especially the day after. So I - no pun intended - braced myself for the worst.

Guess what? No worst!

I really have had very little pain. I woke up this morning and couldn't even feel the braces until I thought about it. It got a little worse when I got up, but a couple Tylenol took care of that right away.

We all went to McDonald's for breakfast, and I ate pancakes and scrambled eggs and a hash brown (didn't tackle the sausage biscuit). I'm really losing all hope of losing weight because of these things. *sigh*

Lunch was the last slice of pizza from last night. At that point I could tell I hadn't taken any more painkillers since first thing in the morning, and I remedied that. But no biggie, really.

The worst soreness is at the points (upper and lower) where my molar buildups hit. Which makes sense, like the balls of your feet hurting in high-heeled shoes: all the pressure concentrated in a smaller area.

I'm learning to eat differently; how to chew without my molars meeting and doing a lot of mashing to the roof of my mouth. Also swallowing bigger chunks than usual. I'm slowly remembering to swish often with water - which has become a constant; I have a glass with every meal, no matter what else I'm drinking - to keep the food gomming to a minimum. The whole process takes longer and I get full sooner; if my food choices haven't changed much, at least I'll eat less at each meal.

I'm about to head to bed and still no real pain and no wax. Just the constant, dim ache that says "there's something going on here", especially in my front lowers (which are the most crowded). I seem to have adjusted to these braces very quickly. I'm not sure if it's the Damon brackets or just me...probably a little of both. Whatever reason, I'm glad of it.

The Big Day - January 17th 2008

Well, the date stamp won't show it, but I didn't get the chance to post this on my actual b-day.

Here's how it went down:

I showed up a couple minutes late for my 9 am appointment (oops!) but I'd called ahead so they knew I was coming. When I got there I followed advice and went to the bathroom first and then coated my lips with balm (Chapstick Moisturizing - I'm a fan).

I was tipped waaay back in the chair and she brushed my teeth with the pumice toothpaste and then I was told to go rinse. I was afraid to close my mouth, but it really didn't taste like anything, just gritty. Then it was back in the chair and the dreaded lip spreaders went in.

She dried my teeth with I swear a mini blow dryer, then painted the etchant on my bottom teeth. It didn't taste great, but I didn't get too much so it wasn't bad. Super sour/bitter/astringent, like strong vinegar. Then she put on some kind of "sealant", which smelled like a hair salon, or nail polish.

Then the indirect bonding tray was fitted to my lower arch, and she went over each bracket twice with the little blue light. She left the tray in place and repeated the process for my top arch. The bottom hard tray was peeled off and another round with the blue light, then the same for the top. The majority of the time was spent doing the blue light. At last she peeled the soft inner trays off and I was officially bonded.

At this point I got to get up and go rinse my mouth. I have to say, right off the bat I was impressed with the Damon brackets. I was expecting them to feel HUGE on my teeth, but even with the doors open they didn't. For the record, I got the "social six" (front upper six, or canine to canine) bonded with Damon 3s, the half-clear brackets, and the rest with all-metal Damon 3MXs.

Back in the chair again and the ortho took a look. I had to bite down to show where my top teeth were hitting the lower brackets (we knew that would be a problem). Then he told the tech where to bond some molar build-ups and it was more etchant, sealant, and then two blobs of stuff that she cured with the blue light, one on either

Finally my archwire fitting. I think I heard the ortho say 0.013 for my wire gauge. It is not the heat-activated kind of wire. She had to work a bit to get it engaged with my canines (no surprise) but eventually everything was locked in. A little tightness, but not too bad. What was most striking - even more so than the brackets alone - was how it felt like my top lip was being held so far out.

And that was it! I was given a bag of supplies and told what food not to eat (I've already broken that, but with due caution) and given prescriptions for "Magic Mouthwash" - no lie - and some kind of at-home nightly flouride treatment.

Oh, and my ortho went over my plan with me in more detail. In about 6 months I'll be getting elastics from my upper canines to my lower first molars to bring my lower jaw forward and open up my deep bite. And eventually my back molars will get brackets too (they didn't this time).

My next appointment is March 20th. I may get a new archwire then, if I've made enough progress. I read on the Damon website that 90% of alignment and leveling is done in the first 10 weeks, so here's hoping.

Now here are way more pics than you probably care about, but hey - it's my blog. *g*

My smile before, and now with braces:

A shot that shows more of my teeth/the convoluted archwire, and a shot of my current propped-open bite.

My official b-day records of my arches, upper and lower. Note the blue molar buildups.

I met DH and Little Boy for lunch before heading to my afternoon spa appointment. First meal in braces: cheeseburger and fries, with a chocolate shake. I didn't even have to use a fork and knife! But the going was sloooooow and I got all sorts of stuff gommed up in the braces. Thank goodness for my DentaKit, which I broke in immediately after.

And I have to say, if you're an adult getting braces, following up your morning bonding appointment with an afternoon at the spa for a custom facial and 1-hour relaxation massage is the way to go! I pretty much forgot I had them.

My first day overall was very easy. Little to no pain (I did stay current on OTC painkillers, though, alternating between Advil and Tylenol) and aside from getting used to where the brackets snag my lips when I smile or open wide, I didn't even have to use wax.

Second meal in braces: pizza with mushrooms, and breadsticks. So much for the "braces diet"! Actually, I didn't eat much of the breadstick or any of the crust, and I eat so much slower I end up not eating as much. So there's that.

Before bed I used the WaterPik - a godsend - with the ortho attachment, then brushed my teeth with my trusty Vitality and the ortho heads (officially "Oral-B Braces Care Essentials") I got off eBay. Wonderful! My mouth felt better overall after that. Then I managed to floss, though it took quite a while, and followed all with a warm salt water rinse.

All in all, an easy beginning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The last step (pics!)

Yesterday was the last step in my preparations for Brace Day (tomorrow! yikes!) - I had a dentist appointment for cleaning and a possible filling.

As it turns out, I didn't need any new fillings. *whew!* We discussed replacing my old amalgams with the new white composite, but my dentist said wait until the braces come off and I was okay with that.

I got an "A" for my cleaning; both my dentist and hygenist were impressed with how clean my teeth are and my healthy gums. For that I mainly credit my beloved Oral-B electric toothbrush. Though I did get to say with complete honesty that I'd been flossing every day, too. Guess it showed. *g* She still had to do some scraping, but that's the nature of my crowding (and why I'm getting braces in the first place).

I also asked for and got a pre-emptive flouride treatment. This was a foam the hygenist "brushed on" for one minute, and then suctioned away. It was interesting...not as gag-worthy as the trays, though.

A fun bonus was that I had some downtime in between chair appointments, and I popped down the hall to my orthos office and they let me play with my OrthoCAD plan. Very interesting, and inspiring to see the finished results!

I took pics and video. (With my phone, sorry 'bout the quality.)

ETA: The videos aren't working for some reason. They were hard to see anyway. If I figure them out, I'll put them back up, but for now, here are the pics at least.

Here's the computer model made from my impressions:

I got to see what my teeth will look like with the brackets on (not including turbos):

And specifically the very crowded lower arch from the front:

And top:

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the expected results (left) to my teeth with brackets (right):

And one of just my current teeth (left) to my projected finished results (right):

Last but not least, a close up of the finished results. This is what I have to look forward to!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Off-Topic: I finished my novel!

This has nothing to do with braces, but...this morning at about 7:47 am, I finally finished the SFD (for non-writers, that's the Sh!tty First Draft, hehe) of my first novel, One Highland Night.

I started writing in late July of 2006, chunking with no clear idea of the overall story. Now, almost 18 months later, I have 418 pages (111,587 words give-or-take) in 34 chapters and an epilogue.

Rewrites loom on the horizon. Oh, boy, do they loom.

But hey! I finished the first draft, which I think is (more than) half the battle.

Someone asked me what I plan to do now. I'm going to Disney World! Seriously, though... Short answer: sleep. *g* Long answer: I'm taking Thursday and Friday off for a 4-day weekend, I've got a spa appointment on Thursday afternoon, and I've been saving several big gift cards to treat myself to a shopping spree.

Anyway, just thought I'd share the good news.

(The whole grueling journey is chronicled on my writing blog.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

One week and counting...

Almost exactly one week from now (my appointment's at 9 am, so they might be done by 11) I'll be in braces. This after 14 years of putting them off.


Thank you, that is all.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Making a Good Impression

Just got back to work from my impressions appointment. Now the clock really starts ticking.

They took me right back when I signed in. I tried to get my coordinator to retake my face shots (since I'd bothered with hair and makeup today) but no dice. The x-rays took about a second. Literally. They had a pan and bite wings for me already, so this was just the cephalometric.

From there it was into the "common room" - there are about 5 chairs arranged in a curve, facing outward, with centralized counters and brush/rinse stations. While I was there another woman about my age, maybe a little older, came in and had her braces adjusted. Two teen boys were there and another older teen or maybe early 20's girl.

I was anticipating the nasty alginate trays but good news! that's not what they used. It seriously looked like Play-Doh, blue and white that she squished together (activating it?) and then put in a plastic tray and C-R-A-M-M-E-D it into my mouth. Set for 5 minutes, removed, put some yellow stuff in and put it back in my mouth for another few minutes. Then it came out nice and hard. Rinse, repeat for lower jaw. The impression trays went right into a special box to be shipped off to OrthoCAD posthaste.

While I was there they were supposed to be bonding someone but the indirect bonding trays had not come in from OrthoCAD yet. Oops! I heard one of the orthos comment that they had approved the plan on the 29th, so it was likely due to the holidays.

My ortho came by to chat while I was between impressions. I mentioned I had been researching the Damons and his face lit up and he told me again how impressed he was with the system, that he thought they were absolutely the best bracket on the market, etc. Encouraging. *g* I also mentioned ArchWired and he said he'd heard of it - knew there was a forum - but I was the first patient of theirs who had been active on there. I'll print some info to take in with me at my next appointment.

Last thing, the tech came at me with what looked like a caulk gun and squeezed some blue goop on top of my lower teeth and asked me to bite down so they'd have a record of my bite pattern. Now I officially cannot bite someone while committing a crime - they'll know it's me. *w*

Then one last meeting with my coordinator, payment - gulp! - and I was out of there. Two weeks from today I'll be bonded.

Oh, and I forgot to say that my DentaKit.com order came in late last week and you would have thought it was Christmas all over again! I got the eponymous DentaKit (black, to match my purse), some spare travel and regular ortho toothbrushes, a bunch of OrthoSil, the comfort covers, and a few odds and ends. Add that to the Oral-B ortho brushheads I've been stocking up on, and whatever I get in my goody bag (I saw a closet FULL of stuff, so here's hoping!) I should be set!