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Archive for April, 2011

When I just woke up, I bit down and felt that the only part that could touch each other was the right side’s first premolars.  It was kind of strange, because my molars on both right and left sides could still touch each other yesterday, but after I woke up from my sleep, they couldn’t touch each other, but rather it was only the first premolars on the right side touching each other.  Around noon, however, my molars were touching each other again when I bit down.

This tells me one thing.  My teeth move all the time, but I don’t know and can’t feel they move until I bite down and realize that my teeth now can or cannot touch this area that they couldn’t or could earlier.

Today I also took pictures of my teeth.  The positions of my teeth are pretty much the same as one week ago, so I haven’t seen major or noticeable progression yet.  But when I look at the picture that was taken from the front, I see that my top left central incisor is almost touching the bracket on the bottom.  Even though I still have the build-ups on the bottom second premolars (now one partial and one intact), they are not for preventing the top central incisors from hitting the bottom brackets.

My top left central incisor is naturally growing downward a bit more than the top right central incisor, so when I bite down, it is more prone to touching the bottom bracket than its counterpart.  There are still three more weeks before I go back to see my orthodontist again, so I hope that before I go back for the office visit again, that tooth wouldn’t really touch the bottom bracket.

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Since about one month ago, I begin to build the habit of using the proxy brush to clean between my braces and behind the wires after I brush my teeth after dinner.  After using it a few times, I start to like the proxy brush, and I feel I have to use it every day or I would feel that my teeth aren’t cleaned enough.  To make it go behind the wires more easily, I bended my proxy brush so it formed an angle.  With daily usage, my only proxy brush that came with the orthodontic care kit eventually broke off from the handle yesterday.  I was feeling sad about it because it was my first proxy brush.

Today after work, I went to Albertsons to buy new ones because I remember I have sort of seen them there before.  I found that they do have something that looks like the proxy brush I was using.  This product is called G-U-M Go-Betweens proxabrush and comes in a package of eight.  (I am not sure what the difference between proxy brush and proxabrush is, but they have the same function, which is to clean between the teeth.)  On the package, there shows three different sizes: tight, moderate, and wide.   However, on the racks, they only had tight and wide proxabrushes.  The wide sized brush seems a bit bigger than the size of my broken proxy brush, and the tight sized brush looks a bit too tiny.  I would want to buy moderate ones, but they didn’t have them.  Giving it some thoughts, I eventually bought the tight ones because I thought tight proxabrush is more ideal to clean more difficult to reach areas.

After I came back home, I compared my old proxy brush (blue handle) with this new proxabrush (green handle).  (I used force to push the detached brush back into the blue handle just for picture-taking purpose.)  While the brush size is definitely much smaller for the new proxabrush, its handle is longer than my old proxy brush’s, and the metal section is half the size of my old one’s, which means it wouldn’t be as easy to use.

Below is the picture showing my old proxy brush behind the wire.  It could clean large areas (too bad it broke).

Compare the above picture with the one below, which shows my proxabrush at the same spot.

Visually, I am very convinced that this new proxabrush can clean small and difficult to reach areas, but the length of the brush bristle is too short, so after trying it, I feel that it isn’t as powerful as my old proxy brush.  With both pros and cons, it is difficult to say I like which one better.

I also have noticed some changes to my teeth on the 66th day in braces.

My upper right lateral incisor and canine have been very sensitive when I brush on them for the past three days.  I don’t know why just these two are very sensitive, so paying attention to them in the mirror leads me to discover something new: my gum’s muscle between the upper right canine and first premolar has been pulled toward the direction of the canine.  I guess it is caused by the upper wire and brackets working together to gradually bring the premolars and molars toward the canine in order to close the huge gap.

For the gum’s muscle between the upper left canine and first premolar, there is a mark showing the muscle is squeezed toward their middle.  I wonder when the huge gap is finally closed, would there be a very clear, permanent trace indicating that area’s muscle is forced to squeeze?

I have switched to the bigger/thicker wires for 10 days.  I mentioned many times in the past that although my tiny gap between the top central incisors is closed, these two teeth are still bending inward.  In just 10 days wearing the bigger/thicker wire on the top, I already notice the crooked condition is almost gone.  It is pretty amazing, but the social six are still altogether situated slightly more to the right side.

The bigger/thicker wire fixes some problem on the top arch, but it also creates some issue on the bottom arch.  I feel that my lower left central incisor seems to be pushed outward, so the tip of that teeth isn’t even with its immediate neighbor’s.

Besides this, I also notice for the first time that my bottom teeth on the left and right quadrants aren’t parallel to each other.  (For example, if i draw a line that connects the center points of bottom left first molar and bottom right first molar, the line should be horizontal, but currently it is not.)  I know my teeth are sliding downward to the left when I open my mouth, but I don’t know they are also not parallel until today.  I hope this is not caused by my wisdom teeth, because I still have them on the bottom row….

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Three days after my first follow-up appointment, I have been wearing braces for two full months.  It doesn’t feel like two months have passed, but when I count the days, I really have been living with braces for two months.  During the second month, I drop 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg).  The weight loss has slowed down compared to the first month, and I think the reasons are because I get more used to eating with braces, there are more things I can eat as days go by, and I am approaching the weight loss threshold.  Besides weight loss, of course, there are changes to my teeth during the second month.

Below is an image of my smile on the 60th day in braces.  It looks like my teeth aren’t centered.  (But if I don’t look at them in a close distance, I might not tell they are not centered.)

When my mouth is slightly open to show few teeth, it is easier to see that my teeth’s center on the top row doesn’t align with the invisible center line of my mouth.  I have been worried about fixing this, because if it takes two months to go more and more off from the center, my guess is that it would take about the same amount of time to correct this, which could mean prolonging my treatment time….

When I bite down, I see that my top left central incisor is almost touching the bottom bracket.  This tooth also is visually extending downward a little bit more than its counterpart (i.e., top right central incisor).  Besides, I feel both top central incisors seem to be sliding downward towards the right.  Dr. G mentioned before that when he corrects my bite, the crooked teeth are going to get straight.  It is hard to imagine how he is going to make the Damon braces do this in the future, so I just have to wait and see.

Below is an image when I open my bite.  I feel that my teeth on the bottom row are sliding downward to the left.  My personal guess for this is that either my lower jaw doesn’t open parallel to the upper jaw, or some habits I have over the years cause this.  (About 15 years ago, a dentist hinted to me that my bottom right quadrant looked higher than the bottom left quadrant because I overly used the right side to chew….)  Whatever the real cause is, I hope that at the end of the treatment, my teeth on the bottom row can approximately level off equally (or at least by looking).

Since my first follow-up appointment, I have been wearing the bigger/thicker wires for three days.  I feel that my top central incisors now look less crooked than three days ago.  It is kind of amazing that a difference like this happens in just a few days.  They aren’t perfect yet, but I am happy with the progress already.

My lower row isn’t balanced.  When I open my mouth wide, it looks like the whole row of teeth is sliding downward to the left side.  The left build-up on my second premolar still looks intact, but the right one on the bottom second premolar is worn.  It is because since my day 1 with braces, my teeth have been able to touch each other around the build-up area on the right side, but even until now, my teeth still can’t touch the build-up on my bottom left second premolar.  As for the bottom left first molar, this tooth, which was obviously misaligned from the rest of the bottom teeth, now looks aligned with the other teeth on the bottom.

 

I used to have a cross bite at where the bottom left first molar was, but the bottom wire has been able to bring that tooth in so the cross bite issue seems like it’s gone.  Now the more visible problem is with my bite.  Obviously, my bite is very off on the left side because of extra spaces between my teeth on the top and the missing wisdom tooth.  Also, because my social six have shifted together to the right, this causes my top left canine to almost hit the bottom left canine. 

My bite on the right side isn’t much better.  I also have misaligned bite issue on the right side.  This is also due to extra spaces between my teeth and the missing wisdom tooth on the top row.  Since my social six together all move to the right, this causes the right top canine to almost touch the bottom first premolar.

The two images below are the first images I have taken from this side angle.  I feel that if I take the picture from the side like this, it is easier to see the space between my top canines and top first premolars.  In the image below, there is a huge space between the top left canine and top left first premolar.  Although I don’t have an earlier picture to prove it, based on my memory, the gap was bigger than now.

The space between the top right canine and top right first premolar is bigger than the left side.  I also don’t have the picture to do a comparison, but I am sure the gap there was also bigger than now.

I am glad to see gradual small improvements on my teeth since I have worn the braces.  Even though I hope my teeth could move faster, I know this is something I can’t rush, because I need to give my bone and tissue some time to get loose so the teeth can become easier to move.  Rushing too fast sometimes is worse than not moving at all.  So I need to be patient.  (After talking in high-sounding tone, deep inside my heart I still hope my teeth could move faster, so I can remove the braces sooner, haha….)

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When I woke up in the morning, the first feeling that came into my mind was pain.  The whole day I didn’t feel comfortable because I kept feeling pressure and sometimes pain on my teeth.  Because of my teeth, the whole day I was kind of sluggish.  The discomfort continued from yesterday morning (i.e., after the follow-up visit) all the way into today late afternoon/early evening.

Around 5 pm or so today, the painful feeling subsided greatly.  I still feel it is uncomfortable to eat, but I am feeling much better in the evening and at night.  It is strange to experience consistent pain suddenly changing to minimal/no pain after the clock ticked over a certain number.  By now, I guess either I am used to the bigger wires, or I can stand the pain more all of a sudden.  I just feel that my teeth don’t hurt anymore.  Although the painful feeling disappeared, it doesn’t make me feel the pressure caused by the vibrating toothbrush on my teeth more.  Like yesterday, my teeth aren’t too sensitive during brushing, and I am happy about this.

Because of this experience, I suddenly think that having the orthodontic follow-up appointment on a Saturday morning is a great arrangement, because even if I feel new pressure on my teeth, I still have both Saturday and Sunday to get used to it, and on Monday, I shall be able to return back to “normal” and can focus on doing my work.

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Since I have switched to the bigger wires, I feel constant pressure on my teeth (sort of like an invisible hand keeps pressing on your teeth every second).  Maybe because the wires are bigger/thicker, I feel that the pressure is stronger than the initial thinner wires had put on my teeth.

The first meal I had after today’s office visit was fish rice porridge at a Chinese restaurant.  The fish was fresh and soft, so it should be easy on my teeth.  However, even soft fish meat was a little too much for my teeth in the current condition to handle.  I felt it hurt to chew (but at least I could drink rice porridge).  While eating my lunch, I was thinking at the same time that probably I would switch back to eat the food I used to eat when I first got the braces, like rice porridge, tofu, sponge cake, and yogurt, and I probably would eat them for a while….

After lunch, I brushed my teeth.  I thought it would be sensitive to brush (like what I experienced at the very beginning of the treatment), but actually because the discomfort feeling is quite strong and consistent, I felt that my SoniCare toothbrush vibrating on my teeth while cleaning didn’t bother me much because the pressure caused by vibration was too weak to be noticed compared with the feeling the new wires are giving me.  But still, I brushed slower, going back to what I did in the beginning: spending two minutes for each arch as opposed to two minutes for the whole mouth.

When I bite down, my upper central incisors now touch the lower central incisors, and this creates pressure at where the central incisors touch.  It is uncomfortable.

From what I have heard, people’s teeth hurt after seeing the orthodontist for the follow-ups.  Because Damon braces have been quite gentle on my teeth when I still had the thinner wires, I felt it shouldn’t be too bad after today’s office visit.  If I knew it would hurt like what I am experiencing right now, I would eat more stuff before going for today’s appointment.  (I miss eating regularly.)  I guess this will be what I do next time, that I would eat more stuff before going back for the next appointment, because judging the current teeth’s condition, it is likely that I can’t eat normally for one to two weeks….

I am a bit hungry (eating rice porridge makes me feel hungry quickly), but because my teeth hurt, I don’t want to eat, and because I can’t eat, I feel like eating more… Oh….  The discomfort feeling on my teeth is gradually eating away my good mood.

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After almost two months since the initial orthodontic treatment, I went in for the first follow-up office visit.  My appointment was at 9:15 am today.

After I checked in, I was soon to be led to the second chair in the treatment room.  I was hoping to see the orthodontic assistant, J, again today because she was really nice during my initial treatment, but it seemed like she was not working this Saturday.  It was another orthodontic assistant who worked on my braces today.

This lady (I didn’t ask for her name) didn’t tell me what she was going to do (J would tell me what’s coming next so I would be prepared), and after I lay down on the chair, she started doing something on my brackets.  It took me a few seconds to realize that she was opening the doors of my brackets.  (I wanted to capture the moment, so I asked for her permission to make pictures while she was working on my teeth, and she said sure, but unlike J who would stop the task for a moment to let me take clear pictures, this orthodontic assistant continued working, so this time I didn’t have too many pictures of my teeth.)  I felt that she was using a tool to push open the doors of the brackets.  I felt force on my teeth when she was pressing on some brackets to open their doors.

After the doors were all opened, she first removed the wire from the top row, and then from the bottom row.  I was given a chance to brush and floss without the wires!  It made me feel happy to brush without the wires.  Knowing that she would close the doors of the brackets later, I was also brushing on the brackets, and then I flossed.  Not that I floss often, but it sure was much easier to floss without the wires, but because the doors of the brackets were open, when I opened my mouth wide to floss, my mouth’s inner flesh was pressing onto the poking bracket’s doors.  That was uncomfortable, so I quickly picked a few difficult-to-reach areas to floss (mainly toward the back), and then I went back to the treatment room.

After lying on the chair again, Dr. G came to look at my teeth.  He asked me how I feel about braces, and I told him that I am used to it now.  I then told him that I feel my teeth are misaligned (when I said this, I meant my middle two teeth on the top row are off from the center).  He said that my central incisors will stay crooked until later, when he gives me bigger wires and rubber bands to correct the alignment, and then I would see the teeth getting straight.  After hearing this, I was thinking that, okay, I don’t know when that is going to happen, but I can’t wait… I hope the middle top two teeth can be straight and aligned soon, because I see that right now the middle top two teeth are pushing my dividing muscle tissue to the right, and I don’t know how it is going to affect that muscle tissue if the two teeth keep pushing it toward the right side.

And then the orthodontic assistant came back.  She brought two new wires, looking a little bit bigger than the ones I wore before.  Remembering that others said it hurts to get the braces tighter, I asked her if it is going to hurt.  She said that because the wires are little bit bigger, for sure I am going to feel more pressure on my teeth.

She first put the wire in on the bottom row.  I guess it is not easy to put the bigger wire in, so she was using force to make the wire go in to the opening doors of the brackets.  On some brackets, I felt that she was pressing on my teeth that I got a bit worried that my teeth would break….  Finally, she put the bottom wire in and closed the doors, and then she moved on to working on the top wire.

It also took a few minutes for her to get the top bigger wire in, and again, I also felt stronger push on my teeth for few seconds when she was pushing the top wire in to some brackets’ opening.

After she closed the doors of the top brackets, she was done.

Before I left, I asked her a few questions.  I asked her why I am changed to bigger wires today.  She said that Dr. G examined my teeth and thought that the initial wires have done their job, so he wants me to switch to bigger wires this time.  She told me that with the bigger wires, I will feel more pressure on my teeth, and my teeth will move faster.  I also asked her why my initial wires moved from right to left on the top row.  She said it is because the smaller wires are thinner, so it moves while inside the brackets, and it doesn’t mean that my teeth move with the wires.  (Okay… then my guess in yesterday’s blog post is wrong; I thought moving wire means my teeth are being moved….)  Lastly, I asked her that how many pairs of bigger wires would a patient switch to.  She told me it depends, and the wires I have now are bigger than before, and depending on my teeth’s condition by the next follow-up appointment, I might switch to another pair of bigger wires.

Before I left, I went to the front desk to schedule for the next appointment.  The next time I will come in will be Saturday on 5/21/2011 at 11:00 am, so five weeks from today.  I wanted to get appointments at around 9:00 am, but the earliest one is at 11:00 am for the next month’s Saturday appointment.  Wanting to get early morning appointments, I also made an appointment for 6/18/2011, and I got the 9:15 am spot.

This follow-up office visit lasted about 35 minutes, so I left Dr. G’s office at 9:50 am.  Since the moment I get the bigger wires on, I keep feeling constant pressure on my teeth.  This feeling is sort of intriguing, because when I got my initial wires on, I also felt constant pressure on my teeth, but after few days, I was used to the braces and sometimes I even didn’t feel them until I felt pressure again, and soon after, I got used to feeling pressure on my teeth.  So revisiting the feeling of constant pressure on my teeth makes me remember I have braces.  Hopefully it is like what the orthodontic assistant said, that the bigger wires will make my teeth move faster.

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I have heard people saying that after they go back to see the orthodontist for the check-up, they feel their teeth hurt/become sore.  I also have conversation with some colleagues who had braces before, and they tell me that it hurts after the orthodontist “turns the braces tighter” at the follow-up appointment, and it hurts every time they go back for a check-up, but it will not hurt after a few days.

Basically, I don’t have any concept about “turning the braces tighter” and I don’t know what it means by “turning the braces tighter”.  My understanding of Damon braces is that it is a frictionless type of braces, so I don’t know how the orthodontist can “turn the braces tighter”.  But I will know tomorrow, because I am going back to see Dr. G for my first follow-up since I got braces almost two months ago.

To be honest, I feel a bit nervous about tomorrow’s appointment, because I don’t know how it is going to be like.  I hope it wouldn’t hurt too much after tomorrow’s appointment… but I have mentally prepared for what’s going to come, so hopefully things will be okay tomorrow.

If it would hurt like what others have described to me, I guess probably I would return to the beginning moment, where I wouldn’t be able to eat and chew (could only eat rice porridge and sponge cakes), and would  have to be extra careful, gentle, and slow when brushing because it would be sore/sensitive to brush.  And the cracked mouth corners… oh, gosh, I hope this won’t occur again at tomorrow’s follow-up, because not only was the wound painful, but also it took one week to finally heal.

Using my tongue to touch the wire on my top row, I feel that the wire has shifted from right to left a little bit, because I remember in the beginning that the extending out wire segment after the last bracket on the top right was double the length of now.  In the course of nearly two months, the wire has moved to the left, so I feel now the extending out wire segment on the top right is half the length of before, while the segment on the top left grows from no wire segment extending out to equal length of segment as the top right.  It is amazing that it moves, but I feel that my top central incisors are still off from the middle line to the right.  (I thought wire moving to the left would shift teeth to move to the left, but maybe it is not the case… or the movement is too minimal for my eyes to notice….)

Anyway, my appointment is at 9:15 am tomorrow.  I need to go to sleep now so I will have energy at the first follow-up appointment.

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