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Archive for May, 2011

It has been eight days since my second follow-up appointment.  Because of the rubber band, I feel that my top arch is messed up.  I was told by Dr. G that the rubber band is for correcting my bite, so I thought it will pull my social six to the left to align with the bottom teeth in the middle.  (My concept of correcting the bite: when the bite is corrected, teeth should be aligned and at the right positions.)  I know teeth don’t move that fast, but I still feel a bit disappointed that after eight days, I haven’t seen any improvement in the bite yet.

Rather, what I see is that my upper left canine, where one end of the rubber band is hooked to, and its nearby area have been pulled outward!  Comparing to my top arch before wearing the rubber band, now the shape of my top arch isn’t as symmetrical.  I worry that if I continue to wear the rubber band, it will keep pulling that canine and its nearby area outward.  I think if it takes one month to go wrong, it will take one month (or more) to get back to normal, and this would prolong my treatment….  And what if my orthodontist decided to also move the other side outward so the top arch can be symmetrical?  If this happened, my mouth would be a bit more protruding and it would worsen my facial profile.  Oh… I don’t want this….

Besides the issue with my upper left canine moving outward, I also notice something about my upper central incisors.  During the second follow-up appointment, Dr. G customized a section of the top wire to move my upper left central incisor upward into the gum, so visually my top central incisors can be more leveled off.  His strategy does work, so my top central incisors are more leveled off in just eight days, but this also messes up the position of my upper central incisors.  From the front, they look more even, but from the bottom-up, they look worse than before.  They look crooked.  I feel sad to see this….

I actually have noticed these two issues occurring just 24 hours after my second follow-up appointment.  As eight days have passed, these two issues are more noticeable.  There are still three more weeks before I return for the third follow-up office visit.  Now what I can do is to still continue wearing rubber band and hope it wouldn’t get worse than now within three weeks.

When I was still researching what kind of braces to go for, I read something that says the kind of bracket doesn’t matter; what matters is the skill of the orthodontist and his/her ability in using wires to straighten the teeth.  At that moment, I didn’t quite get it.  Now seeing the situation with my teeth (i.e., one issue is resolved but another issue is occurring), I suddenly understand what that sentence means.

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This weekend is the Memorial Day weekend, and I feel eating BBQ is a must.  About three days ago, I have begun to wish that I get to eat BBQ this weekend.  I didn’t know if this could happen though, because my family isn’t so into eating BBQ for health reason, and cooking BBQ on national holidays isn’t a tradition in my family.  But I really wanted to eat BBQ, so I persuaded my family to cook and eat BBQ this weekend, not in a park, but at a restaurant.  (Well, it was different, but it was better than nothing.)

We see this advertisement for an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant.  We actually have seen it several times on the newspapers, so we decided to give it a try today evening.  Before getting braces, I thought that once I get braces, I probably wouldn’t be able to eat all-you-can-eat at all (because I probably can’t eat many food items and it wouldn’t be worth the money).  But after getting braces, I realize that as long as I have a fork and a knife, I can pretty much eat just like before (although not within one week of braces adjustment).  So in just three months into the orthodontic treatment, this Korean BBQ restaurant is the second all-you-can-eat restaurant I eat at.

Even though not long time ago my teeth hurt like hell after the braces adjustment, now I am fine and I can eat normally.  (Looking at the date, it takes me a bit more than one week to get used to the customized wire and wearing rubber band.)  But I still wanted to be careful and nice to my teeth, so I purposely picked food items that I know I can eat easily.

For my first plate, I sampled some items from the hot food section.  They were all good, but nothing impressed me.  Of course, I didn’t come here for hot food.  I came here for the Korean BBQ.

While eating the hot food, we were cooking our meat on the grill.  After taking a bite of the meat, I thought this restaurant’s Korean BBQ was just okay.  I was feeling a bit disappointed, but at least I ate BBQ this Memorial Day weekend.

After we left this restaurant, we all agreed that we won’t come to this restaurant again.

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It has been five days since my second follow-up office visit, so that means I have been wearing rubber band, removing it when I eat and brush, and reapplying it after I finish brushing my teeth for five days.  I feel I am getting more used to it now.  Before Dr. G gave me power chain and rubber band to wear, the pressure on my teeth caused by thicker wires disappeared in about two days after my first follow-up office visit.   Since my second follow-up appointment, the pressure on my teeth caused by the power chain also disappeared in about two days, but I still feel tightness and pressure (although it doesn’t last long) when I reapply my rubber band.

I think it is because I don’t (and can’t) remove and reapply either the thick wires or power chain, so the pressure is constant.  Once I am used to it, I don’t feel it anymore.  But for the rubber band, I free my teeth from the pressure when I eat and brush.  Because the pressure is interrupted for at least an hour each time, when I put the restriction (i.e., rubber band) back on my teeth, I feel pressure immediately, and I will have to get used to it before I feel nothing/comfortable.

This situation is getting better gradually though.  The time it takes from feeling pressure to feeling nothing has shortened.

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I went to sleep late yesterday, and I woke up early today morning.  I usually sleep in during weekends, but yesterday night I didn’t have enough sleep and I had really bad sleeping quality.

I was lying on the bed trying to fall asleep, but the constant pressure and discomfort on my teeth kept me awake.  It seemed like the more I wanted to ignore the soreness, the more unconsciously I paid attention to the feeling.  What was worse than this was that my top central incisors were extremely sore due to the top wire trying to level them off.  Because they got moved by the customized top wire, yesterday night the only teeth that could touch each other were the four central incisors, and it was very uncomfortable when the top central incisors touched the bottom ones.  When they touched each other, I had to immediately open my bite slightly (couldn’t open wide because of the rubber band) to free myself from feeling painful around that area.

I tried lying on my left side, but my central incisors could still touch each other.  Then I tried to sleep on my right side, which didn’t help either.  Eventually I just lay on my back, hoping that gravity could at least pull my lower jaw a little bit downward/backward, so naturally I wouldn’t close my bite and my bottom central incisors wouldn’t touch the top central incisors.

While opening my bite slightly behind closed lips, I thought this strategy could work, but when I was almost falling asleep, I unknowingly closed my bite and I immediately woke up at the moment when the central incisors touched each other, because the pain awakened me.  This happened several times yesterday night, and I really got tired of this.  I wanted to sleep, but how could I stop my central incisors from touching each other?  I thought about biting on a cotton ball to prevent my bite from closing, but this was too troublesome, and I didn’t want to accidentally swallow the cotton ball while sleeping.

I decided to try one last method I could think of.  By applying slight force on my lower jaw’s muscle myself, I carefully bit down so my bottom central incisors went behind the top central incisors without touching them, and now my upper and lower right molars touched each other.  If I managed to lock my right molars in this position, I could sleep and the central incisors wouldn’t touch each other.

I tried to fall asleep this way, and the next time I woke up was the next day early morning.  I didn’t have enough sleep, but at least that was some sleep.  So, what an experience….

I hope today my central incisors can move slightly again into a position that they wouldn’t touch each other when I lie down on my bed, so I can sleep better tonight.  I will keep my fingers crossed.

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Within the first hour or two after I left Dr. G’s office today morning, I didn’t feel pressure on my teeth.  But later I have begun to feel pressure and soreness on my teeth.  Since both the power chain and rubber band are working on my teeth, by late night, when I close the bite, the only place that touches is my top and bottom central incisors.  (It can be difficult to tell from the picture below, but nothing really touches except for my central incisors.)  When they touch each other, it is uncomfortable.

The power chain is transparent, so it is hard to spot it from the front view in the picture above, so I took a picture from another angle to show the power chain (see the picture below).  It surrounds all my brackets on the top row and goes behind the wire.  Before today’s follow-up office visit, my top central incisors were visually aligned when looking from the bottom up, but because Dr. G bended a section of the top wire to correct my upper left central incisor, by late night, although it looks more even with the top right central incisor from the front, when looking from the bottom up, it messes up the alignment.  (It has only been half day.  I am amazed by how fast my teeth move after each follow-up appointment.)

In addition, because of the power chain, the left and right gaps between my top canines and first premolars are closing quickly.  They are  not completely closed yet, but I can tell the fast improvement.  The picture below is the left side.

And the below picture is the right side.  It is just amazing that the gaps are much smaller now comparing to before today morning’s office visit.  Power chain is powerful.  No wonder it is called “power” chain.

Because I am experiencing both power chain and rubber band at the same time for the first time, my teeth become sensitive.  When I brush, I feel pressure on my teeth, but the pressure caused by the power chain seems stronger at the current moment, so it sort of surpasses the pressure caused by brushing.

My rubber band’s size is 6.4 mm.  It looks kind of cute, but it is not cute anymore when I hook it between my upper left canine and lower left first premolar.  I have to remove it when I eat and brush, and it hurts to reapply it after I am done brushing.  Knowing it hurts, I still have to wear it.

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I arrived at Dr. G’s office shortly before my 11:00 am appointment.  At that time, the waiting room was quite empty, just myself sitting there.  Before my name was called, there came another young patient with her dad and younger brother.  After the orthodontic assistant called my name, I went in to the treatment room, and I was told to sit at the first chair.

Next to my chair, Dr. G greeted me while getting ready to work on my teeth.  I pulled out my camera and sat on the patient chair, and then Dr. G lowered my chair so he could start working.  He first examined my teeth, and then he opened the bracket doors on the top row first, and then he did the same to the bottom row.  (I think I did a good job taking the picture below, because Dr. G was just about to open the door of one bracket.)

After all brackets’ doors were opened, Dr. G used his tool to push out the bottom wire from the brackets.  He removed the bottom one first, and then the top one.  (The whole time I could smell the cologne on his hand.)

He then told me that I could clean my teeth in another room.  It was an exciting moment that my wires were removed temporarily, because I could clean the areas my SoniCare toothbrush can’t usually reach, and I could easily floss.

After I was done, I came back to my chair and saw that there were some extra things on the table next to my chair.  I asked Dr. G what are those.  Here, I have to say that a good orthodontist answers your questions with patience, and Dr. G is such a person.  He told me with patience that the little tube-like thing is the wire stopper (see where the left arrow points in the above image), while the longer piece, sort of like a ligature with a bunch of “0” shapes, is the power chain (see where the right arrow points in the above image).  The wire stopper is to keep the wire from sliding (I actually have already seen that on my former and current wires, but I didn’t know it is the wire stopper and needs to be separately attached to the wire; I thought it is the part that connects two pieces of wire segments together….)  The power chain is for closing the spaces faster.  While he was telling me these, he also bended a little section of one wire.

Because he mentioned the wire stopper, I asked him why my top wire has the tendency to move to the right (this happens to both the former and current wires)?  He said one reason can be that I chew more on the right side, so the wire will move to the right.  (Oh… I see.)

After he finished explaining, he began to put the power chain around my brackets on the top row.  He told me it would go on all the brackets on the top row, and there would be a lot of pushing and pulling, which was exactly what I experienced when he put the power chain on my braces.

My top central incisor and canine were still a bit sensitive at the moment when I was at Dr. G’s office, so when he was putting the power chain around the brackets of these two teeth, it hurt.  I was hoping my teeth wouldn’t bleed or wouldn’t fall down when Dr. G was doing lots of pushing and pulling.  It proved afterwards that I worried too much, because besides the discomfort, my teeth are still there and they didn’t bleed.

After Dr. G put the power chain on my top row, he told me to sit on my chair for a bit while he checked on other patients.  I used this time to take a picture of my teeth that has the power chain on.  Because the power chain is clear, it is a little bit difficult to see in the picture below, but it is really there, and each power chain’s “0” shape goes around each of my top row’s bracket.

 

When Dr. G returned, he began putting wires back to my braces.  He inserted a new wire that he just customized for me (the one with a section bended) into the top row, but he still inserted the same bottom wire that he removed earlier back into the bottom row.  He then closed the doors of each bracket.  (Compared to the second orthodontic assistant who put the wires in and closed the doors of the brackets during my first follow-up office visit, which was uncomfortable, Dr. G this time did a way better job, because I felt comfortable when he put the wires in and closed the brackets’ doors.)

 

Dr. G told me that this time I would need to wear rubber bands to correct my bite.  (It is a tiny rubber band, which looks kind of cute….)  While I was holding the mirror, he taught me how to apply the rubber band to the hooks.  Basically on my left side, I would need to attach the rubber band on the top canine’s hook and the bottom first molar’s hook.  He said it is very important that I wear the rubber band all the time.  The only times I can remove the rubber band are when I am eating and brushing.  I need to change to a new rubber band twice a day, one in the morning, and another at night.  (I remembered the conversation I had with my colleagues that doing what the orthodontist tells you is a must, because if you don’t, you are going to prolong the treatment.  So I will do what Dr. G tells me about the rubber bands.)  And then he handed me a bag containing many rubber bands for me to replace and a tool that has a hook at the end to help me connect the rubber band over the brackets.

 

After this, today’s treatment was pretty much done.  Before I got off the chair, I asked Dr. G one more question.  I was wondering if I could get one more bracket on each of my top second molar, because I feel that the space between my top first molars and second molars is widening, and I don’t want them to stay where they are right now forever.  Although people can’t see my top second molars when I smile, I can feel they are neglected with my tongue.  Dr. G again replied patiently that today he puts the power chain on my top row to close the space, and the second molars are going to follow naturally too, and then when it is the right time, he will put the bracket on my top second molars to bring them in.

I thanked him for today’s treatment.  Before I walked out of the treatment room, I took a picture of my teeth.  In the image below, I see that the top wire is pretty straight except for the section that goes over my top left central incisor.  I remember what Dr. G told me earlier, that this bended section is to bring the top left central incisor to the same level as its counterpart on the right, so visually the teeth on the top row can eventually look more leveled off.  I have always wondered how Dr. G is going to fix my top left central incisor which extends downward a bit more than other teeth on the top, and today I finally know how.  (I think this method is quite smart, but does that mean this tooth will be pulled upward into my gum by the force of wire?)

Below is another picture I took that shows where the rubber band connects.  (Dr. G told me that he may want me to wear rubber band on my right side too when I come in for the third follow-up appointment.)

So today’s treatment lasted from 11:00 am to 11:40 am.  I took my patient profile to the front desk to check out and verified when my next appointment is.  I originally had it scheduled on 6/18 at 9:15 am.  Even though Dr. G wants me to come back in six weeks, I can only make it to Saturday’s appointment (which only happens once a month), so I am still sticking with it, and I will come back in four weeks.  In order to get the first morning appointment, I also scheduled for the following appointment on 7/16 at 9:15 am.

While I was driving back home, I was thinking about the possible changes that are going to take place on my teeth, and I was feeling excited.  My teeth are going to look more leveled off on the top row, the spaces are going to close with the help of the power chain, and my bite will be aligned with the help of rubber bands.  Those were promising thoughts, so I was happy.

After I arrived home, I pulled out the bag of rubber bands from my bag to look at it.  The cover of my rubber band bag has a sea lion on it.  (Dr. G said there are several different animals printed on the cover, and I happened to get sea lion.)

Below is an image of what it looks like inside this bag.  Because Dr. G suggested for the next appointment in six weeks, so I guess there are enough rubber bands for six weeks.  The white thing is the tool that will aid me in connect rubber bands to the hooks.

Overall, I had a good experience during this second follow-up office visit.  As opposed to the previous two times where the orthodontic assistants were mainly working on my teeth, this time it was the orthodontist who worked on my teeth, and I really liked it this way.  (Maybe the orthodontic assistant is very experienced, but I still feel more assured when an orthodontist is working on my teeth.)

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Right now it is 10:00 am.  In 30 minutes, I will head out to Dr. G’s office for the second follow-up visit at 11:00 am.  Because Saturday morning appointments are popular, and I made this appointment kind of late (I made this appointment one month ago), so I don’t get 9:15 am appointment for this time.

In my first follow-up appointment one month ago, which is two months after I get my braces on, I changed to bigger/thicker wires on both top and bottom rows.  This time, I don’t know if I am going to change to even bigger/thicker wires.

Last time after I just changed to bigger/thicker wires, my teeth were sore badly (although it only lasted for roughly one and a half day).  Even though I have no idea what Dr. G is going to do to my teeth later, I sort of expect that my teeth would be sore and uncomfortable again after the office visit.

Because of this, I have already planned out what to eat today after the office visit.  For lunch, I plan to eat fish rice porridge at the same Chinese restaurant I visited after my first follow-up office visit.  For dinner, I plan to eat Korean tofu soup.  Both are soft and easy to eat for teeth with braces.

Anyway.  I need to get ready to leave soon.

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