Archive for the ‘milestone – monthly mark’ Category

Time passes so quickly.  I have been wearing braces for three months now.  In the third month, I lost another 2.2 lbs (1 kg).  Since I get braces, my weight just keeps going down.  In three months, I have lost 6.6 lbs (3 kg) already.  I am just 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg) away from reaching my ideal weight.  I actually want to lose 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg) in a one-year span, but I didn’t know I am almost there in just three months.  (If straightening teeth could be this fast too, that would be awesome.)

Since thee-month is 25% of a year, I decide to not only show how my teeth look like in three months, but also compare them to previous months.  In the photos below (which took me a few days to put together), I track how my orthodontic treatment has progressed from Day 1 to Day 90 by month.

First of all, my smile pictures above indicate that my teeth on the top row were slightly situated off the center to the right to begin with, but over the course of three months in braces, I feel they have moved to the right even more, although just a tiny bit.  There was a small gap between my upper central incisors, and it was closed in just one month; however, it seems like the upper left canine, lateral incisor, and central incisor all got moved to the right to close the gap, so my teeth look more off the center to the right on Day 90 than on Day 1.  Despite them shifting to the right, my smile now looks better than before because my social six are a little bit more organized.  I also feel that my smile in the third month has a more natural look than when I just put the braces on, because it was strange to have braces in my mouth, and I didn’t really know how to smile naturally in the beginning.  One more thing I notice is that the upper archwire has a more natural curve over the course of three months.

When I just open my mouth slightly to show the few middle teeth, it confirms that my teeth are off the center to the right.  Seeing the first day’s picture above reminds me of the cracked mouth corners I had when I just got my braces on (because my mouth was widely open for too long in order to get all brackets glued to my teeth).

The above set of biting down pictures shows one of my more noticeable teeth movements over the course of three months.  I have no closed bite issue, but because one of my upper teeth was knocking on a bottom bracket when I bit down, my orthodontist put build-ups on my bottom second premolars to prevent me from biting down completely.  In a three-month period, the build-up on the right side gets worn, so I can bite down more day after day.  My teeth looked straighter in just one month of having braces.  From the first month to the second month, my teeth continued to look straighter, but I don’t notice too much change on my teeth from the second month to the third month, besides that my upper left central incisor appears to extend downward more in relation to the upper right central incisor.  The two archwires have become more parallel to each other in three months, but in the third month, I feel the archwires are both sliding a bit down to the left.

Displaying my monthly open bite pictures next to each other, the biggest change I see is that my teeth on the bottom row are more leveled off now than before.  But on the upper row, I feel that, in the first month, my left and right lateral incisors and canines were at about the same level, but entering the second month, the teeth on the upper left quadrant were moving more downward comparing to the upper right quadrant.  The issue gets a bit worse in the third month….  This makes me wonder how my orthodontist will do to make the upper left quadrant go upward so the teeth on the upper row can be leveled off.

My upper arch is another area that I see more changes in three months.  Before wearing braces, my upper left premolars and molars formed a straight line, but with the smart archwire that will eventually go back to its original shape, these four teeth have been moved to form a more natural curving line to go along with the rest of the upper teeth.  Taking pictures from this angle also shows that the small gap between my upper central incisors was closed in just one month.  Although they stayed crooked for the first two months, after I changed to a bigger/thicker archwire, they seem to become straight in the third month.  Comparing the four pictures above, I really think that now my upper arch has a much better arch shape than before.

Before getting braces, I had a minor cross bite issue on my lower left first molar, which was kind of positioned away from the rest of the teeth.  (It was funny that I never noticed this before I went for orthodontic consultations.)  My lower central incisors were also tilting and the right one looked taller than the left one.  In just one month, the lower left first molar was being brought in a little bit and the lower central incisors looked more leveled off.  In the second month, the lower left first molar was already completely aligned with its neighbors.  (No wonder I sometimes felt the area where my molars are hurt.  It hurt because movement was happening.)  Now, in the third month, I feel that this lower left first molar has been working too hard, because it looks like it is positioned a tiny bit inward than its neighbors now….  And maybe it is just the picture-taking angle, but I feel that comparing the first month and third month pictures, my lower arch looks a little bit narrower now than before?

After the build-up on my lower right second premolar was worn, I  could almost bite down in the first month comparing to the first day with braces.  (My teeth moved so biting down completely like before was impossible even if I didn’t have the build-ups.)  The first day’s picture doesn’t look quite alike as the monthly pictures because I didn’t think about pulling the corner of my mouth to take a picture in the beginning….  Although the teeth on the very back were not shown, I could tell that my archwires were not straight on the left side.  In the first month, the archwires moved a little toward becoming a straight line, and in the second month’s picture, the smart archwires amazingly looked straight.  However, my social six also got pulled to the right (not knowing the accuracy of this claim, but at least that’s how I see it), causing the upper left canine to overlap a small area of the lower left canine.  This same issue persists or even gets worse when the treatment enters the third month.

If I didn’t think about pulling of corner of my mouth to take a picture of my teeth on the left side, I also wouldn’t think about doing so for the right side, so the first day’s picture doesn’t show the very back teeth on the right side.  The change on the right side is pretty similar to the left side that’s detailed above.  My teeth on the right side were at better positions before the treatment started, so the archwires looked straighter on the right side.  My upper right canine used to stay in the space between the lower right canine and first premolar, but over the course of three months, the upper right canine has moved to get closer to the lower right first premolar.  In the third month’s picture, it looks like my upper right canine is hitting on my lower right first premolar, but it actually isn’t, but almost.

Okay, I also didn’t think about taking pictures of my teeth from the side angle until the second month into the treatment, so I don’t have pictures to show for the first day and first month.  (I feel sad about this because time doesn’t go back for me to make up taking those pictures, but at least I realize to take pictures of my teeth from this side angle in the second month and on, so I can still track the changes at a fairly early time.)  I bet the left gap between my upper canine and first premolar was bigger before the second month in braces, because there was already a trace on the gum indicating that the upper left first premolar was pulled toward the upper left canine.  The pulling force continues, and in the third month, the left gap appears a bit narrows than one month ago.

The first day’s and first month’s pictures from the right side angle are not available either.  Similar things happen to the right side as on the left side.  A trace on the gum between the upper right canine and first premolar shows that these two teeth are getting closer to each other.  The right gap in the third month looks smaller than the second month, and it seems like the right gap is closing faster than the left gap.  However, comparing the second month’s and third month’s pictures, it proves that my observation is correct, that my social six are moved to the right gradually, because in the third month, my upper right canine looks like it is almost hitting on the bottom right canine, but it didn’t appear to be like this in the second month.  So I conclude that my upper right canine is moving toward the upper right first premolar, instead of the other way around.

Although it is time-consuming to put the pictures together to show the monthly changes, I also have fun to document my observation for the first three months I have been wearing braces.  I probably would write another blog post like this that I compare then and now braces pictures when I am half-year into the treatment.

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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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Today is a special day because it marks the first one month that I have lived through with braces.  When I think about this, I just don’t feel that it has been one month already.  I guess time just flies when you are not counting the days.

Thinking back about the first month that I have had braces, I feel that the first week (especially the first four or five days) was the hardest, because I suddenly changed from eating whatever and whenever I want, brushing my teeth in normal speed and with ease, and having a normal smile and hydrated lips, to staring at and smelling delicious food but unable to chew, feeling hungry and thinking about food constantly,  brushing teeth slowly and carefully to avoid soreness, and having cracked mouth corners and a smile that doesn’t look like before.  In the second week, things did get better, that I gradually could eat more different things, and cracked mouth corners got healed.  By the third week, I didn’t feel much teeth movement and pressure so it was quicker for me to brush, because there were fewer teeth sore areas.  During the fourth week, I had more choices in terms of what I could eat and I finally was able to eat out (twice).  And maybe my teeth were moving again, so I felt soreness on my bottom left and right first molars when I ate, but it only lasted for two to three days.

Once I signed the contract and began the treatment, there is no way back.  Fortunately, I do gain something in the first month.  First, I lost 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg).  Second, the gap between my top central incisors apparently is gone.  Third, I feel I become better at cooking (it is fun to cook things I hadn’t cooked before).  Lastly, I am definitely eating more healthily (i.e., barely use oil or add salt, steam most of my veggies, and eat more variety of veggies per meal).

So, how are my teeth so far?

When I relax my mouth and slightly open it, it is obvious that the top row is pretty off from the center line comparing to the bottom row.  When I first started to wear braces, I don’t think the top and the bottom rows looked this misaligned.  Now the top row is off like this, I really wonder how they can be moved to the center because it seems like they are moving toward the right side, slowly moving away from the center all together.

This is my smile after one month of having braces.  My top row is off….  This makes me worry that the top row would stay like this and the bottom row would move to align with this off-centered top row….  I hope this wouldn’t happen.

The build-ups (which can’t be seen in the picture above) that the orthodontist put on my two bottom second premolars are somehow still working, so my teeth do not fully touch each other when I bite down.  But now I don’t have a visible gap between my top and bottom rows of teeth as compared to when I first got the build-ups.

Not only that the top row is off from the center, but my left central incisor on the top looks like it is extending a bit longer then the right one….  Also, the bottom row is sliding downward to the left….  I hope these can be fixed eventually and the orthodontist wouldn’t adjust the brackets to move the teeth on the lower side up….

I pulled my left mouth corner so I could take a clearer picture of my teeth’s left side.  I see that at the very back the brackets have hooks.  The orthodontist told me when I first time went in for a consultation that he would use rubber bands to align my bite.  I guess the hooks are for the rubber bands.

I also have matching brackets with hooks on my teeth on the right side.

Starting from two days ago, I feel my teeth on the very far back on the right side are touching each other, and when I took a close shot of the brackets and teeth, I think maybe my right first and second molars are touching my bottom bracket….  I hope not, but from the picture, it looks like they are either touching my bracket or they are pretty close to touching my bracket.  The orthodontist put two build-ups on my two bottom second premolars to prevent my teeth on the top row from touching the brackets on the bottom row.  He said if the right one is worn or falls off, the left one can still function.  But the fact is that my teeth haven’t been able to touch the build-up on the left side, and I already think there is a high possibility that my back teeth on the right side are close to touching, if not already touching, the bottom bracket.  My next appointment is still in another month, but I think about going to see my orthodontist sooner if the situation gets worse.

The above picture shows the huge gap on the left side between my canine and first premolar.  I don’t notice the gap is smaller than before , but I hope it is a bit smaller but just too small to notice.

The above picture shows the right side gap.  I also don’t notice the gap is smaller than when I first started wearing braces.

When I look at the mirror, it looks like the gap between my top central incisors is gone.  But when I use my tongue to touch the back of my top central incisors, I feel there is still a small gap.  In the above picture, it shows that my feeling is correct.  Because my top central incisors are crooked, even when the gap is quickly closed when I look at my teeth from the front, the crooked teeth still form a gap behind them.  When I spoke with my orthodontist, he told me that he wanted to close the gap first and then align the teeth.  I want to believe that he knows what he has decided would generate the shortest treatment time, but I still wonder that once all the crooked teeth on the top row are next to each other without a gap, my teeth would still be crooked.  How would there be space left to straighten the crooked teeth?  My guess is that if this really happened, my treatment time would be prolonged, and I wouldn’t be happy to see that my treatment time is longer than planned.

As I stated in the past posts, I think my bottom row’s left and right sides are not horizontally balanced.  (I didn’t know this until I begin taking pictures of my teeth.)  The arrows in the picture above point out my build-ups.  The right one is pretty worn while the left one is still intact.  I think that the only way to prevent any of my teeth on the top row to touch any of the brackets on the bottom is to keep having the build-ups on my bottom teeth until the top teeth are moved to the desired positions.  I don’t know how long this would take, but I think that maybe when the two huge gaps are closed on the top, the teeth would be situated in the middle of two brackets instead of right on a bracket.  I hope this day would come soon.

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