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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.

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.

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.)

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.

When I was little, I had cherries, and I didn’t like them, because I felt cherries had a weird taste.  I disliked cherries since the first time I tried it until today.

Yesterday, a colleague shared cherries with me.  I didn’t like cherries, but I also didn’t want to hurt her feeling.  So I only took one cherry from her plate.  Because I took one, I thought I better ate it so it wouldn’t be wasted.  Surprisingly, this cherry I randomly picked from my colleague’s plate didn’t have the weird taste I had always tasted in cherries.  I thought I was just lucky to pick one that happened to have no weird taste.

Today, another colleague shared cherries with me too.  I still thought I didn’t like cherries, but I took one anyway.  I tried it, and this time the randomly picked cherry tasted good again.  This was strange.  I thought maybe my taste buds have changed since I get braces.

In the past, I really hated to soak cereals in liquid because that just tasted gross, so I only ate cereals dry.  But after I get braces, I put cereals in liquid to make them soft so I could eat them, and I was surprised to find out that I can accept to drink soaked cereals with liquid.  This was my first incident of changing taste buds.  (Now in the morning, if I don’t eat sponge cake, I drink cereal drinks without cereals or with cereals.)

With cherries, there is my second incident about changing taste buds.  When next Wednesday comes, I will go to the farmer’s market that’s on-site at my work to buy a bucket of cherries.

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.