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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

April to May 2005 
z Friday, April 1 

As you can see, the main page of ArchWired was re-designed slightly to make it less cluttered. I've been meaning to do this for many months, and finally got around to it. Hopefully everything "works" as it did before. If you find any broken or incorrect links, or if it looks weird on your browser, please let me know.

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This week was Spring Break, but we didn't go anywhere. We're still recovering from spending those two weeks in Europe/the UK at the end of February! Mainly my kids and I stayed home and hung out, went to the movies, and did some outdoor activities as weather permitted. I made them clean their rooms, LOL -- I told them they were spending the day at Clean Your Room Camp! Hubby did not have the week off. 

As for me -- well when you run your own business, you never really are "off" from it. But I took the opportunity to get a lot of annoying chores done around the house. When you have kids and lead such a fast life, little things begin to pile up. Like papers. And laundry. And a million little tasks you keep putting off. And I keep wanting to continue learning to play bass, but can't seem to get into the frame of mind to devote the time to it. My brain's CPU needs to be upgraded so I can multi-task on more levels, LOL. In the mean time, I'll just turn up the latest Chili Peppers album and listen to Flea play his bass. Maybe some of it will seep in!

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I'm seeing a cosmetic dermatologist later this month about the scar on my shoulder. It doesn't really hurt anymore (had it shot with cortisone a couple of months ago), but it looks awful -- part keloid, red, and kind of bruised. With the warm weather coming, I'd feel better if it looked less angry. I've tried various creams and patches, but they don't seem to make any difference. This particular doctor was recommended by my physical therapist. He said that several of his patients were very pleased with this dermatologist.

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My daughter, who is almost 12, made me very happy last month. She asked me to buy her an album: Green Day's American Idiot. Finally, she is outgrowing teeny pop! Thank God! I was a little older than her when I got my first "cool" album: Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy. (That really dates me, doesn't it?) I truthfully don't think she understands the lyrics in the Green Day album, but she likes the music. OK, that's a start. Maybe soon she'll stop complaining when I pick her up from school with the Strokes blasting from my minivan...


z Sunday, May 1 

My long-awaited final process has begun! Late last month, I got a lower molar filling changed from amalgam (metal) to composite (tooth-colored). As I've mentioned previously, I decided to do this for cosmetic reasons because you can see the fillings when I smile, as they spill to the outside of the tooth. In the past this wasn't a problem, but since my ortho treatment, (and pre-molar extractions), everything moved forward, making those fillings very noticeable when I smile. 

I really don't like getting fillings done. Well, who does? I hate the Novocain shot, and having my mouth propped open for an hour. But in the name of vanity, I put up with it. Actually, this is more than vanity. I did have a slight gap between the molar and the next tooth, in which food often got caught. One hour later, the tooth looked great and the gap was gone! You can't even see that there is a filling in that molar, and food isn't getting caught between those teeth anymore.

Coming up later this month: a similar procedure on the other side of my mouth with two bottom molar fillings and gap resolutions. And then, the long-awaited bonding on a few of my upper teeth, where there are still a couple of annoying little gaps. Then I will be done (I hope) for a long, long time!

Dr. Vogt told me to come in for a retainer adjustment after the bonding. No doubt, things will be a little different.

I took a few "before" photos and promise to post some "before and after" photos either later this month or in the June site update. 

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The cosmetic dermatologist was great. He did a laser treatment on my shoulder scar. Of course it looked awful at first, but now it's better, and I can tell that when it is completely healed, it will look really good. In addition to the laser, he injected an organic material into a few places to even out the surface of the scar in relation to the surrounding skin. I have to wear the Neosporin silicone patch on the scar for several months (annoying and unexpected), but I'm looking forward to being done with this, already. I continue to have something like 98% mobility in the arm and shoulder (which isn't bad, considering the surgery and months of physical therapy). None of the cosmetic dermatology stuff will be covered by my insurance. It costs about $800, but it will be well worth it. I'm fine with having a scar -- I just don't want it to look as incredibly ugly has it had been.

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Speaking of mobility -- I took my first cardio kickboxing class last week. What a blast it was! And was I sore the next day! Phew! I really loved it, and plan to continue going, following through on my New Years resolutions to stay in good shape! 

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Later this month, ArchWired and DentaKit are going to the big trade show for the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), at Moscone Center in San Francisco! I have a booth (number 125 if you are a dental professional and want to drop by), and Maggie Harris from Harris Labs will be there with her book I Lost My Retainer. As you can imagine, I have been extremely busy preparing for this show. Orthodontists and dentists from around the world attend this huge annual meeting. I'll be posting photos either later this month or in next month's update.

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This month, I added a new product to the DentaKit line: Retainer Brite cleaning tablets. I've been using this product myself for a few months with my Hawley retainers, and I really like it. It can be used for Hawley and Essix retainers, aligners, and various plastic and metal appliances that don't have metal solder points. I'm also offering a neat little battery-operated sonic cleaner. Check it out if you have a chance.


z Saturday, May 21 

I never thought I'd say it: My Teeth Are Done!

Earlier this week I had the second lower molar filling changed to composite, and then I had some bonding done on the upper teeth. I am so pleased with the final result!

It was a really good decision to get those molar fillings changed. First of all, now when I smile you don't see two huge silver fillings on each side of my mouth. Moreover, food does not get caught between the molars at all anymore, which is such a relief! Changing those fillings made a huge difference, and to me, it almost looks like a whole new smile!

The bonding went really well. It is extremely subtle. My regular dentist did the work. He widened the two upper laterals (second teeth from the very front). This improved their aesthetics, but also helped close some small but bothersome gaps that had developed post-braces. He also bonded one additional tooth to help close a small functional gap.

So now I have straight teeth and no gaps whatsoever. Dr. Vogt was very impressed with my dentist's bonding technique -- and I must admit, so am I.

I saw Dr. Vogt immediately after the bonding to adjust my Hawley retainer, because now it fits slightly differently.

Here are some "before and after" photos:

Before: Notice the dark silver fillings in the two lower molars. The laterals (second top teeth from the front) have small gaps beside them that are difficult to see in this photo, but food often got caught between them.

 

After: If you saw me in person and looked really carefully you might realize that there are fillings in those lower molars,  but for the most part they are rather invisible. The laterals have been widened, giving them a slightly squarer appearance. 

 

So in the end, they look great,  but I  know that they are far from perfect. My midline is still slightly off, I have Fluorodosis stains, and the lower front gum has receded slightly (I may need some grafting done to fix it). However, from the beginning I knew that I wouldn't wind up with a 100% perfect smile. I never wanted "Chicklet teeth," I just wanted my smile to be improved. And considering what it used to look like (below), I have come a long, long way!

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ArchWired/DentaKit will be at the American Association of Orthodontics annual convention/trade show for the next four days. Today we went to set up our booth. It is a huge show, and every orthodontic company you've ever heard of is there, of course: GAC, Align Technologies (Invisalign), Ormco, 3M-Unitek, all sorts of suppliers, distributors, dealers, manufacturers -- the whole enchilada. Jay Leno is the master of the opening ceremonies, and Terry Bradshaw is a keynote speaker! Mrs. Fields is even there as a motivational speaker. Fortunately, the rain has finally stopped here in San Francisco, so everyone will have beautiful weather.

Our booth is raffling off an iPod mini, but that's small potatoes next to another large company, which is raffling off a new BMW 3 Series (parked right in the middle of the exhibit hall floor). 

I'll post a few photos and give a little report when the show is finished. It is going to be a fun -- and tiring -- four days!

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