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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

November to December 2005 
z Tuesday, November 2 

I want to start off by telling you about a cool new web gadget called Frappr. It's an interactive worldwide map that lets you "add yourself" to show people where you are (by city and state, or country only). I started a Frappr map for ArchWired members. If you have a moment, go to this link and add yourself to the map. Include a photo or an avatar and a short message. It would be cool if most of our members put themselves on the map! BTW, you can move the map around by "dragging" it with your mouse.

Speaking of maps, have you downloaded and looked at Google Earth? I was absolutely SPEECHLESS the first time I looked at it. It is truly the coolest thing I have ever seen on the web. It's totally free. You would not believe the close resolution it has in most major cities -- only hundreds of yards above the ground -- fascinating! You have to check it out; I'm sure you'll be as blown away by it as I was!

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I also want to tell you about a cool internet radio station I listen to on a regular basis. In fact, I've been meaning to mention it for a few months. It's called RadioParadise.com. There are no commercials and you only hear the announcer say the name of the songs after a set of 4-6 songs -- the way FM radio was in the days of yore. The music mix is always eclectic, and it's totally free -- no subscription or login necessary. It is financed completely by listener donations. The guy who founded and runs the station previously worked for some major FM radio stations and got fed up with all the commercialization on the air. He now lives in a house that is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and runs this internet radio station! I've discovered a few interesting groups and artists by listening to this station. Personally I like it a lot. If you like to listen to music via your computer, give Radio Paradise a try.

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We are moving ahead slowly with the home improvement stuff. I still haven't pinned down a contractor to refinish the hardwood floors (I'm being very picky). But I have been doing a lot of work in preparation, such as cleaning out various closets and cabinets. An odious job, but it has to be done. As you can imagine, the local Goodwill store is getting truckloads of stuff from us (only half kidding about that...) I am NOT a packrat, and I actually delight in making our household load a lot lighter. Now if I could only get my kids to throw out all that tiny stuff they get from birthday party goodie bags.....

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Hot off the "press" I created a really neat item which is new to DentaKit.com. It is a set of magnetic words for braces! I called the set "Metal Mouth Magnets." There are over 100 words that you can use to compose sentences like:

If you already have a set of other magnetic words, you can add them to create all sorts of interesting and fun sentences.

I'm pretty jazzed about this magnetic word set, because there is nothing like it on the market -- I created it myself! After all, we braces wearers deserve our own special set of magnetic words, dontcha think?


Friday, November 10 

I have been sick with a cough once again, but this time I think I have finally gotten a "real" diagnosis. I saw a new doctor and asked her why -- EVERY SINGLE TIME I get a cold or a sore throat -- why do I end up with a bronchial infection and need antibiotics? It has been this way for the past 12 years. It's just not normal!! she told me that I probably have a condition called Reactive Airway Disease (RAD) -- adult onset. I had never heard of it before. Basically it's a cloaked form of asthma that only surfaces when something triggers it -- like allergies, fumes, cold weather, exercise, or a virus. Apparently my lungs have become abnormally sensitive/over-reactive. I already had inhalers from my previous bout with this last year. She gave me a prescription for a slightly stronger dose of Advair and also put me on Zithromax.

She also told me to use Flonase nasal spray every day. I already had some, but I rarely use it. I get monthly allergy shots, so allergies generally aren't a problem for me. She said that the ongoing use of Flonase will help keep my sinuses from getting inflamed and prevent that nasty post-nasal drip that contributes to a cough.

Anyway, of course I'm not thrilled that I may have another chronic condition (I also have auto-immune thyroid problems), but I'm happy that finally SOMEONE has put a name to my weird post-cold cough condition.

Now I know that when I get a cold or feel even the slightest bit sick, I should start taking my inhalers immediately. In the past, my mistake has been waiting a few days to see how things will go before breaking out the inhalers because I didn't want to take inhaled steroids for "no reason." I should also be more careful about exposing myself to fumes and stuff like cigarette smoke -- things that may trigger an "attack." I think I may get one of those special filtration masks for any "fume" tasks I may do around the house...using cleaners or spray paints or whatever.

I already have done a lot of allergy-proofing at my house. All of our beds are covered/encased with special allergy bedding (I highly recommend the website of the company Allergy Control Products). And as you know, we're getting rid of the carpeting soon and re-doing the hardwood floors. Our vacuum cleaner has HEPA filters. We have an Ionic Breeze. I guess things have just been going in this direction for years without me realizing it.

After I'm over this latest cough, she wants me to go to the hospital for a lung function test. That's fine with me. I'd like some proof that I have RAD or asthma. I'll do it in December because my insurance deductible has mostly been met for this calendar year, and it will cost less to do it before January.

Oh yeah, she also wants me to get a flu shot. In fact, she said that for me, the flu shot is NOT optional, ever. That's good to know. No more debate about that.

Well I've taken the Zithromax for 2 days now (it's a strong 3-day treatment) and I'm starting to feel better. Hopefully I'll be back to 100% energy soon! I've been feeling rather awful this week.

One problem with being sick: my retainer! I find that I have to take it out because I tend to cough more when it's in (at night). So I've been wearing it during the day for several hours here and there. At this point (about a year since the braces have come off), I think my teeth are stable enough...but I don't want to take any chances!

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I'm so excited, because this year for Thanksgiving we are eating OUT! You see, I have no family around here except for my Mother-in-Law. She is in assisted living and can't cook anything. So it all falls on my shoulders. In the past I've tried getting all the stuff pre-made from the grocery store, but it's still a ton of work. Last year I got REALLY CRANKY, and Hubby finally realized that it was insane for me to do all this work for one silly meal. So from now on, we're going to a restaurant. Instead of dreading Thanksgiving, for once I'm looking forward to it! But I promised the kids that I would make a special tiny dinner soon just for us so they could have their favorite carrot pudding. If anyone wants the recipe, let me know; I'd be happy to share it.

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DentaKit now has a holiday sale in progress. Selected retainer cases, dental wax, wax alternatives, pre-pasted toothbrushes, mouth mirrors, and Proxi-Tips are on sale. As usual there is free US shipping for purchases of $49 and over. For purchases over $99 I'm also including a free set of Metal Mouth Magnets. International shipping is half price for orders $49 and over (sorry, I can't offer free shipping internationally!) Soon I'll send out the only email I ever send announcing the sale to existing customers (I always cringe that people will think I'm spamming them -- I really hate spam!) So if you've been wanting to stock up on supplies, now is a good time!

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Today a post came across the Metal Mouth Message Board that was quite unbelievable. A user of the drug Ecstasy wanted to know how to prevent bruxism when he's high. He wears braces and uses the drug about once a month. It's like a coke user asking how to prevent nose bleeds because it ruins the pleasant experience. I feel sorry for that person....bruxism is certainly the least of their problems...I hope he or she can find a way to stop soon.

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I have come across yet another musical group that I really like: The Stills. They're sort a like The Cure with traces of Radiohead and a few other groups I just can't put my finger on...maybe Todd Rungren. These past few months, I've been listening to them, Radiohead's OK Computer album (a masterpiece IMO), and the two Interpol albums (its a nasty guilty addiction, I'll admit). And occasionally some Chris Isaak, Coldplay, and Keane. I just bought Beck's latest album but haven't had a chance to pop it into the CD player yet. So much music, so little time....

Sometimes I search Amazon or AMG for groups I've never heard of but might like. There are groups that everyone seems to like (such as Modest Mouse) but I just can't seem to get into their music. Maybe it's a generational thing. I also can't stand Franz Ferdinand....no matter what anyone says (yes, catchy melodies, etc) I think they are just copying a sound/style. I'm just a jaded old punk. Look out 20somethings, there are a lot of us opinionated old punks out there, LOL.


Saturday, December 3 

Finally I'm better, but for the entire month, that stupid cough and cold just wouldn't go away. I wound up having to take Augmentin for 2 weeks to get rid of it, along with my myriad of inhalers. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that something I took gave me a digestive problem. No, not the usual type -- apparently I have reflux. My throat has been rather hoarse and I seem to have a continual post-nasal drip, so I went to my ENT doctor to see why. He stuck a scope down my nose into my throat (a lovely procedure -- NOT) and told me that he sees a lot of irritation that points to reflux. He had examined me a few months ago and mentioned it then, too, but I denied having a problem. Apparently this type of reflux (called LPR) can be "silent," so you don't even know it's going on. He said that some of my apparent asthma stuff may actually be related to this reflux. Wonderful.

In addition to taking Prilosec twice a day, he wants me to avoid tomatoes, onions, coffee, tea, cola, and basically anything acidic. Indian food! Thai food! Mexican food! Italian food! Jeez, everything I love to eat. As you can guess, I'm pretty darned upset about this. Instead of drinking my usual hot mocha in the morning I'm having....hot milk! Argh! Naturally I began searching the web and came across a message board similar to our own Metal Mouth Forum. The nice people there are helping me understand this mess, and re-assuring me that taking 2 Prilosec a day is OK (the package states to take no more than one per day). I also found out about a couple of products that apparently neutralize the acid in foods and drinks. You sprinkle them in or on the foods/drinks and supposedly the flavor is not affected. OK, I bought some today and we'll see how it works. I can't imagine giving up my favorite foods or beverages. But on the other hand, I don't want to ruin my windpipe or my voice either.

I'm researching whether the inhalers or antibiotics I took (or all that violent coughing I did) could have anything to do with this, because as far as I know, I didn't have a problem previously. Unless it was a small problem and now has become a big problem. Who knows. So far the Prilosec is making me feel rather sleepy. I hope that passes. What a big pain this all is. I hope it's temporary and that soon it will just be in the past.

In the mean time, I'm moving ahead with all that "possible asthma" stuff and will be seeing a pulmonologist soon about that lung test.

Have I mentioned how much I hate spending all my time with doctors?

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OK, enough about all that health stuff. Sheesh!

Attention people with Invisalign-type braces! We have taken the DentaKit concept a step further and now have a DentaKit for Invisible Braces. It includes some of the products from the "regular" DentaKit, plus others that aligner-wearers need, such as packets of regular floss, the ART tool, breath strips, and a starter supply of Retainer Brite. People with retainers could also use this kit successfully. Here's a link to the product page, in case you're interested. Oh BTW, Invisalign is a trademark of Align Technologies. (I have to say that to appease the gods and goddesses of invisible plastic aligners).

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There have been some really annoying goings-on at the Message Board lately. I bet you didn't know about this, but people register just to have a link or mention of a website they are hawking, such as web hosting or pharmacies. I suppose it gets picked up on the search engines. It's a free way for them to get more links. They never intend to actually post anything. They register and put their URL into their sig and provide a link to their site. Well, I refuse to let ArchWired be a vehicle for them. As soon as I spot one of these bogus members, I remove all of their references and de-activate their accounts. If they have posted, (stuuuuupid) I can get their IP address and ban them. I do wish people in cyberspace would behave themselves.

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As the holidays approach, I hope you and your family have a great holiday season and a terrific New Year. If you haven't seen the humor page this month, take a look, because it will surely make you chuckle.

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