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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

December 2003 to January 2004
z Monday, December 1 

I have delayed my next adjustment by one week because of an overnight school field trip I'm doing with my older daughter. We must dress up like pioneers and live in an historic fort for two days, doing all sorts of pioneer activities, and talking in pioneer slang. Her entire grade (2 classes worth) is doing this trip. I figured it would be better to delay my treatment by one week rather than risk a poking wire when I'm three hours from home and dressed like Carolyn Ingalls (i.e., Little House on the Prairie). 

Truthfully, while I'm sure it will be fun for the kids, the entire thing has been a huge expensive headache for me (and other parents as well). I wish the teacher wasn't so gung-ho on this pioneer experience thing. Half of the class is sleeping on a dirt floor in an unheated room -- no pillows or comforts allowed, only basic sleeping bags. The other half is in a nearby youth hostel. Well, with my back trouble and recent bout of pneumonia, there's no way I'm sleeping on a cold dirt floor, so it's the hostel for us. If all those other parents weren't also at the hostel, I'd sneak us away to a nice cozy hotel. In fact, I might just cause an uprising and have us all sleep at a hotel. I'm such a trouble maker! 

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I hope all our American readers had a nice Thanksgiving. Thankfully, my teeth weren't hurting and nothing was poking me!

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The continuing saga of the curry stains on my braces....so recently I had curry for a third time and I guess the third time's the charm....they're very yellow! Here are a few pictures. The first two were published in last month's journal, but I thought I'd put them all here so you could compare them. I'm wearing pearlescent power chains on top, and glow-in-the-dark ligatures on bottom:

Before eating any curry

 

After eating curry twice in one week and brushing a few times.

 

After eating curry a third time a week later and brushing a few more times. The power chains and ligatures are now lightly stained light yellow, and the staining won't come off. I must admit, the glow-in-the-dark ligatures seem to stain less than the pearlescent power chains. Or perhaps it just appears that way, because the power chains are more prominent.


z Thursday, December 17

I had another adjustment recently, and Dr. Vogt added something quite unexpected to my braces: a couple of loops in the bottom arch wire!

He is very pleased with the way my bite has progressed, but there are still some gaps on the bottom. Now, we're in the home stretch, and he wants to finally close those gaps. He said that using a loop in the arch wire, along with a power chain, helps to close the bottom gaps better on adults. That is why he is doing this, instead of merely putting a power chain on the hook of the adjacent bracket.

He used the same arch wire that was on the bottom last month, but made two little loops on the sides. After replacing the arch wire on my brackets, he put a power chain from the last molar over to each loop. The other bottom teeth have plain ligatures. The top teeth have power chain, as usual. Here are a couple of photos:

 

The loops are on the bottom. You can't see the power chain very well because it's smoke color and blends in.

Here's a close-up of the loop in the arch wire.

So far, the loops haven't been too much of a pain. Yes, my teeth did hurt the first couple of days, but now things are pretty much back to status-quo. In fact, I do believe that the larger lower gap has closed a bit since my adjustment. The only downside to the loops is that more food gets trapped in my braces. Sigh. But I guess that's just to be expected.

I'm still wearing elastics, but Dr. Vogt told me to switch to wearing them only at night.

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My daughter and I didn't go on that pioneer trip last week, because both my kids were sick. I thought they both had the same thing, but it turns out that my younger one had the flu, and my older one just had a bad cold. Although my older daughter was almost better by the time field-trip-day arrived, she still wasn't 100%, and I was exhausted from being up in the middle of the night with her sister, who had a fever and threw up a couple of times. 

Fortunately, since my husband and I both had flu shots, we didn't get sick. I was taking my vitamins, plus a generous dose of Sambucol every day to stay healthy. If you're not familiar with Sambucol, it's a syrup made of elderberry extract. Supposedly, it is a potent anti-viral syrup. It actually works for me. Many times in the past few years, if I felt a cold coming on or had a mild sore throat, taking Sambucol helped to make it go away. I suppose it has a lot of anti-oxidants in it or something -- they say that berries have a lot of anti-oxidants. Anyway, after having pneumonia this summer, I stocked up on Sambucol for these "just in case" times. If one of the kids gets sick, I start taking it to help ensure that I don't catch what they have. You can buy the stuff at a health food store, and many places online. It tastes like berry pancake syrup!

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Recently, a nice person at the Phillips company sent me a new Sonicare Elite to thank me for some information provided by ArchWired. That was totally unexpected and very generous of her. I usually don't get perks like that! 

As you may know, I've been using Sonicare for years -- since before getting my braces. Anyway, the new version is very nice. Here's how it compares to the old one: it's lighter, the brush head is now angled, longer, and thinner. There is also no sheath on the outside of the brush head, which makes it more flexible. I find that the new model seems to reach those back areas easier and it is definitely more maneuverable than the old model. The new bristles are different, and seem to clean a bit better.

I'm not plugging the product, just giving you some facts. If you already have a Sonicare, there's no need to dump it and buy a new Elite model. The feeling of the brush, and the way it cleans the teeth, are very similar -- virtually identical. But if your Sonicare breaks, or if you want to get a Sonicare for some reason, I would favor the new Elite model over the older model. Especially for kids, since it's lighter and has more rubberized stuff on the outside for easier gripping. I plan to get each my kids a Sonicare eventually, and I'm relieved that they finally made the thing weigh less (visions of a $100 toothbrush shattering on the bathroom floor in the midst of horseplay....)


z Thursday, January 1, 2004

Happy New Year to everyone!

My family and I have been having a very nice winter break. Before having kids, my husband and I lived in the Phoenix, Arizona area. We haven't been back in years, and the kids have never been there. So, we thought it would be a nice time to visit the Southwest and show the kids our old stomping grounds.

It was wonderful to re-visit some of our favorite family-style restaurants (Ted's Hotdogs and Nello's Pizza) and introduce our kids to the taste of Indian Fry Bread! They had also never seen a real live Saguaro cactus (or any other kind of large cactus), so that was interesting to them. We stayed at a nice resort-type hotel with a wonderful outdoor heated swimming pool, complete with water slide. Despite the cold weather, the pool and its Jacuzzi were really great. When we lived in Phoenix, we used to laugh at the "snowbirds" who would come and swim in December. Well, now I guess we've joined their ranks!

After several days in Phoenix, we drove to the Grand Canyon, stopping at some ancient Indian ruins along the way, as well as the historic mining town of Jerome and beautiful red rocks of Sedona. The kids have been learning a lot about Native American culture and the California Gold Rush days in school, so it was all very educational to them. And as expected, they were in awe of the immensity of the Grand Canyon (if you've never been there, believe me that photos and videos do NOT do it justice). It was FREEZING at the Grand Canyon, and I was glad that we had brought warm jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves!

One of these days, I'd like to take the kids to Bryce Canyon in Utah. My husband and I hiked there once. It's one of my favorite places, because it looks like another planet -- thousands of stone spires (called Hoodoos) everywhere.

We rang in the new year back at home with some friends and platefuls of hors d'ouvres. I'm really enjoying today, kicking back and watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi channel, wearing sweats and fuzzy slippers. Later, we're invited to a neighbor's house for an informal party. It's very nice to disconnect from work for a while and travel, and spend time with family and friends. I find that traveling helps me to get in touch with myself and puts everything into perspective. Especially traveling to large open areas like the desert, or hiking in the forest -- it really clears your head. For the first time in months, I didn't touch a computer for days on end.

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On the dental front, the loops that Dr. Vogt put in my bottom arch wire are doing their jobs. The smaller gap is almost closed, and the larger gap is about halfway there. I think it will take another month or two for the spaces to FINALLY close, once and for all!

When I saw Dr. Vogt last month, I asked him about retainers. He said that he'd favor two Hawley retainers for me. I had thought he wanted me to have a fixed retainer on the bottom. I suppose I'll try the Hawleys and see how they are. But that is, of course, about 6 months away.

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Speaking of teeth, my younger daughter is about to lose her second bottom tooth, but it has been hanging on for WEEKS! The new tooth is growing behind it. The dentist said that this is very common, and when the new tooth erupts further, the old tooth will finally fall out. For now, the poor kid is eating very carefully, because she's afraid of swallowing that tooth!


z Thursday, January 22, 2004  

Two Years Since Getting Braces!

Another adjustment, another month closer to being done! Today marks two years since I got my braces on, and the clock is finally ticking down. I can't believe it -- two years have literally flown by.

Dr. Vogt is continuing with the loops in the lower arch wire, which have definitely been doing the job. In fact, they did the job so well that one of the brackets popped off a few days before my adjustment (that's pressure for ya). Speaking of the loops, they haven't been too much of a pain. Yes, more food gets caught beneath them, but not much more than usual. And I don't feel them in my mouth. So if your ortho puts loops in your arch wire, don't freak out -- it's really no big deal.

One gap is 99% closed (the only way you realize there's space there is when it's flossed); the other gap is 75% closed (that has been the really stubborn one). I have a few gaps here and there between the upper teeth (including between the two front teeth), but that will all get resolved in the coming months.

As usual, my teeth hurt for a few days after the adjustment, but now everything is status-quo again. Dr. Vogt put a few more bends in the upper arch wire, as well (but no loops).

See my Photos page at the beginning of February (when the site is updated) for new pictures of my progress!

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One interesting side note about this whole process.... before getting my teeth straightened, I had a really hard time flossing. I had to use Glide, because other types of floss were too painful and many of the spaces between my teeth were too tight. Now that things are better, I can use regular floss, and even something like dental tape or SuperFloss. 

I've been contemplating adding a SuperFloss-type product to the DentaKit lineup for some time, but Oral-B is impossible to deal with (very small-business unfriendly). However, it turns out that the Thornton company invented the SuperFloss product. They sold the product to Oral-B years ago, but today they make a very similar product -- almost identical to the Oral-B product. I'm happy to tell you that this product, called Thornton 3-in-1 Floss, will soon be carried on the DentaKit site, in economical boxes of 100 strands. We will also begin carrying boxes of Glide Threader Floss, for those of you who need a slicker floss for those tight spaces.

Another slight change in the DentaKit lineup will be the addition of regular clear mint-scented dental wax and clear cherry-scented wax for kids. Many people like the dental silicone that we sell, but I have had many requests for regular wax, too. 

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Starting in February, I hope to begin running unobtrusive ads here on ArchWired. Now, you know that I can't stand flashing banners and pop-ups. I promise you that ArchWired won't contain any of that stuff. When possible, the ads will be static (unmoving) and as non-annoying as possible. They will be at the top (in a banner), and on the side, next to the News section. The ads will ONLY pertain to dental and orthodontic products and services. This is a whole new realm for me, so I expect there to be a few adjustments to the site here and there, so please bear with me. The revenue from the ads will help offset website expenses. As usual, the site will be better viewed in Internet Explorer than in Netscape. I don't know why, but Netscape has a way of totally screwing up the site's logistics. Any web gurus out there want to clue me in on why this happens? 

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So, what have I been up to this month? It was hard to get back into the routine after winter vacation. Remember how I had pneumonia back in the summer and was a total couch potato during recovery...and then I had trouble getting back into a consistent exercise program. Well, it's come back to bite me, because I gained about 5 pounds. Which wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't already almost 5 pounds over my "ideal" weight. Sigh. Well, getting on the scale (and not fitting comfortably into some of my favorite clothes) was enough of a motivator. Now I'm exercising consistently every other day. No excuses, no skipping days. I've made it a much higher priority in my daily life. I'm also doing a variation of the low-carb diet, and I've got to say, that Atkins/Orowheat "Carb Counting" low-carb bread is actually pretty good!

Another New Year's resolution I made (besides losing the extra weight) was to play my guitar more consistently. Really, it had been months since I'd even touched it. And I really really missed it. Music is food for the soul, and I needed it. So I'm happy to say that the calluses are back on my fingers. I was also motivated by listening to the Stone Temple Pilots and then finding some "tab" for their songs on the web. Getting my Strat all distorted and playing "Big Empty" really loud just feels SO GOOD!

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And talking about music....Lord help us....my younger daughter has just started taking drum lessons. No, we don't have a drum kit...yet. Truthfully, I don't know WHERE we are going to put it. I suppose I'm going to have to relinquish the garage, because there is no room anywhere else in the house for it (logistically or acoustically). But you should see how incredibly excited she is about playing drums. How could we deny her that passion? Besides, it takes us one step closer to being a modern Partridge Family, with my older daughter now playing a mini Fender Squier  (in cherry red, of course, with lots of distortion on that little amp)...


 

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