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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

June to July 2003
z Sunday, June 1 

I had an adjustment last week and boy have I been feeling it! A few of my teeth are slightly rotated, and Dr. Vogt wanted to correct them. After the usual routine of removing the old power chains and then the arch wire, he examined my teeth and played around with the arch wires a bit, bending them slightly here and there (he called it "engaging the arch wire").

As soon as he put them back in, wow did I feel the change in pressure! And then, the new power chains went on (I chose smoke color again). By dinner time, I was back on a soft food diet (for the first time in many months).

That was several days ago, and my teeth are still really sensitive. I made a really great looking green salad the other night for dinner but I could barely eat it! Hopefully the pain will subside soon and I'll be back to normal food. But for now, it's cottage cheese, protein shakes, eggs, tuna salad, soup, and anything else soft that I can think of. You know all that weight I gained in Paris? Well, I guess I'll be losing it now!

I have already seen the effects of the pressure. One frontal tooth was slightly crooked, but now it's straight.

********

On the home improvement scene, I FINALLY got the pocket doors in the kitchen replaced. Yes, I've waited almost a year and hedged and hedged. I finally found the right guy for the job. As you may know if you read any of the entries from last year's journal, I hesitated in replacing the doors because the wall had been shoved in when they replaced one of the countertops, causing the door to stick. It took a guy who REALLY knew doors to be able to finesse it without tearing up my doorjamb or replacing the entire insides of the pocket door. So now I can get the kitchen painted, get the vertical blinds replaced, put up a few knickknacks and it will be completely DONE!


z Wednesday, June 11 

It took about 2 weeks for my teeth to completely stop hurting after that last adjustment. Now I'm eating whatever I want, again! Phew!

The teeth have definitely moved as a result of him tweaking the arch wire. Once again, my bite feels different.

Dr. Vogt told me that I can take a break from the elastics for a while. It will be interesting to see if he changes his mind at my next adjustment. I'm still really annoyed that one extraction gap on the bottom isn't closed. It is really taking its sweet time -- it's been almost a year! I asked Dr. Vogt if there's anything he wants to do to speed up the process -- like have more frequent adjustments. He said that it might be better to just let the arch wire and power chains do their thing without extra pressure for a while. 

He said that there have been some studies that a longer period of constant light pressure moves teeth better than shorter periods of intense pressure. Apparently, sometimes under heavy pressure, the tooth roots will "lock up" under the new strain and actually be harder to move. In some cases, he said, people have had better results with longer times between adjustments.

I suppose it varies by individual. For now, we're sticking with 4-week adjustments and the status quo. Although, I am really annoyed -- I want all the gaps to close up already. As I've mentioned previously, my gaps are taking longer than average to close. The gaps themselves are not noticeable anymore to anyone but me, but I still want them closed.

After my next adjustment, I plan to take a new photo to show how much the gaps have closed in one year.

********

I'm working on adding some things on the DentaKit site. Among the changes will be some new product offerings, such as a good quality manual orthodontic toothbrush for home use (non-portable). I'm also looking into selling some electric toothbrush head replacements. If there are any specific products you guys and gals have been searching for, let me know and I'll  consider carrying them. Drop me an email! I want to sell the stuff you've been searching for!

********

I've been really busy this past week with several things. The end of the school year always bring about extra work for us parents, with various parties and commitments. And my younger daughter had a birthday, so there was a lot do for her, too. I'm really looking forward to a long nice summer. We'll get the kitchen finished, do a little painting ourselves, maybe some gardening, and finally clean out the garage. It seems that as soon as we re-organize and clean it, it gets full of stuff again!


z Thursday, June 26 

Well, another adjustment and more pain. Once again, Dr. Vogt tweaked the arch wire to slightly rotate two teeth (which are now a tiny bit crooked). It's fascinating how he knows the correct way to put small bends in the arch wire to accomplish his goal. Quite a fine art.

Anyway, ouch! I've been eating soft food and drinking protein shakes for the past few days, and finally I can feel the pain beginning to ease up. I think I'll be able to eat crunchy food in about a week.

I finally asked Dr. Vogt the QUESTION: Will I need to keep my braces on longer than the original 24 months he projected? I wasn't surprised when he said, "Probably a few extra months." It has been almost a year since the extractions and the gaps aren't completely closed. And a few teeth do need to be fine-tuned. If I had to guess, I'd say that I have one more whole year, and I'll probably get the braces off late next Spring or Summer.

Dr. Vogt also said that I should continue taking a break from the elastics. But of course, I still have the power chains.

********

There has been a thread in the Forum recently about a chat room. I have been contemplating a chat room for the site for a while. I'll have some free time next week and plan to look into it. There are a lot of options out there and I need to poke around the web and see what's available and how many annoying pop-ups are generated from the various choices. Personally I HATE pop-ups and flashing banner ads, but unfortunately they are generally unavoidable these days.

********

The results of this month's Braces Poll are interesting. I didn't expect so many "first timers". I had thought that the results would be split between first timers and people who'd had braces previously when they were younger. It just goes to show that adults are beginning to realize that they don't have to suffer with crooked teeth -- and that braces on adults are becoming more popular. 

********

Next week, the painter is supposed to start on my kitchen! Hooray! It will be nice to get rid of those half-painted walls and patch the cracks, etc. 

********

Coming to the site for the July Update are new photos from some of our Photo Gallery members, including one new person (sorry I didn't have time earlier in the month to add those photos as I had planned!) 

Also, since it has been a year since the extractions, I'll post a couple of new photos of my own progress. So check back around July 1st!

********

I hope everyone's summer is going well! I want to apologize if you wrote to me and I took while to answer you. I've been busy with a ton of small chores around the house. I'm in "let's clean this mess up already dammit" mode. 

I've also been trying to exercise on a very regular basis and have newly taken up running (jogging, really). Hubby got into running last year and encouraged me to try it. We went to a special store for runners and got me some good running sneakers. 

I had never considered running in the past, because I had a foot problem that caused me pain. But after having surgery 3 years ago to correct the problem (and custom orthotics), my feet are better than new -- they NEVER hurt anymore. So for the first time in my life, running is actually a possibility. Hubby got a walk/run plan from a book that he used, and it has been very helpful. It gradually gets you into running without killing you or causing injuries.

Right now I'm up to a total of 10 minutes of running (with intervals of walking in between -- the most I run at once is 2 minutes so far). I run on a dirt track at a nearby park. And on non-running days, I'm trying to exercise at home or at the gym to get some "cross training" done. It isn't easy to do it so regularly. There's so much I need to do every day, and it's hard to fit in exercise (so many excuses to be lazy). But I'm trying very hard. I figure that if I run every other day and do other cross training and weights at least once or twice a week, it will be ok. As you may know, I do exercise fairly regularly as it is -- on the stationary bike, Nordic Trak, and elliptical stepper. But running is totally different and much harder! Needless to say, I have new respect for runners.

I don't plan to do races or marathons or anything like that. Maybe one day I'd consider trying a 5K or 10K. But that's way in the future. For now, being able to run 2 minutes straight without stopping is amazing for me. And the best part is -- it seems to be good for my back!

Another thing I've been wanting to do again -- tap dance! I had taken some tap dance lessons a few years ago (before my foot surgery) but had to stop because my feet hurt too much. I really miss it. OK, I'll admit that it's corny has hell, but it's so much fun and great exercise! And I was pretty well at it, too. I love percussion and tap dancing is like doing percussion with your body.


z Tuesday, July 1 

More fun and games this week in OrthoLand. My teeth were adapting well to the latest adjustment, and I was finally beginning to eat normal food again. Then, out of the blue, the bracket on the last top left molar slipped forward and then came off, held in place only by the power chain! This wouldn't have been so bad on any other tooth, but because it was the last molar, the end of the arch wire became exposed. A good quarter-inch worth, poking right into my cheek. YOUCH!!!! 

Did this happen during the daytime or during the week? Of course not! It happened on Friday at midnight! 

You should see the wire cutters I put in my mouth to clip that sucker --  the cutters I use to cut my guitar strings! It was no easy task, let me tell you. I tried to use nail clippers, but no luck; the arch wire was too thick. You'd think that I, the self-proclaimed queen of oral hygiene, would have a proper pair of orthodontic clippers, but no. OK, I guess I'll shell out a few dollars and buy some. I never want to go through THAT again. You should have seen the look of horror on Hubby's face as he stood behind me in the bathroom while I stuck those huge wire cutters in my mouth!

After I clipped off most of the arch wire that was sticking out, I gobbed tons of wax on the broken bracket and arch wire. Otherwise, I would have never been able to get to sleep.

Fortunately, Dr. Vogt decided to see me Saturday afternoon. He was really nice to do that, because he doesn't have weekend hours. He was there with his wife and their cute little daughter. Anyway, he replaced the bracket, but had to give me a new arch wire -- and he had the put all the tiny bends in the new one that he had put in the old one. 

So now I'm back to square one, with a newly bent arch wire, new power chains, and aching teeth. It's a good thing I still have a few of those protein shakes in the fridge. (By the way, so far the best tasting one I've come across is the Atkins vanilla shake -- the pre-blended liquid one in the 12 ounce can).

********

If any of you readers are in the San Francisco area, here's a real taste treat that is easy on sore teeth. There's a Russian market on Geary Blvd called New World Market. They make their own cheese blintzes. Words cannot describe how delicious these are. Lately I've been having them for breakfast with an iced decaf mocha. They come 10 to a package and are in the frozen food section. Recently Hubby and I took a run up to the City just get get a few packages of the blintzes and assorted homemade frozen meat dumplings. The cheese blintzes at New World Market make the mass-produced ones you get at Safeway taste like cardboard!

********

My kids had their semi-annual dental checkup the other day. It looks like they might both be future patients for Dr. Vogt. My older daughter has inherited my open bite, but the jury is out until she gets all her adult teeth. My younger daughter, who finally has her first loose tooth, apparently has a combination underbite and crossbite, and no doubt will need 2-phase treatment and a palate expander. Poor kid! I might as well just sign my bank account over to Dr. Vogt right now! Sigh...

********

I hope you like some of the additions to the site this month. On request, I added a "community" guestbook, where you can say a little bit about yourself so others on the site can get to know you. I had hoped to create a database that is searchable, but it's too complicated for me to do easily. So, once again I'm relying on a pre-scripted application that is available on the web. Hopefully it will fill the need.

I also added a basic chat room. After searching around the web for a couple of days, I settled on chat-forum.com's format. It doesn't involve downloading or running software, it's not public anywhere but here on this site, but it does have a few drawbacks: only 10 people can chat at a time, and there isn't as much customization or control as other chat rooms. This is just a start. I'm not as informed about chat rooms as I am about other issues (I never use chat rooms myself). So if you have any constructive suggestions, please let me know.


z Saturday, July 12 

My kitchen is painted! Finally, a year after all that work! It took the painter an entire week (he's very thorough). I was able to put up all my knickknacks and put almost everything back where it belongs (i.e., the valance over the sliding door). I ordered new vertical blinds, and they probably won't be installed for another couple of weeks, so I'm waiting until then to put the valance back up. The only other thing I need is a couple of decorative plates, which should arrive in the mail sometime this week. When it's all completely done, I'll take some photos just for posterity and post them here in the Journal.

So, Mess #1 is finished, and now we're preparing for Mess #2. Next week, (Monday to be exact) the painter will do our "TV Room." This is a converted bedroom off of the kitchen which is our main "hanging out" room. It's usually somewhat of a mess even when it's cleaned and straightened up (Legos all over the floor, etc). Well, we have to take everything out of it. Arrgh. A huge wall unit with books and games to empty out, a smaller TV-stand wall unit thing with a ton of videos inside it -- you get the picture. All this wonderfulness will be placed in my living room, which is still somewhat of a mess from all the kitchen stuff. You know how papers can pile up (especially when you have kids)? I have several piles of this stuff to go through and get rid of before I put all the TV room stuff in the living room. What a thrill. I can already feel a headache coming on.

BUT, soon it will all be over with and the room will finally be painted. Then I can clean the carpet with my Steam Vac. Lord knows, it needed to be cleaned months ago, but I have been holding off because I knew we'd be painting. If I had my druthers, we'd be replacing that carpet, but we don't want to spend the extra money at this point (we want to wait until the kids are just a speck older). Maybe I can convince Hubby that we need a nice area rug in that room!

The painter will be doing other things in the house as well in the coming week: painting the inside of the front door, putting a natural finish on the new wooden sliding doors (we had them replaced last year, along with all the windows in the house). And our very weathered looking banister on the stairs will get re-finished as well. 

Anyway, I'm toying with the idea of having the painter do the downstairs bathroom. I was going to do it myself (I even bought the paint), but somehow I don't feel motivated. Gee, I wonder why?!

********

OK, enough Home Improvement, on to the braces stuff. After my little bracket crisis, nothing much has been happening. I just realized last night that Dr. Vogt didn't put power chains all the way to the molars. As you know, I still have extraction gaps at the molars, especially on the bottom. I think he's trying to take some of the pressure off those teeth for a while. He had explained that sometimes the tissue will lock the teeth in place due to trauma (for lack of a better explanation). Perhaps giving all that pressure a rest for a while will coax the teeth into moving again.

********

There was a thread on the Forum recently about Wilckodontics and rapid tooth movement via surgery. I hadn't heard of this before, and I plan to research it and either add a page of information or a series of links on the Links page.

Another interesting thread arose on the Forum regarding a new website called teethgap.com. This company offers an elastic called Teeth Effect Bands that you place around two teeth to close a gap (no brackets or hardware required). I won't publicly go into details about this method of closing a gap. Please ask your dentist about the risks of this treatment. Currently, the website has no clinical evidence or professional testimonials to back its claims. Draw your own conclusions.

********

Recently I mentioned that I started jogging. Well, clumsy me, I sprained my ankle by missing a step as I was quickly doing chores in our garage (swelling, big ugly bruise, me cursing myself...) So I've had to lay off the jogging for a while. But fortunately, it was a very simple sprain (according to the doctor) and I think I'll be back on track (literally) next week. I've been wearing an L-shaped ace bandage on the foot and icing it (thankfully NOT the foot I had surgery on a few years ago...the other one, phew!) The swelling is finally gone. Many explicatives.


z Saturday, July 18 

(This first whole part is about home improvement). 

What a week! Exhausting! The kitchen was finished and had to be put "back together." Then some old friends arrived from out of town, and we really wanted to have them over for a barbeque on Sunday. So we spent most of the weekend tidying up the rest of the house, but also moving all the contents of the "TV Room" into the living room...in neat stacks. The barbeque went nicely, but on Monday morning, all hell broke loose again when the painters arrived. 

The TV Room, which had been emptied except for a few large pieces of furniture, was draped in plastic, the large furniture moved to the center of the room or out into the hallway. I casually mentioned that I wanted a price for the downstairs bathroom. Hubby agreed on the painter's' price and the painter said, "Well, we can start it today!" Which meant moving everything out of the bathroom, too -- immediately! By now my living room was starting to look like a tornado had descended on my house.

By Wednesday, there was stuff everywhere and no escaping all the fumes or the painters (the smell of the primer is the worst). They painted the inside of our new front door, and re-finished the banister that leads to upstairs. The TV Room was out of commission, as was the downstairs bathroom. And it was hot. Really hot. We had to keep all the windows open to vent the fumes, so we couldn't run the air conditioning. I was getting cranky. I got out of the house and went to the window covering store and ordered new vertical blinds for the TV Room. 

By Thursday evening all the work was done, the furniture was back in place, and we had the daunting task of putting everything back. OK, not we...me. I did it all myself. Hubby wanted to wait until the weekend, but I couldn't stand it a moment longer. The TV Room is the place where the kids hang out, and having it out of commission was too disruptive. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to go through all the stuff and toss some of it.

On Friday, almost everything was back in place, and I bonded once again with my trusty Hoover Steam Vac. The carpet in the TV Room needed to be cleaned 6 months ago; it was awful. Now it's better, but I'll need to make at least one (if not two) more passes with the Steam Vac to bring it back to its original color! 

So am I done with the Home Improvement? Well.....no. There is still a bit of painting to be done. OK, maybe more than a bit. Now that all the other rooms are painted, the hallway looks rather shabby. But I can handle that myself, that will be easy. Maybe next month. I want to take some time and enjoy the summer a little bit -- and a clean, quiet house with no painters or contractors milling about!

********

I had an interesting email recently. A reader asked about braces failure or disappointment stories. Now, that's an interesting angle that I don't currently cover on the site. In all fairness, it should be addressed. Just like any other treatment, ortho treatment can sometimes go wrong, especially in the hands of an inexperienced dentist. So, if you have a war story that you'd like to share, please email it to me. 

Other pages I'm planning to add in the coming months include:

  • Retainer tips
  • Braces and Pregnancy
  • Wilckodontics
  • Braces and Dating

Again, please email me if you have any thoughts to share on these subjects. It's your experiences that make this site so helpful and dynamic for everyone! If there is a topic you'd like me to research and cover, please let me know. Also, if there are any dental professionals reading this site who would like to contribute, your input is welcomed (you'll even get a byline)!

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This week ArchWired reached and surpassed a milestone -- more than a quarter million hits! Thanks to everyone for their support!

DentaKit has received some great press recently, and I'd like to say hello to all our new readers who found DentaKit and ArchWired through the newspaper! Welcome to our web community!


 

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