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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

June to July 2004
z Tuesday, June 1 

Well, I was hoping that this would be the month that my braces would be removed, but as I mentioned in my last entry from mid-May, it seems that I still have a few more months.

I've been wearing the elastics on one side of my mouth pretty much 24/7. I say "pretty much" because sometimes, despite good intentions, I forget to put them in again after eating (like right now. OK, I'll go and put them in...)

OK, that's done. Anyway, I have doubled up on the elastic as Dr. Vogt suggested, and now I have a gap where at the top tooth where the elastic is attached. Sigh. WILL THIS EVER END?!

To add to the frustration, a couple of my upper teeth seem to have become sensitive and hurt a bit. The other night I made steak for dinner and had to chew it only at one corner of my mouth, because it hurt too much to chew it properly. I'll admit, I'm getting pretty tired of having to deal with that kind of stuff.

Time for a song. To the tune of Old MacDonald:


Braces, braces on my teeth

Will they ever go?

Elastics, top to underneath

Oh boy, here we go!


With a gap, gap here

And a gap, gap there

Here a gap, there a gap

Everywhere a new gap!


Braces, braces on my teeth

Will they ever go?

z Monday, June 21 

This month marks two and a half years in braces. I will put a new photo on my Photos page next week, in case you're interested. It looks like my prediction of September for my big de-bracing is going to be correct (dare I say, maybe even October). I had another adjustment, and although things are moving along, those few small gaps must be closed and a couple more teeth must be tilted or whatever. And I must continue to wear one elastic on one side of my mouth 24/7 (or as much as possible). This is all just "finishing" stuff and you know how it can be...sometimes it can go on and on. Dr. Vogt said, "Lynn, I wish I could tell you that we're done, but I think it will be 3 or 4 more appointments before that can happen." 

Well, at least I'm not surprised.

This month I threw caution to the wind and ate curry 3 or 4 times (both Indian and Thai). By the time I saw Dr. Vogt for my adjustment, the power chains and ligatures were very dingy yellow. But truthfully, I just don't care anymore. I'm used to all this stuff, it doesn't bother me, and I'm tired of planning my curry meals around my teeth. So, yellow ligs be damned, I'll have curry whenever I please, and if people don't like my dingy yellow braces, then to heck with 'em!

I did have one problem recently, however. OK, if you've been reading this journal you remember that Dr. Vogt metal-tied two upper teeth together at my last adjustment to help close a gap. Ouch! But it did the trick; the gap between them closed up immediately. Here is the bad news: it was incredibly difficult to floss between those teeth. I noticed the sometimes food (particular shreds of meat) got stuck up there and were very difficult to get out. I was very good about flossing every night, especially that one spot. Sometimes I even flossed that spot a couple of times per day to ensure that nothing was stuck.

Despite all my earnest hygiene efforts, apparently a small shred of meat did get lodged up there, just into the gum line, unbeknownst to me -- until it really began to ache. And then the ache turned into a pain. I was sure that somehow I'd developed an infection or something. Since my next ortho appointment was only in a few days, I decided to wait it out. 

Well, it's pretty gross. Dr. Vogt removed the wire tie (THANK YOU) and dug in there with a metal pick and then used some floss (OUCH!!!!!). Yuck. Yes, there was some really yucky stuff lodged into my gum by that tooth. It had probably been there at least a week, maybe more. The good news is: there was no infection, just irritation. After he removed the food particles and I brushed and once again (carefully) flossed, it felt much better, and now it's almost back to normal. I'm rinsing with Biotene several times a day to help it heal. Dr. Vogt did not put the metal tie back (well, I don't think I would have let him even he had wanted to). However, he did tell me that if one or two of the other small gaps don't close by next month, he may need to do the same thing to them. Oh joy. 

But I take comfort in the fact that this will all be over soon. Only a few more months. In fact, I may decide to get really colorful ligs and chains the last few months just for the heck of it. 


Completely off-subject: I recently rented all three Matrix movies. I had seen the first one years ago, but never the last two. OK, the last two movies got panned by the critics. However, if you like a good mind-bending Sci-Fi story, I do recommend this trilogy, as well as an excellent Matrix website which explains lots of theories and plot lines, in case you get confused (which is easy). These films also have terrific dark wave/goth-inspired soundtracks.

In addition, the supernatural Hong-Kong style Kung Fu combined with high action chases and the the high-tech Sci-Fi plot is brilliant, not to mention of course the special effects and the cool outfits. I wish there was more than a trilogy; I could watch more of these! I do love the supernatural Kung-Fu stuff (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, etc). It's so much fun! Having done some Aikido (years ago), I know how difficult that stuff can be; I take my hat off to those actors. I'm looking forward to renting the Kill Bills as well, one of these days, as I'm a fan of Quentin Tarantino's films (despite the violence). Maybe one day, Uma and Keanu will team up in a Kung-Fu action movie. Wouldn't that be fun? I can just see it now: "Kill Smith Vol I: The Bride of Neo." Coming soon to theaters everywhere. Actors, get your ice packs ready, the stunt wires are waiting!

Wait! No this topic is NOT completely off subject! Keanu plays an orthodontist in his next film. I'm not kidding; really he does. The film is called Thumbsucker and is due out in Fall 2004. Read about it in Unfortunately, I don't think he'll be doing any martial art orthodontics. After all, the film is called Thumbsucker, not Enter The MouthTrix

However, a film with Hong-Kong style Kung Fu orthodontics could be.....interesting, to say the least! The ortho flies through the air, does a flip, and (hi-ya!) your brackets are on faster than you can blink an eye! Stunt Arch Wires!!!  ;-) This could indeed be a trilogy! Our lead character is named Neortho. He realizes an evil plot by organic nanobots to make everyone's teeth crooked and ruin their self-esteem, thereby destroying humanity. He must enter the Mouthtrix to fight the nanobots. The trilogy is called: Enter the Mouthtrix, The Mouthtrix Debanded and Mouthtrix: Final Adjustments. It's like a splinter in your gums! Whatcha think, Keanu? 


Just a note to let you know that I'm doing the July site update in late June because I'll be away. I'll write a journal update in mid- July to make up for the usual "start of the month" entry.

I hope everyone is having a nice summer so far. Remember to use sunscreen!

z Saturday, July 10 

Well, I'm back from a much-needed vacation. I went to the lovely Caribbean island of Anguilla. Idyllic is the only word I can use to describe the beach on Shoal Bay East. A ground-floor condo that opened right onto the finest sand and bluest water. Several little casual restaurant/bars right on the beach, such as my favorite, Uncle Ernie's BBQ.  A week to do nothing but relax and think. And here's a great thing: I didn't get sick. Nobody got sick. Well, finally, a successful vacation without a trip to the doctor!

Anguilla is such a friendly place, and the people can be very interesting. One cab driver, named Booker, has been playing guitar in a local band for almost 30 years. We talked a lot about music. The guy got to meet and play for Paul McCartney twice when he vacationed there. I swear to God, everyone has met Paul but me! 

Anyway, I went alone. Don't worry, nothing's wrong. It was my "you got screwed out of your beach vacation last year when you got sick so this is to make up for it" trip. It was my husband's idea. We don't have any family nearby to watch the kids, so we can't go away by ourselves. And if you have kids, you know that taking a vacation with them may be fun, but relaxing isn't the word that comes to mind. I've traveled alone in the past. Several years ago, I went to Thailand for more than 2 weeks (I did have a tour guide for that trip). And I've been to some other Caribbean islands and to Moorea (part of Tahiti). I find that traveling alone is a wonderful opportunity to clear your head. And I've been so busy lately that I could no longer hear my own inner voice. 

Well that problem is solved, at least for a while. I did so much writing during my trip. Two songs, an idea for a book, and several poems. Did a lot of reading on the beach. I had fun, too. Went on a day-long snorkeling trip on a catamaran. Got a very unfortunate sunburn on my upper back. New rule: after 3 hours in the sun, the t-shirt goes on, no matter how great the sunscreen is supposed to be!

While I was away, Hubby ran the DentaKit business. I showed him all the ropes before I left and even wrote an "operations" manual for him. Before this, it had strictly been a solo operation. The kids were at day camp. It worked out just fine.

I really wish I'd had my braces off for this trip, but what can I do? Having them on wasn't too much of a hassle, especially since I could just saunter back to my room to brush my teeth after lunch or whatever. 

So now I'm back and suffering that usual post-vacation letdown mixed with jetlag. But it will pass.

We're busy planning our next trip -- a family trip -- to Costa Rica in August. Hubby has been there already, so he knows all the spots. We're going to do some rainforest stuff and some volcano stuff and then some beach stuff. The kids are really excited.

I've been busy the past few days putting my songs to music and brainstorming ideas with Hubby for DentaKit. While I was away, he did the sweetest thing. I have a very large collection of cassette tapes of my college radio shows from the early 1980s. He digitized them onto CDs, and plans to get them into MP3 format. Eventually I will have them on streaming audio (or something similar) on the web. Those shows are like a New Wave archive. I'm announcing the newest Devo album, for example. Really fun stuff. 

z Friday, July 23 

One month closer to dental freedom! At this month's adjustment, we went through the usual "Open. Now bite down. Hmmm. Now open again. Now bite down again. Hmmm. OK, open. And bite. Hmmm...."

There are two things preventing my teeth from being free of their bondage: the gap by the top molar (where the food usually gets stuck), the gap by the top canine (which opened up when I started wearing that elastic a couple of months ago). These are the only two things standing in the way. Everything else is fine.

That top molar gap is rather troublesome. Dr. Vogt showed me that the top and bottom molars next to it meet so well, food is just getting shoved into the neighboring upper gap by my jaw mechanics. He tweaked the arch wire and did tie wires on the bottom molar to move it a bit, hoping that a slightly different alignment will prevent this from happening. And of course, I'm wearing power chain to help close that gap.

The other little gap will probably close with the help of power chain over the course of this month. I'm not wearing the elastics anymore (yea!), so nothing will be pulling that tooth to the side.

I looked at my teeth in the mirror after they took off the arch wire and got really excited. Dang, they look so good! As one of our readers said, they look like somebody else's nice teeth!

When the braces come off, Dr. Vogt will also shape a couple of the teeth a bit. He recommended an at-home whitening kit, and I think I'll probably try the TheraBreath one. I tend to have sensitive teeth, and it sounds like a good product. I also won't leave it on as long as they say (that also helps the teeth not to get too sensitive). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dr. Vogt said, "Every time I see you Lynn, I think this will be the last adjustment." Wow, that was great to hear! But my teeth just aren't cooperating!

I also asked again about retainers. Many of our readers have said that they get a temporary Essix while the Hawley is being made. Dr. Vogt said that he takes an impression with the braces still on, and about a week later the braces come off and the Hawley is ready. Sounds good to me!


There was a thread in Metal Mouth Forum recently about the site chat room. Somebody had a good idea: maybe we should do regularly scheduled chats. Dr. Rick said that he'd like to join in. I think that would be great! We're in the process of deciding when the chats will be. Check with the forum. If we wind up scheduling them on specific dates, I'll post it on the main page. I hope the chat room doesn't get maxxed out -- it's very basic and I think it only holds 10 people per if it gets really popular I might need to upgrade the chat link.


We did one of the last phases of our home improvement recently: more landscaping. There is a piece of land at the side of our house which has always been barren. It faces a room where the family hangs out a lot, and I have wanted to plant something nice there for years. But it was complicated. The entire irrigation system had to be changed, new valves made, things connected to a timer (which we didn't have until recently). It was such a headache that we just avoided it. But's done! 

Instead of looking at rocks and dirt, now I can look at lavender, red salvia, red millionbells, trailing rosemary, bougainvillea, and other nice plants. And now our deck finally has irrigation, too, so I planted an herb garden in this big redwood planter. I have 3 types of basil (sweet, holy, and purple), oregano, chives, dill, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, and rosemary. And it's all on timers, so I won't forget to water it! Hooray! Now whenever I want holy basil for a Thai dish, all I have to do is go outside to get some!


Next week my family and I are off to Costa Rica for about 10 days. So I'll begin the August installment of this journal after we get back.


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