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I’m not sure many people will notice the change in my teeth after my braces come off, because my teeth were lined up pretty well–thanks to my first time around on braces, as a teen. My problem is with my bite; teeth grinding down the front teeth, and tooth getting chipped.

So, in case you want to know how effective braces can be, take a look at these dramatic examples. They’re a bit creepy to watch, but inspiring for those of you considering getting braces.

By the way, I’m using Damon braces, which are supposed to allow for faster and less painful treatment.



Got my teeth cleaned yesterday. Here I am, wire-free and teeth squeaky clean, right after the ultrasonic cleaning. (Got a “good job” nod from my dentist, by the way, on my regular cleaning. Nothing like braces to put the fear in me to floss, and brush well.)

6 months no wire

Compare with my Day 0 photo here.

Note: I still have ortho buttons on two molars, so my top and bottom teeth are separated. And below, with the wires and elastics back on. Next appointment, in 2 months.

6 months bands

11.05.07: addendum

I think it was at this point that I got new wires; no longer the pre-formed archwire. But rather a thicker wire that can be manipulated by the doctor as needed.

don’t you think?

chipmunk bands

According to the catalog on the ORMCO website, the Chipmunk rubber bands are the little guys.  And there is an Elephant size, though it’s “extraoral”, whatever that means.  Does that mean it hooks up to headgear or something torturous-seeming like that?

Too bad they don’t have the pictures of all the animals.   Another blogger wrote about her experience with these elastics; she was on a three-animal plan: Ram, Bear and Hummingbird.

I’m grateful to only have to deal with my Chipmunks

Fortunately, the discomfort of the first day of rubber bands only lasted a day. PHEW!

So they put a steel archwire on the bottom — which I guess can be manipulated for fine-tuned movement. But don’t think anything was done this time.

The little hooks on the top and bottom were added (because they’re not built into the Damon brackets?) Not sure why one of the ones on the bottom has a yellow dot. How does it feel wearing the rubber bands?


  • Talking is a little difficult, and feel a bit “claustrophobic” at time when I can’t open my mouth all the way. But it’s easy enough to take the bands off if you need a breather.
  • It sure is easy to forget to put on a new pair after I eat. I need to pay attention to this because I want to ensure as short a rubber band period as possible.
  • It’s only been a few days and I can put on the bands without looking in a mirror. Just need to remember to carry them around.
  • Slight irritation from the hooks; I imagine this will end shortly.

Come in this cute plastic bag. Material: natural rubber latex. Wonder how healthy and sustainable these are? I’ll have to investigate. Also wonder if there are different size bands; perhaps the bigger ones have an elephant on them.

chipmunk bands

At 10:30am this morning, I got hooks put on my top wire and bottom brackets, and now I have to wear two rubber bands in little triangles — that connect the top and bottom — ALL THE TIME.

So uncomfortable.  But I will do this, because apparently the progress on the treatment depends on my doing the rubber bands diligently.  And I want to be done sooner than later.

Photos to come.

This is one of several reviews of healthy option products for this braces adventure. Read others on the Healthy Options.

Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Flat Floss

Background: I’ve been using Desert Essence Dental Tape (which I reviewed here) and was happy with it. However, when I finished it, I decided to try a more readily-available option since I didn’t want to have to wait until I got to Rainbow Grocery or Elephant Pharmacy.

Healthy Option goal: To find a reasonably-priced option that is as healthy and sustainable as the Dessert Essence product, and works as well. The two important health/sustainability elements are:

  1. The filament. Looks like the options are primarily plastic (PTFE or teflon, or polyethethelene), nylon (Tom’s of Maine’s floss) and natural fibers. The only natural fiber I’ve been able to find in my brief research is silk, from Radius.
  2. The wax coating. Some brands have natural waxes like jojoba, beeswax or carnuba. (Crest Glide uses natural bee’s wax.)

Review: Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Flat Floss (Spearmint)

I wrote to Tom’s to learn about the nylon material. I was told that it’s stronger than teflon (which is used in other products), but didn’t get an answer about it’s healthfulness.

That same customer service person said that it’s a better floss because it doesn’t fray. I disagree. Since I’ve been threading it under my braces, it’s easier to notice the fraying at the end of the floss, and it also frays when the floss gets caught on a bracket.

I do not recommend this as a floss for braces wearers, since there are better options out there. (Try Desert Essence Dental Tape.)

But, I can’t stand to waste anything, and this Tom’s floss IS usable, so I’ll finish up the box. AND, it’s available at Walgreen’s, so it’s easy to find in a pinch.

  • Flat floss
  • Natural waxes
  • Nylon filaments
  • 32 Yds
  • Cost: About $3.00 (Walgreen’s)

I’m 41 years old.  I don’t recall that when I was 13 or 14 the first time around with braces, I was this uncomfortable.
The orthodontist assistant who clipped the teeny tiny bit of wire that was ravaging my inner cheek (again) said that adults patients are a pain. She said it nicely, of course. I’m not surprised. We don’t heal as quickly.

Check out this cute countdown applet.  Click on it if you want to build your own.  For whatever reason.

I practice acupressure and teach people how to address discomforts with self-acupressure and body awareness. Recently, I taught a class on relaxing your jaw; here are a couple of tips that could help my fellow braces-wearers. You can see the full blog here.

Clenching teeth and holding tension in the jaw can lead to discomforts like headaches, neck and shoulder tightness, and TMJ.

Here are some tips to help relax the jaw.

Tongue to Roof of Mouth

I learned this in yoga. Gently allow the tip of your tongue to float up to the roof of your mouth. Your jaw should naturally drop and relax. You can try this any time you notice that you are clenching your teeth or furrowing your brow.

Acu Point: HOKU

This is one of the best overall stress-relieving points. Holding this point on the top of the hand can help with relieving so many discomforts–insomnia, headaches, constipation, shoulder and neck tension–that could be causing or exacerbated by tension in the jaw. Read on.

Oy! I have suffered dearly from this.

What are the conditions that brings this on or makes it worse?

  • First getting braces. Naturally, your mouth will be uncomfortable. The gums are in pain, as is the inside of the mouth that’s dealing with the brackets and wires poking in. Ouch! But as the mouth heals, that pain should go away.
  • New brackets. In my case, on the back-most molars. I think because these are in the way back, there’s more pressure on the cheeks. This seems to be one explanation for the prolonged discomfort.
  • Wire sticking out at the back. In the Damon braces, the wire can move back and out as the teeth shift. Even a tiny wire sticking out — about 1/2 mm — can be incredibly irritating.
  • Pressure on the cheek/jaw. In my case, I wore a motorcycle helmet, which fits extremely tightly on the jaw. OUCH!

Some suggestions for addressing this discomfort:

  • To help with the sores heal, swish with warm salt water. Often. (I say this as much to myself, as to any of you readers. I haven’t been doing this enough. Keep a little container of salt by your toothbrush, and even carry one around with you for when you’re at work or eating out.)
  • Wax. Especially when you’re sleeping, give your poor inner cheeks a rest. I find it’s easier to deal with wax while I sleep, rather than during the day when I talk/eat/drink. But, if you’re doing something that puts pressure on your cheek/wire–like wearing a helmet–be generous with the wax!
  • Snip the wire. Hurry to the ortho and get that wire snipped.
  • Overall, stay healthy. I found that when I didn’t get enough sleep or was eating too many sweets, the mouth suffered.