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The super-tech arch wires that we usually get at the beginning of treatment — this was my case — are heat-sensitive.  So when they are in our mouths and heating up to body-temperature, they exert more pressure on the brackets.  And this is what moves our teeth.

And causes PAIN!

So, one way to give yourself relief, especially with new braces–albeit fleeting–is to put cool or cold liquid in your mouth.  That will “relax” the wire.  Of course, this only works with the heat-sensitive wires.

So, give it a try.  You don’t even have to drink the liquid.  Ice cream or frozen yogurt would work, too.  Just make sure it’s soft enough so you don’t have to chew it.

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I wrote about this recently, but I want to reiterate it.

If you have a question or concern about your braces, or are overly uncomfortable, or notice something going on with your teeth/jaw/mouth/tongue that seems weird, CALL YOUR ORTHODONTIST.

Don’t be shy. You are paying your doctor a LOT OF MONEY. It’s his or her job to answer your questions and make you comfortable.

And don’t be put off if your doctor or the assistants or the admin people aren’t super-welcoming. (By the way, I’m not saying this based on my own experience; I just imagine it could happen to others.) As long as you have a legitimate reason to call to ask a question or go for an appointment, GO!

YOU KNOW YOUR MOUTH BEST!

I’m reminded of this because a reader wrote to ask me whether I have problems with biting through my elastics at night. I don’t since my elastics are short. She said she’d ask her orthodontist; I hope she got good support from her doc.

Also I know now that many months ago if I had called my ortho when my mouth was being gouged out by a loose wire, I could have stopped the carnage and not suffered so much during a business trip. All I had to do was ASK.

That reminds me, this includes when you are traveling. If you have problems with your braces while on the road, your doctor can find you an orthodontist where you are traveling. So don’t hesitate to call, even if you’re visiting Grandma across the country.

The detailing by my doc at my last appointment has worked!  I actually have a real bite now.  Instead of my top teeth hitting the bottom ones.

So now, I’m admiring my teeth not from the “health” perspective that was my initial motivation for getting braces, but from imagining how nice my teeth are going to look in a few months.  It’s difficult to imagine through the dorkiness of all the metal and rubber bands, but this exercise let’s me see myself for what I am.

A VAIN PERSON!

In this society where a healthy smile is part of the national character, there’s a great deal of vanity about teeth.  I didn’t know I’d get caught up in that.  But I am.  I do notice people’s teeth a lot more than pre-braces days.  Mostly, I notice the positive — “Wow, what a great bite she has.”  “Wow, look at that perfect bite.”  I don’t recall noticing much pre-braces.

I guess if I had invested this much time and pain on exercising my arms, for example, I would be just as vain about my sculpted arms.  Right?  😉

No, not talking about some hardware tool.  This is a special kind of elastic, but not some dainty chipmunks.

We’re talking super strong rubber band that’s been strung across ALL my lower brackets and immediately started squeezing my lower teeth together.  It was only mushy food for a couple of days.  (See photo below — click to larger image. ) The chain is silver colored, which blends in nicely. 

chain

Why this particular form of dental torture?  Because I pointed out the gap between the molars (a question I had earlier), and the power chain is how they close the gap.  Below is a photo of the gap; you can see the power chain stretched between the brackets.

071102molargap

For more details on power chains and how they work, read this thorough description.

Here’s some detail on the detailing I described last week.

Until I took a really close look at the wire, I didn’t understand how my doctor had bent the wire, and caused so much pain!

Click on the photo below and you’ll see a bigger version of the photo.  The green arrows point to the two bends where you can see that the wire was bent 90 degrees. 

detail detail

I guess this is forcing that one tooth to bend out a tiny bit.  After only three days, I can already tell the difference.  And fortunately, I have no pain in the upper teeth anymore.  Hallelujah. 

The good news. Things are looking good. The way my orthodontist said that, it almost sounded like I might be able to finish up before 12 months. My rubber band wearing has paid off!

The bad news. Detailing.

I couldn’t help thinking of how great my car looked after it got detailed. That was before the doctor took pliers to my wire. Now, I think of detailing as personalized pain. Whereas earlier, the arch wire asserted democratic pain–the same general push to move teeth to form a classic arch, regardless of your particular bite–detailing is a way to deal with your specific issues.

My issue all along has been the upper incisors hitting the bottom one. The one that’s still a problem is the upper right central incisor (see post on names of teeth to see which that is) which hits the bottom tooth. So the doctor said he’d angle that tooth forward.

He took out the arch wire and made two bends in the wire. More like twists; hardly looked like anything. But he put the wire back in and I could feel the pressure immediately.

And now, 18 hours later, ow! Not as bad as when I first got the wires on, but definitely mushy food worthy. Last night, I had difficulty eating sushi.

ADDENDUM: read more detail on detailing