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I just can’t stand wasting anything.

I’m done with the braces but still have some Chipmunk and Thailand (Impala) elastics left.

I’m assuming that no one has to pay extra for these.  But if anyone out there needs extras — maybe you’re far away from your doctor? — let me know.  I’ll send them to you.

Before it all began, my two upper middle teeth (central incisors) landed right on top of my bottom central incisors, not in front of them, as in a healthy bite. And you can see the crossbite on the left side of the photo (my right side) where the top teeth are behind or on top of the bottom teeth. It’s not possible to see here, but my top teeth all tilted inward. I always hated this, actually.

(Please accept my apologies for this gum-filled photo! It’s the “official” photo taken by the orthodontist before we got started.)

official photo

In the beginning (week 2 photo below), you can see with the arch wire how some of the top teeth are behind. For the first six months, the heat-activated arch wire helps create a nice arch; that is, the wire exerts pressure on the teeth to move down/forward/back to line up with each other–upper with upper, lower with lower.

week2

See how nicely lined up these guys are, at 6 months, below!

6 months bands

At 5.5 months, the work of correcting my bite started when I got elastics.
Although I don’t understand the physics, the elastics move the top arch and bottom arch relative to each other. In my case, the top arch needed to move in front of the bottom arch. And according to this post, I could feel the change within a month! (Below is photo at Month 7.)

month7

The final touch to help with the bite was the detailing, which angled out the last proper bite resister–the upper right central incisor–a tiny bit.

detail detail

That tiny bit was enough to move out the tooth enough, in just one week, so it no longer hit my bottom tooth!!!!

Now I’m continuing to wear my elastics to keep that bite as healthy and strong as possible. 😉

(I’m going to see if I can find photos to see the bite better.)

So it turns out they gave me the wrong kind of elastics last time.

          Thailand = Impala, not Chipmunk.

I’m back to Alvin and his buddies for this last stretch of elastics.
(If this makes no sense to you, check out this post.)

I wrote a while ago that the chipmunks are out. 

They’ve been replaced by Thailand (Dentsply SH4 Elastics).  Obviously, this company goes with a country-theme.  Curiously, they are made in the USA; the chipmunks are mexicanos, on the other hand.  I miss the animals.  Way more cute.

Anyway, another difference is that the Thailand elastics are thicker (4mm, 3/16″, 6 oz. versus 1/8″, 3.5 oz for the Chipmunks), and feel stronger.  They told me it’s the same, but it feels different, and look different!  What do you think?

chipmunkThailand

Teens are amazing.

I was on the BART (train) the other day and sat across from three teenage iPod-toting girls (17 or 18 years old, based on their conversation.)

To my amazement, the bubblegum-blowing girl had braces.  AND she was wearing elastics!  How did she do that?

I forgot to report that at the beginning of December, when I went to get my wires clipped, I found out that I SHOULD BE WEARING my elastics.

I think the doctor has said that I don’t need them, but the records indicated I did.  So, I’m wearing them again.

Apparently, they’re using a different supplier, so the Chimpunks have been replaced by Thailand.  The elastics are thicker, coarser, and not as cute.

What’s that saying about how adaptable we humans are?

I’m kind of embarrassed and amazed to say this, but I kind of miss wearing the rubber bands. I was told my bite was good enough, I don’t need to wear them anymore.

I think I miss them because I could see (and feel) the progress.  Now I worry, what if I don’t make more progress?  What it my teeth go back?

Am I worrying too much?  I need to get my wires clipped tomorrow; I’ll ask the doctor about this.

I’m almost done! Actually, I have 3 months to go, but I’m 3/4 done! Woo-hoo!

Here’s my Month 9 State of the Braces report:

  • Rubber bands: I have to admit, I’ve been slacking a bit on wearing these during the day, but have worn them every night. So that’s at least 8 hours every day.
  • Power chain: These were put on my bottom teeth. The first few days were very painful, but no problem afterwards. They have worked; the gap between my molars is closing. See photo.
  • Wire wreaking havoc: The uncomfortable consequence of the molar moving forward is that the wire is sticking of the bracket about 1 mm in the back. And tearing up my cheek again. I’ve been suffering and trying to get some relief with wax. It’s kind of working. Will get that clipped at the ortho office tomorrow.
  • Face shape: Over Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law noted how my face looks thinner because I have more of a jaw than is natural. I wonder how I will look when the braces come off? Will I look different to myself, or like my old self? What will people who met me in the last year, and only know me with braces, think?
  • Food: Still looking forward to biting into something crunchy, and enjoying some lovely dried dates.

Photos

Bite is looking, and feeling, better:

front month9

A new gap has opened up; I think another power chain might be coming. Ouch!

left month9

And look at the progress on closing the gap, compared to last time.

 closing gap month9   today

071102molargap last month

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.

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.