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Hard to believe that it’s been 7 months since my braces came off.  Time flies without braces!

I had a check-up today, and got a “bite adjustment”.

I Googled and found that this can mean a range of procedures, including getting braces.  Which makes sense, because the reason I got the braces was for my bite.

But in today’s case, the bite adjustment was a minor but very effective grinding down of teeth.

My doctor had me bite down on a piece of carbon paper so he could see where my teeth were hitting.  Then he ground down points on the backs of a few teeth.  I could smell and taste the grinding, so was a little disturbed about how much he was shaving off.  But he said they were very slight; like a hair’s breadth. And you know what?  My bite feels better; my teeth are hitting more evenly. Will take a while to get used to this, I think.  Will report back in a month.

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Joshua, my favorite dancer on So You Think You Can Dance, got his braces off!!!

Congratulations, Joshua!

(This is uncharacteristically teeny-bopper of me, but I can’t help it.)

Well, not much change on the retainer front.

  • I have probably become lax in the cleaning of them.  I’ve been using the cotton swab (Q-Tip) trick, and that’s been very useful. 
  • I have been wearing the retainers more, which is definitely helping with the tightness.

I still notice people wearing braces, and feel a kinship with them, even though they have no reason to know why I am smiling at them like a maniac. 😉

We all know flossing is good for us.  I have to thank my year in braces for my new everyday ritual: flossing.  It has definitely become a habit.  Which means I use a lot more floss than I ever have in my life.

How to keep flossing at a max, while minimizing waste?

Crest Glide Floss, 109.4 yd

Crest Glide Floss, 109.4 yd

I recommend this economy-size floss I found at Walgreen’s: Crest Glide Floss, Original, 109.4 yards (100 meters).  I don’t know how buying and using one of these compares with buying and using two regular type flosses (that have half the amount of floss), but it seems like at least there’s less packaging and shipping of only one versus two items.

When I’ve used up the floss, I’ll  try to repurpose the cylindrical container in some way.  It looks more promising than the regular containers.

I think I’ve found the clear (essix) retainer cleaning solution.

The Q-tip, or cotton swab. 

It can get into the nooks and crannies that my toothbrush can’t, and also won’t scratch.  I soap up the retainer — usually with liquid soap — and then swab away.

OK, my big goal for July, as I start my 5th month with retainers, is to WEAR THEM MORE.

They have been pretty tight, a couple times this past week, when I put them on before going to sleep.

Now that I’m wearing them more:

  • Pro: I can’t snack much.
  • Con: I can’t snack much.

Last weekend, I saw a friend for the first time since she got her braces taken off, a couple of monhts ago.  Both of us were NOT wearing our retainers.

WHY?

Because we were at a foodie-event, where we knew for sure that we would be nibbling on some really good food.  And that pretty much sums up why for me and my friend, wearing our retainers all the time is pretty challenging.

My friend told me, (preaching to the choir, of course,) “My doctor told me I have to wear them all the time except when I’m eating.  But I love to eat and I’M EATING ALL THE TIME!”

There you go.  Of course, I could flip this whole thing into a diet strategy… the thought has crossed my mind, but hasn’t worked so far.

I wrote about this in yesterday’s post-braces report, but think it’s worth mentioning again.

At my last ortho appointment, I asked one of the technicians if she could sonic clean the retainers; the doctor has mentioned this last time I was there.

“No problem”, she said, and took the retainers. 

When I was ready to leave after about 15 minutes, they were done and looked great!  They use the machine they use to clean their instruments.  I don’t know if all ortho offices will offer this, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Last week I went in to see my orthodontist for a post-treatment debrief.  I had to ask for this; he forgot to do at the last meeting.

It was a chance for me to see my “after” photos.  My doctor on took a few minutes to talk about this, but I usually stick it out for a few more questions.  Remember YOU ARE YOUR BEST ADVOCATE.  You have a right to get your questions answered.

So, we could see from the photos that my cross bite had been fixed.  And that where my teeth had sort of caved in — from my first braces treatment, and my teeth moving — now they are out and aligned.

Here’s what I learned about the post-treatment, retainer period:

  • How much I should wear my retainers: I should wear them enough so that when I put the retainers back in after not wearing them, they are not tight.  I’ve been trying to be aware of this and pay attention to how much time passes; not too successful yet.  But this information was definitely more helpful than “wear them all the time”, which hasn’t been happening for me.
  • How the teeth settle after a while.  I complained that my bite felt weird; the molars don’t seem like they fit.  So when I have the retainers on, everything feels fine.  But when I take them off, it seems like the teeth are too far apart.  Apparently over time — and after this period during which I’m supposed to wear the braces all the time–the teeth will eventually settle in and fit each other.

Oh, also, when I arrived I asked one of the technicians if she could sonic clean the retainers.  “No problem”, she said.  When I left after about 15 minutes, they were done and looked great!  They use the machine they use to clean their instruments.  I don’t know if all ortho offices will offer this, but can’t hurt to ask.

DISCLAIMER: Someone had posted a comment about these earlier, so I followed up and they sent me three samples.  I don’t have anything else to gain from them, and don’t in any way feel obligated to give anything but my most honest evaluation of the product.

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I’ve spent a few days trying out the Bryton Pick, which they call a floss alternative and which looks like a little boomerang. It comes in a little package that doubles as a carrying case; they call it credit card size, which I haven’t tested, but which implies handy for carrying around.  So, here are a few thoughts:

  • What I first noticed and liked was that the “floss”–which is made of thin stainless steel, according the company info–is really thin.  I had NO problem sliding it between my teeth, like I do with regular floss.  Nice.
  • There is the fear that I’m going to slice my gums because the thing looks sharp, but actually no problem there.
  • What I don’t like is that I couldn’t quite navigate the flosser around the tooth like I can when I’m using regular floss.  Maybe I’ll get the hang of angling it.
  • The product literature features that you can use it with one hand, and this is quite nice.  Really is a one-handed flosser.
  • I have a question about how hygienic it is if you stick it back in the holder; I guess I’ll pay attention and make sure to clean and dry with extra special care once in a while.
  • Not sure how to evaluate it in terms of waste-stream; the product is small and packaging minimal, too, but is it less waste than using regular floss?  Can I throw it in plastic recycle?
  • The flyer they included in the package showed a photo of use with braces.  I can’t comment on this with experience, since I no longer wear braces, but I imagine it might be useful in a pinch.  Anyone given it a try?

So, my conclusions:

  • I don’t think I’ll replace my regular floss for daily usage because of the nooks & crannies that I think floss address better.
  • However, I’ll carry this around in my wallet.  A lot less work when I’m out at a restaurant or a meeting, than trying to floss.  Especially if I don’t think I can wash my hands adequately to use the floss.
  • And great to have around for a quick floss when I don’t have enough time for my daily brush/floss routine (which usually happens pre-bedtime.)

You can purchase here or get three free but pay $4.95 shipping/handling.