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I’ve always been more of a generalist than a specialist. Happy to refer to the upper arm bone as the funny bone, rather than the humerus. But it’s never too late to do things in a new way.

So, if you look at the photos on my Month 7 post, you can see how my upper lateral incisors (especially on my right side) have been pulled down and are now in line with my central incisors. How did I get such proficient dental vocabulary? With help from this handy guide to your teeth on WebMD.


I haven’t pushed my sustainability muscle into the toothbrush arena yet. I just make sure that I get some “reuse” out of my old toothbrushes, by using them to scrub a tough nook & cranny when I’m cleaning the kitchen or bathroom. It helps me feel less guilty about just throwing out all that plastic.

Thank goodness Idealbite has researched this, and posted info on more sustainable toothbrush alternatives:

You can avoid both by choosing a recycled or replaceable-head toothbrush instead of a conventional tooth-scrubber, and brush up on the best options to promote good dental and eco-hygiene.

According to Idealbite, benefits are: reducing trash (in the US, 50 mil lb of toothbrushes end up in landfills each year); saving money with replaceable-head versions; and the eco-brushes work as well as the ones from your dentist.

Products they recommend:

  • Preserve Toothbrush – made from recycled yogurt cups and comes with a postage-paid envelope for recycling; three bristle options. Available at Whole Foods ($4), Amazon.
  • Radius Source Toothbrush – has a cool corn and wood fiber handle with replaceable heads ($8). Available at Whole Foods, Amazon.
  • Fuchs Ekotec Toothbrush – simple replaceable-head brush that includes three spare heads ($4).

Now that I have some good leads, I think I’ll go check if my local green/sustainable store has one of these.

A cool thing about the Damon bracket is the sliding door.

Go here to read a description on the Damon site about how self-ligating technology works. There’s a graphic that shows how the sliding door opens and closes, and a photo where you can see how traditional all-metal brackets compare to Damon 3 brackets that are part ceramic (clear-looking) and part metal. These are the brackets I have on my upper teeth.

My experience with the sliding doors:

  • When closing the doors:
    • Much faster and less painful than the old-fashioned tie, twist and tighten method that I experienced as a kid.
    • It’s kind of fun when they snap the doors closed.
  • A couple of times, the doors didn’t close all the way. If this happens, you can push them closed yourself.
    • The first time, the inside of my mouth was irritated, and I couldn’t figure out why. I looked closely at the brackets and saw that one was open, and the open door was wreaking havoc. I just used my finger and pushed up on the door. That was early on when the archwire was thinner so closing was easy.
    • The second time, the archwire–my current one–is much thicker, and one of the doors didn’t close all the way. I couldn’t push it up easily, so I used the side of my toothbrush and pushed it up.
  • The bad news: opening them can be tough and painful!
    • They use a blunt tool that pushes the doors down, which means it pushes down on the teeth. Ow! Fortunately, it only hurts when they are opening the door.
    • I dread this step, so I try to remember to breathe deeply and slowly during this. (Hopefully this is not a universal experience.)


Hint: This beautiful bracket-filled smile is insured for $10 million! Go Braces!

smile key

This has nothing specifically to do with braces, though I imagine people with this condition might need them.

In my internet surfing adventures, came across this that answers the question:

Actually, yesterday was my 48th day in braces, and it was quite uneventful braces-wise.  What a contract from the first 48 hours.

While I still can’t eat high-chewing factor foods, the braces impinge on my life so little now.  I even had dinner tonight with a friend whom I hadn’t seen since acquiring my metallic smile.  I guess I hadn’t even told her about them.  Just goes to show that we adjust pretty quickly to such changes.   Self-consciousness about braces is pretty much out the door these days.


(Hint: voted Best Famous Smile in Chicago by dentists)

smile key

Healthy Options series continues

Background: I’m out of town for a few days, and didn’t want to check my luggage just for the sake of carrying my big bottle of The Natural Dentist Fluoride Rinse Berry Blast, so after I landed, I walked over to a Walgreen’s to see what I could find.

Healthy Option goal: As always, my goal was to find as healthy an option as possible. In this case, a product with the required fluoride, and minimal additional artificial ingredients. And if possible, in a small size.

Review: Tom’s of Maine Natural Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash (Spearmint)

I had high hopes for this product because a) Tom’s of Maine makes good products that I’ve liked and is a good company, committed to health and sustainability and b) because it’s an easily accessible option–it’s on sale at Walgreen’s in Chicago, after all!

Alas, I have enough discomfort with the braces, I don’t need more. This rinse STINGS like crazy. I read on a review that it’s because of the witch hazel that’s used instead of alcohol. Oy! I guess it’s a good option for people who think the stinging means it’s working (like mouthwash), but I’m nostalgic for my gentle if sweet-tasting Natural Dentist rinse.

There is a Lemon-Lime flavor for dry mouth, which might be better; maybe I’ll try it when I’m ready for a new bottle. For now, I’m going to return to my Natural Dentist rinse, as soon as I get home.

  • Active Ingredients: Sodium Fluroride 0.0442% (Anticavity). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Witch Hazel Water (Hamamelis virginiana), Aloe Vera Leaf Juice (Aloe barbadensis), Xylitol, Poloxamer 407, Monosodium Phosphate, Spearmint Leaf Oil (Mentha viridis), Green Tea Glycerite, Chamomile Glycerite, Benzoic Acid, Menthol
  • Flavors: spearmint (reviewed), peppermint and lemon-lime for dry mouth
  • Size: 1 pint. Also available in 2.06 oz, which you can carry onto planes.
  • Cost: $5.99 (at Walgreen’s); also available online

chesirecat.gif“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”

smile key

Happy Spring!  Google brought me this spring smile, and the following poem. 

The Spring of a Smile by Mahmud Kianush

Your smile
A red rose,
Musically bloomed
On a branch of light;
In me
The shining heart
A vase of crystal:

How mystically are adorned
The windows of my eyes
By a glimpse
Of this divine Spring.