Orthodontic dedication is…

…when you drive 6 hours home because your toiletries bag with your retainers got left on the kitchen table. When you are reunited, you instantly brush and floss and put them on. And then you drive another 6 hours back to your vacation. All in the same day.

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Oral myofunctional therapy update

I have now had four months of oral myofunctional therapy, and it has made a world of difference. I can now close my lips without significant straining in my chin muscles. The left side of my tongue is no longer soft but now has muscles similar to those on the right side of my tongue. I now know where to put my tongue in my mouth when it is resting!

The hardest thing about this therapy is practice. The speech language pathologist wants me to practice three times a day, which is easier said than done. I see her every two weeks, which is a bit of a pain my one hour appointment is really three hours with travel time added in.

However, I have made a lot of improvements. Two of my molars appear to be getting close to touching again, which is very exciting!

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Four years later

When I got my braces off four years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be back at the orthodontist’s office for more treatment. I figured I’d wear my retainers and go for annual checks.

So here’s what happened: I got my lower braces off at the beginning of 2011. Pretty much the moment they were removed, a small space opened between my bottom two teeth. Although my orthodontist said it would close on its own, it did not. I ended my treatment with an upper Hawley retainer and a lower permanent retainer.

A lot of life stuff happened in the intervening four years. I got engaged, moved to another part of the country for law school, got married, had a baby and graduated from law school. In all of that time, that little space never closed. My permanent retainer popped out of my mouth while I was pregnant, which may have something to do with the weird things that pregnancy can do to your body. I decided that I wanted to have a new removable retainer made, so I found a reputable orthodontist in my new state.

Today, I started a two-month course of treatment that involves less expensive Invisalign trays. This will help close that gap and get me a removable retainer to keep everything in place. But that’s not all! The orthodontist said that my crossbite was caused by my tongue. I hold my tongue in between my jaws, which is not where it is supposed to be. I really need tongue training to prevent my bite from moving. My new orthodontist said most orthodontists don’t really think about the function of the tongue in the long term. Bite instability doesn’t show up right away.

Next week, I’ll be meeting with a specialized speech-language pathologist to evaluate the extent of my problem and come up with a course of treatment. It is going to take at least a year to undue 30 years of tongue positioning. Hooray?

On the plus side, everything else is still in place from my surgery. The new orthodontist thinks my crossbite may resolve itself as my tongue is repositioned. Resolve itself? Where have I heard that before? He did say that he could not recommend braces again for me. A fifth round with brackets is not something I am interested in doing unless there is a serious problem that needs to be fixed. For now, I’m making best friends with this extremely tight faux Invisalign tray and hoping for the best with my tongue.

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and they’re off

Well, sorta. As you can see, I still have some bottom brackets. I opted for a permanent retainer, so I had to keep some brackets on so nothing moves before I get my retainers next month.

My orthodontist worked hard to get the glue off my teeth, which was a little uncomfortable. He also shaped them a little bit. There is a chance that a little gap may open up between my teeth before I get my retainers, but he said he could fix that “Grand Canyon” with my retainer.

I had planned to bite through a piece of lettuce to celebrate my braces removal, but I think my mouth would prefer an apple. Unfortunately, I need to wait until those bottom brackets are off. But once they are, man, I’m biting through so many apples.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I am not updating this blog regularly, but I do see new comments. If you’d like to have your jaw blog added to my list, let me know. The more inspiration, the better!

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get ready, get set

I will have my braces removed on December 27. That will be 1 year, 7 months and 23 days since I started treatment, which is just a little over the 18 month minimum that I was quoted from going from a sad open bite to a happy new smile. Yeah! I’m going to celebrate by biting through an apple and eating some corn on the cob.

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Chewing practice

A month or two ago, I was ordered by my orthodontist to chew gum so my teeth know how to go together.

Really. Ordered.

Right now I’m chewing through a pack of the new Extra key lime pie flavor.

My teeth look great, my bite lines up just right, but my back teeth don’t quite hit. My orthodontist said that the teeth will eventually grow to meet one another. I do not know whether to trust that.

Braces may be off in November. Hang on tight.

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surprises

I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about the process of chewing before I had this surgery.

Since I’ve returned to a normal diet, I’ve been trying to make one new recipe a week for dinner. I live alone, so I make the whole recipe and eat the leftovers for other dinners and lunches.

Once again, another recipe I’ve made has jaw parallels. These mushroom-based “cheesesteaks” would be perfect for new chewers (minus the bun).  Steak is often a favorite dream dinner after surgery,  but trust me, it will be a while before you can really chew one. Even if you just chopped up mushrooms and melted some provolone over them, this would be a treat.

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