Thursday, April 27, 2006

7 Days After Expansion

(above: my gap 7 days after expansion finished)

So here I am 7 days since expansion finished. There has only been a tiny bit of movement so far, as I expected. I compared last week's photo with today's and there is some difference but it isn't worth seriously comparing yet. There is some new space between my left incisor and my 2nd tooth; and both incisors appear slightly more angled towards each other. Sometimes in the evening if I sit really still I swear I can feel my incisors making tiny in/out motions, it is the freakiest thing!

I get quick lightning bolt pains a few times during the day but they are bearable since they are so short. One time it went all the way up to my right eye, that was not fun.

My top lip feels slightly different one day to the next. In the last couple of days it's felt warmer and kind of like a fuzzy-numb feeling; very hard to describe. My cheeks beside my nose feel like they have more sensation now on the top surface but they still feel puffy and numb underneath. My septum is feeling less sensitive to movement now which is good, but my nose seems to run like crazy when I go outside even when it's 6 degrees out. Smiling wide doesn't hurt quite as much now but I still feel a tug, but if I sneer my nose that tugs a lot still.

I still can't chew very much, at least not comfortably. I think my RPE is tugging on the teeth it is anchored to on the left side, probably because my teeth are angled inwards so my bite is a bit traumatic. I'm hoping that once my gap is gone those teeth will have shifted forward enough to alleviate this. If I could chew I would be much better off.

My speech still sounds weird. Can't pronounce F's still. Also I have a heightened awareness of the region up where my teeth meet my jaw. I feel like I have marbles up there or that my teeth are 'too high up', if that makes any sense.

I'll post again either next week or when something noticeable happens, whichever comes first.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Expansion DONE! D-O-N-E! DONE!!!

(above: 0, 16, and 33 turns of the key. Click for large size.)

That's right, I'm done expansion!!! And thank heavens because I absolutely was getting to the end of my rope! Today my right incisor feels like it's going to just pop right out and the numbness and inflammation is pretty bad still. I'm hoping maybe by Monday it will have subsided to a tolerable level.

Anyway, went to the OD today and strangely I was the only person in the treatment room. There is usually at least one other patient in there. That felt nice and it meant I had more of Dr W's attention than I usually get. I told him about my incisor and he said he is always very interested in how I'm feeling. He went in with the mirror and said it was good that I mentioned it in case it was anything he needs to monitor. He didn't say anything about it so I assume it's fine and likely just from the movement and healing process, or maybe my lip is just starting to get some feeling back in that area. Who knows. Dr W continued to look around my mouth on each side, and this time he took longer to do it, quietly saying "ok, ok..." as he looked around. Then to my surprise he said, "Ok, we're done. No more expansion." I was really not expecting that at all! A week previous he had predicted we'd need 38 turns, and as of today we were at 33. His reasoning is that the appliance tends to keep some pent-up energy in it and that by the time it gets released it will have just slightly overexpanded my jaw, which is the desired result because there will be some relapse to make up for it. He said he looked tooth by tooth and said that the pent-up energy will push some of the teeth a little further out. So when I look in the mirror right now, my right side appears more expanded than the left but apparently this will take care of itself.

I asked about whether I'd need a transpalatal arch at some point. He said probably not in my case but that my nighttime retainer might have springs on it to account for any relapse, in the neighbourhood of 0.5mm he said. We then started talking about the next steps - June 5th I'll be getting my bottom braces on. And July 20th I will be rid of this blasted RPE and have my upper braces put on as well as be fitted for a cheek guard (via a mold impression).

I walked over to the desk to make my upcoming appointments with Cheri and she mentioned that in the six weeks between now and my next appointment that my gap would close nearly 100%, and more specifically that all the teeth would shift together, not just the front two. Woo!!! The gap is now on its way to GONE!

Walking home I was feeling rather overwhelmed and surprised at what had just happened to me. Going to the office I had just been dreading it and thinking about how to answer Dr W's usual question of "how are things going?". I was going to respond with, "Well, I'm looking for some inspiration to make it through this!" I really was feeling hopeless! Well thank god I didn't have to say that! I think I started on the bit about my incisor before letting out any doom and gloom; and before I knew it he said the magic words: "no more expansion"!! Wooo!!!! I got a little choked up too. Such a relief to be finished. Such an accomplishment to be passed another big milestone. Such joy in knowing that I'm really on my way to the great smile I've always wanted and not feeling like I need to hide my teeth.

I do feel pretty crappy right now though, and I know there will be a bit more 'natural' expansion but I feel hopeful! Bring on some major healing baby! More photos as the gap disappears!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Are we there yet? Damn close!

There hasn't been a whole lot to report lately. Last week we took a break from expanding on Wednesday given how I described the amount of pain I was in. He wanted to make sure the gums are just gently expanding rather than tearing. Expansion on Thursday was bearable but the discomfort by that evening had me reaching for the codeine. Not so much from gum pain but I think bone/teeth pain, and also some TMJ pressure. We are indeed getting pretty wide up there!

As usual for most weekends I didn't see the OD, so I had Friday/Saturday/Sunday to heal up some more, and I think I needed it. I woke up this morning with less discomfort than I have been experiencing lately, so hopefully that will continue.

I just got back from the OD. He did expansion #29 and #30. He said we are really getting close to where we want to be but now just have to go a bit further to account for some relapse once the expanding stops. If I can bear it we could be done as early as Friday but if not then maybe Monday or Tuesday next week!

I asked about the braces and he said in three months the RPE will get removed and I'd get the top ones on. The bottom can go on any time but he said it that might be a bit much for me right now, so we'll so how much time off I'll have before that happens. I'll have metal on the bottom and ceramic on top.

I'm getting excited, but for now my goal is to get through this week and be done with expansion! :o)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Goofy, you need some help.

"Hey Goofy, do you realize that you have a diastima? You know there is help for you. You really should visit an orthodontist. Actually I can refer you to Dr W, he'd be thrilled to see you. My diastima will be gone in a month or two so don't get too upset over it ok? Actually, given how long you've neglected your teeth it's clear that you're not really bothered by it. I just think you should be more proactive. Dentistry has come so far in the last 20 years it's amazing. Just lookin' out for ya, ok bro?"

Saturday, April 08, 2006

22 turns of the key

Finally here's a comparison shot for you (click on it for the larger size). The left is before surgery and the right is my arch as it is/was after 22 turns of the key. My teeth aren't straight but notice how much wider and rounder the arch is. This is proof that this process is definitely working! I think I have a little bit more range of motion in my lip now too. I noticed that as I was contorting my face to take the photo. There's a couple more on my Flickr site so check them out if you want via the link on the right panel of this page.

I went to the OD this morning. He said that I've reached the point where my lower jaw has shifted to line up better with the top one and that my midlines are coincident. This is a milestone. He was going to reassess after 24 turns but it was clear today after 22 turns that I had reached that mark. Yay me! So now he said he needs 2.5mm more on each side, which means 10 more visits, though it will take two weeks to do that because of weekends.

Pain wasn't too bad last night but I expect it will come back by this afternoon. Meds to the rescue!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Two weeks plus

So it's been more than two weeks now. Seems like a long time but it's only been two weeks! I've done 20 turns as of today. The actual turning seems to be getting a little easier but in the last two days I've been experiencing a lot more pain, or maybe it's more like an ache. Just a constant inflamed pain sensation, almost like swelling, but it's not. And my lip and jaw feel really cold all the time. I broke down yesterday and started taking codeine again - just 2.5ml at a time since that much is effective without knocking me out. I'm also still taking liquid Motrin for the inflammation, which also helps some. ....The turn today hurt more right at the back of my palate, you know that bump at the back where the palate meets the soft tissue of the back of the throat. Ouch. I also find I'm really sensitive to cold drinks, especially behind my front two teeth and the top of my mouth. ...My cheeks at the sides of my nose are still feel puffy though they don't really look it. Feels like I have worms squiggling around in there or something. I've also been having some shooting pains in my front teeth area, so hopefully that's just the nerves starting to grow back.

My OD said he'll reassess once I've done 24 turns and then decide how many more to do, but he thinks I may need up to 38. My left side is definitely catching up though. I just hope the pain goes away soon. I don't think I can bear 18 more turns if it doesn't! On a positive note, when I look at my upper arch in the mirror is has clearly changed. Definitely wider and rounder for sure. I'm trying to get a decent picture of it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

post-op day 11 (happy b-day to me)

So for my 30th birthday I decided what better way to celebrate than to go for expansion #6 and furnish myself with about a 3mm diastima. And heck, once this thing gets a bit bigger I'm considering walking over to the mall to go into The Gap and ask if they need a new poster boy. I think I'd be perfect for it, don't you? Well, whatever. In any case I'm going to postpone the party for a few months and then make up for it twofold later.

Paid a post-op visit to Dr T finally. He said everything looks fine, so good news there. He also offered to do my expansion on Friday since Dr W is away. Also saw Dr W today and he too had a look around my mouth and said it looked fine. I have to say that the docs confirmation on my progress is reassuring and I felt a bit more confident as I was walking home. It's not over yet but I'm progressing all the same.
I'm glad to be finished my antibiotics now too.

Sleeping the last two nights was better. I don't remember moving the wrong way or smacking myself in the face as I've done a few times already. I felt kinda weak today though. I need to find more things to try chewing. Dr T said it was still a bit early though, so perhaps we'll compare how I am by the weekend.

Went back to work today too (from home, that is). Lots to do. I am very grateful for the amount of flexibility my manager is giving me. Would be nice if I didn't have so many projects going on right now though.

Oh, and my neck and shoulder seem to be helped by children's (liquid) Motrin, which has ibuprofen in it. Not a complete solution but it helps some. If it didn't taste so bad I'd probably take more of it. I should see if I can swallow a pill yet.