Sunday, April 8, 2012

Progress, slow and steady

As of last writing I had lost the lower retainer and was waiting for a replacement (expensive). The doctor also wanted to modify the upper retainer. So I will pick up from the point I received the new appliances not long after my previous post.
As you can tell by comparing to previous pictures this is not a modification of my previous upper appliance like I was expecting, but a whole new upper appliance of a different design.  I was surprised to receive it. Since at this point I am merely maintaining uppers in their current position, I only need to wear this at bedtime, so that the uppers do not regress. However this is not a mere retainer. It is a DNA appliance with the spring-like parts that touch the back of the teeth and expansion adjustability (though I have been been instructed not to adjust it anymore until further notice, and it has not been adjusted for half a year). I don't know why an appliance of this complexity is needed just to maintain results but everything has gone very well up to this point so I trust the process.

You will notice that the upper plate area is now gone, leaving an open space. This has created a major improvement in how I speak when the appliance is in. On the other hand, I only wear it to bed, so speaking is not much of an issue now. The appliance is comfortable and I wear it every night.
As for the lower appliance there was some lag from the time I lost the old one and received the new one. I perceived that the teeth had regressed a bit. When we put the replacement appliance in we did have to back off the adjustment a bit. However, although the instructions were to adjust only once a week, for the first couple weeks I could easily adjust it more often than that so I think the "regression" was simply the teeth moving a bit in their sockets rather that having lost any significant gains in bone we had made. But after that first couple weeks it did get tight and I had to adhere to the once-a-week adjustment. That is to say, 1/4 millimeter per week. As you can see from the photo above we now have several millimeters of expansion- 1 millimeter per month since I received the appliance.
You should be able to see the result of the amount of expansion that had been adjusted into the appliance by comparing this picture to the picture of the lowers in the December 24th, 2010 post.

Observant readers may be realizing that progress with the lower jaw and teeth appears to be slower than the progress that was made with the uppers. Indeed this is so. To understand why, one must realize that the bone of the lower jaw (mandible) is much more dense than the upper jaw (maxilla) which is kind of porous. This means that much more "stuff" must be laid down in the process of creating new bone there. So that takes the body longer to accomplish. It's that simple.

I am wearing my lower appliance 16 hours/day, taking it out to eat. There is little effect on my speech. My habit is to take it out before breakfast (OK, coffee) and then after lunch put it in for the rest of the day, excluding dinner.

While I was originally hoping to be finished with this whole process in about a year, it is obvious now that is not going to happen. We are already over a year in and have months to go. But it was very satisfying to have the uppers straight as quickly as that occurred. It gave a real psychological boost.

No improvement so far on my (ordinary) snoring.


  1. Thanks Rick! Glad to see you back to the blog. I received my upper appliance on 3/31, so far so good.

    1. I'm also very glad to see you back, Rick, & that it was only a computer issue, annoying as that can be. Your blog remains so helpful.

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  3. Hi. I have a question? When you lost your lower appliance did the doctor have to create a new one with your original model or did he have to make another model of your lower teeth since he had already expanded it ?