Sunday, April 21, 2013

A note on the reduction of snoring

Earlier in this blog I reported that I snored mildly, not loudly, and with no indication of sleep apnea. But since info about the DNA appliance mentioned that snoring may be cured, I was curious if it would stop.

I did reach a point last year where my snoring has been eliminated or reduced to the point that it is not being noticed by others. However, I also managed some weight loss and increased exercise in the same timeframe. The snoring went away as I got my weight in a healthy range.

Since excess weight is a known cause of snoring, it is really impossible to say at this point if it was an improvement of airway due to the DNA treatment, or weight loss, or some combination of both.

APOLOGIES, relevant info about "tori", slow progress, and approaching final stages

It has been a very long time since the last posts and I apologize to those who were hoping for more. I also apologize that I haven't set aside time for individual answers to all the questions people have sent in (amid the literally thousands of spam emails that arrived in the same email box this blog forwards to), but please realize I have 1) Reported all that I know 2) Am not a dental professional or an expert on this subject and am not qualified to answer dental/medical questions, or advise people what they should do, or what prices of various things might be. I also don't have that much spare time.

This was always meant to be more of a journal, for whatever use that might be to others. I am trying to remain neutral and merely report, not be an expert.

As to the reason it has been such a long time since the last post, it is because nothing has really happened worth reporting from then until now. It has simply been a period in which I expanded the lower appliance at the recommended interval and experienced very slow progress, and continued to wear the upper appliance as a retainer overnight, as previously reported.

Those who have followed since the beginning might realize that progress on the lowers has been much slower than it was for the uppers. At first I was under the impression that this was simply due to the bone density of the mandible (lower jaw) being greater than the maxilla that supports the upper teeth, and thus it takes longer to lay down the new bone. However I have recently been informed that normally the lowers should not take longer. That my problem specifically is the "mandibular tori" in my mouth slowing progress.

While my teeth have "uncrowded" and straightened significantly,  my lower arch has not yet expanded adequately for perfect "occlusion" (mating of the upper and lower tooth surfaces for chewing purposes)

There have been suggestions I get the tori removed surgically but I am very reluctant to go that route for multiple reasons. The issue is currently unresolved and the docs will be consulting about it. I am hoping a satisfactory, if not perfect end can be achieved without going that route.

The lesson for readers is, if you have tori, it may add a complicating and expense-generating factor to your DNA treatment.

Other than that, significant progress has been made as you can see in the photo below. You may also notice spaces or gaps between the lower teeth. The essential problem there is the number of upper vs lower teeth the orthodontic docs ordered removed from me when I was a kid getting braces. With the DNA appliance, we got the uppers in a nice straight, tight row, but to get the matching arch on the bottom, some spaces have been created as expansion has occurred.

I am OK with some spaces but if I were a perfectionist from the cosmetic standpoint, I would have to get veneers. I am not a perfectionist. A decent set of useful natural teeth and a comfortable mouth with everything accessible for good hygiene going into my later years is what I wanted.

My current status is that I have been told to stop expanding the lower appliance but wear it as a retainer at night along with the upper appliance. Meanwhile, the docs here are planning to review my status with Dr. Singh in the coming weeks, at which time they will decide how to proceed. One possibility mentioned was to "touch things up" to finality using Invisalign but since we have the tori issue and some malocclusion at hand, we'll just have to see what they come up with.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Some advice

In conversations with my dentist, it has become clear that perhaps the biggest problem they have with patients is compliance in how many hours in a day the appliance is worn.

Apparently, some patients think they can wear the appliance for fewer hours per day than recommended (sometimes many fewer) but then they are disappointed that progress is slow or nonexistent.

I suppose that for patients like myself who work hard to earn a modest living then must take that money out of their pocket and hand it to the dentist, we are very motivated to cooperate fully in order to "get our money's worth" from what we have struggled to pay for.

But perhaps others (like children) who did not really work to earn that money, or perhaps those who have such work covered by insurance or paid for by others, are not so motivated. Perhaps they see it more as an annoyance. So you parents out there who are perhaps reading this blog because you are getting this type of work done on your children- you need to stay on top of it. If your child is asked to wear the appliance X hours/per day, see to it they do. If the patient cheats it will retard or even prevent progress.

As inconvenient as these appliances might seem to a child, if they were to experience the braces I had as a child, with the bands on the teeth, the cement, the monthly torture/adjustment sessions that remained painful for 2 weeks, the painful rubber bands, they would know that no-pain DNA Appliance epigenetic orthodontics is a blessing and a breeze in comparison. This is an age of miracles and wonders. Of course they are children, so they don't know that.  So use your parental wiles to deal with it accordingly.

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.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Correction, Some Added Info, and Current Status

I got word a couple weeks ago that DNA does not stand for Do Not Adjust. I have investigated this by having a chance to glance at Dr Singh's and Dr. Krumholtz's  book "Epigenetic Orthodontics In Adults" and have confirmed that DNA is supposed to mean "Daytime-Nighttime Appliance". I have added an appropriate correction to earlier posts. I apologize for any confusion. I was reporting the information I got at the time. For whatever reason, that information was not correct.

I would like to add that in my brief look at Epigenetic Orthodontics In Adults I got the impression that a number of different kinds of appliances might be utilized in patients receiving E.O. treatment. While the DNA appliance might be commonly used, it is not necessarily used in every case. Or, a patient may have a DNA appliance and a different type of appliance as well. For instance one for the uppers, another for the lowers. Had I understood this at the outset I might have titled the blog differently, but I don't think it's an important enough distinction to justify changing the name of the blog now.

My current status is that both my upper and lower appliances are still "in the shop", which is to say, the lab. You may recall from previous posts that my upper was sent off for modifications, then I lost my lower and a so new one is being made. I hope to get them back soon. The dentist made a clear retainer for me for my uppers, so that should prevent any regression while I wait for the upper appliance. However, none was made for my lowers. I can detect a little regression there. Hopefully it won't be too significant, but obviously it will extend the treatment longer than it would have been had I not lost the appliance.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Don't Do As I Did, Do As I Say

 I will pay a high price for losing my lower DNA appliance, just as the dentist warned. It's going to cost me $750. Hopefully my mistake will a lesson to readers.

The trick is, how to prevent such a mistake? After all, one cannot very well effectively command ones self to never make an error- to never forget anything.

I think the answer is to have a system. (Review my previous blog entry on how I made the mistake if you need to.) How does one remember to never forget? My idea is this: Never go anywhere with your DNA appliance if you do not also have the carrying case with you. That's all there is to the system. Label that carrying case with your name and contact number.  If you ever need to take your appliance out, you will have your case with you and you will put it in that. It's less likely you will leave that behind, but if you do happen to leave it behind, it is obvious to others it is an orthodontic appliance, and you have your contact number on it. I think it's very unlikely to get thrown out. I would think the habit of always having your carrying case (or a spare carrying case) should greatly reduce the incidence of accidental losses like mine.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Setback- my own fault

The dentist warned me early on to be careful not to lose or damage my DNA appliances because they are "very expensive" to replace. To me, when a dentist calls something "very expensive",  that's very scary.

I ran into an unexpected social situation yesterday. I was running an errand and had not planned to linger anywhere. I was wearing my lower appliance. In the midst of my errand I was offered some very nice hospitality which included snacks. I took out my appliance in order to eat something. I wrapped it in a napkin. (It then looked like something that needed to be thrown out when clearing the table.) I forgot about it. After leaving, I realized my error and called the host but the place was closed for the day. I got there first thing this morning to dumpster dive, but it was garbage day and the garbage man had already come and gone.

I called the dentist office to report it. Spoke to office personnel, but the doctors were already gone for the weekend. Office personnel had no idea what the replacement is going to cost. They said it hadn't happened there before. I have an appointment for next Thursday. Until then I'm left wondering about about a dentist's definition of "very expensive". It was a stretch for me to do this DNA treatment to begin with.

Of course, this will set me back some weeks on the progress of my lower teeth as well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Update and Some New information

So here we are seven months since the first appliance arrived, and two months since the last update, when the lower appliance arrived.

Progress so far: I've got a nice straight set of uppers, but I am told we are not near finished with them. We still need to widen the arch "x"millimeters, until the the width of the arch is at least as wide as the width of the (relaxed) tongue (the dentist measures these things).  So, I am not close to being done with the wearing and lateral adjusting of the upper appliance. However it is very nice to have the upper teeth straight already. It provides a real psychological boost. I agreed to do DNA orthodontics for health/quality of life in old age reasons, but I can't deny it is very nice to lose the self-consciousness about the messy rows of teeth.

I have also been told that once we are done moving the uppers, I will still need to keep using the appliance overnight as a retainer, permanently. The gaps in the appliance will be filled in, so I expect it to be a bit less awkward feeling. Will my speech (while wearing the appliance) improve also? I hope so.

In the meantime, the dentist wants me to temporarily halt adjusting the upper appliance, and give the lower appliance some time to help my lower teeth to 'catch up'. That is how things stand as of this writing.

You can see some visible gap in my lower appliance now, even with the low res of the photo. My bottoms are still pretty crowded and snarly, but I can definitely detect slow changes occurring. Since this appliance has little effect on my speech, I am able to wear it quite a few more hours per day than the upper appliance. As such, the dentist has just advised me to adjust it more often now. I am comfortable now adjusting it twice a week. This will hopefully speed things along.

However, once my bottom teeth have reached a certain point, the current lower appliance will be sent off for modification to add the ability to adjust it in the forward (anterior) axis, like the upper appliance. But this is unique to my mouth- the reader (or another DNA patient) will experience their own unique course of treatment.

Another piece of information I just learned which ties into a question a reader asked me previously: Sometime later, it is likely I am going to receive Invisalign appliances to wear. The DNA appliance will take me to a certain point, but then we will need to fine tune things a bit with Invisalign. This has something to do with "rotation". But I am also told it is included in the price of the DNA treatment. Which is good, because the expense is already quite a significant burden on my budget.

There are a few other details I have learned about what the dentist would like to do to my teeth, but they are unique to my situation and would not be relevant to readers, so I will decline to bore you with those details. I'll just say, my teeth have a lot of wear and tear on them.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Surprise: The unexpected arrival of the lower appliance

If there are confusing and contradictory things in this blog, it is only because they are confusing and contradictory in life, and I am just reporting my experiences.

Yes, I previously wrote the device had not been ordered yet and that they wanted to see further progress in my uppers first. That's what I was told by the dentist who worked on me that day.

Today, both to my surprise and to the dentist's surprise, a technician in the office presented my new appliance. I have no idea whether the appliance was ordered earlier and took a long time to arrive, or was ordered later and for what reason, or what.

I can't explain why there is all the miscommunication. What I can say is it is a practice with at least two dentists and about a dozen other employees, and I am attended to by different personnel on different visits. In addition, Dr. Singh's opinions are in the mix there somewhere. I don't know their process. The dentist who has attended me the past few sessions is not the dentist with her name on the sign and not the dentist who worked on me at the beginning of my treatment. For whatever reasons, no matter how clear or explicit I have tried to be in asking how my case is proceeding, things have been miscommunicated to me and by extension to you the reader.

However, I don't see where any harm has been done other than the confusion itself- which has no negative effect on me other than in the writing of this blog. My treatment is continuing in an apparently successful way. As many patients have probably encountered with many medical professionals, the accuracy of my understanding of what they are doing is not always high on the doctor's priority list. I don't want to dwell on this, I just want to let the reader know what has happened. I have tried very hard to be accurate in my reporting, but as they say, "garbage in/garbage out". I do not have control over the quality of what I am told.

So, anyway- the lower appliance has arrived, after all. I got it today. It is comfortable. It does not significantly affect my speech. If I don't grin widely, people don't see it. I can wear it while working. So I don't see why I shouldn't be able to wear it a good 16 hours a day. Of course it has to come out when eating, like the top appliance.

I am continuing with the top appliance. So at night I'll be wearing both. 

I'll report more, after I've been living with it a while.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Compare and contrast, then talk among yourselves

For those wanting a closer look at the teeth themselves, here is a new picture. Compare this to the The Fugly Truth posting from December 24, 2010.


Hurry up and wait

I think the enlargement of the gaps in the appliance as well as the improvement in the alignment of my upper teeth are quite noticeable

It has been a while since the last entry, but there is a reason for that- something changed in the plan and I didn't have the information yet what that change meant and how to best report it.

Previously I reported that the dentist thought it was time to start on the lower teeth. She took new mouth impressions in order to make the appliance. She also asked me to stop expanding the lateral adjustment upper appliance for the time being. However it turns out the new appliance has not yet been ordered, and I have since been asked to go back to expanding the appliance in both axes.

What I have since learned is that the dentist consulted with Dr. Singh about my case, and he determined it was not yet time to start on the lowers. The uppers still needed more improvement. So I am back to the normal routine of adjusting my appliance and the doc is looking at my mouth once a week, checking progress.

I look forward to getting work started in earnest on the lower teeth, hopefully soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New mouth impressions, adjusting the Do Not Adjust appliance

10/20/11 I have just made a correction to my January 30, 2011 blog entry. The appliance is NOT called "Do Not Adjust". It is supposed to be called "Daytime-Nighttime Appliance™"

Monday they took a new set of upper & lower impressions plus a new impression of the bite registration so that the lab can make an appliance for my lower teeth. The new appliance ought to be ready in about 10 days.

The dentist spent some time bending the springs at the front of the appliance, as well as the wire that arches across in front of all the teeth. She also removed one spring- the one that relates to my farthest-forward canine tooth- because we don't want it to come any farther forward. In addition the arch wire now touches that tooth, to prevent it from moving farther forward. All that was done to assist getting my front teeth in line.

I am still to expand the anterior portion of the appliance on schedule, while leaving the lateral adjustment alone. The gap for the anterior plate is now visibly wider than the gap for the lateral plates.

 You can also see where one of the springs has been removed. There is a whitish area there now because in order to remove the spring, the dentist removed some of the acrylic it was anchored into. Then she mixed some new acrylic to re-fill the gap she created. Her repair acrylic was white.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Clarifications, Progress, and a New Phase

Clarifications: As it turns out, I indeed had a wrong impression in the previous blog entry (April 18 2011). We are not permanently finished expanding the appliance laterally. It is only a temporary halting. Her explanation of pleasant surprise was genuine, however. She said I have made unusually fast progress. The temporary halting of lateral expansion has been ordered so that we can allow other growth areas to 'catch up' with the lateral growth that has occurred.

Something else that can use some clarification: I had mentioned the 2mm lateral expansion that has occurred at the C5 position such that there is now a (self measured) 34mm gap between those molars (see December 19, 2010 and April 18, 2011 posts). However I learned today that in my case, since I had my premolars removed as a child, C5 as shown in the diagram is not necessarily my proper measuring position. Again, I say in my case. Others should not extrapolate what is correct for them in this regard. In the future, I will not report any self-measuring, and I will just rely on the doctor to measure and judge the growth.

Progress: While we have not increased the width of the appliance for a few weeks, we have continued to advance the fore (anterior) portion of the appliance once a week (today being one of those days), thus moving my front teeth ever so slightly more in line. Today the doctor took photos of my bite (revealing quite a mismatch between my uppers and lowers, since my uppers have moved so much by now). She is sending the photos to Dr. Singh, and has ordered that next week, we are going to take new impressions of the uppers and lowers. All of which leads us to......

A New Phase: It is no longer a matter of guessing. I will be getting a lower appliance. I don't know a thing about it yet, so I'm not going to speculate. But the overview is, as I understand it, that we must get the lower teeth to 'catch up' with the position of the uppers, just as we are currently getting the upper front teeth to catch up with the lateral expansion. There may be more lateral expansion of the uppers later, but we need to work on the lowers first, so that the bite does not become wildly mismatched in the process.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Surprise (with a correction)

(Important- Note the correction I added four paragraphs down)

Let me preface this by explaining that there are two dentists at the dental practice I attend. Only one has her name on the shingle, but when I come in for an appointment I may get one or the other.  Both are knowledgeable about the DNA Appliance, and both have been involved in my case since the beginning.

Today I went in for a routine appointment. I expected to be checked for irritations, and to have the appliance adjusted (abraded/polished) accordingly. I didn't expect anything more than that.

The dentist who saw me  was one I had not seen the past couple of appointments. She asked to examine my bite (sans appliance) and exclaimed surprise. Her surprise was that I am "there" (her word). I don't mean she was surprised I was physically present. I mean my upper arch has expanded adequately (see previous blog entry) and we do not need to adjust the appliance width any farther. Apparently, the 2 mm gained that I mentioned in the previous post is about right for my mouth. She was surprised it happened as quickly as it did.

However the front teeth are still not where we want them to be. (See photo in April 9, 2011 blog entry)

(NOTE: I am adding a correction here 4/25/11. A sharp-eyed and seemingly knowledgeable reader has informed me that Dr. Singh recommends a 38mm gap at C5 (for Caucasians), whereas I measured myself at 34mm in the previous blog post. It now occurs to me there is a very good chance I simply misinterpreted my dentist's comment that I am "there". The same sharp-eyed reader comments it may just be time to advance the anterior (front) section of the appliance while temporarily halting advancing the width so the front can 'catch up'. Perhaps that is all that was meant when she said I was 'there'. I will try to get more clarity next visit. Meanwhile, keep in mind this blog entry may have been based on a faulty assumption on my part.)

She adjusted the appliance in the relevant axis 1/4 turn more (leaving the width alone), and made adjustments to the springs and wire arch in the front using pliers. In previous appointments these had been left alone. She stated that we now need to "activate" the front teeth to move into position.

My job will be to continue to adjust only the front triangular section once a week, while leaving the width as it is with the 2mm gap.  

She also made mention of a lower appliance to come later. Previously, it seemed a possibility, but by no means a certainty, that I would need a lower appliance.  Now I get the impression it's a lot more likely I will need it.

But all in all, I feel like a milestone has been achieved. And judging from the dentist's reaction, in a surprisingly short period of time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Well, SOMETHING is happening

In my December 19, 2010 post I reported that the gap between the molars at the C5 position was recorded by my dentist as 32mm.

I just made a homemade probe to measure that gap now. It is 34mm.

I also measure the midline gap in my appliance as it is now. 2mm.

Nothing ambiguous there.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Progress at Nine Weeks

First of all, let me mention that if you are new to this blog, or are just skimming, there were a couple questions relating to the expense and comfort of the treatment that can be found in the "Comments" section of the previous blog entry. I will suggest reading them there rather than my repeating my replies here.

I have by now been back to see the dentist for brief appointments several times, sometimes at one week intervals, other times two week intervals. No problems have occurred, but she likes to check and recheck the appliance for comfortable and proper fit. She had slightly ground or polished areas of the appliance several times now, trying to perfect the fit and bite alignment according to her goals. Other than that things have gone uneventfully.

When the appliance was first given to me, it was two weeks before she made the next mechanical adjustment to start spreading the appliance. Later this was stepped up to weekly intervals. Then she allowed me to make the adjustments myself, after tutoring me what to do. How often the adjustments are made depends to an extent on how many hours a day one wears the appliance. I strive for a minimum of 12 hours a day, and usually end up achieving 14 hours or even a little more. The more I can wear it, the earlier the treatment can end.
As you can see by comparing to the picture in the previous blog entry, the appliance has clearly expanded, an indication of the bone growth that is occurring.

I don't have a proper way to gauge the gaps in the appliance, but it looks to me like they have increased in the 1-2 mm range. You can clearly see through the gaps now, whereas you could not when the appliance was new.

As to changes in my teeth, I believe I am seeing subtle changes. I do feel the overall arch of the uppers has widened a bit, as gauged by the way my tongue fits between the teeth. I also believe that my front teeth are coming forward- but just slightly. Almost impossible to see in a photo. I feel like my face is filling out just a bit. One might guess I have gained weight, though I haven't.  But again, it is very subtle, and difficult to see in a photo, especially with the poor photo quality of this webcam. But I will post the photos for readers to view and compare with the previous entries.

As to the lower teeth, I see no change at all as of yet- however this is supposed to be normal.

Changes in the relative alignment of the upper teeth are still quite subtle at this point. Can you see a difference compared to the "Fugly Truth" pictures?

I tried to make this photo as similar as possible to my blog profile photo which was taken November 2010. I think my face has slightly more filled out appearance now, though again, it is quite subtle. I wonder if it is detectable to readers?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The DNA Appliance Has Just Arrived

It has well and truly begun. I received the appliance January 27, 2011 and have by now worn it three nights.

DNA Appliance in this instance stands for "Do Not Adjust" Appliance (*See correction below). There is some contradiction in terms here because you do in fact adjust the appliance periodically. I'm going to assume however they are using the term adjustment in the sense of orthodontic adjustments- like when people have traditional braces and go in for their monthly "adjustments" where the pressure on the teeth gets tightened. That is what they called it when I was a kid. And with the DNA Appliance you are not subject to that kind of adjustment.

Obviously "DNA Appliance" is also a catchy name for marketing purposes and serves to reinforce that it is coming from the field of Epigenetics. 

* 10/20/11 Correction: Apparently the information I received early this year about the name of the appliance is incorrect. It is NOT called "Do Not Adjust". DNA actually stands for "Daytime-Nighttime Appliance™"

 In the photo above note the Y-shaped divisions in the appliance. Note the metal device in the center. Periodically a small tool will be inserted into the metal device and the appliance will spread slightly at the lines of division. This will slightly spread the palate at the bony sutures (see previous blog post "What Is Epigenetic Orthodontics?"), and new bone will grow into the gap that was created, gradually reshaping the mouth.

In this second view we see what might be assumed to be a retaining wire across the front, such as found in traditional orthodontic retainers. But that is not the case. There is actually a substantial gap between my two front teeth and that wire. I believe the wire defines the position my teeth will be in by the time therapy is finished. Note also the ziggurat-like wires in the front. These are springy and touch the backs of the front teeth. However the pressure against the tooth is extremely slight and is hardly noticed.

I was instructed by the doctor that it is optimal to wear the appliance 16 hours a day. It is not necessary to wear it during working hours but should be worn otherwise. If I can achieve this optimal schedule, I should be finished with the therapy in a matter of months. If I cannot, it will extend the therapy perhaps to a year or more. I was also told that due to the timing of our natural biorhythms the bone cells we are trying to grow will not be active during work hours even if the appliance were to be in, so there is no reason to try and push it beyond the 16 hours/day.  In other words the cells will grow during the resting and sleeping periods, but not during times of high activity.

The appliance must be removed for eating, however.

Cleaning is to be done by rinsing and a denture-type soak. The DNA Appliance is not to be brushed.

More to follow in the next blog post.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Fugly Truth

                                      THE 'Befores'
Ugly as hell, I know. And embarrassing to me. But in keeping with the purpose of the blog, I'm showing you what is what. This doesn't require much explanation. I just hope when this is all done, I'll be able to show something a little more attractive.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

What has been done to me so far

A reader  expressed that it wasn't clear whether I had actually begun treatment yet or not. As of this writing I have only been in preparation for treatment. First I was sent to a specialized dental imaging facility where both head scans and camera pictures were taken (full face, facial profile, chin raised, and the inside of my mouth, upper and lower). These were then sent on to Dr. Singh in Portland, Oregon. (I am receiving the treatment from my local dentist, but she is in consultation with Dr. Singh on all DNA Appliance related cases.)

Then a few days ago my dentist took impressions of my mouth and also made a measurement of the span of my upper dental arch (the arch-shape of rows of teeth) at the C5 position shown in this illustration: 

This span measured 32mm, but by the time treatment is concluded it should be wider.

Also a measurement of the width of my tongue was taken. It is 50mm at the same place where the teeth are only 32mm apart.

In addition to impressions of my teeth, another impression was taken of the space between my upper and lower teeth with the jaws in a relaxed position which she referred to as the phonetic gap. To achieve this, I was instructed to say the word "Mississippi" and to hold the position of my jaws that was created by the last syllable. The small gap between my upper and lower teeth was then gauged with a thin stick and I was instructed to bite down upon it while a molding paste was squirted into that gap. The paste set in about one minute and was then removed.

The doctor was scheduled to fly to Portland the following day to consult with Dr. Singh, and she would bring these impressions and measurements with her.

I was told by the doctor I would receive my DNA Appliance sometime in January.

What is Epigenetic Orthodontics?

I am only going to attempt a brief layman's explanation of Epigenetic Orthodontics here, which is simply my limited understanding of it. Googling the term will provide explanations more thorough and scientific for those seeking deeper knowledge.

I assume all readers know what standard orthodontics is. As we usually understand it, it is the technique of aligning teeth by forcing them into alignment using appliances or mechanical techniques (braces, Invisalign, etc)

Epigenetic orthodontics works differently, more subtly, and to my way of thinking, much more elegantly. It is based on the idea of activating bone stem cells that will grow into new bone tissue, thus changing the shape of the bones themselves in such a way that the teeth come into proper alignment naturally. (Stem cells are "generic starter cells" that do not yet have the characteristics of a particular type of body tissue, but will become a specific type of tissue, depending on where the stem cell is located in the body.)

In the photo above you can see lines that divide the bony plate of the upper palate. These lines are known as a sutures. There are many sutures in the skull such as can be seen in the illustration below.
The sutures are a very small gap between the bone plates, and they are where the bone stem cells exist. The sutures also allow a very small amount of movement between the plates. They are also where new bone growth occurs in a young growing body, and where new bone growth can occur in an adult body if the stem cells at the margins of the sutures become activated.

It was not known until recently that the adult stem cells at the margins of the sutures could be activated. It was always thought that once adulthood was reached, the bones stopped growing, the stem cells for the bones in the skull became dormant, and that, as they say, was that. You were stuck with what you had.

But we now know that the bone stem cells in the sutures of an adult can become active under special conditions and grow new bone. And if this new bone growth is directed in a planned and precise manner, it is then possible to achieve alterations of the shape and dimensions of the bones in such a way that the teeth will fall naturally into alignment, and/or that improvements in the airway can be achieved (eliminating snoring or sleep apnea), or that improvements to facial appearance can be achieved.

In Epigenetic Orthodontics, the sutures in the bone plate of the upper palate are of primary focus. The stem cells are activated by mechanical means- therefore no drugs or invasive techniques are involved. What has been discovered is that if the sutures can be spread just slightly more open, the dormant adult stem cells will "awaken" and produce new bone tissue at the site.

To achieve that  slight widening of the gap, an orthodontic appliance (Dr. Singh's  DNA Appliance) resembling an orthodontic retainer is worn. In order to direct the bone to grow in the desired manner to achieve the desired new shape, the appliance is outfitted with spring-like extensions that will place small  amounts of tension in specified ways against specified teeth. Which teeth are targeted depends on the patient's needs. This slight tension creates the signal to the stem cells in certain regions of the suture to become active and produce bone at the specific sites the doctor desires the bone to grow and the plate to expand.

And if the above weren't already interesting and exciting enough consider this: In expanding/reshaping the upper jaw (properly called the Maxilla), the lower jaw (AKA Mandible) also often follows into proper shape without the necessity of its own appliance. (I do not yet understand how that works but hope to learn.) Thus, both top and bottom teeth become aligned by using an appliance worn only on the top. However, I am told this is not always the case and that some patients will need to have an appliance made for their lower teeth as well.

Consider this as well: Since you are growing new bone, your improvements should last a lifetime- unlike, say, the braces I had as a kid, and from which I have suffered a gradual relapse such that I need orthodontia yet again, in middle age.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Purpose Of This Blog

November 24, 2010

In preface to stating the purpose of this blog, please allow me to set the stage: I am a 55 year old man as of this writing. I am in need of orthodontic work. I had braces as a child, but as the years have progressed, my mouth has regressed. My teeth have gradually again become overcrowded, angled inward, crooked, and overlapping in places. The space in my mouth has been reduced such that my tongue now constantly touches the back of my top front teeth. This all can be expected to get worse as the years progress and middle age leads into old age. My dentist previously recommended the Invisalign system however I had already spent my dental budget for the year and was saving money to get Invisalign sometime in 2011.

I was at my dentist's offices in November 2010 for a cleaning and checkup. I spoke with my dentist, mentioning I was looking toward finally beginning Invisalign in the coming year. However, she was very enthusiastic about a new form of orthodontia called Epigenetic Orthodontics (let's shorten that to EO) which utilizes a dental appliance called the DNA Appliance (both of which will be described in fuller detail in following blog entries.) I am not a scientist, but have a fair layman's understanding across a range of scientific subjects, and was very interested and excited about the principals of EO, which involves the activation of bone stem cells to grow and shape the upper and lower jaw bones in a manner that is controlled by the DNA Appliance, thus reshaping your mouth via bone growth and allowing your teeth to naturally move back into alignment.

But I needed some time to research and think about it before committing to it, as well as needing time figure out how to finance it.

And so I lead into the purpose of this blog: While I was able to find a large number of academic and research citations as well as plenty of good material from the inventor of the process (Dr. Dave Singh), I could not find anecdotal experiences from patients. (I'm assuming this is because these methods are just too new.) So I thought I could perhaps be of some service to other people who, like myself, are searching the internet for real-life patient anecdotes relating to Epigenetic Orthodontics and Dr. Singh's DNA Appliance.

In this blog, I am beginning before the very first procedure or treatment. As treatment progresses, I will attempt to update and explain things. Hopefully, some people who are potential EO patients will find this of value in their own search for knowledge on this subject.

I think it is important to add that readers need to remember that what I write will be strictly my thoughts as a patient and layperson. I am not a scientist or doctor or an authority of any kind on Epigenetic Orthodontics or the DNA Appliance. I can offer my thoughts, experiences, and what I believe to be true but there will always be the possibility I have misunderstood or unknowingly misrepresented something.

Thus,  please do not consider this blog a source of scientific, dental, or orthodontic facts. I will try to convey what I think is factual, but if any factual details are especially important to you, please use due diligence and check them via scientifically or medically authoritative sources.