Baby, It’s Collllld Outsiiiiiiiide (and Inside My Mouth)

I went to the rodeo last month. My friend Mackenzie scored a handful of tickets and offered Niko and me the opportunity to go with her and her husband and a couple of our mutual friends.

Uhm, yes, please.

I hadn’t been to a rodeo in… years. Like, a shameful amount of years. Niko hadn’t been to a rodeo in, like, ever. Opportunity knocked, and we gleefully threw open the door and ushered it in. We may have offered it a beverage, too.

This rodeo shindig happened to occur the very same evening that a fierce cold front was blowing in. We did not acquire parking next to the event building and had to travel on foot from a location that, under not-arctic conditions, would have been conducive to a lovely, leisurely walk.

Not so that night. We sprinted across New Siberia as quickly as we could (as a member of our troupe is with child (and it’s not Yours Truly)). During round one, I pretty much kept my lips pursed as I shuffle-jumped with my hands jammed into my hoodie’s kangaroo pocket. Brrr.

The dash back to the vehicle, however, brought a whole new experience to my orthodontia’d mouth. Instead of pursing my lips, as I had on the maiden voyage, I chose to talk. I chose to talk, and I felt my teeth squirming.

Dear readers, it was cold enough to cause my braces hardware to contract and give me the sensation of having my teeth squeezed. It felt sort of like they were trying to zip a zipper that just wasn’t zippin’.

Everything returned to normal once I surrounded myself with air that wasn’t featuring a wind chill index of -200 degrees, but whew, it was a pretty odd feeling. My mouth doesn’t typically experience those kinds of temperatures, so it really took me by surprise. So, if you reside in a locale that has wildly bipolar temperatures, take note and remain calm. Everything will be all right. 🙂

Now, let’s take a ride in the Several Weeks Back Machine and visit a magical land in which I switched out this set…

Right thurr, right thurr!

This set right here.

…with a new one!

Aside from how nice they are (and the good work they do on my teeth), I love my orthodontist and his team for two other reasons:

  1. They play music I can jam to (quietly, of course… and still-ly).
  2. They always have HGTV on the television in the waiting room.

Niko and I don’t own a TV—well, that’s not 100% true. We own a TV that he got from an old buddy in the service, but we’re not sure whether it works (we’re pretty sure it doesn’t), and we haven’t tested it (will we ever? who knows?). We lack Netflix/Hulu as well, so TV access of any sort is kind of a treat. I lurrrrrrve it.

I’ve really gotten into a routine at the ortho office. I arrive, watch an episode of whatever’s on HGTV (ehrrmuhgerr, DIY!—I arrive at my appointments early #deepandabidinghatredofmorningtraffic), get called back, have removable hardware… removed, brush and floss (I live for flossing without wires!), have Dr. B examine my progress and make recommendations, choose a band color, silently jam to the music on the speaker system while the tech updates my orthodontic hardware, receive my “See Us Again in X Weeks” slip, make an appointment in four to six weeks, and frolic to the vehicle.

Boo yah.

There was a little deviation from that typical schedule during this particular round, though. While the tech was securing the rotation wire around my newest bracket, I heard a metallic *plip!* and the tech ceased twirling the rabbit-ear wires. My one-round-old bracket had just popped off.

Not to worry, though, for a new one soon took its place. In fact, Dr. B himself came over and performed, like, half the work on my braces this time while my tech attended to a grade-school kiddo. So I got to hear his banter with the techs a little better than usual, as well as a few more “Hmmmm”s and “All right”s and “Awesome”s. Based on his commentary, my teeth seem to be progressing very favorably. *fistpump*

When the time came to choose the new colors for my bands, I decided to mix it up a little. I went bold, if you will.

Madame Mix-a-Lot

Mixin’ it uuuuuuuuuup!

As a concession to February, the Month of All Things Pink and Red, my tech and I decided on light pink and red. The thing was, I forgot about the tendency of all bands to become a li’l paler once they’re applied to the brackets, so the light pink ended up looking white.

“OK, self,” I said, “go easy on the tomato sauce and red wine this month” (since I consume so much tomato sauce and red wine?).

Once the initial itchy soreness subsided (by the second day, I believe), this round went very smoothly. I did have a couple of instances in which I ate tomato sauce and sipped on some red wine, but I think the carrot juice I sometimes drink ended up tinting the lighter of the bands more than anything. It wasn’t horrendous, but it was noticeable (to me, anyway, but I see my teeth every day). Definitely something to keep in mind when choosing from the rainbow of band colors (*coughdon’tchoosewhitecough*).

Stay bracey, my friends.

The Rundown

  • What’re your orthodontia accessories? Every single brace (braces?).
  • Band color? Green and darker green. (Spoiler alert!)
  • Any pain today? None! Not even when I press on ’em.
  • What sort, would you say? Now that I’ve lived through several rounds of both the top and bottom braces, I’ve gotta say that the pain has lessened substantially—like whoa. This really surprises me, since my pain threshold is way, way low.
  • Do you miss anything? Right now, caramel. Doubly so because it hasn’t been OK’d on my new eating plan (much backstory exists here).
  • Looking forward to anything? Being able to see my teeth sans hardware again.
  • On the bright side… I love my Waterpik and wish I could take it with me everywhere!
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¡Tres Semanas!

Q: What do the following three things have in common?

  1. Raw carrot slivers
  2. Rolos
  3. Bagels

A: They’re all things I didn’t think I’d eat with braces but I did.

Eat them, that is.

I knowwwwww! And with all that heartbreak over not being able to eat bagels, too. I’m sorta taken aback by my own foodstuff chutzpah. Admittedly, the raw carrot slivers had been marinating in Italian dressing overnight, and I let the Rolos melt on my tongue, and it took me 2.5 hours to eat that darn bagel, but still.

Progress, my friends. Progress.

Kip knows what's up.

Sappy non sequitur: Niko and I recently celebrated 365 days of wedded awesomeness. Huzzah! (He’s currently being studious despite my quiet Oasis jam session on the other side of the room. (Any other Be Here Now fans out there?))

Wedding-N-Out

So vintage!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go check on my hippie-tastic laundry experiment and wash all this coconut and jojoba oil out of my hair. And Waterpik my teeth.

The Rundown

  • What’re your orthodontia accessories? The top rowwwwwwwww of braces.
  • Any pain today? Mmnope.
  • What sort, would you say? Zero.
  • Do you miss anything? Chewing Rolos.
  • Looking forward to anything? Seeing my teeth move some more.
  • Favorite food of the moment? Scrambled eggs, hands down (or up). Especially with melted cheese (but we’re out of cheeeeeeeese!).
  • On the bright side… Still pain-free!

The Nearly-Two-Week Point (and Many Parenthetical Statements)

Between house/dog/catsitting and the largest stack of proposal assignments that I’ve seen in the past three years (February’s submittal madness comes close but is beaten out by, like, five), life has been a little crazy. So crazy, in fact, that I didn’t even have time to register that I’ve had my top row of braces for very nearly two weeks until today. That means it’s only three-ish weeks ’til I get my bottom row! Huzzah! (No, really. I’m actually excited about this.)

The things I’ve learned in these past two weeks have been mostly food-related. For example:

  • Sneezing with a mouth full of half-gummed donut and braces makes for an interesting experience. For that matter, sneezing with a mouth full of just braces makes for an interesting experience. They sort of lend themselves to the sensation that they’re gonna be launched outta my mouth and land around the silhouette of the nearest person, knife-throwing-contest-style.
  • It is truly amazing how many things get wedged in my braces—and the size of said things, too. I think I extracted an entire stir-fried broccoli floret from my archwire this morning (I heart Asian takeout). The middle right antenna’d bracket just loves squirreling away food for later. I’ve gotta keep an eye on that one.

By and large, I’m still pretty timid about eating. We went out to a local burger joint for my mom’s birthday (hi, Mom!), and I took one look at the menu and ordered french fries and fried pickles. The pickles (which were battered like pieces of catfish—yum!) were slow going, but I was able to chew up the fries pretty well. I had a tiny bite of Niko’s chili burger (if you know me, this is an excellent example of food bravery), and I finished the fries and pickles (I shared the pickles with the fam). This was followed up by a kiddie-size wedding cake-flavored sno cone (I’m trying to avoid fierce food dyes (but apparently not parentheses!)).

Indeed, the biggest obstacle I’ve found to carrying on as usual has been eating. I’ve taken to slamming back a cup of rice milk while I’m getting ready for work in order to stave off the stomach unhappiness that results from not eating breakfast immediately and waiting ’til I arrive at work to eat a legitimate breakfast (I’m one of those people who is sorta useless unless I’ve had breakfast). Why? Because even eating a cup of yogurt takes longer than it used to, and the idea of sacrificing sleep in the name of eating is horrifying to me (chipper I can be, but morning person I am not). Bleh.

If you know me in real life, you know how slowly I eat sans braces (you’ve probably even commented on it, too :P). This extra slowdown had led to me stretching out a single order of Chinese takeout into three legitimate meals—or one really, really long workday snack. It’s also led to the loss of a couple of pounds, which was sorta surprising, given my ability to only gain weight over the past nine-ish months. I’m OK with that, since I’ve also been a little more physically active recently (huzzah, housesitting with a pool!), but that was… quite unexpected. (Ya get used to something for any number of months, and a change—even a welcome one—is surprising. Go figure.)

I have many “food cheerleaders,” and for them I am thankful. (I have a lot of people in my life who cheer for me / encourage me in a myriad of areas, period, which means ever so much to me.) I’m getting braver, foodwise. I mean, if you’d told me a week ago that I’d be eating stir-fry, I would’ve clutched at my braces in shock and given you a super-skeptical fisheye.

Of note: Those little mini pipe cleaner things they give you to fish food out of your braces? Lifesavers. When I go back, I’m gonna just open up my purse and tell ’em to load me up on those.

The Rundown

  • What’re your orthodontia accessories? Braces. The top row.
  • Any pain today? By and large, pain hasn’t been an issue. If I manage to place pressure on the two teeth on either side of my front teeth (note to self: look up proper tooth terminology), they’re a li’l sore, but just a li’l.
  • What sort, would you say? Pretty much none? Nothing unbearable?
  • Do you miss anything? Eating at the speed of hyperactive sloth. Valium sloth is as fast as I can go these days.
  • Looking forward to anything? Floss mastery. I’m still developing my skills as a floss ninja.
  • On the bright side… I’m getting braver with food!

The Spacer Saga: Day Two

Another spacer has bitten the dust toast.

Apparently the back upper left spacer was so effective that the chewing motions made by masticating a piece of toast (thoroughly browned so as to avoid any taffy-esque properties) caused it to spring from its toothy cage—a most startling surprise to a half-awake me this morning.

Because I was half-awake, I immediately despaired of my breakfast and offered the uneaten third of my toast slice to my husband (who was already halfway through a burrito), lamenting the loss of my spacer, which was languishing most ingloriously in a pb&saliva smear on my plate (TMI?).

“Are you sure?” he asked me, eying my proffered toast remnants.

I sighed and made vacillating protestations, but I eventually just went for it and polished off the toast.

Once I arrived at work, I phoned the ortho office.

“Hello! It’s me. I’m afraid I’m sorta becoming That Patient, but I lost the top left spacer all the way in the back this morning while I was eating some toast…”

The girl who answered the phone consoled me (professionally) and consulted a second tech. The verdict: Despite the fact that I’d lost a spacer in under 24 hours, it was possible that it had created the desired amount of space in that timespan. Based on this conclusion, my marching orders were to alert them if any others dislodged themselves, and they would be replaced bright and early on Monday morning, roughly 24 hours prior to the application of my top row of braces.

I have since conducted a “floss test” on the space between the teeth, and I was able to wriggle a strip of floss between those two teeth with ease. Prior to the spacer’s introduction, I had never been able to wrangle any floss whatsoever back there. +10 for fast-acting spacer action.

In light of today’s events, I will be keeping a running list of things I’ve eaten. Maybe a pattern will emerge? (Either way, it’s a way to trick myself into food tracking, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.)

What I’ve Eaten Thus Far Today

  • Three-fifths of a slice of toast topped with chunky peanut butter and cocoa almond spread (think Nutella’s almondy, off-brand little brother)
    • Success? Mmm… lost upper left back spacer (already on its way out).
  • Peanut butter chocolate chip Lärabar*
    • Success? Mostly! Peanut shards are kinda lodged in my teeth (like usual), but they seem to be loosening on their own (*whew*).
      *Consumption of said Lärabar took over half of the workday to complete. Trying to chew tiny, tiny peanut chunks with your front teeth is time-consuming. Do not particularly recommend.
  • Blueberry-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
    • Success? Yep. Goes down smooth like a fine… Greek whiskey? I was concerned about strips of blueberry skin clinging to the spacers, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
    • Chicken lo mein from a local favorite (fun fact: the hole-in-the-wall restaurant where Niko and I had our first date! *nostalgia*) ‹This bullet is wigging out. Pretend it’s a first-level bullet.›
    • Success? Yea, verily! Being familiar with the softness of this locale’s lo mein noodles and moistness (Dead Like Me, anyone?) of their chicken, I figured hoped this would be a wise meal choice. (I was craving this hardcore. Graaaaatification!)

Toothy discomfort kiiiiiinda makes you want to utilize your teeth as little as possible. Yikes.

And now, the usual suspects!

The Rundown

  • What’re your orthodontia accessories? Spacers in the contact points between all (well, except one) of my top and bottom molars.
  • Any pain today? Ish.
  • What sort, would you say? Some soreness—just a tadge more than yesterday. It still feels like I have chunks of food lodged between my teeth. The only time I notice any groan-eliciting discomfort is when I press my teeth together hard enough to, say, crush a small bite of chicken.
  • Do you miss anything? Steak (but that’s a longstanding heartache). As far as immediate things to miss, probably the saltwater taffy I purchased in Sacramento. (It’s been years since I’d bought taffy, and then I go and handpick some mere weeks before my dental work begins. Planning fail.)
  • Looking forward to anything? It may sound masochistic, but I’ve gotta say the top row of braces.