a person smiling

5 stages of getting braces – personal experiences and tips

Getting braces can be a big event for anyone.  The decision itself and the orthodontist procedures can be quite daunting, especially when there are so many unknowns. On the first day that I got braces last fall, I was hectically googling to understand what to expect. However, none of the articles had comprehensive information. If you are someone who is considering getting braces or just got them, I want to share my braces experience here step by step in hopes this will help you understand what to expect, tips on getting the best result from your investment, and most importantly bring some comfort.

Summary

Here is a quick run-down of my situation and braces:

  • Braces: clear metal wires with brackets on both top and bottom tooth, no springs
  • Adjustment: tooth alignment (no bite adjustment)
  • Duration: 8 months, with permanent retainers after treatment
  • Age: 23
  • Preparation: extracted all four wisdom tooth prior to getting braces

1. The decision

This is the only part of the process that I won’t go into too many detail. Because everyone will want to get braces for different reasons. Personally I’ve always wanted braces because my tooth are badly aligned. However, I never found a good time that worked until last fall to finally go ahead with braces.

2. Research and consultation

Research is very important, something I wished I did more of if I got another chance. Consult more than 1 orthodontist and do research on different types of braces and their pros and cons. A brief overview of the different types of braces:

TypeLookAdvantagesDisadvantages
Metal BracesLeast Expensive
Most effective
Allows kids expression
through coloured bands
Most noticeable
Limit you from eating hard
and sticky foods
Ceramic BracesLess noticeable than
metal
Most effective, like metal
More costly than metal
May stain more easily
Lingual BracesInvisible from outsideHarder to clean
More costly than other types
May be more uncomfortable
Less effective for severe cases
Routine adjustments take longer
than metal or ceramic braces
InvisalignNearly invisible
Allow you to eat and drink
anything (removable)
Only available for teens and adults
Less effective for severe cases
May be more costly than others
Treatment may take longer
Require brushing teeth after eating
to prevent staining

source: http://happytoothnc.com/types-of-braces/ 

I decided to get braces with the dentist office I do my checkups and cleanings so I am already familiar with the orthodontist. Still, I went in for a consultation where the doctor took some pictures of my tooth, gave me an analysis whether the 6-month braces procedure (ceramic type) was possible for my case. Because I didn’t have any major bite issues, I was eligible for the shorter treatment timelines (thank god!). And I was also happy to find out that I didn’t have to extract my canines (from my before picture you’ll see my canines protrude a lot!).

My before picture, some seriously misaligned teeth 

3. The big day

Getting braces is no simple procedure, here is a run-down of what happens before and on the day you actually get braces put in.

  • Appointment to take molds of your teeth (this will be fairly straightforward and painless, although the squishy material they use to make molds tastes pretty bad :P)
  • Eat all your nuts, crackers, apples, and hard foods before getting braces (I forgot this and even got Häagen-Dazs nut covered ice cream bars the day before and was unable to eat them!) Conversely, prepare some soups / soft food for the 2-3 days after the big day – your mouth will definitely be sour and you won’t be chewing on anything soon.

   vs.    

  • Getting braces put on was long but fairly painless. My appointment was ~1.5 hours. The orthodontist cleans your teeth, put glue onto the desired spots, and then glues brackets into place. Once the brackets are firm, the orthodontist will install wires which will apply pressure and serve to move your teeth into the right places.

  • Going home, it was very weird to have a layer of metal between my lips and my teeth but it didn’t hurt. However, I finally realized braces was no simple procedure when I had dinner. It was impossible to chew on anything because my teeth was sore and biting down hurts like crazy – so I literally broke food into pieces with utensils and swallowed.
  • Personally, the soreness and pain subdued after approximately a week and I was able to chew more properly. (I cut those Häagen-Dazs bars on the 3rd day with a knife and ate them though! Too much temptation.) For some people this recovery period can be longer so don’t get alarmed. If you’re worried, check with your orthodontist.

4. During the treatment

Some small items that helped me incredibly to prepare for yourself:

  • Dental wax – your orthodontist will give you a small box of wax and you can also purchase more from the drugs store if you run out. The idea is the soft interior of your lips will not like protruding metal – so putting on wax on the brackets can help ease the pain. Personally, I only used wax when the rubbing is really bad. Most often, you just have to wait it out until the blisters heal and your lips are used to the addition. T_T

  • Dental toothpicks – the thread-through floss that my orthodontist recommended for flossing actually didn’t work for me since my braces tightened the space between my teeth and it hurts like crazy to jam floss into those spaces. Instead, I bought some toothpicks to get to those areas and it’s also so much easier to use!

  • Mouth wash – the guideline is that you should brush your teeth after every meal while having braces. That may not be realistic in all situations. Personally at work, sometimes I just don’t have the time to brush after lunch and this is where mouth wash is a life saver. Using mouth wash gave me comfort that I’m taking care of my teeth while being also fairly convenient to use.

  • Lip balm – I can’t even start to count how many times I fell asleep with my mouth open, drooling, and woke up finding my lips totally dry. Frequent use of lip balm is recommended and this habit actually persisted with me even after braces removal. My favorite is Vaseline with aloe since this is a little thicker than normal lip balm and perfect for my situation.

Mostly my braces experience was quite smooth. I went back to the dentist office approximately every month to get my braces re-adjusted. After each adjustment I had to deal with soreness for a few days until the teeth get used to it but not too bad otherwise. Months 3-4 my teeth moved significantly and it was quite amazing to see the changes. In month 4, my orthodontist also prescribed elastics which ties my upper and lower teeth together and this was THE most painful part of my entire braces experience. Luckily, I only had to wear elastics for just over a month but I would never want to go back there. (Small tip: wear elastics as often as you can as instructed, do not think it’s okay to not wear for a couple of days. This will delay your treatment and only means you have to wear elastics even longer!)

5. The results!

The day I finally got my braces off was unbelievable. Honestly when I first got braces and when it was hurting I thought the end was so far. But it finally came, and with another long procedure, my braces came off. I stare at myself in the mirror, smiling, with nothing on my teeth and it feels unreal. Everything was worth it.

   My before and after comparison (8 months) 

That being said, I was still caught by surprise so that’s why it’s important to do research and ask your orthodontist lots of questions. So I knew that I would have to wear retainers at night, but I didn’t know my orthodontist planned to put in permanent retainers for me. To my dread, after removing the brackets on the front of my teeth, my orthodontist started gluing small brackets to the back of my 12 front teeth, 6 upper and 6 lower. My dream of being free of metal in my mouth was crushed. Googling as soon as I got home, I learned sometimes permanent retainers replace or are used in conjunction with removable retainers and they are kept in for as many years as possible. So this fact took some time to get used to, but at least I won’t have to worry about consistently wearing my clear removable retainers (which surprisingly hurts!).

 

I was hectically Googling during many stages of my orthodontist procedure and looking back I wished I had stumbled upon someone else’s brace journey and learned what to expect in advance. So I hope this help you whether you’re considering getting braces or is already in the process.

Good luck! Cheers to a beautiful smile. 🙂

bowl of supplements with sunflower in the back

3 tips to choosing quality nutritional supplements

Whether you are bothered by consistent head aches, always feeling tired, or completely healthy, supplements have the potential to drastically improve your life. Or, not do anything at all, if chosen incorrectly. With thousands of nutritional products, each claiming to work wonders for your body, here are some tips for choosing quality supplements.

1. Have reasonable expectations

Many people believe you don’t need supplements if you are not feeling any discomfort. However, even if you are young and healthy, it’s very hard to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone. There are almost 20 different vitamins and minerals that help your body functions properly. Supplements will help provide the nutrients that you’re not eating consistently.

At the same time, don’t expect supplements to be the magical healing pill. While in some cases, replenishing a deficient nutrient can make a huge difference, most often the effect is small and slow. Think of it as wearing sunscreen. You don’t see immediate results and the measure if mostly preventive, but committing consistently will give long term benefits.

2. Do your research

Research the company of the product and ensure it’s reputable. Information like how long the company has been operating, what products they sell, and what products they sold in the past are all good indicators.

The product label itself also gives tons of information. Check for proper product numbers and certifications. Also have a look at the ingredients list, does it really contain the nutrients promised in the marketing?

An article on HuffPost Living recommends checking if the ingredients are quality products by the way they are named [1] :

Poor quality, poor absorbability Choose instead
Calcium Carbonate MCHA, Calcium Citrate
Magnesium Oxide Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium (Bis)Glycinate
Zinc Oxide Zinc (Bis)Glycinate, Zinc Picolinate
Cyanocobalamin Methylcobalamin
Riboflavin HCl Riboflavin-5-Phosphate
Pyridoxine HCl Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate
Folic Acid Folate (L-5 MTHF)
Iron Sulphate Iron Citrate, Iron (Bis)Glycinate

3. Understand the science

Understand why you need a supplement and what it’s doing for your body. While you may not be a nutritionist, you understand your body the best and what it needs. So understanding the science behind supplements is the best way to choosing the most effective products.

Isotonic supplements became popular a few years ago and everyone jumped on board. But what’s the science behind isotonic products and why does it really work?

Taking you back to chemistry class, an isotonic solution is a solution with the same osmotic pressure as another solution. Meaning your solution has the same concentration of “things” dissolved in water as a “second liquid”. In the world of supplements, the “second liquid” is usually the human blood.

diagram of hypertonic versus hypertonic versus isotonic

Why is this important? Because when fluids flow across membranes (such as in your body), the difference in concentration determines the osmotic pressure which determines the direction fluid flows. In other words, concentration can determine how well or fast your supplements are absorbed by your body!

Of course, there are other factors that affect how well you absorb the nutrients you ingest. For example, vitamins can be either water soluble (water loving) or fat soluble (fat loving), and this affects how they are transported across membranes and stored in the body. We might cover this in another post.

One company that specialized in isotonic supplements is called Isotonix (surprise!). The entire product line of vitamins, minerals, and other health supplements are based on the idea of creating isotonic solutions to maximize absorption.

The flagship product is OPC-3. OPCs are oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes, naturally occurring plant metabolites widely available in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, flowers, and bark [2]. These complexes are known for their anti-oxidant activity but also demonstrates other effects which are said to be more powerful than Vitamin C or E. The Isotonix OPC-3 contains:

a combination of bilberry, grape seed, red wine, pine bark extracts and citrus extract bioflavonoids (and) isotonic-capable Pycnogenol, renowned for its extensive clinical research with more than 120 studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

bottle of Isotonix OPC-3

The Isotonix OPC-3 

This product also differs from other common supplements by coming in powdered form. The idea is to mix the powder with water according to guided amounts to create the isotonic solution. Powders also provide the added benefit of being easier for the stomach to break down. Sources suggests that pills can take 15 to 30 mins longer to break down in the stomach – which can be significant for some drugs and active ingredients.

Tip for using isotonic products: take product with empty stomach. You don’t want your carefully balanced solution to get diluted in the stomach!

 

Hope you enjoyed some of these tips for choosing and using nutritional supplements – and we can all work together on a journey for healthier living!

 

References

[1] “6 Tips For Choosing Quality Supplements”. The Huffington Post. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.

[2] Fine, Anne Marie. Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes: History, Structure, And Phytopharmaceutical Applications. 1st ed. Alternative Medicine Review, 2000. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.

hand holding DNA sequence

DNA personalization: the future of beauty and health products

DNA personalization of beauty and health treatments will be the future norm. Just like the internet changed our lives in the last 20 years, genomics, the science of studying DNA, will drastically change how we live in the future.

Lucas Wartman, doctor and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, provided a first glimpse of the benefit of DNA sequencing. Wartman has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) since his last year in medical school, where ALL is often fatal for adults. In 2011, Wartman relapsed for the second time and no one in the world has ever recovered from a second relapse of ALL. Running out of both treatment options and time, Wartman’s colleges at the Washington University suggested to try sequencing Wartman’s entire genome and see if they can pinpoint the cause of his cancer. The first human genome was sequenced in 2008, but sequencing an individual’s entire genome was still no easy feat. Luckily, Wartman had access to the university’s 26 sequencing machines. After several weeks, scientists was finally able to find the culprit. By another chance of luck, Pfizer, the drug giant, happened to have a drug that targeted this exact problem. After taking the drug, Wartman’s situation improved and the cancer has not returned since.

The benefits of DNA sequencing extends well beyond the treatment of cancer. Obviously not everyone have access to dozens of sequencing machines, but technology is advancing quickly and you will be surprised at what is already available for consumers. In this article, we will explore the use of DNA sequencing to personalize beauty and health treatments.

How DNA tests work

DNA is the underlying molecular code of human beings. It controls everything from your hair colour, talents, and immunity to diseases. While environmental factors also contribute to your physical and internal characteristics, for example exercising to gain muscle strength, your DNA still determines how effective exercising might be. Because each individual is unique, understanding their DNA means we can personalize products and routines to get the most effective and efficient results.

Many companies are already jumping on board this trend to provide personalized beauty and fitness products. They offer a simple DNA test where:

  1. A test kit is sent to the individual
  2. A saliva sample is collected by the individual (using a swab)
  3. The saliva sample is sent back to the analysis lab of the company
  4. Company does analysis of the DNA sample, usually only for a few select genes
  5. A report (and sometimes customized products) is sent back

picture of mouth swab for dna testing

These tests are not as expensive as you think, most kits range from $100 to a few hundred dollars depending on the complexity of the analysis.

In the below sections, we give a few example companies that are already on the market. Keep in mind that since these products are still in early stages, make sure to research in advance on the services they offer before committing and remain critical of the results. Happy DNA testing!

Personalized skincare example

GENEU

Background: UK based company that is one of the early adaptors of DNA testing for skincare

Focus: DNA test and products focus on protection against skin aging

What: DNA test complemented by a lifestyle profile, only looks at 2 genes that contribute to:

  1. antioxidant protection
  2. collagen breakdown

Product: personalized serums based on DNA results and lifestyle profile with varying concentrations and active ingredients

Cost: £89.00

Website: www.geneu.com

 

Personalized weight loss and fitness example

DNA Testing Canada

Background: Canadian company that provides comprehensive testing and results for diet and fitness

What: Diet and Fitness Optimization Testing. Through saliva swab DNA test, testing through unconventional samples available for additional cost.

Product: Comprehensive report on diet and fitness related genes, what they mean, and relevant advice. A sample report is available on their website here. Quite an interesting read.

sample DNA testing result

Cost: $669.00

Website: dnatestingcanada.com/product/diet-and-fitness-optimization-testing/

Resolve your bone and joint problems — improve your life

Bone, joint, muscle and other chronic diseases are becoming increasingly more common and are requiring substantial management in today’s society. Because these problems have become so prevalent, anyone can look around and easily point to a few family members who have these conditions. My own example includes my husband, my cousin and myself. Because these problems can seriously reduce our quality of life, our very happiness and general well-being are compromised. This is a great “motivator” increasing our desire to cure, or at least to alleviate, these conditions. My examples follow:

My husband sits at his desk in an office all day. At his age, his sedentary life has finally “caught up with him”. He has joint and muscle pain generally, and is especially plagued by low back pain. Numerous trips to the doctor has resulted in advice to do some exercises and to improve his posture. Eventually, he decided to take charge of his problems, to purchase a proper chair that is ergonomically suitable to his current circumstances, and began to take  an ibuprofen tablet each morning to augment his exercise regimen.

My cousin’s story is a little older, but is comparable, nevertheless. During the Chinese Revolution, she lived on a farm in the country, to learn the ways of farming and agriculture. Because she wanted to achieve great physical strength, she worked extremely hard every day in order to earn a red-banner. Because of the rigors of her laborious work, she suffered many injuries. As she grew older, she experienced a full range of serious conditions including sciatica , bone spurs, severe osteoporosis, degenerative arthritis, and bursitis. For many years, she took many different types of Chinese medicines and western medicines, with little or no results. After she concluded that she could not endure these problems any longer, she decided to undergo surgery, which provided some short term relief, but did not significantly improve her quality of life. She still could not negotiate something as simple as a set of stairs, and continued to suffer from chronic knee pain and back pain.

Although my own joint and muscle problems were not as severe, I did have muscle stiffness in my neck and shoulder, back pain and arthritis and, for a period of time, I simply could not lift my arms. My friends told me that I looked very healthy, but they were unable to feel my pain and discomfort. This was not my idea of a happy life. . . .

Since doctors alone are not the answer, we must take the initiative to do what we can to heal ourselves. When we begin the process of learning about muscle and joint problems, we find, with some exceptions, that these problems arise mostly from inflammation.

The cause and effect of inflammation is the topic of a great deal of research involving the dynamics of metabolism, cell regeneration and our body’s healing process. Regardless of the cause, we know that the effect is swelling and pain, and that drugs and physical therapy are only partial solutions.

Thus, we must take matters into our own hands by educating ourselves on the benefits of antioxidants and nutritional supplements, under the guidance of a nutritionist.

Three months after we did this, the results were as follows: my husband stopped taking ibuprofen; my cousin was pain free, although she still had some problems walking downhill and experienced discomfort after walking long distances; and I have flexible joints and much less discomfort.

Under these circumstances, the results are excellent, and we are happy to continue with antioxidants and supplements with advice from our nutritionist. As a result, our quality of life is much improved, and we are much happier in our daily lives.

blog featured image

Better life without doctors – the power of nutrition

We often perceive that a medical doctor’s role is to save lives, and it is true that the public usually treats doctors as health consultants. Many consider this to be so true that they regard it as simple “common sense”. However, if you take the time (as I have), to read some of the literature available today on what doctors don’t know about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, it becomes readily apparent that we can only rely on ourselves to understand these issues and on how to take action to address them. This is what I consider to be common sense. Looking critically at the opinions of others, whether they are doctors or not, and developing our own body of knowledge and habits to ensure the best health possible for our own body – that is the only true goal. Finding the right approach and implementing reasonable steps can, in some cases, restore the deadly damage that has been caused by disease. Here are two examples:

Example 1, three years ago, L’s father had been suffering from symptoms identical to advanced Parkinson’s disease, such as problems with language, difficulty swallowing, eating or drinking, frequent cough. Also evident was muscle rigidity, stiff facial features, almost no eye blinking, uncontrolled salivation and body movements, beginning slowly and spreading, initially from the side of the fingers and gradually moving outward toward the upper and lower limbs and eventually the head. This results in a dependency which requires constant care and cleaning, a huge obligation that often necessarily involves a number of family members to discharge efficiently, if they are present and willing to do so. . . .. Until L met his current health teacher Q, L’s father’s health and his family’s fate has changed radically. L followed Q’s instruction regarding a set of psychological treatment methods and an effective nutritional regimen to combat his father’s condition and to treat the core symptoms, rather than to just “go through the motions” of pretending to do something useful while his father continued to decline. After all, what did his father have to lose at that late stage? Miraculously, after a period of three weeks, symptoms began to diminish, salivation stopped, clear thoughts returned, limbs regained flexibility, all of which made L very happy and excited about his father’s future. With the continued guidance and help of Q, L’s father completely returned to his former state of good health and independence, looking after his own needs without assistance, and traveling freely throughout the city. In his own words, L’s father had completely regained his former life and happiness. All of this was accomplished without doctors or medicine.

A healthy diet promotes healthy living.

In example 2, three groups of people are fed differing foods. The first group was fed a traditional variety including meat, eggs, vegetables , starches and so forth; the second group received “fast foods”, high in fat, salt, and sugar; the third group received a bare diet of grains and other foods which provided bulk but had no nutritional value. After a period time, the first group people were, not surprisingly, full of energy and vigour. The second group of people were lethargic and developed high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. The third group similarly developed conditions stemming from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, to the extent that some had to be hospitalized.

From the above two examples, the conclusion can be drawn that, in many cases, health is directly related to nutrition. Any imbalance of these will reduce the efficiency of one’s immune system which will, in turn, result in unhealthy symptoms or, in extreme cases, disease. The ingestion of nutritious foods, nutrients and supplementary nutrients can help to produce new cells, and to restore or improve the old ones, thereby repairing the damage caused by nutritional imbalance, unhealthy symptoms, disease, and the drugs which all too often are prescribed to treat them. In the final analysis, this restorative and preventative philosophy will eventually eliminate the need for intervention by doctors with drugs.

Even though I am over 50, I believe today, more than I ever did before, that an interest in the study, research and implementation of nutritional supplements is essential for a good life.