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Author Archives: Alyssa Luck

Hi! My name is Alyssa, and I’m an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Nutrition. I enjoy learning about the principles of ancestral health, as well as the food and nutrition policies that shape our healthcare and food systems.

Palate Expansion Update: Concerning CBCT Scan Results

I am long overdue for a progress update! Last time I posted, I shared some progress pics, and was about to get a CBCT scan to reassure myself and my orthodontist that we weren’t pushing my teeth out of the bone.

Well…unfortunately, the CBCT scan was not reassuring. In fact, it was pretty concerning. At some point I’ll get around to posting screenshots from the scan, but for now, I’ll just share a snippet from the radiology report:

cbct scan results

In layman’s terms? Although the CBCT scan isn’t precise enough to tell us whether the roots of my teeth are fully poking through the bone, it can tell us that the bone outside of the roots on my upper teeth is extremely thin. And that’s not good.

Side note: Did you see what they said about my airway? Reduced airway space is one of the main risks of retractive orthodontics, and another reason why I need my maxilla expanded and pulled forward!

Anyway. Needless, to say, the CBCT results were pretty soul-crushing. I mean, I had spent a lot of time and money covering my bases and making sure I was doing this the right way, and I felt so confident that I was on the right track. Not only did this scan derail me completely, it also showed me that once again, all of the “experts” I had put my trust in might have been wrong. Read more →

5-Month Palate Expansion Progress Photos

Hey friends! It’s been five months since I began my journey with my first palate expander, and two months since I started with the DNA/Meridian appliance. I had them take some progress photos at my appointment this week, so I figured I’d share with the internet!

Full disclosure: I think the fact that my hair was wet and my eyes were kinda starting to close in the “before” photos makes the progress photos of my face look a bit more dramatic than they otherwise would. But you can definitely still see that there’s been progress! Also, these are definitely the most hideous photos of me to grace the internet thus far. Hooray. Read more →

The DNA Appliance Has Arrived! (APE Diary #6)

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My DNA appliance has arrived! It’s technically a “meridian” appliance, but it’s essentially the same as a DNA – I think only certified practitioners are allowed to use the name-brand DNA appliance, so we’re using a knock-off. (Edit 10/18/18: To be clear, I was taking Dr. Lockhart’s word that the meridian is functionally the same as a DNA. There could certainly be differences that I am not aware of!)

It’s definitely far bulkier than my old expander, and required a lot more adjustment to fit to my mouth. The acrylic plates that cover the biting surface of my molars (occlusal plates) had to be shaved down to balance my bite (similar to a nightguard adjustment), which is always difficult in my case since my bite is so uneven (when my right molars are touching, I still have several millimeters of space between my left molars).

But it’s all adjusted now, and I’ve been wearing it for about two weeks. The verdict so far: Read more →

APE Diary #5: My Consult with Dr. Brad Lockhart

Note: We are now in realtime. I repeat, we have attained realtime.

March 27th, 2018

In case you didn’t read my previous post, here’s what’s up. Yesterday I flew across the entire country, drove an hour in a rental car in California traffic, and will repeat that entire process tomorrow, with the sole purpose of talking to a dentist for an hour today.

Luckily, it was the best dentist appointment ever, and Dr. Lockhart is fantastic, so it was worth the trip!

(Edit 9/6/18: My opinion of Dr. Lockhart has somewhat changed. Read the update here.)

To be honest though, this isn’t even unusual behavior for me. At least 75% of my life consists of doing things that people find very strange in order to fix obscure problems with my body that almost always sound made-up.

Okay, recap of the appointment. Read more →

APE Diary #4: Discovering Dr. Brad Lockhart

March 2018

Now that I had a midline gap proving that I was getting lateral expansion, I needed to figure out how to achieve forward expansion. One of the main problems I want to correct with this whole process is the fact that I don’t have enough room for my tongue, and it’s primarily in the forward direction that I need more space.

I’m not sure what search engine acrobatics I performed this time around that I didn’t in previous years, but somehow, I discovered Dr. Brad Lockhart. While dentists and orthodontists across the country continue to claim that palate expansion (or in Dr. Lockhart’s words, “arch development”) in adults is impossible, he’s been developing adult arches successfully (and non-surgically) for over 20 years!

I am equal parts elated and infuriated at this realization. Read more →

APE Diary #3: Gaps Achieved!

Note: APE stands for “Adult Palate Expansion.” (duh)

March 2018

I HAVE A GAP! (See pics below.) I’m so excited that this is actually working. Also relieved.

I’ve had the expander in for about ten weeks now, and have widened the expander quite a lot. There have been a few times where I’ve delayed turning the key by a day or two because it still felt tight, but mostly, I’ve been turning it every Monday and Friday. Read more →

Adult Palate Expansion Diary #2

January 2018

By January, I had officially decided to give this palate expansion thing a shot, lack of resources or direction be damned.

The first orthodontist I consulted with agreed with everything I said (woo), suggested that I study to become an orthodontist myself since I seem to know what I’m talking about (hmm), and told me he’s actually seen a few adults achieve true palate expansion (huzzah!).

But, he also said he didn’t think I could achieve enough expansion to accommodate two implants, and he wanted to put braces on me right away (concurrently with an expander), which I was not crazy about. The whole appointment also felt rushed, and I didn’t get all my questions answered. Pass. Read more →

Adult Palate Expansion Diary #1

Confession: The first few installments were not written in realtime, because I started this process last year and I’ve only just decided to document it on the blog. So. Bear with me and the potentially awkward changing of verb tenses throughout this series of posts.

2015 – 2017

During this time, I had constant background stress about my teeth. That sounds so dumb, I know. Of all things to be chronically stressed about! But I had just gotten my second round of braces off, and already it was clear that the results weren’t going to last.

I was beginning to wise up to the real problem, and the real solution: expanding my palate. But at the time, that seemed like an impossible task. Almost everyone, online and in person, said it was impossible. My Googling didn’t turn up any dentists or orthodontists doing this kind of work. The only decent online resource I found was mostly hidden behind a paywall*, and everything else was just incomplete anecdotal evidence scattered across various online forums.

Even my awesome holistic dentist, who I LOVE, didn’t have much to offer in the way of advice or support. (I legit cried after that appointment. No joke.) I felt like I had absolutely no recourse, except perhaps jaw surgery, which I wanted to avoid for obvious reasons.

Read more →

Adult Palate Expansion Diary: Introduction

Hey friends! I have sorely neglected poor Truthbutter recently, as I’ve been focusing my energies on getting my shit together (figuratively and literally). Also because I have grand plans for a new and improved website that will be my namesake, where I will write extensively on IBD, the gut-brain-microbiota connection, and why extraction/retraction orthodontics need to go ahead and GTFO. Also probably food and travel and dog training, because hey – it’s my website.

But as I’ve begun my third round of orthodontia, I’ve run into several instances where I become so infuriated with the orthodontic injustice in the world that the only apparent viable solution is to once again shout my fury into the void of the internet. And since Truthbutter’s hosting doesn’t expire until later this year…I mean, might as well, right?

Also, there’s still SO LITTLE info on this topic online that I feel like my experience could be helpful to some people. Hopefully. (Please let me know if these posts are helpful to you!)

SO. Here I will be chronicling my self-directed orthodontic journey of palate-expanding, bite-correcting, smile-widening, and hopefully face-beautifying discovery. Later (on the aforementioned fictional future website) I will write about this topic in a more formal educational way. But for now, feel free to follow along as I document my progress, post pictures, and rant at length from my soapbox about how people with degrees I don’t have should do their jobs.

If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, do not fret. All will become clear in due time, young grasshopper.

To set the stage for where I’m at now, here’s a recap of my lengthy orthodontic journey thus far.

 

Read more →

Mt. Tamalpais – Matt Davis/Steep Ravine Loop

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Today’s hike was pretty spectacular. This loop was recommended by a website I’ve been using to choose from the seemingly endless hiking trails in the Bay Area, and it was definitely a great choice!

It had a little of everything – winding, shaded trails lined with ferns and moss-covered trees, cute wooden bridges over creeks that tumble down into waterfalls, exposed trails over grassy hilltops with views to the ocean, scrubby coastal plants, savory-smelling bay groves, and even towering redwoods. It felt like someone had sliced up all the hikes I’ve done so far on this trip, picked the best bits of each, and shoved them together into a seamless 7.3 mile, 3.5 hour hike. Read more →