Monday, May 21, 2012

The Long Awaited Palate Expansion Update, 5/21/2012

I often receive e-mails from folks asking how my Homeoblock experience is going, and rather than continuing to respond to individual queries, I finally decided to get off my butt (metaphorically) and create an update post. So here it is.

It's been many months since my foray into the world of palate expansion.  After finding an affordable option for my palatal expander of choice, the Homeoblock, I diligently used the device as instructed -- one quarter turn each week, if possible.  A few months later, I had created almost a 1/16 inch gap in the device.  Pretty impressive movement!

I visited Dr. Darlington in Flagstaff for a check-up, and he was surprised how much I had expanded my palate. Actually, "surprised" isn't the right word.  He actually seemed a little concerned.  As I was among the first of his patients to request the Homeoblock, his experience had been limited and there was cause in his mind to slow down the expansion.  In fact, he told me I might want to back off some.

I found this unexpected, as I had not experienced any uncomfortable symptoms, and the Homeoblock seemed to be doing the trick.  But Dr. Darlington explained that the device appeared to be kind of slipping and not fitting as well, so in the long run it would not have the desired effect.  He went on to say that it might actually tip the teeth instead of expanding the palate if I continued applying the quarter turns daily.  So I left his office that day with instructions to reverse the quarter-turns until the device fit again and then apply very small 1/8 turns or less for a few months.

As instructed, I backed off the expansion of the Homeoblock to where it fit better.  Still, it seemed to me like it wasn't optimal, as I could easily slip off the device with my tongue, where it's only supposed to come off with a firm double-handed loosening.  I decided to just let it be and use it like a retainer until I saw Dr. Darlington again.  Perhaps I would even have to get an entirely new Homeoblock created.

My last appointment was almost a year ago now. (Wow, that's a long time without an update ...)

So now I use my Homeoblock like a retainer and it keeps my teeth from relapsing to pre-expansion position.  I notice that I can now go days without putting the device in and only feel a slight pressure upon reinsertion.  That indicates to me that my palate is holding the teeth in place quite well.  I do intend to visit Dr. Darlington again in the near future, and I will give an update if that happens.

Well, the story ends there for now.  I have been focusing on many other things in the meantime, including explorations in outdoor education work, music production, building community, and researching politics.  That's my nature -- I have a great many interests, and often some take precedence over others, as there is only so much time in the world.  But I do want to refocus my efforts on blogging and integrate some of the interesting things I am up to.  Until then, I wish everybody out there happy expansions!


michael said...

Thanks for this update. Do you have any comments to make about the effect of your palate expansion?

Do you feel it's had an effect on the way your mouth feels, your facial appearance, breathing, talking, etc?

I really appreciate you sharing this story.

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Hi Michael,

I really have no way of knowing for certain if any of those changes took place, as the process was so gradual it's hard to gauge such things unless they were very dramatic, and I don't have access to computer equipment that would measure the subtle changes.

One interesting note is that I started using a neti pot (a nasal cleanser that sends water through one nostril and out of the other) shortly before I began the Homeoblock treatment. At first, I couldn't get the water to go in one nostril and out of the other, but after a month of using the Homeoblock I was able to -- and it got easier as the months went on.

Now, this could mean that I simply cleared my nasal passages of mucus sufficiently to cause the effect. Or it could mean that my nasal passage opened a bit due to the Homeoblock. I am erring on the latter because the reality was that there was not much mucus to be cleared, and the blockage felt more like tissue than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 8 inches is INSANE! I think you meant to say 8mm? hahahah...

Anyways, your info here gives me a bit of concern. Not being able to notice a change in how your mouth feels, speech changed, facial bones moved, muscles pulling smile differently, etc makes me worry.

I've had the Damon System in for 20 months now and everything has changed. I don't even look like myself anymore, all of my facial bones remodelled.

Maybe you didn't pay much attention to the little changes because you're too busy doing other stuff. If your sinus drains more easily, something definitely changed!

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Haha ... I think you misread what I had put. I originally had an "eighth-inch gap" in the blog post. I could see how that could be misread. Anyway, I changed it to 1/16-inch because I think that reflects the actual gap much better.

Damon braces are a whole different beast than the Homeoblock. More and more I see that the Damon brace system is the way to go if you are seeking dramatic changes quickly. With the Homeoblock, the appliance is only worn at night, so changes take longer. Maybe 2 or 3 years down the line (if I was able to keep up the movement), things would have felt and looked very different!

Did you take before and after photos? I'm sure the readers of the blog would be very interested in seeing your progress.

Gramda said...

THANK YOU for this update!

Did Dr Belfor ever get back to you about the differences between Homeoblock and Demon Braces?

I've heard much about Damon Braces but nothing relating to facial changes like those seen with Homeoblock.

Torulv said...

Isn't Damon Braces just ordinary braces? Thought they would cause narrowing of the facial features... Correct me if I'm wrong please.

Torulv said...

I have been looking for options to expand facial features, the Schwartz appliance seems to be a good way to expand the palate. Looks inexpensive as well. Take a look at this video demonstration: Sorry for double post, but I thought that this might be valuable information.

annn said...

Are you going to post pictures so we can compare them to the before pictures you have up on your site? I know you said you don't see any difference in your facial structure and that your main concern was breathing, but I would still love to see them. Viewers might be able to notice changes you missed. And it would help curiosity.

Anonymous said...

I have been researching the Homeoblock appliance for a few months now, as it's quite the investment. I was intrigued by your initial experiences.

This is what I found by contacting over 10 people around my area who offer the Homeoblock:

-- Those who know what they're doing offer the appliance at around $3000 per arch.

-- Those who don't know what they're doing offer the appliance at $1500 (total).

I had interviewed so many dentists regarding their personal experience with the appliance, what results they've seen, etc. And it was always the cheaper the appliance, the less knowledgeable/less experienced the dentist.

In September I personally will use a dentist who charges $3000/arch and who actually had the Homeoblock appliance herself (with great results). Of course, I'm hoping I won't be disappointed, but I won't know until I try!

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Here is Dr. Belfor's input regarding Homeoblock vs. Damon braces:

"In all honesty there is no published research to show that the Homeoblock appliance provides any more facial or airway development than Damon braces. The research that I do, supports what the Homeoblock can do. I have requested before and after 3D scans of patients treated with the ALF appliance from Darrick Nordstrom, the creator. The ALF appliance applies direct force and would be a wonderful way to demonstrate a comparison. Dr. Nordstrom told me that he does not take post-op scans, however. The big difference between Homeoblock treatment and any other is that it is effective while wearing it in the night time only and that there is a unilateral bite block that activates the facial sutures and that it relies on the swallowing and clenching of the patient to work."

As for updating everyone with pictures of my teeth and face now, hopefully I'll get to that soon.

Anonymous (June 7th) offers great observations that I ring true in my experience as well. I have been in touch with Dr. Belfor and Dr. Darlington and it is a world of difference in knowledge regarding the device. That being said, Dr. Darlington has learned more since I first attended his clinic. Perhaps that's why he charges more now. I'm still a patient of his for the lifetime of my Homeblock so I suppose I reaped the cost benefits of being an among his first patients.

Anonymous said...

I saw that you turned the screw of the homeoblock daily!
Isn't this the reason why it's not working for you, because normaly, you turn it a quarter turn every week! I myself use one right now, and you got me concerned about the teeth tipping! What you mean is that if the homeovlock is not perfectly fitting, it is actually more tipping the teeth than it is expanding the palate? I'm concerned because mine is not always perfectly fitting, and I still turn it every week one quarter turn! It seemed to have results but if it's just teeth tipping, than that's not cool!!

gynexin said...

one quarter turn each evening, if possible. A few months later, I had created almost a 1/16 inch gap in the device.

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Oops! Thanks for the heads up. I meant to say one turn per week. Edited! said...

That indicates to me that my taste is positioning the tooth in position quite well. I do plan to check out Dr. Darlington again in the long run, and I will provide an upgrade if that happens.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in know what's the latest with your gut symptoms? I have gut issues too. Had constipation really bad like you but found out it was clostridia bacteria that was paralysing my bowel- Vancomycin did the trick. I still have upper digestive problems though- hoping the fecel bacterotherapy will help as I reckon there is bacteria in my small intestine too.

Primal Palate said...

I hope I can soon provide pictures of my own before and after plastered arch.
I went with heat-activated Damon braces/wires.

Ryan, were you able to flatten your tongue and rest it comfortably in your upper palate before your treatment started?
Or was your upper dental arch too narrow to do so? And has that changed?

Steffi said...

Hello, this is a cool blog. It is super. In Love Steffi

puddleduck said...

Duuude. So weird I happened across this blog again today. :P

A friend just told me about this: (Scroll down to the text below the illustration.)

So I'm reading a book on Buteyko's method. It's pretty crazy. :P But then I know kids with genetically impaired facial development (such as those with downs syndrome) see improved facial structure if they intentionally stop mouth breathing.

I was kind of skeptical of Buteyko's ideas at first, because wouldn't mouth-breathing be a consequence of incorrect development? But breathing through your nose and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth does seem like it would facilitate proper correct development. So maybe it's a combination, or perhaps the later is of primary importance.

When I was a kid, my Mother insisted I never mouth breathe. And my facial structure is pretty good, even though my diet was deficient in vitamins A and D, and calcium. My teeth are weak, but my facial development isn't bad.

This idea makes so much sense. :) And I've been puzzling foooorever about what causes weak teeth and what causes for poor facial development, because they do seem to be caused by different things.

Wouldn't it be awesome if all we had to do to ensure our kids faces develop properly (besides feed them) is teach them how to breathe and swallow properly? Seems like braces and stuff would become unnecessary for young people. :D

know more said...

I have asked for before and after 3D tests of sufferers handled with the ALF equipment from Darrick Nordstrom, the designer. The ALF equipment is applicable immediate power and would be a amazing way to show a evaluation. Dr. Nordstrom informed me that he does not take post-op tests, however. The big distinction between Homeoblock therapy and any other is that it is efficient while dressed in it in the evening only and that there is a unilateral chew prevent that triggers the face stitches and that it depends on the ingesting and tightening of the affected person to perform.

Anonymous said...

Did/do you wear both the upper and lower Homeoblock at night or do you alternate wearing the upper and lower different nights? Thanks.

Medical Products said...

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Gabriella Kadar said...

I've just finished 24 months with the Damon system. The posterior cross bite is not quite corrected but my orthodontist changed the brackets on the upper canine to canine because she couldn't get control of torque on the roots of the teeth. The upper right canine and premolars were tipping out so that I had an open bite and talking like Daffy Duck. Or at least it felt like I was. Those teeth tipped into correct alignment within a week of the new bracket placement.

Now I think she's planning to bring the posterior teeth forward so there are no gaps between the canines and the lateral incisors.

I have noticed that my tongue parks itself more in my palate than before. As of right now, I don't know if the actual palatal width has increased. The upper dental arch is definitely wider by about 3 to 4 mm. There's another year to go for sure.

My 55th birthday is coming up but not before my daughter's wedding so not a spring chicken by any means.

It's either a personality thing or an age thing, but for the first six months when I wasn't distracted by work or being out and about, I had an overwhelming desire to rip everything off my teeth. There are metal buttons attached to the inner side (lingual) of the upper first molar and second premolars for elastics that hook onto the outside of the lower second premolars. These buttons are the bitch. It makes eating anything green and planty into a potential choking hazard. Stems of stuff like spinach, chinese broccoli etc. wrap around the buttons. Meat jams into the spaces between the molars. Fish is actually worse than pork because fish muscle tissue is much finer and manages to wrap itself around everything. Without using a WaterPik I don't think it would even be feasible to maintain decent oral hygiene. Even getting dental floss through places doesn't unjam the stuff that gets crammed in the gaps.

It's only in the past couple of weeks that I feel I've got a bite developing although chewing efficiency isn't stellar by any means.

The problem here was a skeletal issue not a dental issue. I.e. it wasn't that teeth needed to be tipped outwards in order to improve the arch shape or the occlusion. My orthodontist and I more or less consider me to be a guinea pig and will be following up with conebeam CT scanning to see what effect treatment has had.

Something HAD to be done because the right side was not stable and it was getting worse.

It's been quite the trip so far. My adult patients who are also undergoing the travails of orthodontic treatment seem to be thoroughly enjoying the mutual 'brace face club' comraderie. Seems when my patients who require ortho see their dentist with braces, it motivates them to get their own teeth straightened out. It's all good.

....just 'taking another one for the team.' ;)

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Anonymous said...

Anxiously awaiting another update!

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Anonymous said...

Hello, it has been almost a year now, how has your Homeoblock use been going? I only just found out about what I sadly missed out on as a child, as even pulling teeth (I too only have 24 remaining) and putting me in braces has not improved my teeth. Much like you, My teeth overlap slightly in a few spots, are not even, and put pressure on each other. And like you said, it is definitely the narrow almost rectangular canine jaw that has to change, not my teeth! I'm thinking about looking into this and the Damon Brace and other such methods and no matter how long it takes, I'm more than willing to fix this mess once and for all.. They just make me so anxious about my future health the way things are now.

Anonymous said...

Primal palate, are you able to now lat your tongue flat in the rooth of your mouth? Could you not before?

pemna motos said...

Contrary to the common cliche that beauty is skin deep, beauty is actually bone deep. A fully-developed bone structure serves as a proper support structure for the soft tissues of the face. If you are performing a self analysis of your facial appearance, it is critical that you begin with an assessment of your bone structure.

Ken Yielding said...

What made you decide to choose this device? Did you look at the DNA appliance as a treatment option? Many people need a foundational correction to the underlying bone structure in the entire craniofacial region and not just the maxilla. The DNA appliance can do that.

A comprehensive craniofacial correction to the underlying structure driven by your own genes seems like a better treatment option. It is non-surgical, no medications, and no pain. It uses a physiological process instead of a process of inflammation.

A new video for the DNA appliance is available for the public. It covers the topics of Epigenetic Orthodontics, craniofacial homeostasis, gene expression and the science behind the technology. There are also 12 different case presentations during the second half of the video to illustrate the results that people are getting for the ages of 5 to 65.

Also here is a blog online that shows someone after a year of treatment with the DNA appliance.

Jennifer Frank said...

Wow, it's my first time hearing about this method, I actually had to trace back to your first post about this to get a full understanding. I did hear from my Chandler dentist that dental enhancement can actually change a person's facial features. I've experienced this myself as I had an overbite before, but was fixed by wearing braces.