Still Expanding But With Tons of Set-Backs

I’ve done a horrible job at keeping this updated, but since my last post, I became unemployed, reemployed, and now a parent. It’s been a wild ride of life changes. This won’t be a long post, but I’ll share a few notes of what has happened and what I’ve learned, as I know people are looking for updates.

  • The appliance breaks all the damn time. I’m not kidding. I wish I wrote a post for every time it broke. The corners on the top were the most fragile and the side metal bracket on the bottom broke for a second time. Vivo’s customer service hasn’t been impressive. Instead of replacing what seemed to be a lemon, they kept repairing and sending it back. Here’s why that was terrible…
    • I found out later that Vivo’s charged for the repair fees, $150+, but my dentist was eating the cost. I’d say they coughed up at least $800+ in repair fees to Vivo’s, considering how many times it broke. A product this expensive shouldn’t break repeatedly….period.
    • When the appliance was shipped off for repair, it took anywhere from a few weeks to over a month, for it to return. Doing this multiple times meant I lost considerable progress over and over again. It was really frustrating when at one point, it was gone for almost 1.5 months and I assumed I was getting a new one and they sent it back to me once again repaired. That same area that was repaired broke again within the next couple of weeks.
  • I finally got a new one, and it has a slightly different design. No breakages yet, but a bracket on the bottom is bent. I haven’t been able to have it looked at, due to COVID-19 cancellations. I’ll get a picture up later.
  • I’m sleeping better, but still exhausted. Of course, I also have a child now. I had a home sleep study done and will try to upload the results. My AHI didn’t change at all, but my primary care said there was a definite improvement, even if I don’t feel it much.
  • I’ve had some minor teeth tipping, on the top, the thing that isn’t supposed to happen. With the last appliance, I had to slow down the turns from one week, to every 10 days, then to every two weeks when turning and only the top. The bottom is ahead at the moment. When I got the new appliance, they suggested I go back to a week, but I started to get some tipping on the top again. I’m now turning it a 1/2 turn every 4 weeks, which is painfully slow, but better than the alternative. My next appointment is in mid-June, so we’ll see how it looks then.

Updates or Lack Thereof

My last check-in with the dentist was in mid-December and my next one isn’t until mid-March. I wish I could give some exciting updates, but I really don’t have any. I continue to turn the appliance when things feel ready, usually every 7-9 days. The bottom one, I’m turning every 2-3 weeks, whereas the top is weekly. I likely have another 2-3 months of widening this and then I’m told I’ll have to do an additional year. In short, there are quite a few changes that are still anticipated.

The upsides?  Well, it hasn’t broken recently and I do sleep better with it, though I’m still having more bad nights then good nights. My wife says I still snore, but not as badly, but it isn’t gone either.

So the blog isn’t dead, but unless I wake up feeling great a number of consecutive mornings, I’ll give another update after my next appointment. On a scale of 1-10, I still range between 3-6 of feeling rested in the morning. That’s a wide range, but it varies that much.

So Is The Vivos DNA Appliance Working?

That’s really the question of this whole blog for the Vivos DNA Appliance. Short-term…..yes. Long-term, remains to be seen. What I mean by this is that I’m noticing sizeable short-term improvement. I’m snoring less, have improved sleep, have a few mentally alert days here and there, etc.

I knew I was tired, but have begun to surprise myself with how tired. About 1 month ago, I was engaging with one of my staff and just felt more mentally alert, it is hard to explain. Long-term remains to be seen because the sleep apnea is still there. I still have more bad days than good days, in terms of feeling rested. However, there were hardly any good days before.

Up until this point, I’ve officially been on this device about 10 1/2 months. Considering the various setbacks regarding seconds opinions from doctors, breakages, etc. I’m probably like 8 months of progress. The last breakage required that I go without the appliance for a couple of weeks, I absolutely noticed a difference. My coffee intake began to climb in the afternoon, and awakening was just awful. As soon as I got the appliance back in my mouth, I almost immediately began to sleep better again.

I believe the next few months will really solidify my progress.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional in any way, shape, or form. This blog is meant to be a perspective on my specific experience. Please consult with your own medical professional as to whether this or any other treatment may be right for you.

Durability Problems

As previously stated here, progress was going good and I was finally to feel a little more alert and better rested (more on that in the next post). We needed to slow the down the bottom a lot, and the top a little bit. While I was traveling, I was cleaning the Vivos DNA Appliance one night, popping it in my mouth. I thought it felt strange, so I pulled it out to discover that a rather sizeable chunk broke off on my left back tooth side. I never did find the piece that broke off.

Broken Appliance

Regardless, a commenter here, a month or so ago, expressed concern at the breakage wondering if the device is appropriate for serious clinchers. I said I clench pretty hard and just wrote it off as some fluke. Now a few months later, another piece has broken off. The dentist said this has never happened to their other patients, but after two breaks in one year, I’m starting to wonder. The breaks are frustrating. I need to drive an hour each way to the dentist, they have to take new molds, send off  molds, wait for molds to be made, molds are mailed back, you get the idea. The whole process took at least 3 weeks the last time this happened. With an item that changes things at such an incremental level, it can make you feel like you’re moving the speed of snail. In this case, since I was traveling for an extended time, it put me about a month behind in my treatment.

When I was going through this process the second time, I had a tense conversation with the dentist office of why it shouldn’t take three weeks for a new replacement. The lab reportedly said they could overnight the item, but it would be a $59 processing fee. Seriously? That was an opportunity to see Vivos customer service shine. It didn’t. More sad, Vivos didn’t replace the item, they just repaired it. You can see where the work was done. Maybe that matters, maybe it doesn’t, we’ll see if that repair holds.

The good news? I really am truly telling a difference for those last few weeks where I was waiting on a new appliance, I learned how much it was helping me, once I didn’t have it.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional in any way, shape, or form. This blog is meant to be a perspective on my specific experience. Please consult with your own medical professional as to whether this or any other treatment may be right for you.

 

Slowing Down

I had another check-up about 1 1/2  months ago. The dentist is very pleased with the progress. Her main request was that I stop expanding the bottom to allow the top to catch-up. In turn, I was only to turn the top once every 10 days. I had to make sure to keep track of my days, as before it was just a turn for both top and bottom, once a week, usually Sunday nights. No other instructions on length of time each night, just the usual at least 10 hours. I was about 3 turns in, before the appliance BROKE AGAIN! This makes two times now. Details on that in the next post.

A Correction On Naming

From the start of this blog, I’ve referred to the palate expander as “DNA Appliance”. This is what it was technically called back during the Dr. Singh days. Through lots of company growing/selling stuff. I won’t get into it here, look it up if you like, here and here. Henceforth, I’ll refer to it as “Vivos DNA Appliance” by Vivos Life. Many people still call it DNA, so this should make it more applicable within search engines.

Tracking Progress: Part 1

I wish I began this earlier, but during my appointment a few months ago, I was getting a little tired of telling multiple people the same information again and again about how many hours I was wearing the appliance. Medical appointments, right? I was already using an app on my phone to track when I started and stopped, so I moved all the information to an Excel sheet (attached below). One column is the nightly number of hours, with dates that I widened both the top and bottom appliances. The other column is basically where I enter information on how many hours I actually wore it during the day. If 1 hour is listed, that could mean 1 hour straight or two different times of 30 minutes. There was a hiccup for a few days, where the top appliance kept falling out. I tightened the metal pieces, per instruction from the dentist office and it was fine after that. Also I was traveling around the beginning, so long days and short nights significantly kept me from the 10 hours, so I couldn’t turn it weekly for a couple of weeks.

DNA Appliance Progress_August 21 2018

Setbacks Part 2

A few weeks after the whole drama with the neurosurgeon, I was finally wearing my appliance again. Sadly, I barely got a few weeks in, then a metal piece on the bottom appliance broke. I woke up in the middle of the night and felt something weird in my cheek and one of the side metal pieces clearly broke off. I became so paranoid, I couldn’t fall back asleep and ended up taking the whole thing out that night. Supposedly the metal piece is used to hold your jaw and change your bite. I scheduled an emergency visit with the dentist that morning. They took the defective piece to mail back and took molds for a new bottom piece. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed that it broke and my mind was running wild about what if I chocked on the broken piece, etc. The new piece was rushed, and I had it back in my mouth within a few weeks, no problem with it since then. I continued to turn the top expander during that time.  No problems with anything breaking since then.

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Setbacks Part 1

Very much behind on updates, but will catch everything up with the next few post. First there will be two parts of fairly significant set backs, one that directly impacts the DNA Appliance and other that impacted whether I should use it or not. We’ll go with the second one for the moment. Towards of the close of last March, I was having my annual physical. To better determine the pain I was experienced, the doctor suggested an MRI of my neck. Fast-forward, it showed some type of impingement and it was suggested I meet with a Neurosurgeon. During this time, the dentist wanted me to cease expanding the DNA Appliance temporarily, until she could review the Neurosurgeon’s report. I finally met with the Neurosurgeon and he gave the clear for me to use the appliance. That whole thing with the waiting for the appointment, waiting for the X-Ray, waiting for the dentist took close to a month of wearing this, but not expanding it. Needless to say, when you only expand this once a week, that’s a lot of progress lost.