Getting over an underbite

blogging my way through double jaw surgery

Day 32 Partial Freedom

I had an early appointment with the surgeon yesterday to get my mouth out of fixation. As the nurse was unbanding me, he came in and let me know that if things didn’t look good enough, he would put me back in fixation. I was dismayed at that thought. Thankfully everything looked great!

When I’m told, you can open your teeth! I open. Open more! I open. Open more! I have no idea how far apart my teeth are open, but it feels like a good ways. It’s just a few mm. They finally get the splint out, which is promptly whisked away and I don’t even get a look, though I suspect it’s pretty gross. I feel little bits of herbs and such loose in my mouth now. Ew. So I’m given an adult sized toothbrush to brush my teeth with, which looks HUGE to me. This is my motivation to open my mouth wider. My ears and head feel different now, like my ears have popped with elevation, even though they haven’t.

It’s hard to explain how it feels after a month in fixation. Like my jaws are tied down tightly in the back. I slobber and drool all over the place trying to get my teeth brushed with this gargantuous toothbrush. It becomes apparent I am going to have to force it into the inside. There’s not been many times in my life that I have cried from pain (broken/sprained bones is about all that come to mind), but I nearly cried yesterday (only a tear, whew). I grip the cabinet handle and stamp my foot and very slowly push, with the doctor cheering me on from the side. My husband is also at my side, helping me with multiple paper towels and with the water. The nurse had him stand next to me, as she said some people faint. But I do okay, and it’s actually easier to get the toothbrush back out again.

The doctor explains that requiring us to brush our teeth in the office gets us to open our mouths further than if we were just sent home to do it. I believe it. I don’t think I would have forced it that wide at home, convinced that something was breaking. The doctor has me do some open/shut exercises to see how my bite is. Immediately I am told to stop jutting my bottom jaw out. I don’t even know I am doing it. This is my muscle’s unconscious pull to revert to my underbite. There is a tiny bit of slide to my bite, so I am told I will be wearing two bands for a while to keep guiding my jaw, and they show me how to put those on. I have to wear them anytime I am not eating, brushing my teeth or exercising the jaw.

Since we had neither one eaten, my husband and I go down to the hospital cafeteria after the appointment where they were still serving breakfast. I got scrambled eggs, grits and juice, and very, very slowly eat. So exciting to eat food I don’t have to slurp. However, every bite is difficult and can hurt. I can open my mouth now one finger width. Which looking in the mirror, seems like a lot. When you start to eat, however, the space suddenly shrinks to a slit.


So here’s the good news at this point, just past one month out:

  • My diet has expanded! So exciting to think of all the additional things I can eat now. Soft foods; I can’t really chew yet, though I make some funny attempts.
  • My teeth look like they are lining up great, per the doctor. I think they look funny, but it’s just because I have never seen them like that before.
  • I can use a straw now! In fact it is much easier than drinking from a cup, so I am now using straws for all drinks. Having a numb upper lip makes the cup more difficult.
  • I can talk normally! Yay. I guess I have to start answering the phone again.
  • My gums barely bled at all after a month of not flossing. I thought it would much worse.
  • Over the past couple days, my swelling has decreased. It barely hurts to smile. Yesterday after realizing this I smiled all day, even to myself, to celebrate this discovery. Last night, for the first time, my lips did not swell to uncomfortable sizes overnight. I was actually able to sip on water during the night. Before, I couldn’t use a cup at night due to the swelling.
  • I’ve started fixing all my own food again. My husband fixed all my food on the liquid diet. I know, I was spoiled.
  • People say I look younger. (I guess). This was explained to me before surgery; that this procedure would raise the upper lip, giving an appearance of a younger person, since as we age our lips droop. I think this happened; in fact my lips at rest don’t even touch each other now.
  • I can spit again (don’t under estimate the value of the little things) and sneeze.

The downside:

  • Opening my mouth as far as it can go does hurt pretty good. And I have to do this to eat actual bites of food.
  • Eating is slow and messy, with little bitty bites.
  • I lost a couple more pounds this week; I need to up my food intake. Hopefully this will not be hard to do now that I can get more starches and proteins in.
  • I don’t feel like I can totally get my teeth clean, since I can’t open all the way and am still partially swollen. I know it’s better than before, but I’m a little worried about my back teeth.
  • I hate how my teeth look. My gums are recessed, my teeth are stained and my smile looks different.
  • My bottom jaw wants to jut out further than it should, all the time. When not using it, I check to make sure it’s in place, and many times it’s not. It wants to rest further out, and does not feel normal where it should be. This is my muscle memory trying to revert. I am going to have to be careful of this for some time, I think. Last night, every time I woke up (which is a lot), I checked the jaw, and about half the time I had to move it back.

Pics are from last night:


Last but not least! My 360 xray from 2 weeks post-op. 21 screws in my upper jaw. !!  Also if you look to the far left and right, you can see the cuts in my lower jaw.


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3 thoughts on “Day 32 Partial Freedom

  1. Lois, you are brave!!! I really admire you for going through all of this. I can’t imagine all the physical and psychological changes you’re facing. From the sounds of it, surgery and recovery have been tough, but looks like you are coping beautifully! And you look FANTASTIC!!! Every blessing friend, Steffani

  2. Looking good! 🙂 Do you think most of the swelling is gone, now?

    • Andrea, quite a bit is gone, but not all of it. My face is still stiff when I move it (smile, etc), and some days the pressure is worse. I am feeling pretty good about where I am though.

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