Getting over an underbite

blogging my way through double jaw surgery

Almost there! (20 weeks from surgery)

Nothing but good news this week.

Surgeon Visit

measureI saw the surgeon two days ago, and everything is still looking good. My next appointment is two months out, after braces are off, so they can get after pictures. He measured my mouth and I can open 51mm! That is wider than I could open pre-surgery! My stretching is paying off. He was also very impressed with my sideways range of motion. I asked about the tight scars on the sides of my mouth, and was told to rub and gently stretch them regularly and they would loosen up some.

Somewhere around four months the pointy tip of bone on my left lower jaw had softened up. He said it could take up to a year, but I can’t even tell where it was now. The left-leaning bone/something that is in the center of my nose- well it’s still there but it doesn’t bother me much anymore. Maybe I am getting used to it, maybe it’s softened a little. Either way I am not going to do a surgery to fix it. He did offer, but I don’t feel the need. I’m sure now I will get totally used to it. I do not want another surgery.

The other good result is that he told me I could quit wearing rubber bands at night. What a relief. My mouth was always sore in the mornings after being banded overnight. I asked about the constant tenderness in the back of the jaws, and he said that would not be surgery related anymore. It’s more likely from the way I am clenching my jaws, and the need to continue stretching the muscles. That is what led to me being able to quit wearing the rubber bands.

Orthodontist Visit

Not that it matters much, because in 6 days I will have my braces off anyway!!! I went in this morning to take retainer molds. Everything was super – well they did have to remake my bottom mold three times as it kept falling apart (the nurse said this had never happened to her before). I am going to get a permanent retainer behind my bottom front teeth, and a removable top retainer.

I called today and moved up my teeth cleaning appointment to shortly after brace removal. I want those babies cleaned! I cannot wait.

I’ll take some better after pictures once I get my braces off. Here is a before/after that is less than 6 months apart.

before after may

Four months – looking at the home stretch

haycSuper News! I had an orthodontist visit yesterday. After fiddling around for a while, he told me I would get my braces off next visit. That’s in five weeks. Of course I wouldn’t have minded if it were earlier, but I’ll take it. It’s hard to believe the end is near. I go in a week before to get molds for the retainer, which he said I should only have to wear at night. That sounds good to me too. I was fully expecting to have to wear them all the time.

I will be getting my braces off, to the day, two years after getting them on. I really didn’t think at the time that it would take that long. What a journey it’s been!

So here’s what it’s like for me at four months:

Somewhere recently, I glanced in the mirror and it looked normal to me. Perfectly normal like that’s just the way I am supposed to look. It gave me hope that those moments will be more frequent in the future, and that someday I’ll see myself in the mirror without a thought of different/changed/not-quite-right. I have to admit that I’m not there yet.

I am somewhat irregular about stretching my mouth muscles, but it’s coming along anyway. Last week I measured and I was able to open 45 mm. This is very close to the 49mm pre-surgery, so I feel pretty good about it.

The numbness in my upper jaw and mouth is very very slowly going down. My upper jaw (inside) is mostly numb, and the outer upper corners of my mouth are numb. Most of the feeling is back otherwise in my jaw. I am still wearing rubber bands at night. Keeping my mouth closed overnight makes my back jaw muscles stiff and tight in the morning.

On the good side, I can sleep with my mouth closed! I never could do that before. It takes a little getting used to. My husband says I’m not snoring anymore, so that’s good. Hope it stays that way.

What I can eat: just about anything. Some chewy meats are still difficult and take me a long time, and I cut chewy stuff up small before eating. Some other foods are hard to eat too, like cucumbers. But that may still be a braces things. Since I can eat so well, I have gained back about 8 of the pounds I lost. I think I can slow down now.

The scars in the bottom of my mouth are pretty annoying. They stretch tight and make little pockets in the rear by my teeth that are hard to keep clean. I’m not sure these scars will ever stretch out/soften up. Here’s hoping.

All in all it’s been a long four months, no matter what anyone says. Most people say that time flies by, but not for this is doesn’t. I’m still feeling good about the results and like that I can still continue to see progress.

In other news my husband and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary this week. 🙂

9yrs

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Three months

Hard to believe it’s been over 12 weeks already! These three months have been an eternity to me.

I had an orthodontist appointment yesterday and things are looking up. He rated my surgery results as a 10 on a scale of 1-10. He is just super pleased with how everything turned out. He mentioned another patient who had the same surgery, and it’s taking at least another 8 months of orthodontics to finish her mouth off. Whew! They all say how hard it is to get everything just so during surgery, and I again feel grateful for the good job my surgeon did.

So the good news is he said maybe one more appointment! My next visit is just four weeks away! I could get my braces off in April!!! I’m so excited thinking about this. This visit he did tweak a few things, very minor. I have a rubber chain on my upper teeth now, to help close a tiny gap.

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So here’s what it’s like at three months.

Improvements over the last few weeks –

  • I can chew better each week. I have managed raw salads, pretzels, and corn chips this week. I’ll try most anything just to see if I can eat it. If not, just swallow anyway.
  • Around 10 weeks I stopped bleeding when I blew my nose. Not sure why it took that long. Since surgery I have had some bleeding on a daily basis. I was starting to get a little worried about it, though had never asked the doctor anything.
  • I never think about how I sleep anymore. I flop around with no regard for my jaws.

Same ole, same ole –

  • Upper jaw is still numb. I never get any more tingling in that area.The doctor gives me at least three more months for the feeling to come back. It does feel weird, even after all this time. I will be ready to be rid of the stiff feeling the numbness gives entire middle of my face. It also gives me less control with my upper lip, which can cause (very minor) problems drinking.
  • My rear jaw muscles are still tight, though I do some stretches every day. After getting stretched, they are sore. Every day. Seems like they would eventually loosen up. I am scared to stretch too far at this point; it feels like I could stretch my jaw right off if I open wide enough. It does make it difficult to clean around my wisdom teeth.
  • I’m still wearing 2 bands at night in a triangle shape.
  • I think a little area just beneath my nose is still slightly swollen. Not that anyone else could probably tell, though. This is the only area that is still a little tender.

What I’m happy about –

  • Left

    This crazy face shows my range pushing left

    In reading other jaw surgery blogs, I realize that I have some things pretty good. I can do things at these early stages that some other people can’t do. For example I had good side to side motion early on. This really helps in chewing, as you can only do so much with up and down motion.
  • Love hearing my surgeon and orthodontist and nurses all so happy with my results. It boosts my confidence levels about where I am right now.
  • When my teeth fit together they feel so right together. Like this is the way they were meant to be.

What I can’t do –

  • Make a fish face with my lips. Not that I have done this since a kid probably, but now puzzled over not being able to do it.
  • Eat chewy steak. But I’ll get there.
  • Whistle. Probably after I get my braces off I will be able to again.
  • Always remember that my teeth work and USE them like I should. For example, I revert to the old way of biting, with just my tongue and top teeth.

Here’s a picture from last Saturday, with an older sister. People always said we looked a lot alike over the years, and I was curious to see if the surgery changed that. I don’t think it made much difference either way. She was also told she could use a surgery, but her orthodontist was able to tweak her teeth enough to make them functional without one.

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9 Weeks +

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We got lots-o-snow here this week.

It’s been over a week since my last post, with little change. The main thing is that I have gotten over my fear of sleeping on my face, and have lost any tenderness associated with it. After some days of adjusting to sleeping flat, I finally got used to sleeping however I want, including on my stomach. So finally, after these months, I can get a good night’s sleep every night. Not waking up frequently to check my head or attempting to get comfortable.

Everything else continues pretty much the same. I can open my mouth 40 mm, and I don’t stretch it quite as often as I used to. But I still have some muscle pain associated with those back tight jaw/cheek muscles, especially after I’ve been stretching them or trying to chew.

Eating hard things is well, hard. I don’t know if the rubber bands every night keep my teeth in the constant state of slight tenderness. If I chew something hard, pain can shoot up my teeth and jaw. I am still trying things some just to practice. I managed a sub sandwich (on a crusty bun) this week for the first time.

I’ve started working out again, but in baby steps. I’ll take it slow to build my strength back up without hurting myself.

That’s about it! I won’t post again until I have another update, so maybe after my next orthodontist appointment in about three weeks. Thanks to everyone who has been following along on this blog.

8 weeks +

So I passed the 8 week mile marker, and with flying colors. My doctor’s visit two days ago went super well. I am not 100% healed. That will take time. But all in all I have passed the bulk of it.

The good news from my visit:

  • I can chew, bite, exercise, sleep on my side, whatever I want. He even told me to try biting into an apple, that is until he remembered the orthodontist would not like me to bust a bracket.  I am freeeeee! within reason.
  • Everything is looking good. Jaw movement is good, teeth are fitting well etc. Doctor is very pleased with my outcome from surgery.
  • Next visit not for three months.

What I’m still working on at this stage:

  • My back mouth/cheek muscles are still tight. I am to continue my stretches. Up and down and sideways. At night they shrink back and every morning I stretch it back out again.
  • Some of my scar lines inside my cheeks are tight. I can work on stretching them.
  • The entire upper jaw area is stiff. I was told I can work on stretching those muscles. It can be tricky to stretch my face, but it does help. Because of the stiffness I still have some difficulty with things like blowing or drinking from certain containers.
  • I’m not sure I have swelling left – maybe the all the stiffness in my face is from stiff muscles now and not swelling. Either way, I still have some pain there when doing something that causes pressure, like running or carrying something heavy. It is decreasing slowly.
  • Chewing is really extremely difficult. I am basically relearning how to eat normal food. I’m not doing too bad at learning to bite with my front teeth. And I can “chew” soft foods. Easy at this point are things like corn, potatoes and pancakes. Hard foods might be string cheese or chicken. I have definitely swallowed many things in chunks, despairing of ever getting it chewed. I find it’s best to cut things up small if I can.
  • The triangle area above my lip has partial sensation. I can feel pressure but it’s not normal yet.

Things that are going to take a long time:

  • My upper gums are still totally numb. It could take 6 months or longer for feeling to return.
  • I still have corners on my jaws where they cut and overlapped them. The doctor said in a year or so, those corners would naturally round down on their own. My left jaw corner is sharper and when I turn a certain way you can see a pointy tip sticking down.

Knowing that I am cleared for normal activities put me in good spirits. However, I am easing back into things and not hurtling full force.

Here is a comparison photo about 8 months apart. The lighting and angle is different, but I think it shows pretty well an overall difference in the way I look. My underbite is gone, my airways are opened up and I am pleased as punch with these results. Now if I could just get used to the way my face looks I might feel normal again.

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