Getting over an underbite

blogging my way through double jaw surgery

Archive for the tag “jaw surgery”

Six and Half Months Post-Surgery

Not as much news for this blog these days. But I want to do an occasional update, and leave it up for anyone looking for information on jaw surgery. Since my last post I have had a few doctor check -ins.

The Dentist:  Was happy with my care during braces and didn’t think I was urgently needing any work. He recommended waiting til next appt. to see how my gums fare. Especially since my teeth are still sensitive.

The Orthodontist: I had my first check-up since braces removal and everything is going peachy. He tightened my retainer slightly and asked if I’d seen the gum specialist yet. (I’m in no hurry for that, sir!)

The Surgeon: I was supposed to get after pictures taken yesterday, but they forgot to bring the camera to the (second) office. So it was a re-check instead and we rescheduled to go back in August. I asked him about all the little remaining things that are going on with me, and he explained and reassured. It was a bit frustrating to have to schedule yet another appointment, since it’s an hour and half drive to visit the doctor, and I have to take a half day off work.

So this is what it’s like for me, at six and half months post-surgery. I’ll try to list everything as it is now, so I apologize if I’m repeating myself.

Feeling: It’s the same as my last post. He was surprised I had any numbness left on my face (upper lip corners) and said he hoped feeling would return. Humph. My upper jaw (inside) is half numb and half sensitive. This apparently is perfectly ok and he thinks it will eventually return to normal.  If I tap on my upper teeth they hurt, and if I bite straight down on something really hard (think granola bar) my teeth hurt. The gums are sensitive as well. I have found a great mouthwash that helps address the sensitivity (The Natural Dentist) and use it ritually.

Other pain: The back part of my jaws near the joints hurt when I press on them or if I yawn too wide. This could be, he says, from my muscles that are not fully retrained and keep trying to make lower jaw go the old way. I massage these areas, which apparently is the right thing to do. He told me to check and make sure I am not grinding my teeth at night or I would need a night guard. I can’t tell what I am doing while I am sleeping.  Who knows?

Odd things: I have sensations that shoot through my cheek when I touch certain parts of it, inside or out. At first I thought it was my scars that were carrying the sensations, but it’s more than that. Just funny feeling like zinging traveling through certain muscles. I got a whole lesson from the doctor on why this happens, how this happens to a minor percentage of patients, and it may be due to genetics that it only happens to certain people. I don’t know if that will ever go away. At least it’s not painful. Just weird. Especially since chewing food tends to hit those areas a lot.

Normalcy: My brain and my muscles do not think that this is the appropriate place for my jaws to be. Whenever I hold my mouth in the correct position for very long (like say more than 30 seconds), my head tells me it’s not right. I start feeling some muscle strain. The doctor said as long as my teeth are in the right position when I eat, I shouldn’t worry much about it otherwise. Really, he says, 6 months is not a very long time to retrain your muscles. Point taken.

On a different note, I am used to my face!  That took long enough.  Chewing is much much easier now. I rarely think about it. The weight I lost with surgery? That came back like that! after resuming normal food. Definitely no problem gaining back.

Here’s my normal face!  I love it that I am okay with it now!

6.27.14a

6.27.14

And below is an old one of me (one year ago!) for comparison.

past pic2

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Naked Teeth (5 months)

On May 7 (3 days ago) I got my braces off, two years to the day from when I got them on. Tomorrow is 5 months since I had surgery. It’s been a long two years and a bit of a roller coaster ride. From early days of waiting for insurance pre-approval, to months of agonizing insurance ups and downs after my teeth were ready, to finally the months of recovery.

At the Orthodontist:

Yay

Photo from the orthodontist after getting the braces off

The staff at the orthodontist office were all so pleased for me, telling me over and over again how great my teeth look. I was asked if they could post my before and after pictures on Instagram, and pic on Facebook.They even sent me a card and a certificate in the mail afterward with my before and after pictures.

The process itself of getting the braces off was pretty painful, which I was expecting. I had brackets pretty far back, I have sensitive spots (more than I knew), and I still have tender cheeks. After over an hour of popping, wrenching and grinding, I made it though. I just felt relief that I survived this far. One of the nurses told me I was glowing. 🙂

I have two of the tiniest retainers I’ve ever seen. The bottom teeth have a permanent retainer, which is just a small wire glued to the front teeth only. In fact, it’s only glued to the corner teeth, which is even better. Much easier to clean around than my old one which had gobs of glue on each tooth. The top retainer is basically for my front teeth only. I only have to wear it at night (~8-10 hours). This is great news. I do not have to keep up with it during the day. Ever. Yay.

Here is my status at 5 months:

Eating: I can eat anything I want! My teeth were sore due to all the trauma of brace removal, but that is lessening. It is still hard to chew some things and my jaws get tired if I chew a lot. Sometimes I accidently chew the inside of my cheeks. Sometimes I drip when I drink if I’m not careful (probably related to the lingering numbness).

Numbness: I am still numb in the upper corners of my mouth. Also most of my upper jaw is still numb.

Pain: Where the feeling is coming back in my gums they are very sensitive. The tenderness in my back cheeks has slowly started to go down a little bit in the last week. If I press at the very back of jaws it does still hurt. Not sure why.

Mouth Health:I’m not too happy with the state of my mouth. My orthodontist actually recommended I see a gum specialist and said I may need gum drafts. To be fair most of my gum issues were from my 20s, but it doesn’t get ever just get better. Also my tooth enamel is not in the best shape as a result of being banded. I am working hard to get and stay mouth healthy.

Just strange: My tongue seems longer than my bottom teeth. If I put it behind my teeth, it feels squished. It does fit mostly behind my upper teeth, so it usually ends up there, then I hold my teeth slightly open in a resting position.

Image: I think I have finally gotten used to how I look in the mirror. It seems normal to me. Not long-time, familiar-face normal, but a you’re-really-not-that-strange normal. Some days I feel almost pretty.

So anyway in spite of the lingering recovery issues, I am doing really well. I do feel immensely relieved to have made it this far. When I looked in the mirror at the orthodontist, it didn’t even look like my teeth to me. What are those perfectly aligned teeth doing in my mouth?!

My next steps are teeth cleaning in a week, retainer check in 5 weeks, and surgeon after pictures in 7 weeks. But I am free and clear.

Here are some before and after pictures. I tried to find comparison pictures with basically the same angle.

May2014A

May2014B

May2014C

mAY2014d

 

 

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