Day 50: Liberation Day, Sort Of

  • Pain: 0/10
  • Inconvenience: 5/10

Mes dents Rechercher norme!

If you can’t understand that caption, don’t fret. It’s in French, and I trust it will keep my reader from down under, who claims to know the language, quite perplexed.

You may be wondering why I’m not completely ecstatic about having my splint removed. I have a few good reasons, I assure you.

I had the splint graciously removed at 7:00 am yesterday morning. It was completely painless and only required the snipping of a few wires. I then quickly drove over to my orthodontist’s office, never exceeding the posted speed limit, of course, and proceeded to go through the most uncomfortable experience since surgery.

They started by removing my wires, along with the hooks that the elastics attach to. I was then allowed to brush all of my teeth, my tongue, the roof of my mouth (praise the Lord–it hadn’t been touched for 7 weeks and felt similar to that wrinkly texture your fingers get after a night in the hot tub). I even had the pleasure of flossing and swishing around some minty fresh mouth wash! Needless to say, that’s become my morning routine and I on longer have bad breath. That moment, however, was the end of my liberation.

Immediately following my little happy dance, they attached the appliance to my back molars on my top jaw. This was incredible uncomfortable because my cheeks are still slightly numb and swollen, but they had to pull them all the way back to get the appliance in. Then I was forced to bite down as hard as I could to set it into place (keep in mind that I haven’t put any pressure on my teeth for almost 2 months). As if that wasn’t enough, they put my wires back in and reattached 5 hooks on each side of my mouth for my new elastics. When I finally left the office, I was shaking from all the stress on my face. Literally shaking.

That’s right, more elastics. You see, since my mouth was so royally FUBAR’d, I was left with an open bite on both sides, which basically means none of my teeth touch. When I bite down, my 2 front teeth hit the brackets on my bottom teeth before my molars ever connect, so I still can’t chew. I have little rubber pads called bumpers on my bottom brackets to prevent my top teeth from grinding down. I tried eating soup last night, but was unable to close my teeth enough to even crush a small piece of celery. Mashing food against the roof of my mouth with my tongue isn’t an option either, thanks to that shiny, new appliance being in the way. I started swallowing vegetables whole out of pure frustration, but I immediately felt a little sick from doing that, so I resorted to blending once again.

My orthodontist informed me that I’ll be in braces for at least another full year and I probably won’t be able to chew for a month at the very minimum. Apparently my surgeon wrote her a letter recommending a second surgery to correct my open bite, but I never want to go through that again. These past 7 weeks have been complete and utter hell, and I’d rather deal with elastics for a year than have to experience another oral surgery.

I also feel like I have buck teeth at the moment. I’m not sure if I’m simply not used to them being so prominent in my mouth, if I have excessively large teeth or if I’m just self-conscious. In any regard, I think I look a little bit like a clown.

On the bright side, my lips and cheeks have healed up quite quickly and are no longer lacerated beyond repair.

“Would you have made the same choice?”

I have a question for you all. I’m wondering if you would have made the same decision as I did after reading through the first 50 days of the recovery process. Would you have chosen to undergo jaw surgery or not? Keep in mind the reasons that led me there.

20 Comments

  1. Hi Graham,
    hope u alrite, today i tried to swallow whole and i did feel sick with a bad stomach ache. Phew what things we try just to be able to fill up our bellies wid gud food. Am still wearing those damn elastics and now my orthodentist made me wear two triangle like structures both side of mouth in the front, feels weird when i speak and everyone looking at my elastics.

  2. Nope, you are definitely NOT the only one. And I’m glad it made you feel better. I hoped it would. The only teeth that touch are one top and bottom pre-molar on each side. And you can’t chew with those. On the inside of my mouth, I can stick my tongue between the space between top and bottom molars – that’s how much room there is there. Surgeon didn’t know how long it would take the orthodontist to close the space either.

    And yes, it sucks. The KD tasted good, but it was frustrating trying to eat it….not ready to eat in public yet that’s for sure. LOL.

  3. So I’m not the only one, then! That makes me feel better!

    It sucks though, eh? You get all pumped for solid food and then you still can’t eat it. 🙁

  4. Just got my splint out. Feels WEIRD. My molars don’t touch either – NONE of them. Surgeon said they do this on purpose. He explained why, but I forgot already. He said that the orthodontist would bring them together with elastics. I left his office with two elastics. The one on the left is just hook to hook (up and down). The one on the right is a triangle, which I’ve never had before.

    Tried to chew my Kraft dinner, but there was no way. So, I swallowed it whole.

  5. Audra,

    I’ve had the suggestion to add supplements to my smoothies a few times now, so I think I’m gonna start doing it. I have a big thing of QuickMass weight gainer (it’s 250cal/scoop!) from the gym, so I’ll start using that.

    I’m going to be in Calgary this Saturday! I’m almost tempted to take you up on your offer. Having lunch with strangers is the cool thing to do nowadays, right?

  6. Mike, your comments make me laugh. From French to the makeup of the human mind to the joys of reproduction all in one smooth thought. I like it.

    The caption was *supposed* to say “my teeth are huge!”, but I clearly need to find a new translation service. 😮

    Hope Germany is treating you well!

  7. Some ideas for you foodwise:

    Your morning smoothie probably doesn’t have enough protein. Maybe buy a meal replacement powder. SupplementsCanada headquarters is in Edmonton. I ordered a bunch of Muscle Milk from them before the surgery and it arrived the next day. Anyway, Muscle Milk and Megashake are both similar. They have a lot of protein and a good amount of fat (good fats for energy). You can add ice-cream to it to add calories and of course your peanut butter etc. But I think having the basis of your smoothie as ice-cream means you are having a lot of refined sugar carbs and that can lead to hunger. Uncooked oats are good to add to smoothies. They give fibre and complex carbs and they make the shake filling.

    I bought a few ensure before the surgery and have had them before, but I find they leave me hungry because they have so much high fructose corn syrup in them. But you probably don’t have much choice without a blender at work.

    Buy some frozen meals that you can blend. I wouldn’t have made it these past 4 weeks on just chunky soup. The Swiss Chalet (I blend it WITH the crust now, but add chicken stock), M&M shepherd’s pie, Timmie’s chili etc has really helped.

    And hey – if you are ever in Calgary and still need a blended meal, pop by and I’ll make you something to eat.

    I also have had many surgeries. If you are ever curious about my experiences and the resiliency of the human spirit, message me on FB and I’ll fill you in.

  8. Your teeth are researching norms? What? Peut-etre tu veux dire que tes dents devienent plus normale.

    The human mind is wired in such a way that it forgets pain and remembers joy. In the end you’ll forget how annoying this recovery is and remember how awesome your teeth are, and will be able to contemplate another surgery to correct the last bit.

    This is also why some women who describe giving birth as the most painful, horrible experience of their entire life can, a year later, claim “babies are great, imma have another kid!”

  9. I was just bugging ya. 🙂

  10. Haha-sorry, I did not want overstep my boundary and take over your blog by any means!!! I was so afraid of coming across like that! Trust me-you do a superb job doing what you are doing!!! I just wanted to share with you that I have been there before and now I am looking up to you to get thru my rough days…Yes, I know all too well what it is like to WANT IT NOW!!!! Trust me, I am not a very patient person at all.

  11. Wow Tara, you wrote a small essay there. 🙂 Maybe you should just take this over when I’m done, haha.

    Thanks for the uplifting words. I’m already feeling better. I got my elastics in tonight (*finally*, that takes serious skill!), and my right side is only open by about 1mm, so that shouldn’t take too long to close up.

    And you’re absolutely right–I’m only 7 weeks in. I should give it another few months before I start to fret about anything. I was told the same thing–don’t think twice about the way you look or feel until at least the 6-month mark.

    I guess we just live in a society where we want everything NOW, so it’s tough to be patient, ya’know?

  12. Hey Graham-

    Sorry to hear that the day you were so looking forward to was not what you had expected ): And, I guess being that I am only 11 days post op, I could see how the thought of a second surgery would not sit well with you. I am still too fresh into this to say otherwise and if I was told right now I would have to do this again…..ummmm, that would not be good!!!!! Of course, right now, I am saying I would NEVER do this again, but as a surgery veteran, I do know that as time passes, you do sort of get over that way of thinking. I have had many major knee surgeries on both knees, and after each one, I swore I would never do it again, all the while knowing I had to still do the other leg. So, as time passed, my recover got better, I began to live a more normal life and I was feeling like myself again, it become an easier concept to grasp knowing I was once again going to endure the same exact procedure that caused me so much pain the first time and the same one I swore I would never do again. Believe me it was not easy, but tolerable. And the worst part about my knees is every time they have done a surgery to fix my knees, it has not worked, so it has meant a subsequent surgery each time. I am only 34 and now have had one of knees partially replaced and once I recover from this jaw thing-I have to have the SAME knee that was just replaced in January opened AGAIN and have a metal plate added to it, in addition to having my left knee now partially replaced as well…..at the same time. I think I have made it quite clear this jaw surgery has knocked me on my rear, so the thought of having ANY type of surgery again in the next few months is very bothersome to me, as it affects my whole family, but I do know I have the inner strength to handle it…..and so would you.

    Like you said, you are just barely into your recovery…you have a long ways to go. My surgeon told me the day before my surgery to not even expect to look like I am going to look or see some real results until at least the 6 month mark. It is such a long and tiresome recovery, but as you know, it will so pay off in the end. I know for me, my jaw problems just got progressively worse over the years and trust me, many thousands of dollars later, and many issues with eating, talking, etc., and I finally was left with no choice but to correct the problem with surgery. So, yes, your young and that definitely works in your favor. I have done all of these surgeries while being married and having 3 kids. Thats gets a bit tough on everyone! Recovering from surgery in my case over and over and over again in the past 3 years is taxing on my family. So, thankfully, you are fixing your jaw issues now when you are only responsible for you, which is awesome.

    And as the others have said, I think your outlook and your sense of humor can get you through any of this. I was pretty down in the dumps my first week and a half post op and it was reading your blog and your positive outlook that got me through some of the worst days and made me realize….it IS only temporary. So is this, so is your appliance, so are the bands, etc. You WILL be eating again and this will become such a distant memory to you…..I PROMISE!!!! I had both of my legs surgically fractured to fix the alignment of my kneecaps 4 months apart from one another and I NEVER thought I would look back and think, “wow, that seems so long ago”, but I do now and it was just 2 years ago.

    Sorry to tell my whole life story, but I just want you to hear from someone who has experienced a very similar issue with facing multiple possible surgeries. The only other thing I am confused about is the whole reason I even had my surgery was because of an open bite, but my recovery and the protocol that my doctor is following for me sounds almost identical to yours. Well-do hang in there and like I said, there will come a time when this will become a distant memory for you…..and never lose sight of why you did it in the first place. Keep up with your positive attitude as best you can!!!!!
    Take care,
    Tara

  13. When my teeth are “together”, there’s about 1mm on the right side.

    The left side is brutal though. When my teeth are closed as tight as they can go, I can still put my entire tongue through the gap between my left molars. I’m not sure they’re going to close up any time soon.

    I realized that life is still better though, because I can drink easier now and kind of lick my lips. I swear my tongue shrunk!

  14. Graham, how much of a gap is there between your molars?

  15. Hey Heather,

    My surgeon told me the appliance is only necessary for a month. Then my ortho told me it will be in for the rest of my treatment (ie. a year or more).

    I don’t see why it’s necessary once my mouth is solid though. It’s a static appliance, so when the bone is filled in, I’m going to ask them to take it out. I don’t much want it!

  16. Audra, you’re right too, haha. I guess the fact that I’m still young and able to recover pretty quickly is a solid asset.

    A 2nd surgery just sounds like another big bunch of my life I’ll never get back.

    My orthodontist told me she’s fixed open bites like mine before, but it takes time. If I could even just chew on 1 side, I’d be happy, but the fact that I can’t even crush a small, soft carrot really frustrates me.

  17. Jawnomnom, you’re right. 7 weeks is hardly even a recovery. I imagine things won’t look even remotely right until the 6th month mark or so.

    I’m just hungry, dammit!

  18. Graham…I don’t know how you do it! How long until that new shiny thing comes out? I don’t think you look like you have buck teeth…but, I haven’t seen you in person yet 🙂 You do have a tremendous attitude and your stamina is noteworthy…maybe stubborn would be a better way to describe you. Anyway, you will make it through whatever you have to…you’ve made it this far. Nice haircut by the way.

  19. Hey there. First off, I have to say that I feel gutted for you that your splint removal day was not all that you hoped it would be. I know how excited you have been to move to soft food and away from the blender, especially since you’ve had the splint and the liquid diet for far longer than most people have to.

    Right now you are questioning yourself, and the process and wondering if you’ve made the right decision. Like Jawnomnom has already said, you’re only part way there. The things that are still not right will be fixed.

    I have to say that I totally understand why you would not want to go through a second surgery. The first week after mine I swore I would NEVER do it again. But, I also know that open bites are hard to fix with just elastics. And you’ve already come this far. You’ve come through this process with a sense of humour and a lot of support. You CAN do it again if you decide to. I’ve ready a few stories of people having more than one operation and having fantastic results. Even if you don’t have the second surgery, you will get to the end of this process. Almost two months have gone by now and another month will whiz by in no time. We are all here for you – not just to be entertained by your comments, but also to lend an ear and hopefully a helpful word when needed.

    I still would have made the same choice, given your initial reasons for having the surgery. I didn’t think much about my underbite at age 24. But when I went into this process at age 42, my teeth were wearing out and I couldn’t chew or digest my food properly. You have your youth and ability to heal quickly on your side. You also seem to have what it takes to take things in stride, which is a commendable attribute. I think you’ve made the right decision. Now, you need to hang in there and ride it out, which I KNOW you can do.

  20. So now your fronts hit but your backs don’t? I had an open bite, but they purposely made sure the backs wouldn’t hit right away to prevent the problem from recurring. Now they’re moving those teeth together with rubber bands.

    You’re just not used to them yet. You will get used to them over time.

    For me, I do not regret surgery, and I didn’t regret it for a moment during those first post-op weeks. I have had a lifetime of problems with chewing, smiling and biting. This was my solution. I look nicer now, and I love my smile. I can chew through things successfully.

    If I was you, I wouldn’t regret it either. You had an underbite. You couldn’t chew properly. You wanted to look and sound better. I know a second surgery is possible, but that’s a risk that you were advised of pre-surgery.

    The one thing that I have to remind myself of during this process is that even two months after surgery, this isn’t the final product. Have faith.

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