Day 74: Like A Horse

  • Pain: 0/10
  • Inconvenience: 2/10

My tongue is lacking in range these days.

Ya’know how some people have cool little “body tricks” they’re able to perform? I’m talking about movements such as bending your elbow backwards, rolling your tongue, wiggling your ears or flaring your nostrils. I’ve never been able to perform any of those cute tricks for anyone. What I could do, however, was lick my nose (yes, like a cow). Since surgery, I’ve lost severe mobility in my tongue. I find it quite difficult to clean my teeth after eating these days because I’m unable to even reach parts of my top teeth. Those of you who were not bestowed the honor of wearing braces will fail to comprehend the frustration I speak of.

“I look like a horse when I smile.”

I’m still very uneasy about smiling. It’s taking me a long time to adjust to having these big, bold teeth in such a prominent place in my mouth, not to mention the gaps that are plaguing them once again because of the soft wire I had put on post-surgery. I find myself covering my mouth quite often when smiling. I was having a difficult time figuring out what I looked like, but one of our readers summed it up quite perfectly: I look like a horse when I smile. I promise my teeth aren’t stained like that.

I met up for a coffee with Lindsay a few days ago. In case you haven’t been riding shotgun during this entire journey, she had jaw surgery on the same day as I did. Lucky for her, she only had one jaw operated on to fix an overbite, so she healed substantially more quickly than myself. Her bite is perfect, her teeth are straight and she’s been eating for over a month already. She’s happy with her results and she looks great! I realized, as I was on my way to the coffee shop, that I have never actually seen what this girl looks like, nor have we spoke before. Our entire friendship was based on 2 days of drooling and staring at each other in the recovery room, complete with ice packs wrapped around our heads. It was like meeting her for the first time!

To finish up here, the day after my post about polished balls, the number of visitors to this site skyrocketed. It’s funny how all you have to do these days is add the word “balls” to a page, and the traffic floods in.


  1. Hey Graham, I’m at day 75 and my upper lip is still swollen and it doesn’t make contact with my lower lip, is there any way I can reduce the swelling on my own?

    • Zachary, I don’t know of any way you can reduce swelling in a quicker fashion. As I understand, it’s really a game of patience. However, if your lips are not yet touching at this point, you may want to start whistling for a few minutes several times each day. This will help break up scar tissue in your face, which may help your lips come back together. 😊

  2. Oh but the AWESOME news is that I will have my braces off in 1 short month from now! 🙂

  3. My surgeon wanted me to be stretching my jaw open around 100 times a day during this last month but then the orthodontist put me in these tight bands which prevented. So I could only stretch at meal times which is not enough. I also can’t chew gum with these bands on. I am so afraid that I have built up scar tissue or something that is going to prevent me from ever opening any wider. I really can’t get it open more than the 2 fingers no matter how hard I try or hurt myself trying to. I made an appointment with a physical therapist. We will see!

    • Holly, that sounds frustrating. Remember that you can always break scar tissue up after the fact through the simple act of whistling. I think that once your bands are off and you can start stretching your jaw a bit more, your movement will return. Let me know how it goes!

      p.s. Cheers to no braces soon!

  4. I am 74 days out now and I can still open my mouth only wide enough to barely fit 2 fingers in my mouth. The surgeon is unhappy with this and wants me to see a physical therapist. Has anyone else had experience with this or know what is normal at this stage?

    • Holly, I can’t quite recall how wide I was able to open my mouth at this point in recovery, but do note that visiting a physiotherapist is not an uncommon event. I wouldn’t worry about your jaw being seized up or anything like that. You may just need some specific exercises to loosen the joints up. Have you been chewing gum all day and trying to stretch your jaw out?

  5. Graham, thank you very much for your reply and Im so sorry for my late thank you.

  6. hello Graham, Im sorry Im bothering you again with my worries. I hope you’re doing great!

    man I have one big issue that Im worried about and I really hope you can help me about it.

    Im in my 8th week after surgery thank God. and I already feel like Im like a horse when I smile lol but that’s not the issue. actually Im terribly scared I got a protruding upper jaw because of the huge movement they did (1.2 cm). idk if this’s temporary or wat. I understand I lost a lot of weight that my face is sucked to the inside from the middle lol but idk if that’s a reason. did u experience any feeling like that? being worried about if you’ll have a protruding in the upper part of your face?

    and man excuse me one more question if you please. let’s say I need to fix something with my upper jaw again, when can I do another surgery? is it possible? will that hurt my nerves or make them weak or something u think?

    thank you very much in advance man. wish you the best


    • Ferrović,

      I also felt like I had a huge overbite once my swelling went down, but I simply had to get used to the new shape of my face. I think you’ll find that, once your swelling goes away completely over the next couple of months, you’ll adjust to your new smile.

      Regarding another surgery, you’ll have to give your surgeon a call. I cannot offer advice on that because I never had a second operation. Keep in mind that undergoing a second surgery should always be a last resort due to how invasive the operation can be.

      I’d also recommend you ask a few close friends and family members what they think of your appearance. You may find that you are your own worst critic. =)

  7. I had the exact same experience! I could lick my nose before surgery, but afterwards, nope!

  8. Hey Graham,

    I’m curious, when did you start to feel comfortable with smiling again? I am four weeks post-surgery (I only had my top jaw done), and I, too, find myself covering my smile or trying to avoid smiling entirely. Honestly, I think I look a bit like a chipmunk, although a horse wouldn’t be too much of a stretch!

    • Hi Hillary,

      I wasn’t comfortable smiling until about 10 weeks post-op. I had to wait until my splint was removed and my swelling had gone down before I began to accept my new smile.

      You’ll grow to appreciate the subtle change in your appearance, but you must also deal with looking like a chipmunk until your swelling decreases a bit more. =)

  9. There certainly isn’t enough information related to this surgery out there. I’m glad you’re finding my ramblings helpful.

    Also, props to you for being able to touch your tongue to your nose! We need to turn this into an olympic sport or something! =)

  10. Your website should be sponsored by oral surgeons around the world. I think you definitely have earned a stipend per double jaw surgery candidate that they refer to it – it has WAY more information than I found in years of casual conversations with dentists, Google searches on orthognathic surgery, and preliminary consultations with surgeons, not to mention the free laughter provided!

    I’m preparing to have double jaw surgery this summer (provided braces, insurance, and all the other moving parts continue to fall into place as hoped) and just found your site last week. I’m reading through all the posts as I find time, thank you for such great information!

    And – for the record I just tested myself and definitely can easily touch my nose with tongue now, so I’ll try that again a few months after surgery and see how it goes.

  11. Haha, I keep trying but I still can’t. I’m getting closer though. Having all these teeth to reach around is making it somewhat difficult though!

  12. I always wondered what would happen to long tongues after fixing underbites. They no longer have the properly-sized housing. I also have an abnormally long tongue that can pick my nose for me, and I’m actually going to be sad if I can no longer do that after my surgery! haha

  13. Wow, I was never able to knot a cherry stem. That seems like an impossible task.

    I apologize for causing you all to wake up to your tongue’s lack of range, hehe.

  14. I wonder if I can still tie a cherry stem in a knot. Will have to test that.

  15. For what it’s worth, I’ve never been able to touch my nose with my tongue, but after learning French I have enough control of my Uvula to actually be able to touch the tip of my tongue to it…since we’re talking about stupid human tricks and all.

  16. Oh my god! My tongue mobility is gone, too! AAAAAAGH!

  17. OH MY! I just realized that I can’t touch my nose with my tongue anymore either….no one told me THAT would be a side effect. sigh. BUT, I still have the splint in, so that might change yet…there’s still hope.

  18. Hey!!!!!! I used to be able to touch my nose with my tongue too. I just HAD to try it after reading this post and I can’t do it anymore either!!!! I come up way short. What a ripoff. LOL.

  19. I don’t think you look like a horse. I think you have a very nice smile (and my sisters who work in the dental industry would agree). You should be proud of your “new” choppers. Smile away – don’t be self-conscious. It shows how much you love life, too!

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