Day 80: Suck, Spit and Lick

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

Elastic mayhem!

Get your mind out of the gutter. You do all 3 of those things every single day. I miss those simple functions of my mouth.

Brushing when you cannot spit is more of a challenge than you might realize–you have to gurgle and swish water around constantly. Then, when you finally go to expel all of the matter out of your mouth, you can’t, because you can’t purse your lips into that “spitting shape”. Never, ever take spitting for granted again.

Eating without being able to lick your lips makes you feel like an invalid. You need to make sure there is always paper towel or, even better, a cloth nearby that you can use to wipe your mouth and chin with. And you don’t even retain the luxury of wiping your face after the meal is finished. No, I mean you must wipe your mouth after every single bite. Or, in most jaw surgery patients’ cases, after every gulp.

Drinking without being able to suck sucks. Read that again–I assure you it makes sense. You’re unable to form a seal around the glass and, as a result, whatever you were drinking soon starts dripping down your chin and then onto your pants. Then you’ve got to take a few moments to figure out how you’re going to conceal a giant chocolate stain for the last 6 hours of your work day.

I just thought I’d share with you some of the frustrations of jaw surgery. I’m almost able to spit properly again, so brushing is becoming less of a chore and more of a pleasure. I can lick my bottom lip, but I still have to stretch my tongue to reach every part of my top lip. I have the privilege of drinking properly at this point, although there are still times when I spill water on myself due to the lack of feeling in my bottom jaw.

Healing is a slow process, but it works. The human body is an amazing machine, and if we can just find the patience, we’re able to overcome most physical hardships in our lives. If anyone out there is considering undergoing jaw surgery, be warned that it requires a commitment of at least 3 months from you. If you’ll go crazy in that short span of time, I highly suggest you engage in some fierce mental preparation.


  1. Hi Graham, I would just like to Thank you for making this blog. I am 19, and I had double jaw surgery. Your blog honestly has kept me going, it gives me hope. I’m only on day 28, but from your blog I feel that the future is bright! My biggest struggle thus far is numbness & taking time to replace my elastics. Anywho, I just wanted to Thank you!!! (:

  2. I’m on my day 80 today, and reading this helped. I never in the least had any regretful thoughts about surgery until the past week. I had a dental cleaning and one area of my gums had become swollen, I guess due to the difficulty I’ve been having properly brushing and flossing since surgery. They did some deep cleaning and I was in SO MUCH pain for a good 4-5 days! The entire left side of my face throbbed, ached and burned. It made my head hurt as well. The pain was as bad as after surgery, but I was actually more comfortable back then because of the pain meds I had.

    Actually, I’ve been in varying levels of pain since surgery, even though my surgeon told me over a month ago that I shouldn’t really have pain any longer.

    Anyhow, I’m glad to be reminded that others can sympathize and have gotten through it 🙂

    • Abby, orthodontic visits will forever leave us with pain and discomfort, won’t they? I’m happy you’ve made it to Day 80 and that you’re back to your orthodontist. You’ll be smiling brace-free soon, my friend!

  3. Hi frankeye,

    When your wires are cut, you’ll most likely be required to wear elastics all day and night, removing them only to eat. I was on blended food for quite a few weeks following my wires being snipped, so don’t get too excited.

    Having the wires cut will still be awesome for you, though, because you’ll be able to breathe a little easier (and maybe brush more thoroughly!).

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Thanks for posting this blog. I am a mom of two young children and being wired shut during the holidays had proved to be much more difficult than I had imagined. I find myself feeling sorry for myself, and pouting when I know I should not. I am getting my wires cut on January 10, 2011 and I am not sure if that means I get tot eat semi blended foods or if it is a continuance of what I have already experienced. I am assuming that I will be cut free but still have rubberbands at night. not sure…I am 35 and a little older so my recovery might take longer. I am just a little discouraged….
    I did stop taking the vicodin because it made me crazy and irritable. Congrats with your recovery Graham!

  5. I see a big difference from Graham before to now…but he’s right, you see changes in yourself, but not the same way others see you. I look in the mirror right now and do NOT like what I see – I’m having a hard time seeing my bottom jaw out as far as it is now. I’m just not used to it and when the swelling goes down, I know it’ll be fine…but it really is strange. Graham looked great before…..he looks amazing now! 🙂

  6. Well, my teeth are far more prominent now. They look huge to me, but apparently they’re just normal.

    Everyone else says I look way different. You may not notice it because you see yourself everyday, so it’s a bit more gradual. But yes, there’s a pretty big difference.

    I’ll post before and after shots when I get them from my surgeon and we’ll see if we can tell.

  7. it did, thank you again. i guess with all surgery’s comes risk and pain..=/ and i guess in order to get through a surgery like this you need some motivation, but hey Aimee you did and now the surgery is but a memory.
    Graham, is there a BIG difference from your appearance before?

  8. Hey Kim, glad I could provide some useful information for you and Jay. I was looking around for recovery tips before I had my surgery, but I couldn’t find much out there, so I decided that I’d create a resource for others to take advantage of. I wasn’t sure if it would actually be useful or not, but it seems like a few people have found it helpful, and that’s enough for me.

    Just make sure Jay gets outside as soon as he can. Sitting around and wishing you *could* be doing things is a surefire way to make every day go on forever.

    Good luck!

  9. Hi Graham, I am Jay’s Mom, I have to say that reading your blog is very entertaining! You have a wonderful sense of humor which I am sure has made your recovery a little easier. Jay told me about your site and while I haven’t read all of it yet, it has been helpful to learn what to expect, for both Jay and me. I will be going out to buy a few bibs and baby items – spoons and toothbrushes! I never would have thought of those things, even with all the surgery Jay has had! Thank you for all of your words of wisdom and for sharing your experience. I am encouraging Jay to do the same thing, I think it will help him with his recovery too. Best of luck to you and again, thanks!!

  10. I knew my septum would be fixed beforehand as it was deviated and I had a hard time breathing. So, mine was expected…you can have a septoplasty separately but if they’re in there, may as well get it all done. Be prepared, though, it is NOT fun – just know that ahead of time that for the first week and a half, you’ll be miserable. But, it does get better…trust me, I thought for sure I wouldn’t make it and Graham just kept telling me I would! lol

  11. Hey NyCgirl, it was all done at once, as I’m sure yours will be too. They didn’t ask beforehand, but it’s not a separate surgery. They don’t just go ahead and give you a nose job as a freebie.

    What happens is when they move your top jaw around, it distorts your septum, so your nose often ends up crooked or pushed up (because your face changes shape). So they’re really just attempting to put it back the way it was before your jaw was moved around.

    I hope this answers your question. 🙂

  12. hey, I’ve been following your site since day one and i must say THANK YOU SO MUCH! I’m supposed to be under going double jaw surgery this summer and i was just curious when you had the procedure done and they fixed your nose did it all happen once? and did the doctors ask u before if u wanted it to be fixed? cause im n the same position as u or as u used to be and with all the falls ive had im jus so curious =)

  13. Good luck, Rob! Please keep us posted on your progress!

    I’m whistling more and more…and not having to blow hard. Wow, this is pretty amazing. Thanks, Disc…what a great idea!

  14. It only took a couple of days to feel the hard shape above my upper lip softening, and i’m now getting a slight whistle rather than just a blowy sound 🙂

  15. I wish you all the best Rob. I still can’t believe how many people out there are in a situation similar to mine.

    It really is a small world after all.

  16. Just got of the hospital today after they fixed my maxillary hypoplasia. Thanks for you this blog. It is huge!

  17. I’ve been “whistling” all afternoon and guess what! I actually WHISTLED!!!!!!!!!! I had to blow so hard I think I may have popped a disc in my back, but dammit, I whistled! LOL

  18. I haven’t had much movement till now because of the splint but I have tried to move my lips as much as possible for some time. Now that the splint is off, I’ve been working it like crazy since yesterday!

    And more good news..I’m beginning to get a little more feeling in the left side of my face! My doc has been a bit concerned that the feeling there hasn’t returned yet because it’s in a place where I should already have feeling. It’s changing now, so I think it’s improving. Gums, teeth, lips, chin….not so much. lol

  19. I’ve been doing this since sometime near the beginning – when I was able to move my mouth. So, it’s hard to say how quickly it works because I just have always done it. But I’ve had enough surgeries to know that scar tissue “pulls” and that to keep it somewhat “soft” you have to work on stretching it.

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