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. Did you notice a difference within days, or weeks, or what? I’m really curious now. I hadn’t thought about self-induced physio.

  2. I actually do that too. I make really funny faces to stretch the scar tissue inside my mouth. It really works too.

  3. Disc, that’s not a bad idea. I’ll do it!

    This is likely going to be something I practice while no one else is in the room though. I have a feeling I may look pretty dumb while trying. =)

  4. I have a tip to share here which might help – practise whistling!

    There’s no actual chance of getting near anything resembling sound, but forming that shape with your mouth helps soften up all the stiff scar tissue that’s making everything so rigid in there. I’ve been doing it for the past 10 days or so and spitting/drinking without dribbling has definitely improved!

  5. Hey! A couple of newbies here….love it! Wow, Jay, sounds like you’ve already been to hell and back…congrats on getting this far (and still wanting to go further!!). I’m 32 days post op and also found Graham’s blog to be incredibly helpful AND entertaining and it’s helped me SO much. Please keep this bookmarked so we can continue to follow your progress, as well.

    NuttyWho…this is exactly the reason why I chose cadaver bone to fill gaps rather than hip bone…I didn’t want the extra pain and recovery as I knew I’d have plenty of that to go around!

  6. Hi NuttyWho. Thanks for the comments!

    I started this because I would have went crazy if I was just sitting around. Although… that was very, very tempting. 🙂

  7. Weird, I had double jaw surgery EXACTLY a year before you did O_O they kept me in hospital for 5 days though with 3 babies that wouldn’t shut up *twitch* But that was the first surgery of 3 last year, the second was on my nose to correct it, and a third to clear up the massive infection in my jaw. But I would have to say the most painful part was the slice in my hip where they dug out some of my hip-bone to put in my top jaw and cheek bones (they were sunken in)

    So yeah, including those 3 that’s 8 lots of surgery I’ve had in my life (I was born with a cleft lip)

    SO! I salute you good sir for bothering to make a blog about this, I would’ve but instead I ended up spending 5 weeks sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself :/ Second day I was home (which was my birthday too D: ) I got kicked off the TV cause my dad and brother wanted to watch the F1’s or something.

    Awesome blog by the way, if that point hasn’t gotten across xD

  8. Wow, Jay. I will *never* complain again. 🙂

    14 surgeries already? You’re a seasoned veteran at this game then! Double jaw surgery is the worst recovery I’ve ever been through, but it may be nothing compared to some of your previous encounters.

    I think you’ll do fantastic since you’re already used to post-op trauma. Most of us here didn’t know what to expect, so it was quite a truckload that hit us. You’ll probably not thing much of it. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, man!

  9. Graham,
    Hey my name is Jay, I’m 16, Live in Minnesota(US), and I’m undergoing double jaw surgery for a Class III occlusion on June 18th. I just wanted to take the time to thank you for writing this blog, as it has really given me alot of comfort in knowing a little bit about what to REALLY expect after surgery, whether it back up or refute what my surgeon has told me. A little more about my case so it can officially be written in the community: I was born with a pretty major cleft in my soft palate(about 75% was gone, so my upper jaw has never grown as much as it should. Thus far, I’ve had 14 surgeries to fix the horrible mess that is my lower facial anatomy, and now only have about 5% of my palate missing. The jaw surgery is the second-to-last step in my process, with only a filler injection in my palate to follow. That’s basically all I’ve got for ‘ya; thanks again

  10. I still drool. In fact, at the surgeon’s office today, just before getting my splint off (which, by the way, was the most liberating thing I’ve ever experienced), I drooled twice. Sucks.

  11. I used to regularly miss my mouth while eating and my husband does it all the time. We wore plastic bride and groom bibs at our wedding reception.

  12. I hate to break it to y’all, but even with full feeling and no bionics I still manage to miss my mouth when drinking, and I swear I have an invisible hole that randomly opens up when I least need it to.

    So welcome to “normalcy” aside the numb-face bit.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you’re not any more dorky or geeky than the rest of us. 🙂

  13. You need to buy some Tide to Go.

  14. Graham, when he looked at my x-ray he noticed that the plate on the right was placed higher than the one on the left. He actually noted it to himself during the surgery, but he left it like that. It must be in the way of a particular muscle or sensory nerve or motor nerve or something because every time my face moves on that side it hurts like crazy. He said that “sometimes this happens” and when it does, the plate’s gotta come out. That’s all I know, other than it hurts, and actually that’s the same spot that it hurt since immediately after the surgery.

  15. And Suzie, good call with the outfit backups. 🙂 I went to a few meetings with chocolate drops on my shirt, but I just crossed my arms to cover them up.

  16. Audra, that’s no good! I’m sad that you have to go in for another surgery, even if it is really minor.

    I’m kind of confused as to why I think metal screws in your bone would be uncomfortable. But I guess in this day and age, it’s almost becoming normal.

  17. I’m lucky that I don’t drool anymore. But I regularly need Leighton to brush crumbs of food off my lower lip/chin because I don’t know they are there.

    Unfortunately for me, I am looking at having to have the plate removed from my lower jaw on the right side due to some pain I’ve been having there for the last week. The surgeon won’t take it out for another month though until it is healed more. So, eating, chewing, smiling, kissing, etc. has all become somewhat painful. So, on July 9th at 12:30 in his office under IV sedation I lose part of my bionics.

  18. Yeah, I have a neutral colored shirt here at work so I can have a “back up.” Yesterday I ended up with half a bottle of water down the front of my white shirt….Yeah, not good going into a meeting.

  19. In my first few weeks of recovery, I used to take a cloth to the movie theater with me so I wouldn’t drool on myself during the show. 🙂

  20. I could not have said this better….you have covered everything right here! I brush, then do this horrendous spit, if that’s what you want to call it….just blowing out air, generally making water spray EVERYWHERE, just like our garden hose outside. I continuously carry tissues..I don’t leave home without them. I either drool unknowingly, or my nose runs – that, to me, is even worse!

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