Before and After Photos

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

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a mugshot!

Have you ever bitten clear through a sandwich? How about a piece of pizza? What about a hot dog? Let me tell you something: It is absolutely incredible! The mere fact that I no longer have to tear through my food like some rabid beast makes this entire ordeal well worth the time, money and discomfort. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I never knew how simple chewing was until now. It almost makes me speechless. I understand that this sounds ridiculous to those of you who were blessed with a working set of teeth, but I’d like you to know that you’re lucky. Very lucky.

As promised, I’ve returned with my before and after photos. While the change may not appear to be that great, it has made a huge difference in my life.

Before surgery (Feb. 9, 2010) – Notice the underbite (and the awkward smile).

After surgery (June 22, 2010) – Four items to note: a confident smile, the appliance in the roof of my mouth, the open bite on the lefthand side of my mouth and my off center goatee.

I had another appointment with my surgeon since we last crossed paths and he left me with the following statements:

  • Feeling should hopefully commence its long journey home to my bottom lip over the next 3-6 months.
  • The feeling I’m left with after 18 months is what I’ll live with for the rest of my life.
  • I can choose to correct my open bite enough by wearing elastics until early next year, or I can opt for another surgery to bring my molars together.

I’ve eaten everything from pasta to cereal to salad to steak. In fact, the only item I’m still unable to chew at this point is a peanut (or any kind of nut, for that matter). They’re a little too solid just yet. Despite my open bite, I’ve been chewing on both sides of my mouth, but eating something like a steak becomes quite an exhausting activity. It doesn’t keep me from eating steak every single weekend though. I’m also able to chew gum again, which I’m grateful for, considering its my one and only addiction in this world.

I even got to experience chattering teeth again on one of our cold mornings! That, however, felt less than amazing.

I know my bone is completely healed because I’ve already taken several falls landing directly on my face and had no problems at all. On a seemingly unrelated note, never let the handlebars of your bike hit a tree while riding, because that very bike will launch off the trail. And then, whether you like it or not, you’ll get to experience all the excitement of doing a flip. I’m not saying that happened to me but, well, that definitely happened to me.

The Fortress of Ensure collapsed on July 12th when I attempted to add another can to its spire. About 15 people came from every corner of the office when they heard the crash. I recycled every last piece of rubble, donating over $6 of free cans to the company. The offending building block was a can of Sun Tropics Mango juice. I imagine people will one day share tales of The Great Collapse with their grandchildren, but they’ll be referring to the Fortress of Ensure instead of the Mayan civilization.

My one last piece of advice to anyone who has recently taken part in this party we like to call jaw surgery is this: Above all else, give your body time to recover. Eventually, you’ll stop chewing on your own cheeks and lips. You’ll naturally adjust to your new mouth and you’ll be very grateful for the ability to chew properly. It took me almost a full month before I could eat a meal without accidentally eating part of my own face.

I’ll likely make one more post in approximately six months detailing the final outcome of this little adventure. Until next time!


  1. Hi again graham, it’s Sarah from may where I asked about swelling, I cant find my original post.
    I wanted to ask, how long did it take for the weak teeth feeling (like when you get braces tightened but I havn’t) to go away (if you ever had it). I’m 6 weeks post op.
    Thank You

    • Hello again! That feeling didn’t go away for me until I had been eating solid for about a month. In terms of the recovery timeline, I believe this was around the 3-month mark. So I wouldn’t fret about it just yet as there is still a lot of healing left for your body to do. I hope this provides some encouragement for you. 😊

  2. i had lower jaw surgery one month ago….my right side face still looks swollen and left side is normal wich makes me feel embarrased in public….n regarding my lower lip….i dont know whether it is swollen or it is big in size but looks very odd….currently m applying ice cloth on the swollen area…will applying ice reduce swelling or swelling will go away naturally on its own??

    • Hi Arman, most of your swelling should be gone by the 6-week mark, but it may take up to 4 months for residual swelling to go away. This also depends on how much you are talking and exercising your jaw. The more you move your jaw, the longer the swelling will remain. This is not a bad thing, per se, but just something to be aware of.

      At this point, I would recommend applying heat to your face instead of ice. The heat will soothe your nerves, which should help reduce the swelling. However, patience is the true key here and your swelling will eventually go away on its own. 😊

  3. thanks for replying…

    i jad lower jaw surgery 3 weeks ago…my elastics broked…n i am widout elastics from 2 weeks…tomorrow i have an appointmnt….i think my jaw has shifted…i again got little underbite…lower teeth are little bit front dan upper teeth….will this cause any problms?….not wearing elastics for 2 weeks leads to a shift in a jaw??

  4. i had lower jaw surgery 3 weeks ago…my face looks unbalanced…right side is huge dan left…my lips are also badly swollen…i want to ask dat wen will the swelling will go from my lips..i feel so embarrased to go in public…plz rply

    • Arman, having an unbalanced face at the 3-week mark is perfectly normal. Your swelling should decrease substantially over the next couple of weeks, which will help balance the two sides of your face as well as return your lips to a normal size. πŸ™‚

  5. i had lower jaw surgery 3 weeks ago….but d problem is my face doesnt look balanced….right side is more huge dan left….mg lips are still badly swollen….i want to ask that wen will the swelling disappear from my lower lip completely n when it will look normal…i feel so embrassed to go in public bcoz of this…plz rply

  6. i had lower jaw surgery 3 weeks ago….i want to ask dat will my jaw shift if i dont wear elastics….m nt hving elastics dey broked n i am without elastics from 1 week…i think my jaw has shifted m vry tensed..will my face become longer again as it was before?…will i need to re operate my jaw?..every morning wen i see i feel dat my jaw has shifted….is my thinking real or its just intusion??

  7. thanks for replying

    i had lower jaw surgery 3 weeks ago…i think my jaw shifted…will my face become longer as it was before if my jaw has shifted…m scared i always keep on thinking dat i will have to do surgery once again to correct my jaw…each day wen i see i think my jaw has shifted….ismy thinking rigt or i just have intusion like dis??

    • Arman, try not to worry about the shape or position of your jaw until at least 2 months have passed. The swelling makes it very difficult to see the try shape of your face. Have patience. πŸ™‚

  8. thanks for rplying

    i had lower jaw surgry 2 weeks ago….i want to ask that wen can i start to ride my bike….will my jaw shift if i ride on bumps abd patholes freely?

  9. thanks for replying ur blog is really helpful

    i want to ask dat till wat time i have to wear elastics…i had lower jaw surgery 2 weeks ago…my elastics broke and came out of my mouth and my next appointment is far away so will der be any problem if i dont wear elastics?….And yestrday night i had lot of bleeding from stiches…till 2 weeks everything was fine but suddenly yestrday bleeding occured…wats d reason for dis? is it dangerous? and wen will my stiches disslove…plz rply ill be obliged

    • Arman, if your elastics broke, you should ask your orthodontist for extras so you can replace them. It is important to wear them consistently after surgery.

      Regarding your stitches, try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water a few times each day and see if you are still bleeding tomorrow. If you are, give your surgeon a call to make sure everything is okay.

  10. thanks for replying…

    i had my lower jaw surgery 2 weeks ago…i want to ask that wen will i be able to chew and open my mouth….n i have heard that there are chances that bite may shift after surgery wich would require addition surgery to correct the problem…is dis true…does bite shift??

    • Arman, it depends on how much your jaw was moved during surgery. Most people can chew soft food again after 1 month of recovery, but personally, it took me 2 months.

      Your bite may shift by small amounts during the recovery due to swelling and your bone healing, but this is expected and should not cause any problems.

  11. Hi I’m panicking on the inside a little bit, it has been a week sinse my surgery and I now can open my mouth minutely but enough to to look at the positions of my teeth on the inside. My bottom set of teeth is on a slant ( sort of like this |/ ) to my top set and I’m slightly panicking, a lot. Any opinions?

    • Hi Shae, I’m guessing you still have braces on, so remember that your orthodontist will continue to position your teeth even after you recover from the surgery. However, if you think your teeth are in the wrong place altogether, I would give your surgeon a call and ask if there were any complications during the surgery that you should be aware of. It’s quite possible that what you’re experiencing is normal, but it never hurts to get a bit of reassurance. πŸ™‚

  12. Hi graham

    i had lower jaw surgery n it has been 2 weeks…all the swelling has gone but only d problem is my lower lip looks big and dont meet to the upper one bcoz of dis m feeling little bit embrassed….is der swelling in my lips or dey will not meet forever? plz reply

    • Hi Arman, at 2 weeks into recovery, you are still very swollen. Try not to worry about the proportions of your lips or nose at this point because they will settle into place once your swelling disappears. It’s best not to pass any judgement on your appearance until at least the 3-month mark. πŸ™‚

  13. so I had double jaw surgery on June 16th, 2015, of this year it has now been just over 6 months, and usually by this point you are pretty much back to normal or at least thats what I here, I am still struggling to open my mouth especially when I yawn I here loud cracks and squeaks, also as the day progresses my cheeks and jaw always get tight and feel very tired if that makes sense, another thing is i feel like my face never really came fully back from when it was swollen.
    but the worst part of the surgery has been the results, I mean my jaw and everything look good and obviously better then before, altogether though I dont like the way I look now i feel uglier now then I did before my jaw surgery.
    Its just made it really hard for me to enjoy my life.

    • Hi Anna, sorry to hear you’re feeling this way about your appearance. Just a question… have you asked family and close friends for their honest thoughts on your current appearance? I’m just wondering if it’s a completely personal reflection or if others have noticed a negative change in your looks as well. Let me know. πŸ™‚

      • Hey Graham,
        Thanks for replying, nobody has told me that I look worse or anything I guess I just feel that way especially when I take pictures my friends and family just tell me that it looks good but I dont believe them, but its too late and guess i will just have to learn to love it.
        I did have a under-bite before which didn’t look that good either but maybe time will help.
        Just wondering can you open your mouth pretty wide and do you also hear cracks in your jaw or did you at 6 months post-op?


        • Being uncomfortable with your new appearance is perfectly normal at first, but I haven’t met anyone who feels the way you do after 6 months. If your family and close friends think you look similar to before, I encourage you to try and accept that. Remember that you see yourself in the mirror every single day, so you will be your own worst critic.

          As for movement of my jaw, I believe I had my full range of motion back by the 6-month mark. As long as your jaw is aligned properly, you should be able to regain your full range of motion as well. It’s possible you have scar tissue keeping things tight, so you may want to try whistling and chewing gum throughout the day to break some of that tissue up. If it feels like it is not physically possible to open your mouth as wide as before, I would request an x-ray from your surgeon to confirm that your jaw is indeed aligned properly.

          I hope these ideas help. Let me know what you find out. πŸ™‚

  14. My overbite is worst I’m quite surprised. Mine is so horrible they said I was the worst case they ever saw and that Louisiana state university and charity want to do my double jaw surgery. Btw I know how it feels when I eat a sandwich I could only eat the bread my teeth missed the meat and cheese it’s so embarrassing. My fiancΓ© thinks its funny also he thinks it’s funny I talk funny because of my big gap. After the jaw surgery I think imma be a little more happier people say I’m just being overly sensitive but unless people have a bad overbite and need double jaw surgery they don’t understand how rude they are. But today I’m gonna plan a day for the surgery with the surgeon and his team the results should be worth it after all the pain and I heard you cough up blood. Which makes me scared but gotta do it for myself. I’m scared imma look ugly after ._. Sigh

  15. Thank you for commenting! Also, did you stay really stay really stiff in your cheeks for a long time! I have a hard time talking due to numbness & just tightness! Did you force yourself to talk & move your mouth more??

    • Christy, forcing yourself to talk is something of a give-and-take situation. Talking each day will aid in the breakup of scar tissue, but it will also leave you more swollen. I tended to minimize my speaking until I noticed my swelling subsiding.

  16. Yeah, unfortunately with trumpet it sits on your front teeth, and with only three valves you do a lot of work with air flow to control which note and octave you’re actually playing at. I reached my peak with trumpet just as my braces were removed/the following weeks, but senior year I started to struggle with it, and then continued to struggle in college. I also noticed my first year of college that I was clenching my teeth in back when I was trying to play high notes–something I had never done before, and I didn’t realize until much later that I was trying to narrow that passageway just as I had before my bite opened up, but I could no longer physically do it due to my open bite.

    Unreal, indeed! I just wish I had figured it all out sooner so I could’ve spared myself from that feeling of failure. I’ve been playing clarinet for six months now, and it’s been so much easier/refreshing to be succeeding at an instrument again.


  17. Thank you so much for your blog! I am 3 weeks out of double jaw surgery! I have found your site so reassuring to just know I am having all the “normal” thins going on! I have done really good since my surgery but have started having spasms petty bad since my last rubber band check!! Did you find the spasms were worse after new bands?? Also, about when did they stop??

    • Christy, spasms got worse for me after I started wearing rubber bands as well. This is simply a product of the newfound pressure being exerted on your jaw. Spasms usually last for about 6 weeks, so you’re at least halfway through them. Exciting, right? (Hopefully!)

  18. I just discovered this website today and all I could do was laugh reading the first paragraph of this entry, because it is the same frustration I have been dealing with for YEARS and it is what eventually convinced me to finally go and get my consultation to begin this journey.

    I had braces years ago, when I was in my teens. Had them for five years. Got them off my Junior year of highschool. I started off with an underbite, and while my teeth looked great when they first took my braces off, my bite opened up, and continued to open, until I literally only touched in the very back on either side, and had nearly a half inch gap between my top and bottom teeth in the front. Chewing was impossible. I have hated eating in public because it’s such a chore. Like you, I had to tear, and sometimes that didn’t even work–I would have to shove food in back and use my molars and tongue to chew. I also realized that my facial expressions did not translate well, because of the fact that my teeth did not meet like they’re supposed to. It even screwed up my original major in college (music ed major with my primary instrument being trumpet–I didn’t realize until a couple years after changing majors that my jaw issues were probably the reason I couldn’t make any headway with it).

    So I’ve had braces again for about 6 months now (nearly 10 years from the day I got them off), and have had my wisdom teeth pulled. That alone has closed the gap to about half of what it was, and has helped immensely with the jaw pain that was becoming a part of every day life for me. My surgery is probably going to be scheduled mid June of 2014. Reading this definitely gives me hope that this will fix the things I’ve hated about my teeth for good. It’s just really nice to know that I’m not alone, and what to really expect in the post op process. Thank you so much for making this blog.

    • Sarah, I’ve never encountered anyone whose jaw issues inhibited their musical talent, but that does make sense. It’s quite unreal how many areas of our lives can be affected by something like this, isn’t it?

      Thanks for sharing your story and good luck next summer!

  19. Hey Graham

    At the 6 week mark. Been getting constant loud ringing/sharp pains in my ears. Mostly in the right one. I’m assuming it’s the feeling in my nerves coming back. Any suggestions other than toughing it out, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol, Exercise which is what I am currently doing. I realise it will get better but I have University exams starting this week and finding it hard to concentrate on my study. Heard that Magnesium is good for relaxing muscles. Would that help?

    Very informative blog by the way

    • Jesse, I didn’t actually experience any ear pain, so I’m not sure what to do about that. You’re right in that it’s likely a combination of nerves reawakening and muscles regaining their movement. Have you tried sleeping with a heat pack on your face to relax the muscles and nerves throughout the night?

  20. Graham,
    as stated on another comment section, i’m the 51 yrs old trying to decide whether to have the surgery…leaning towards…YES!! you’re before and after photos seem slight…though, noticable. you’re so precious (and made me giggle out loud) about your off center goatee! hilarious. i’ll be getting back to you as time goes on. i’m still not in braces yet (it’ll be a 2nd go round for me) and i’m hoping to have surgery in Jan. 2014?! keeping checking back.

Leave a Reply

“Over the past several years, I’ve done my best to respond to every comment on this blog, but unfortunately I no longer have the time to do so. If you have questions about jaw surgery and want to connect with others on this journey, please join the Facebook group. Don't worry — it's free!”