The Final Product

Three years of dental purgatory later…

Since I’ve been repeatedly asked to post a picture of myself sans hardware (read: braces and appliances), I’m updating this fancy little blog one last time.

I had a date with my orthodontist earlier this week where she kindly removed my braces for me. The entire process took no more than 5 minutes and was relatively painless. I was shocked that something that was such an inconvenience could be eradicated in mere moments. My teeth felt extremely slimy at first, but I later realized that I’d simply forgotten what smooth teeth actually felt like.

Following that, she made a couple of molds of my new mouth so their lab could fashion me a sporty new retainer! (Note: I’m not actually excited about having a retainer. I’m just making my best effort at staying positive.) I received the retainer a few hours later and learned how to snap it in and take it out. Then, upon shaking the hands of all of the lovely ladies who have taken care of me in that office for the past 3 years, I walked out the door for the last time.

I’ve created a little storyboard intermission for those of you who would rather forego reading altogether and just look at pictures.

Guess what, folks! I have big news!

I got rid of my braces!

Now I’m subjected to wearing this retainer…

…but it’s going to keep my teeth super straight! (Now that’s an unflattering shot!)

Wearing a retainer is frustrating at first because your speech is slightly lispy and you need to take it out every single time you wish to eat. It only took a day or two before I learned how to speak while wearing it and realized that removing it to eat is hardly an inconvenience, considering I can now smile at the table while I eat. It’s quite a brilliant thought! I’m supposed to wear this retainer every day for a year, then every night for two months, and then 1–2 nights per week for the rest of my life.

I wonder what’s waiting out there for me and my new smile…

Following my orthodontist appointment, I went to donate blood with a friend for the first time in my life. Now, despite having 5 years’ worth of tattoos, I’m actually horribly afraid of needles. I finally manned up and committed to donating only to learn that you can’t be a donor if you’ve had dental work performed in the past 24 hours. I still had the privilege of eating free cookies though, so it was a worthwhile trip.

“Would you like another plate of ribs?”

Later that night, a few friends and I went out for unlimited ribs (despite the fact that my orthodontist explicitly told me not to eat ribs for three days until the glue on the permanent wire on the backs of my bottom teeth was fully set). Folks, eating things like ribs and apples again is quite amazing. I felt like a bit of a glutton afterwards, considering I ate 5 plates’ worth. It was a celebration though, so I’m exempting myself for that one night only.

I’ll be driving to New York in a couple of weeks to experience New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I plan on doing something crazy, so look for me on TV! I’ll be the crazy Canadian running around finding cameras in a mad attempt to flash the entire world… with my new smile!

36 Comments

  1. Hey Graham!

    I am 8days post op double jaw surgery.
    Thank you for your blog it has been very helpful and encouraging.

    Quick question.
    Around what day were you able to brush the outsides of your teeth? Were you ever able to reach the back teeth? I’m scared that I will mess up the stitches and open up a wound or something.

    So far I’ve just been able to brush my front teeth.

    Thanks!

    • Jay, it’s best to keep your mouth clean by gurgling with warm salt water for the first couple of weeks. You can lightly brush the front of your teeth if you feel comfortable doing so, but I would avoid opening your mouth wide to brush the rest of your teeth until your surgeon gives you the go-ahead to remove your elastics for eating and brushing. =)

  2. Hey Graham!
    I am Tony, 25, from Austria. Thank you for this amazing blog!
    I have my jaw surgery on the 3rd of November and i got my braces yesterday 😉
    I also have a class 3 occlusion, but they will “only” treat my upper jaw.
    Btw. your end result is perfect man =)
    Cheers,
    Tony

  3. Hi there, Graham, My name’s Jake, I’m 15. I had upper jaw surgery about a week and a half ago…so far I’ve not had nearly as many complications as you have had, and the swelling is already mostly gone! I can talk, too. And I noticed yoU didn’t ever mention it, but maybe you never tried…all things Chef Boyardee…although that might be American branding. Anyways, I am merely surprised there is a community for this and I have one question…How can I help the depression, besides just going outside and talking to my friends…I feel, we’ll for lack of better terminology, I feel like a monster.,,my face is just…ugly now. Tips?

    • Jake, it sounds like you lucked out on your recovery so far! We have Chef Boyardee here in Canada as well, but I didn’t even think of trying it during recovery, shucks! In terms of dealing with feelings of depression, I think you need to focus on 3 things: ensuring you get fresh air several times daily (sunshine is honestly your best friend), spending time with people you love, and focusing on the good parts (your upcoming new smile and the fact that this is a temporary ailment offering a long-term gain). I, too, felt down during the initial month and a half of recovery, but with enough good people and light exercise, I was able to get through it relatively unscathed. I’m on your side, man. If you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email and we can continue the conversation.

  4. Thanks graham but my lip Seems to sag a little bit and my left side of my face is still swollen for how long im 7 werks post op.

    • Mark, try not to pass any judgement on yourself until the full three months have passed. The swelling will last for at least that long and can make your face look disproportional.

  5. Hey Graham,
    Not sure if you remember me. I found your blog back in November when I was preparing to have my surgery in December and asked you a few questions. In any case, my surgery got pushed back and I’m now 6 days into post-op recovery. I had my first visit with my surgeon today who looked at my x-rays and noticed that my back molars are not touching (an open bite). Apparently it’s not uncommon, but that still doesn’t make me feel any better. My surgeon says he’s going to place additional rubber bands in the back molars and monitor the situation. I know this was something that you had to deal with after surgery and was wondering if it’s something I should be concerned about. How severe was your open bite in the back? Did it eventually resolve itself? I hate to go through all this to fix my bite only to develop another bite issue. Thanks man.

    • Ray, I still have a slight open bite, but it doesn’t affect my chewing at all. It was more extreme immediately following surgery, but your teeth will grow back together to a usable extent. There’s nothing to worry about. Just wear your bands properly and you won’t even notice the open bite within a few months. =)

  6. Hey I was reading your blog and I wonder is your lower lip still numb?

    • Mark, my lower lip is permanently numb, but I’ve gotten used to it and it does not affect my quality of life at all. I would not let numbness influence your decision about whether to take on this surgery or not. =)

  7. Thank You So Much Graham for your response!!! Will Do…

  8. Hi Graham,
    Your blog is Awesome. I keep reading it continuously 🙂

    I am still trying to make a decision if it is worth it to go for the double jaw surgery or not. Any opinions would be much appreciated …

    I am currently 28 Years old. I have a deep bite (over jet) with a clicking TMJ joint but I don’t have any pain. Doctors have said it may get better or worse after the surgery but most probably it is going to get better. Also, I have been told that I will need a lot of future dental work if I don’t go for the surgery since currently I only chew on my back teeth and they will be worn out as time goes.

    I am really worried and concerned from the consequences of the surgery and not able to make a decision.

    I was wondering
    • If you know anyone has done it in the DC Metro Area or even some surgeons’ names that people have worked with? (If you prefer not to write it in the blog, you may email me at Youstina_100@yahoo.com)

    • Would you think or have you heard feed backs that the above symptoms are worth undergoing the double jaw surgery with all its inconvenience because they may get worth in the future as age gets older?

    I know those are kind of tough questions but I appreciate to hear your thoughts ….

    Thank You so much!!!

    • Youstina, I completely understand that this can be a difficult decision to make, especially considering the cost and the discomfort involved. However, if your doctor is recommending the surgery to avoid future complications, I would go through with it if possible. Enduring dental pain later in life will be most unpleasant, so having the opportunity to take a few months out of your life now for recovery is a good trade-off. Also, I’ve certainly met people from DC who have had this operation, but I can’t recall their names or emails at the moment. If you search the blog for “dc”, they should appear. Good luck with your decision! =)

  9. Thanks so much Graham, that’s put my mind at ease!

  10. Sorry Graham, I meant the crooked nose was still apparent in your before and after photos at just over the four month point. In the 6 months photos it looks straight again.

  11. Hi Graham

    Thanks so much for this blog, it’s really helped me. I’m 27 days post double jaw surgery to correct an overbite and slight asymmetry. My upper jaw was moved 5mm upwards and 2mm to the right, and the lower jaw was moved to fit. Like you mentioned in your post-surgery blogs, I too have been left with a crooked nose which appears to be sliding off to one side. My nose was perfectly straight before the surgery. I am aware that one side of my face has suffered more severe swelling than the other, which was very apparent after surgery and I can still notice. Looking at your photos, it appears your nose remained slightly crooked for a while (the 6 months after surgery photos). However now you have a perfectly straight nose (looking at the 1-year post surgery and most recent photos). My question is, was this just a result of the swelling that took so long to go down, or did you need to go back and have an additional procedure? I am only asking as I am really conscious about my nose now and worried this crookedness may be permanent!

    Kind regards and many thanks in advance!

    • Rose, I never had any follow-up procedures, so my nose straightened itself out once the swelling was completely gone. It’s not uncommon for swelling to take a full 6 months to go away, believe it or not. I’m confident your nose will return to its aligned, proportional state later this year, so no worries! =)

  12. Graham,
    Hi first off I would like to say this site has been a great help at low points in the first few weeks of recovery.I’m from East Texas and have had upper and lower surgery I had upper in march of this year and the surgeon had concerns and didn’t do the lower surgery I am now on week two of recovery from lower surgery I’m am wired shut and it is Driveing me nuts not being able to eat solid food or talk clearly I know it’s going to be worth it in the end. any way I just wanted to say thanks for the humor and positive thoughts they are truly helpful and increadably painful to laugh at .

    Cody

    • Cody, I’m glad this blog is able to offer you some encouragement. Apologies for the laughing bit… I remember how painful it was to smile and laugh with people during that initial month of recovery. It’s frustrating when being happy causes actual pain, isn’t it! It gets better, though, so hang in there and you’ll be safe to smile again soon!

  13. Hi Graham, Ive read most of your blog. I am supposed to get double jaw surgery but i am very unsure. I want it but I dont want it. I dont know if anyone can relate but its driving me crazy. I am in the dentistry career myself and i keep weighing the pros and cons but cant make a decision. M glad everything worked out so well for u and u look great!! Great job with the blog as well its very helpful

    • Sadie, I imagine the decision could be slightly more difficult for someone who actually works in dentistry because you may take it more seriously. Sometimes, the bliss of not knowing exactly what the pros and cons of the operation are—in essence, ignorance—can be beneficial in allowing you to make the choice. I’m not sure if I can offer you an advice on the matter, since you’re likely more educated in it than I am, but I am happy with my results and, if I had to rewind a few years, I would do it again. I feel my corrected bite, easy breathing, clearer speech, and confident smile were well worth the risk. =)

  14. Thanks Graham.
    Just went to the appointment today and they said the reason I didn’t have elastic bands was that I was lucky enough to bite correctly right from the start, so that’s great.

    Now I just need to get better at brushing my teeth which I find very unpleasant with all that stuff in my mouth. And those mouth exercises. But they HAVE to be done. Am actually doing them now as I type this.

  15. Wow. This blog (+ comments) is truly amazing. I have been reading it religiously for the last week, since I had my lower jaw surgery last Wednesday. I have my first post-op doctor’s appointment tomorrow and I’m a little nervous to hear what they have to say. Just hope all’s alright. I’m surprised to read that most people seem to have elastic bands in their mouths when they leave the hospital. I had my elastic bands removed the day after surgery before I went home (I do have a splint in my mouth though). I hope they didn’t forget to put the elastic bands back in 🙂

    • Ida, welcome to your second week of recovery! The purpose of the elastics is simply to keep your jaw closed for the first few weeks while the bone is fusing back together. However, every surgeon seems to have their own recovery methods and recommendations, so if you’re not experiencing any pain, there’s likely nothing to fret about. =)

  16. Graham,

    This website has inspired me. I am having a total left jaw joint replacement in 3 weeks. So I have fibrous anklyosis which means by bones are fusing together after a trauma, unfortunately those bones are my skull and jaw 🙁 After many open joint surgeries I now have to have a series of things done. They are cutting off the top of my jaw bone and removing all of the unwanted bone and taking all measurements to send to TMJ concepts to build me a titanium replacement. Now in the meantime they will put a “place holder” plastic joint in, sew me up and wire my jaw shut for 3 months while the prosthetic is being made, then another surgery to take off the wires and install my new ball and socket joint !!!

    SO when I found your website it definitely helped me a lot AND now I want to start one to help people like you helped me.

    I am from Washington DC btw.

    So my question is how do I do this? Start a website? where do I go… I should have paid more attention is school!

    Any direction you can point me in to help would be much appreciated!!

    Thanks again for keeping with this and your smile looks perfect!

    Katie

    • Hi Katie,

      It sounds like you’ve been dealt quite a frustrating hand, my goodness. The human body reacts to traumas in bizarre ways, doesn’t it?

      A simple way to set up a website is to use WordPress.com. If you click around, you should be able to start a basic blog in just a few minutes (and for free).

      I wish you all the best with your upcoming joint replacement and know you’ll be smiling again at some point this summer! =)

  17. Thanks very much for keeping this blog! I just scheduled my double jaw surgery for mid-May, and I am excited as heck! (I’m hoping they can keep it down to a two-piece, but they have also discussed the probability of a three-piece)

    …the only thing I truly fear is the dreaded “zombie mouth” following the surgery and in the days beyond. It seems like that part will be unavoidable though. ^_^

    • Angie, happy to hear you have a surgery date! I hope all goes well and do your best to embrace the drooling for the first few weeks! =)

  18. Hello! I just found your blog and I see its been 4 years and that’s crazy. I can’t wait to say that about myself!
    I have a severe under bite so I will be getting double jaw surgery to correct it in 10 days! Though I’ve known about this surgery since I was 14 (6 years ago now!) I have only known the date of surgery for 5 weeks. I’m excited, and very very scared. But I’m going through your posts (I’m very squeamish) and it’s comforting but terrifying at the same time.
    What’s concerning me most is that I am lactose intolerant and reading your food choices (and reading some literature on meal choices) most of them are milk based for calories. Haha. I guess I will manage! I also HATE needles (I cried when they took blood) but I have three piercings in my nose lol.
    By the way, I am located in Edmonton as well and will be getting my surgery done here 🙂
    I am going to journal everything like you to watch myself heal and be able to look back at my journey!
    Thank you for this! I’m going to use your blog as a reference!
    Jaz

    • Hi Jazrayne,

      I’m glad you found the blog! Regarding your allergy, you can still rely on almond milk and other substitute products to use in smoothies and soups. In this day and age, I’m sure there are meal replacement drinks that avoid dairy altogether as well.

      It’s funny that you’re afraid of needles, yet have piercings. I’m the same way, except that I have several tattoos. There’s something about medical needles that just makes me tremble!

      Good luck with the surgery next week! =)

  19. Hey Graham,

    Just wanted to let you know I am now back on recovery track! Infection is healing. I have been unwired yesterday and told soft foods are now mine to enjoy.Of course, I now wear lovely tiny elastics and try to do my jaw exercises. It’s funny when I think I’ve open my mouth wide but it’s only a finger wide.

    I totally related to your post about camping and tackling bears in the forest. I am itching to go back to working out and doing stuff!

    • Grace, I’m so glad you get to dive back into the world of soft foods. It’s like being a newborn all over again! Make sure you start chewing gum as soon as you can to stretch those muscles out. =)

  20. Second week:

    If my recovery was a game show the clue for last week would have been brewing infection as in Doc saying “your left side is rather juicy”.
    Well, infection it is. I am on my third antibiotic now and to add to this my doc decided, to be on the safe side, to wire me shut for at least two weeks.

    I remember when I use to think that having the elastic bands was inconvenient and terrible. Yet, I had graduate to being able to suck on pudding from a spoon! Pudding never tasted so good! The glorious moment… Now I am wired shut, sucking from straws, spending time cleaning my mouth and hoping the antibiotics get rid of the infection.

    On the brighter side, my swelling has gone down enough for me to only suffer from the chipmunk syndrome rather than the Frankenstein look. Except after waking up where the side that has the infection swells a little more.

    I practiced smiling in the mirror and right now I look like a cross between the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland and a psychopathic killer. I can only imagine what people are thinking lol

    I decided to cheer myself up and do your smoothie recipe hopefully I’ll be able to suck that through a straw and enjoy a good movie – any suggestions are welcome :-).

    Grace.

    • Grace, all of these infections you keep battling sound so frustrating! I hope you’re in good form now and are back on the recovery fast track. As for movie suggestions, I recommend About Time. =)

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