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!

25 Comments

  1. This blog is awesome and helped a lot! I’m currently on Day 8 and also blogging it. If anyone else is currently going through it, follow my journey and see my recovery here: http://tinasjawsurgery.blogspot.com/

    Comment me and I would love to follow yours too!! It helps going through it together.

  2. @Milly: Hopefully this has resolved by now, but for any others running into the same situation: I distinctly remember being really really sore and stiff in my arms when I first woke up (it was one of the first things I noticed coming out of the anesthesia), and for several days after.

    I couldn’t really tell you why that happens, but it’s not unusual.

  3. Hi. My sister is going through the recovery process right now and she recently said that she cant extend her right arm (the one without the IV) fully.i was just wondering if this happened to anyone else and what the resolution for this was. Thank you so much for you help.

  4. wow, this blog is just amazing.
    I had my double jaw surgery 3 days ago and this blog helps me a lot through everything is happening now … I hope everything wil go well soon. I hope …
    It’s 2015 now and you did yours 5 years ago and your blog is still on. Thanks!!
    Regards from Switzerland and … seriously thank you. sha

  5. Angie,
    I am a year and a few months post and my teeth feel to big for my mouth my tongue Doesn’t know what to do and my bite is still a little strange but my surgeon told me it was going to take time to get use to the new position of everything so I would say it is normal.

  6. Hey angie, i have the same situation with my bite (6 months from post-op) but the doc said it will take few more months that it fits perfect.

  7. Almost a year post-op, I am due to get my braces off tomorrow. For anyone out there who has been down that path, is it common for one’s mouth to still feel as if it is not their own?

    It is hard to explain, but my mouth still feels foreign–as in my tongue feels off-center and my bite is still unsure of where to rest.

  8. I’m pretty sure Graham doesn’t check these anymore, but I’ll share my experience for those that come later. First of all, make sure you’re comfortable with what you know: there are people who prefer not knowing anything beforehand and just going through it, some other people prefer knowing everything about it. Just be sure to be comfortable with the information you’ve been given prior to the surgery.

    I’m 18, it’s been 5 weeks since my double jaw surgery to correct my underbite and shifted maxilla, plus the removal of my wisdom teeth. I had a pretty hard time the first week. I coughed up way too much blood because my surgeon decided to correct some things inside my nose since he was already invading that area. Sleeping was horrible, and the back pain I got from not being able to sleep like I usually do was excruciating. That first week I regretted everything. But in reality, there was no pain at all! I took no pain meds nor aspirins. The nurses were surprised at how I always shook my head when they offered aspirin and pain killers. Brushing my teeth was uncomfortable the first week. I was very scared I would reopen a wound and I asked my surgeon where the stitches were to make sure I didn’t touch them. I had no splint. I do have some wires in the back molars in my top row of teeth that will be removed on my surgeons office. In truth, the first few weeks were just uncomfortable and tiring and frustrating, but little by little I started feeling much better. I’m a big fan of food but my doctor still says I can’t chew anything. Even with that I still eat pasta daily (angel hair with pesto sauce) and the other day I ate an omelette and I actually dared take some sausage and cut it into little pieces and just mashed it with my tongue (my mom flipped out but I enjoyed it so much). I was able to eat triturated bacon the other day and it tasted pretty much like heaven. My doctor said as long as I didn’t chew I could get creative with almost anything and I have. A few things have concerned me, I actually thought I would come out of the surgery with everything already in place but that’s actually not my case. My bite was still crooked after the surgery (I still could only touch my molars in only one side of my face). I didn’t expect that, but the surgeon gave me some rubber bands to begin my orthodontist’s work (since I still can’t visit my orthodontist) and yesterday I finally started feeling everything fall into place. Yet it felt really weird and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night concerned that something may be wrong. Right now, the hardest part for me, is not being able to play soccer and having to go out to rave parties and stay away from the crowd and be so concerned about my face. I just want everything to be fine and go back to normal already. It’s difficult when you feel completely normal except for the fact that everything else isn’t.

  9. Hi, I don’t know if you actually read these anymore. I’ve read essentially your whole blog and I love that you stayed positive and it paid off in the end. You look great by the way. I’m a senior and in a little less than a month I’m scheduled to havae an underbite correction surgery. My biggest fear is that I would look different. I have a slight underbite so besides my profile you can’t really tell I have one, unless I mention it. I’m just worried that the surgery will not just change my profile but also my full frontal image, which I like. I looked through your pictures and it’s not that dramatic, but it looks great. Any advice? Thanks.

  10. I was scheduled for double jaw surgery, but after a year of orthodontics my surgeon and orthodontist opted for a single upper jaw anterior open bite correction with elastics and no splint. Reading your blog helped me prepare for any case and made the recovery much easier. Thanks!

  11. @dep I’m doing a lot better now, almost 5 weeks post op and I get my splint out on Thursday. I would really caution you though. I had the exact same flu like symptoms and when I went for my 2 week checkup I had an infection and was severely dehydrated. I spent 3 days on IV, got antibiotics and now I’m good as new.

  12. Hi guys 22 days post opp , I think the hardest part for me has been liquid food , I have been eating well but I just can’t stop thinking about food .

    A lot of posts say after 2 weeks you’ll be up and about but found for me this wasn’t right , I felt really good for the first 4 days and then had a day of like flu like symptoms feeling hot and cold feeling weak achey restless body. I very very active normally in my everyday job so sitting about is really not good for me do so today I went out to the shops and after and hour I got very tired so don’t rush back to work , college etc .

    I’m still swollen but has gone down a lot and I have elastics soy mouth is very tightly shit so again eating has been a pain. One thing I recommend you get guys is nose spray if you ever have problems breathing and buy a mouth refreshing spray as your mouth will smell even tho you brush it , I think it’s the fact that you can’t clean your tongue . Guys I hope I’ve not been to direct and straight but on the plus note I’m so happy I’ve had it done as I feel like my head feels free now and everyday is getting better .

    Thank you Graham got allowing us to chat on here and I wished all orthodontist and hospitals would tell us about this site so I could of chatted before my opp. All the best guys . Love you all.

  13. Graham this site is amazing. I’m currently on day 10 of my recovery from double jaw surgery and it is hopefully my final operation after years of surgical & orthodontic treatment (8 years of braces) to help correct my cleft lip & palate. The information you provided here was stellar. The main issue I’m having is getting sleep, (its nearly 3am right now) and wondering if anyone else had such little sleep and when things get back to normal. I too am an Alberta boy (grande prairie) so it was cool to hear you’re from Edmonton. I realize you recently stepped down from replying but I’m sure you’ll scroll through these comments again eventually. So I just wanted to say thanks, for giving me some insight and optimism during my recovery. Time to try to get some sleep. Have a goodnight everyone!

  14. Hey, I can see that your blog has been running for quite a while already, but as your last reply is from a couple of days ago I hope you wouldn’t mind reading this and sharing some wisdom about my current situation:

    I’ll spare the more personal details, but basically I was set for a surgery (apparently a double-jaw one) date of a little more than a month from now, but it kind-of went different than the orthodox way: I had a couple of appointments with this surgeon-lady during late-2012/early-2013, who gave a diagnose of (as I understand it) mandibular asymmetry and maxillary hypoplasia (I’m not sure how severe the hypoplasia is, because I felt like my current situation involved the mandible itself being somewhat protruding forward as well to slanting left), but I had to postpone the surgery for some personal/professional cause that unfortunately in the end didn’t even come through. But now when I finally decided to get back at this a few months ago, I was told that if I won’t manage to “squeeze-in” the surgery before November I’d possibly have to pay a price of more than 11,000$. The thing is that I didn’t start the pre-op orthodontic treatment by the time I came back to the surgeon, but I already had braces during school a few years back (which obviously didn’t solve the jaw misalignment), so I was referred to an orthodontist to give an assessment of their current necessity. Some more weeks flew-by, and eventually when the orthodontist looked at the bust of my teeth he took, he said that surgically-only the bite would be partially incomplete and referred me back to the surgeon…

    Eventually, she said that they could ask for me to do the usually-pre-op braces post-operationally. A week ago I was called for a pre-op committee where some 10-15 doctors were looking at me and my mouth, and one simply marked “you’ll need a small orthodontic treatment after the surgery, is that OK?”. It didn’t sound like they make a big deal out of it, but I don’t know. That surgeon I met at the beginning sat with me after for a bit, but she didn’t really explain what are their plans for my specific operation. It seemed like they were checking my teeth more than the jaws themselves, while I think of it this way: Even if I was toothless, the jaws would have the same misalignment and would require being moved to a specific position. I wasn’t told what would that movement be, and was left only with the final operation-date with currently no known appointments otherwise.

    I was also then referred to some doctor who needed to check my applicability for costs-coverage, which I was deemed applicable (but who knows, she might’ve been just “easy on the trigger” because they get government money as a result), yet she informed me that as the braces aren’t covered I should pay for them to be glued ahead and not come on the day of the surgery expecting them to be put free-of-charge… But no surgeon told me to put them beforehand. This specific orthodontist said that because there would be fixators/bolts/whatever holding the jaws in some way, the braces couldn’t be glued afterwards. Does that make any sense?

    And involving pre-op preparations, weren’t you given a better explanation of what’s to happen during the surgery, what are the expectations for the final result, and possibly some more tests? I’d might be contacted later, but it’s not currently of my knowledge. Also, did they present you with a digital simulation? If so, how did it hold up to the actual result? I wasn’t presented with the simulation during my committee, and the surgeon said that the guy who does them wasn’t available that day, but that (as I already read) they aren’t as accurate or impressive anyway.

    One last thing involving the operation itself: I was asked to bring two references of relatives/acquaintances who donated blood during the last year to “cover for” the two blood doses present in my surgery (that’s a local law I didn’t know of). Do they actually use blood transfusion, or is it most likely just precautionary?

    If you actually read all of this, thanks (and kudos to you)!

    PS, I most definitely hope I would NOT get a catheter… Damn.

  15. Hi Graham,

    I have never read a blog before but having undergone double jaw surgery 9 days ago I found yours and it’s been invaluable! Thank you and well done for creating such a treasured and up to date resource for fellow jaw patients.

    Your positivity and sense of humour seem to know no bounds and I hope life is continuing to treat you, and your new jaw, well 🙂

    Alison,
    Scotland

    • Alison, thanks for the kind words! I hope your second week of recovery goes well and that you’re looking forward to your new smile. =)

  16. Hi, Graham.

    I cannot thank you enough for how much this blog has helped my family and I over the past few weeks. It really has eased nerves and inspired confidence in the eventual success of the operation and recovery period. Your final results really are fantastic! You’re also a complete saint for still replying to people with queries about the process so many years after your surgery, you’re doing us all a real service so cheers for that!

    I had my op in the UK on the 8th of July so I’m on day 8 of recovery now so as you well know I’m still more than a little worse for wear! I just had a few queries though regarding the swelling you had around your nose? Like if you had more swelling on one side of your nose than the other would this be likely to give your nose the appearance of going to one side and being slightly out of line with the centre of your face? Only that’s an issue I’m having right now and I’m a little concerned. My nose was pretty close to being dead straight before.

    Anyway, that’s it. Thanks again for the site it is a massive help!

    Tom

    • Tom, any lopsided appearance in your face can likely be attributed to swelling if you’re within the first 3 months of recovery. I also felt like the symmetry in my face was lost, but as the swelling receded over the months, everything moved back into place. Try not to pass judgement on your appearance until the full 3 months have passed. Best of luck!

  17. Hey Graham (wow same last name haha!) I came across your blog while I was dedicated to psyching myself out before going to sleep. I’m 16 with a class 3 underbite and a candidate for surgery; I have an appointment with the surgeon in a couple weeks. It’s recommended to wait until I’m 18, but my ortho said I might be able to have it soon.
    I am still terrified of the surgery and the recovery, but I spent the past few hours reading all of your posts and laughing. A few questions: Do you HAVE to have braces on for the surgery? And how limited was your physical activity during the beginning of your recovery? I can’t imagine not being at least somewhat active during the day for a whole 3 months! I’m guessing contact sports are a big no huh?
    And thanks for this blog, it eased my nerves a bit and now I have a great idea of the grand torture I’ll be going through.

    • Hi Brianna,

      First off, cheers to having a great last name, haha! If you don’t yet have braces, that will likely take 1–2 years, so you may be 18 years old before having the surgery anyway. I think braces are generally necessary prior to having this operation because the orthodontist needs to create a few spaces in your teeth so the surgeon has room to cut into the jaw.

      As for physical activity, you’ll be relatively devoid of energy for the first 4–6 weeks, but you should be able to begin playing contact-free sports again after that. Like anything, your pain and energy levels will be your guide.

      Good luck with your decision!

  18. hi graham, did you have you surgery done in halifax? who was your dr..you look amazing

    • Bec, I had my surgery in Edmonton at the skilled hands of Dr. Lahl. Unfortunately, I don’t have any recommendations for surgeons in Halifax.

  19. that should have read the “wee” hours of the morning. Normally associated with the great night life Ireland has to offer 😉

  20. Hi Graham,

    I don’t normally comment on blogs/forums but I just wanted to congratulate you and thank you on such a great website. The fact that you are still replying to people’s queries years after your experience really says a lot about you!
    I first discovered it about 2 weeks post op and ended up binge reading well into the week hours of the morning. I’m from Ireland and to say there is minimal information for us is an understatement. It was only from sites like yours and the comments from others’ experiences that I learned what to expect.
    I’m currently 6 and 1/2 weeks post op and am doing great! In fact,I wish I hadn’t waited until my early 30’s before I started my braces/surgery journey but then again I don’t think I would have been as mentally prepared as I am now and the opportunity just wasn’t there.
    As it stands, it was the best decision I ever made and I can’t wait until the hooks, elastics, wires and brackets come off. But in the meantime I’ll continue to smile and live my life to the full.

    • Wils, I’m glad you find my ranting useful. You sound like you’ve got the right mindset to complete your recovery without any trouble, so stay positive and enjoy your new smile in T-minus 6 weeks!

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