Day 1908 - How Time Flies . . .

Sheesh, has it been that long since I last updated the blog?? Apparently so!

I constantly receive emails and questions concerning my surgery but I purposely left the content of blog alone because I felt like it stood alone in terms of not needing to be updated because the content, questions, and material are as relevant today as they were many years ago.

That said, I think it is about time that I least update you as to where everything stands and to that end over the next week or so I will updating the FAQ, photo album and adding a little bit more information that many of you have requested!

So, if you have any questions that you would like addressed, please let me know!
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Day 346: Lessons Learned

Given that I am approaching my one year mark in just a few short, I thought I would wax philosophical if you do not mind and summarize a few of the lessons learned as it were, over the last few years.

Hindsight of course is a wonderful revealer of truths and perhaps these insights will help some of you who a considering double jaw surgery. Maybe. Maybe not.

I should have listened to my mother as a child and worn my braces! :)
This is somewhat true inasmuch as the braces would have helped my teeth be better aligned but obviously the jaw issues would still have existed. I do wish however that I would have investigated the surgical route ten years ago when my wife suggested it. Procrastination is never a good thing, especially when you are over 40 years of age but ah well, nothing to be done about it now!

In all seriousness however, I have heard many people say that they wish they had gone through with surgery a "long time ago" but were worried about the pain, the time required to heal, the cosmetic consequences, and all of the other factors related to surgery but the reality is that there really is never a good time for this surgery and so you quite honestly have to make the decision, move forward, and embrace the new reality . . .

Understand the process in its entirety.
To be honest, this was never overly an issue for me as I am one of those individuals who needs to know everything about everything prior to making decisions. Sometimes this approach serves me (in the case of this surgery) and sometimes it simply causes angst!

This of course has its own problems (you really do not have to watch YouTube videos of the surgery prior to your own surgery!) but on the whole it is good to know at least the process of recovery and what to expect in terms of swelling, eating, chewing, numbness, splint, braces, etc.

Having a support process in place makes a world of difference.
I have talked abut this quite a few times throughout my recovery phase but I am so thankful to have great family and friends who took the time to email, visit, bring treats, and just generally show their support. As for where I would be now, and how I would have coped without my wife,  I have no idea!

Everybody is different
I recongise that we all acknowledge this but the truth of the matter is that no matter how much time you invest in understanding this procedure and process, we all heal at different levels. For example, I have a friend whose son who underwent a very similar surgery to mine (even used the same surgeon due to my recommendation!) but his recovery was so, so, much easier than mine in terms of less swelling, less pain, and overall less everything! My advice - be aware of what may happen but don't become overly anxious that everything will happen to you.

Find the best Doctor for your situation / Ask questions!
It is important that you feel completely comfortable with your medical team; be it your regular dentist, your Orthodontist (braces), and your oral surgeon.

The key to feeling comfortable is to ask questions. As in, lots of questions. This will obviously help you feel comfortable with their knowledge of the work that needs to be performed but it will also help you decide if you personality clicks with yours. Remember, the oral surgeon is potentially going to change the way you look, eat, and talk and so it is important that you actually have a positive relationship with them! You will be seeing your surgeon a lot and so make sure you actually like them!

Perhaps this isn't as important to you; it may be that you simply identify the so-called best surgeon and go with them but for me, it was important to not only have the best for my situation but also somebody who I can communicate with in a manner that I found works with my personality.

I am lucky to have found a great Orthodontist and Oral Surgeon!

Finally . . . Sit back and enjoy the ride!
Once you have selected the surgeon, understand the process, pre-surgery orthodontia is almost completed, and you have received notification from your insurance company that they will in fact cover your surgery (rather important in my opinion!) then just sit back and enjoy :)

I recognise that the word enjoy is rather relative but honestly, time will fly by (perhaps not the first two weeks post surgery I admit) and before you know it you will be hitting your one year mark!
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Day 340: A Happy Day!

Well, today was in fact a GREAT day with nothing but GOOD news concerning a few of the issues I have been discussing over the last fortnight.

I went to see my dentist today to find out about the tooth that is super sensitive and the good news is that he doesn't believe I need a root canal! Yay! He performed the various tests such as applying freezing cold material to the tooth and surrounding area, banging on the tooth (for want of a better expression), and X-Rays which were not conclusive as there were screws in the way :)

Although somewhat sensitive to the cold-test, it wasn't enough in his opinion to warrant a root canal. He applied some material, polished the teeth, and told me that unless it gets much worse he doesn't recommend a root canal. Fantastic.

But wait, that is not all! As he was wrapping up, I asked him his opinion on my non-functioning tooth is due to be extracted in a fortnight. He looked at it and told me that he though he could simply grind it down on the side that is biting my cheek and that way I would not have to have it extracted.

I really had nothing to lose so I am told him to go for it and he proceeded to grind away! I took him about 10 minutes but I now the proud owner of a very smooth tooth that is not biting my cheek anymore! How fantastic is that! He smoothed the side that is facing my inside cheek and it feels like I have a marble for a tooth now as it feels almost round if that makes sense?

So, at the end of the appointment, I learned that I DO NOT need a root canal NOR do I need my tooth extracted! Like I said, today was a good day!
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Day 333: Seriously, Part II

To be honest, you just have to kind of laugh, especially after what I had written a few days ago!

I visited my Orthodontist today because I have been experiencing a super sensitive tooth (top, front middle) and whenever I have anything cold to eat or drink not only does it hurt but throbs for a long time afterwards.

This is particularly disturbing as my favorite food group would be iced-drinks and ice-cream. Major inconvenience. I started using Sensodyne toothpaste a month or so ago and it has helped but not to the point where it is not irksome!

In my head, I had associated this discomfort with the fact that I only started to feel this pain after my braces were removed and the permanent retainers were bonded to my teeth. Guess what, I was wrong apparently in this belief.

The good news? There isn't any.

The bad news? My Orthofdontist thinks that my tooth is dying and that I need a root canal performed on that tooth!!! ARGH! Seriously, are you kidding me, a root canal!?

I left his office not an overly happy chap let me tell you as now I am looking at a root canal on top of all the other issues I discussed just two days ago.

I called my dentist (I realise that I have waaay too many dental professionals in my life what with my Oral Surgeon, my Orthodontist, and my Dentist) to make an appointment and they asked me a series of questions to see if I needed to be seen that very day as apparently you do not want to let potentially dead teeth go untreated for any length of time.

I answered the questions and apparently I am ok to wait a few days as I have no swelling, infection, acute pain, etc.,etc. I wanted to tell her, the way things are going, just wait, I am sure I will in a day or two but I refrained! :) The reality is although the tooth is rather sensitive it has been so for many a month and as long as I do not eat or drink anything super cold I really am fine.

I most definitely do not want a root canal, not least because I am tired of paying copay's in my life! The last year has proven to be rather expensive where all of this is concerned and if I can avoid any more expenses, I would be most grateful!
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Day 331: Seriously . . .

Every now and again I will be honest and say that all the lingering issues somewhat frustrate me and let me just say now that today was one of those days :)

I really have little to complain about in terms of the surgery unless you count the nerve damage, super sensitive tooth, jaw and headaches, and the fact that I chew the inside of my cheek incessantly! I am being a tad saracastic obviously as really, I just get on with life and non of the above issues really affect me negatively. Much to be said I think for a positive outlook in life.

However, today I went to see my Oral Surgeon as I had a few questions, specifically:

  • Will I ever regain feeling in my lower lip, chin, and right cheek.
  • Why is my jaw popping out, or so it feels, when I yawn (see previous post)
  • What are we going to do about my cottage-cheese inside-of-my-mouth
  • Why is my front tooth so super-sensitive ever since my braces were removed
The answers were straightforward enough though certainly not what I wanted to hear!

Nerve Damage:
Given the fact that I feel a slight sensation when I very lightly brush my finger across my lips, chin, and cheek, he is very confident that I will regain feeling. One day. "Give it another year". Argh. 

Jaw Popping Out:
Apparently, my jaw joints are not strong enough anymore given their new position. Although obviously no work was done on the jaw joints themselves, what with the fact that I now have a new jawline position, the muscles, ligaments, whatever, are now used to how my jaw now operates and consequently they need to be strengthened. 

I didn't even know that you could strengthen your jaw muscles?! So, I need to go to physical therapy to learn some exercises and such in order to build up strength so that when I yawn, my jaw joints no longer pop out of position. Again, let me just say argh!

Cottage Cheese:
Simply answer to this issue is that he wants to extract the non-functioning tooth. It really serves no purpose anymore and all it is doing is chewing the inside cheek. So, I have to schedule another appointment to ave him remove the tooth. I apologise for being repetitious but argh!

Sensitive Tooth
See my Orthodontist :) I actually have an appointment with him scheduled for Thursday of this week so we will see what he has to say. Better be good news!

Even though I knew most of the answers and what he would say, it was kinda' depressing to be honest. It has been almost a year since my surgery and I am still looking at physio, a tooth extraction, and hopefully one day feeling will return in my lips and chin. Ah well, such is life eh!?!
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Day 300: Aches and Pains

300 days since my surgery, wow! It has been an an interesting few months since my last update where my jaw is concerned and I thought I would provide a few updates both from my own perspective but also based on the many emails I receive asking about various aspects of the surgery:

The issues are, depending upon your perspective, either really trivial and minor or else they are incredibly irksome and frustrating. To be honest, I think I vacillate between both states of being depending upon the day! :) Let me explain where I am presently in terms of progress to date:

Numbness and Nerves
Probably the number one question I am asked is concerning whether I have regained full feeling in my chin and lips.

Unfortunately, I have to say that the answer is, no, I have not. My upper lip has full sensation but there has been no improvement in my lower lip, chin, or on the right side of my face (cheek). I describe the feeling as similar to that when you are having a filling or tooth extraction and your dentist gives you an injection to deaden the area. Well, that cotton wool feeling is exactly what I have permanently.

I confess that this has proven to be somewhat frustrating at times because although they tingle (lower lip especially) when I lightly touch them, it doesn't seem like it is improving. In many ways, it was better when I had absolutely no feeling as it such a strange sensation to permanently have, especially when eating. When I am chew food, it feels like I have a wad of cotton wool in the right side of my mouth and I so find myself trying to chew on the left side of my mouth which no doubt is not a great thing!

I was told by Dr. Egbert that it might take up to 18 months to regain full feeling (if at all) so I still have another 9 months to go. I am being optimistic and assuming that I will regain feeling but if not, c'est la vie. Worst things in life, right . . .

Chewing the Inside of my Mouth
You may recall that as a result of the surgery and the total movement of my lower jaw, that I now have a non functioning tooth (upper right, furthest back). That tooth is continually biting and chewing my cheek whenever I eat to the point that the inside of my cheek looks like cottage cheese. You would think this would be rather painful but guess what, I cannot feel the inside of my cheek (see above) . . . A combination of movement, scar tissue and the shape of the tooth no doubt. My oral surgeon wanted to take the tooth out but decided to wait a while to see if the scar tissue goes down and maybe it has but the reality is that there is little room between the right side of my upper teeth and my cheek. I think the days are numbered where that tooth is concerned. . .

Aches . . .
Presumably because my lower and upper jaw are in different positions, there has been a period of learning in that the jaws are now opeating in different positions. This means that they ache quite a lot around the joints (by my ears) and I constantly have jaw aches and ear aches. I was never someone who suffered from headaches and I think I have experienced them more in the last 300 days than I did in the entirity of my life!

When you think of it, this is to be expected - there is always a period of 'wearing in' whenever ou have something new, and in my case I just happen to have a new profile, jaw position, etc. I am presuming (hoping) that over time, these aches will disappear. Bizarely enough, the aching in my jaws are definitely exacerbated by cold wether and given the fact that winters where I live are particualy cold I am sure many of the aches can be attributed to the weather. . .

In the immediacy after my surgery, I told you that yawning was a bad idea. Let me just say that even at 300 post0surgery it is still a bad idea! I find myself still placing a hand under my chin when I yawn so as not to stretch the jaw joints. 

Apart from the fact I am probably favouring eating on the left side of my mouth for reasons already delineated, my eating has resumed to normal for the most part. I still don't like eating hard candy or tough foods but pretty much I am back to my ol' poor eating habits! The 40lbs that I lost as a result of the surgery is now down to about 30lbs . .

That is about it for now I think. I will post pictures shortly with a timeline showing the various phases which is always interesting, at least to me!
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Day 186: Retainers

Well, my braces are no more and in their place I know have permanent wire retainers behind my top and bottom front teeth.

I would take a picture but how exactly does one do that? :) They are permanently bonded to my teeth and although they seem a tad strange now (my tongue is constantly rubbing them) I am told I will not even notice them after a while.

I also have a pair of retainers that I am supposed to wear in the evening. You can see them above. They feel great actually. Never ends all this dental work does it!
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