Showing posts from 2017

Day 268: Mini-surprises near the end of the road

Today I was trying to explain what is different about my teeth after double jaw surgery and braces. To others it looks like nothing much changed, and I forget sometimes why I got jaw surgery, except when I'm eating.

Now that I'm less than 2 months from getting my braces off, my teeth are almost in their final position. I've been noticing more and more during meals that I'm comfortable biting fully into meats and veggies. I still get surprised when my upper teeth collide with my lower teeth and the food separates cleanly.

In a funny way I find myself worrying saying "wait this isn't normal," and then I realize that actually I'd just never had it normal before. This has been a long ride, but from what I'm seeing now the destination is looking pretty awesome.

9 Month check-in (Day 255)

The last 3 months have been me living my life with elastics in varying configurations. There has been a small gap between my back right molars which the orthodontist has been trying his darndest to close... Every few movements a gap opening here and there between my teeth, with the solution being More Elastics!

I've been wearing 5 elastics that do things like trying to pull the midline back in, and getting my molars to touch.

Yes, it's been frustrating.


Yesterday, the orthodontist looked around at my teeth. Then he looked around again. He looked confused, and looked further in with my mouth open and closing several times. Then it happened. "Let's schedule you for impressions next visit, and the visit after that we'll take your braces off."

My immediate instinct was that this was a trap. But no, I'm now scheduled for 3 visits in january. Getting impressions on Jan 8th. Getting my braces taken off on Jan 22nd. And then getting my retainer a few days aft…

Day 199 (6.5 months) : Teeth are straightening out!

My lower teeth are not as canted/tilted compared to a 6 months ago! I hadn't noticed, because the changes my orthodontist were doing were so gradual it seemed like nothing was happening. But here we are, look at this comparison pic from 2 weeks after surgery versus now (6 months later).

If you look at the angle of lower brace wire versus the top, after surgery it was tilted. To me at the time it felt like my left side of the teeth met first and the right side not at all, almost like my jaw was canted.

I worried about this quite a lot, and had several conversations with my orthodontist and surgeon about it. They were not worried, and now I'm finally starting to understand why. It was a teeth alignment issue more than a jaw alignment issue. My right teeth (left in the pictures) touched on the tops and bottom in weird ways, with the lower teeth meeting outside the upper teeth, when it's supposed to be the other way. Because of this even with elastics they were not wanting to …

6 Month Check-In (Day 188) : Tau months in, upper gum sensation returning

It's been about 6.28 months since the operation, or Tau (2*pi) months. I am starting to gain more feeling in my upper gums, whereas a month or two ago I could feel my palate and some of my upper teeth, but still had only partial sensation with the gums around my upper teeth.

Since those nerves were cut in the operation, and are numerous and small, the surgeon said roughly a year for recovery. I'm happy to say at ~6 months I'm starting to get partial sensation everywhere now. Honestly I can't really tell I don't have sensation in my upper gums anymore, I would've said it was noticeable up until about 4 months after surgery. I can only tell when I poke certain parts of the gum and notice only pressure sensations.

I went snorkeling last weekend, diving to 10-15 feet without issue. I was able to equalize my ears fine, despite the slight differences I've noticed after the surgery where my left ear seems to not feel a weird pressure occasionally.

On to 9 months

Day 167 : Orthodontics continues despite Eclipse

At today's checkup with the orthodontist, I've finally graduated to only wearing elastics at night! I can finally not worry about carrying around elastics during the day, having it snap during meals (yes, one is supposed to take them off...), or finding random food-bits stuck behind the bands hours later.

Some rubber power-chain type elastic were added to the front of my upper teeth, which is meant to help my center-line (mid-line!) stay the same or improve.

Before all this I spent the morning on the roof yelling at the clouds to get out of the way so I could get some photos of the eclipse. A few minutes of clear sky let me get several shots.

I said I'd never dare hope again, but here it is, I'm starting to hope that my braces might be coming off within 6 months.

On to Day 188 (6 month check-in)

5 Month Check-In (Day 145) : Well it's been a while

Wow, It's been 66 days since I last updated on my jaw surgery recovery. We're at Day 145, close to 5 months since the operation. As you can probably tell, I have almost completely forgotten I ever got jaw surgery. The only reminders now are the fact that I'm still wearing braces and elastics (sigh) and *drumroll* I can bite everything.

That's right, carrots, almonds, burgers, weird salad things, you name it, I bite it. The last 3 months have consisted of my teeth slowly being pulled ever-closer to an ideal alignment. My molars are almost all touching now, the right side is still lagging slightly.

Actually, that was a slight change, the metal bands that go around my upper back teeth were removed, and they glued on hooks on the inside of those teeth so that an elastic can be hooked from the inside of the upper back teeth to the outside of the lower back teeth. This maneuver is to help pull my upper back teeth onto the outside of my lower back teeth, where currently it…

11 Week Check-In (Day 74-79) : Biting continues to improve

I bit into a taco the other day, and it was the most glorious bite I've ever done. My teeth closed perfectly, crunching through the taco and the chicken, cleanly severing it into two parts. Is this what normal people experience all the time?

In terms of my recovery, my swelling is about the same; mostly gone but slight puffiness around the cheeks still. I can open my mouth to 2.5 fingers now. I slacked off a bit on the jaw stretching and have gotten back to it. I am able to bite harder into most things now, able to crunch chips, burgers, pizzas etc. My teeth are meeting well enough to grind salads. I'm still not yet able to do raw carrots or almonds, but it's getting closer.

My numbness on the outside skin is mostly gone, the cheek is almost back to full sensation which is exciting. I'm starting to get sensations in my upper gum, starting from the molars and high up in the gums. I still can't feel the upper gums around my front teeth yet, still another 9 months exp…

10 Week Check-In (Day 60-73) : Biting harder things

10 weeks has come and gone in a flash. A friend at lunch asked about my surgery and it took me a few moments to remember I had had it. I'm so used to my new bite, it fits nicely together (except for the right side molars, which still don't touch but the gap is slowly closing).

Lizzy says my swelling has reduced a little over time, I can't really tell the difference yet. We can both still see puffiness on my cheeks, so hopefully that'll reduce in another month or so.

As you can see, besides the haircut, I look about the same. One big difference from 4 weeks ago is that my jaw feels very strong now, even though I can't yet bite into almonds or carrots fully, I've started gnawing away at them with greater success each time.

I have 3 elastics that are put in a box configuration around my teeth, the front two I only have to wear at night. The right rear is always-on except when I eat. It is trying its best to bring my molars together.

I'm getting more comfortabl…

Two month Check-In (Day 60) : Got a dental cleaning finally

It's been 2 months now! Around last week I realized I forgot I ever got surgery. It's a surprising feeling considering just a month ago about all I could think about was my jaw's future. My swelling has reduced in the last month, it's barely noticeable at this point. Now I don't really see it in the mirror, but can feel it when I press around my cheeks.
When shaving there's a small spot on my chin which is still relearning it's nerve sensations and feels tingly on touch. Besides this little reminder, the only things that have really changed at this point from before vs. after surgery is having to put on elastics, and not being able to eat hard carrots or nuts yet. I had a pretty hard time with them before due to braces anyway so this isn't a big deal.

I also went traveling this weekend. I just need to remember to take elastics with me when going on trips, otherwise it's business as usual at this point.

I was late with this post, as I'm actually …

7 Week Check-In (Day 46-49) : Burger Biting! Nerve sensation coming back

My chin is getting more and more liquid sensations, and now random pings of pain pop up randomly. It's actually a little obnoxious at times. I'm glad the mental nerve is regenerating now, at roughly 1-2 months in, ahead of schedule. From what I can glean online, full nerve sensation (if ever) can take 6-12 months to come back. The fact I'm feeling as much as I do now is a pretty clear sign I'll probably have full recovery.

Just to be clear, if my nerve regrowth on my face were to stop today, I'd still be completely happy. There's no points with 0 sensation, and only the lower half of my chin has lets say 80% nerve sensation at this point, which makes shaving weird but otherwise is fine. As long as the inside-out sensation gets remapped correctly given time I've got no issues.

My face swelling feels exactly the same. My bite is definitely connecting better nowadays. I was able to bite into a 100% normal restaurant burger the other day. It was absolutely glor…

Day 43-45 : Chin nerve regeneration

The last two days I've started to feel the strangest sensations on the (previously) numb part of my chin. Whenever I drink cold water, it feels like the outside of my chin is wet! This gives me the uncomfortable sensation that water is seeping out from inside my mouth to the chin via osmosis. I have to check every so often to make sure that, no, my chin is not a permeable sponge this time.

Work is going alright, still having trouble getting back into the right mindset, but each day it gets a bit easier.

We made crab-cakes yesterday, they were magnificent because not only were they delicious but they were also soft. Chewing has become a lot easier lately. I'm starting to be able to apply some force to do the actual act. I have pretty good lateral motion of the jaw (left-right), and my front teeth meet mostly equally. There's still a gap in the back right molars. My orthodontist feels the mid-line will probably get partially corrected with orthodontry. He thinks if there'…

6 Week Check-In (Day 38-42) : Back to work and exercise!

Yesterday was my first day back at work! It went well, almost everybody said I looked exactly the same, except I'd lost some weight. This is great since this wasn't a cosmetic surgery, and that means that my swollen face is only noticeable to me and those who know me closely.

I also got the go-ahead from my surgeon to do weightlifting and rowing again, so now I have no excuses to slack off. I can also chew on whatever I feel comfortable with, which is still at the lasagna stage, as my teeth and jaws are sore from all the elastics.

I tend to eat ramen noodles a lot lately, using chicken bouillon to give some flavour to the soup. Mashed potato mixes are also great. I can eat most meats now, I just have to cut the pieces up a lot, and chewing gets tiring. Over the last 4 days, my face felt about the same, I've been eating more food outside with friends, getting more and more adventurous in my diet.

I finally decided to measure how far off my mid-lines were, and it looks like …

Day 37 : Orthodontist visit #3, new lower wires

The orthodontist visit today was routine for checking how my bite was progressing (the last visit was even more boring). They were pleased with the progress on the left and front teeth, where it seems to be fitting at 100% already. The right side back teeth (molars) still have a larger gap, so in addition to the elastic there to help it move together, he removed the lower wire and replaced it with a thinner one. This allows for more movement of the lower teeth.

The most exciting part about having the lower wires out was... the new wire didn't have any surgical hooks in it! Now, yes, they did add some wire hooks to the lower brackets itself, so that the box elastics could still be done to the teeth, but it is awesome to have removed the obnoxious hooks directly in the front and sides that used to be there from surgery.

They felt pretty confident my teeth would be close to 100% by the time we're done with all of this. Sounds like they're not worried about the cant, nor the m…

5 Week Check-In (Day 35-36) : Comparison photos, mouth opening wider

Comparison photos! Also in terms of how I feel recovery-wise, here's how I felt last week (4-weeks)

Energy was around 80%, I can do everything, I just like to complain about it.I still couldn't sleep side-ways comfortably (too much blood-pressure in face)Could walk at full speed up/down-hill, but when I got tired I got tired like I needed to sit down or I'd black out.Leaning over to pick up things is doable, but only for short stints. No yoga, not that I do yoga.
And now at 5 weeks

Energy around 90%, I can do everything, I get mild headaches from too much exertionI am now able to lie sideways for an hour at a time without feeling too much pain, sleeping sideways is just barely uncomfortable enough that I don't do it right now.I can lean over for several minutes now without feeling a head-rush.I finally feel safe to do weight-lifting again, though I am supposed to wait for 6 weeks so I'll wait.
Here's profile photos from before surgery and 5 weeks.

My swelling has…

Day 31 - 34 : Stiches dissolved! Braces timelapse

I just checked and it looks like all the visible parts of my stitches have finally dissolved. Over the last 2 weeks My lower stitches had dissolved (located at back of mouth where wisdom teeth were, and along the lower sides) quicker than my upper stitches (located above front teeth mostly). This is probably because they had more contact with saliva due to gravity. I'm pretty excited to see the upper stitches go because they were pretty painful pushing on the swollen skin, leaving an indent and causing swelling.

I felt like now was a good time as any to make a timelapse video of my teeth showing how the braces moved the teeth around from the start all the way to jaw surgery and a little bit past. Once I finish my braces I'll post an updated video too.

I'd say my most bruised/painful feeling spot is probably right above my lips on the outside, pushing there just feels like I'm ripping something. Now it just feels like it's bruised, so a nice step up.

My numbness has…

1 Month Check-In (Day 30) : Accidental sneeze, chewing actually working

Today marks 1 months since the surgery (30 days). Comparison photos time. Here's a link to all my Check-In posts here also.

It sounds cliche since I've read it on several blogs, but I really am amazed at how my body has recovered in that time. My bite has finally started to come together, and I feel comfortable saying it's better than where it was before surgery now. Considering I still have several months of braces to go perfecting to bite, it's all gravy from now on.

Sleeping last night with the elastics was a struggle. There was just a constant dull pain from the pulling on a few teeth in particular. This morning was much better. I had one scare, where as I was swishing mouthwash I sneezed automatically through my nose. I had a moment of sheer panic; Did I just release the blood valves to my untimely demise? After a few seconds, some snot came out. So it turns out I'm okay.

Eating ramen for lunch has been great, mostly because I'm actually starting to use my…

Day 29: Waiting on my teeth to move (Jaw opens 2 fingers now!)

I've been wearing the elastics pretty consistently since my orthodontist appointment. My bite is definitely starting to form. Whereas before I was complaining about contact on one tooth, now I can complain about uneven contact on several teeth :D, a nice step forward. Comparing from about 2 weeks ago to now, my bite has closed by what seems like 1-2 mm. In fact the teeth are starting to overlap/touch the metal brackets.
My left side teeth seem to be coming together nicely, but my right side is still lagging (left side in the photos). This is probably in part due to the slight cant to the teeth/jaw, and partly because of that one tooth that was holding up the line. When the orthodontist shaved it down a little that helped the teeth know whose boss and they have started to line up quickly.

There is still a constant and annoying tooth and jaw pain from the elastics forcing my bite together in a new and uncomfortable way.

I have more comparisons at my 4 week check-in.

Also, today mark…

4 Week Check-In (Day 28) : Comparisons, Eating habits, elastics and weight management

Today marks 4 weeks post-op! I'm amazed at how quickly my jaw has sprung back. Just yesterday my friends and I made a giant amount of ramen and spent all night eating it.

Before I continue talking about ramen, here's a comparison photo between today and before surgery now that my swelling has settled a bit (my cheeks, left in particular are still pretty swollen). My jawline looks pretty awesome now actually! Somehow it's a bit squarer than it used to be, which is probably due to swelling, but it's not an unwelcome change. I think a large part of why it's squarer is that before my jaw hung forward and down so much that my face was more ovaloid (ie. why the long face?). The lower lips and chin are positioned behind my upper lips now which is much more natural.

An interesting byproduct of the new lower lip position is that sometimes I drool by mistake. Before surgery, I was so used to my lower lips and mouth being like a basin that caught my drool easily, but now that…

Day 27 : Stories

A few friends and I were discussing how a recent article on a shooting in the city was bereft of details. The article said someone was found shot in the afternoon. I was bored enough to create a potential story for it.

The guy who died was actually a drug kingpin in the middle of a critical deal to create a new product called Gold Leaf on the PCP market. His trademark came about from tiny white scar above his upper right temple in the shape of a leaf. He got that as a 6 yr-old child, when he was attacked by a rottweiler at the 'daycare', which was also a front by the local gang for laundering blood money raised from an underground dog fighting ring. The child grew up with an understandable but irrational hatred of rottweilers. So from that moment in daycare he promised himself that he would never let himself be hurt again. He studied hard in secret, training in self-defense and concocting powdered drugs. Using subterfuge and purposefully bad batches, he killed off all those wh…

Day 25 - 26 : Ghost in the Shell and Picnics

These last two days my energy continues to return, I can walk at normal speeds now. My mouth is opening much wider thanks to the jaw exercises, at about 1.5 fingers now. This makes brushing much, much easier, since the toothbrush can fit inside the mouth fully, whereas before I had to kind of angle it in several places just to fit. This is still the baby toothbrush, the other one is still too big.

An interesting aside with my new jaw position is how it changes a lot of things I used to take for granted. You know how when brushing you spit out what's in your mouth into the sink after you're done? The first time I tried doing that, my spit went in the wrong direction. My muscle memory for pursing my lips is completely off now. Luckily nobody saw the results of that mistake.

Similarly, I was getting dinner with a visiting friend, and as we were discussing this, he asked if I could still whistle. I've been able to whistle before the surgery, the simple not super loud one witho…

Day 24 : Nintento Switch and Zelda Splurge

I did it. I bought a console for the first time in over a decade. The nintendo switch has been out of stock for the last few weeks, with insanely marked up prices online. Today I noticed on google shopping that a best buy nearby had some in stock. Strangely the best buy website said it was out of stock. So obviously I trusted google, called the best buy and yes she said they had a couple in stock!

They had just had a shipment come in in the morning. I had called at 11am, and she said a couple were still left. I arrived at the store at 11:45am, and I bought the second-last one. Holy crap these things are selling like hot cakes.

I bought the console for one reason and one reason only. Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild. Yes that's right, I bought a console for just one game. I'm splurging. Jaw surgery splurge if you will.

I'll see you in a couple weeks.

(Update 9:30pm) Zelda is amazing. Un-related, doing jaw exercises has been helping greatly. Whereas just two days ago I c…

Day 22 - 23 : Orthodontist visit #2

Day 22 I'm seeing my orthodontist tomorrow, the last time I saw them was on Day 10. Hopefully he'll set up elastics such that my teeth will start to meet properly. Right now my teeth still only meet at one point, and there's a slight offset in the midline between my lower jaw and upper jaw (about 1mm, less than half a tooth offset). The teeth are also twisted slightly.

It'll be exciting to see the teeth move to the correct location over the next few weeks! I'm just going to pretend it'll be a pain-free experience.

Day 23 The orthodontist said my teeth were coming together better. This is a surprise, as they felt about as bad as always. He added one more elastic to the right side, to help bring the molars back together is my guess.

Also, he ground down the two teeth that were contacting! The explanation was as follows; Those two teeth have never come together the right way before in my life, so the tooth never wore down from normal usage to fit together nicely.…