It turns out that my oral surgeon and I were a little too optimistic about how quickly I’d be able to break through the scar tissue. I was able to fit in three new tongue depressors in three days, but then I had to stop adding them because my jaw was hurting too much. I am stretching it three times a day for five minutes each, and while the pain is gradually lessening, I’m still not ready to add a fourth depressor in. My muscles are just so tight on the left side of my jaw, and with 21 tongue depressors in, even the right side starts hurting too. It turns out I was wrong with my measurements, though. I actually started out a few months back with being able to open my mouth 1″, I managed to stretch it open to 1 1/4″, and now I’m at 1 1/2″. Even though that’s still pretty pathetic, it’s amazing how much easier it is to eat now, even gaining just another 1/4″ back. So I have to keep working on stretching out my jaw for another week and then call my oral surgeon to give him my progress. If I’m still stalled out, he said he might have to prescribe me some Valium to help relax my muscles, but I’m hoping to avoid the whole prescription pills route. In the meantime, he recommended taking an Advil a half hour beforehand and using a hot moist compress while stretching my jaw.

April 26, 2005. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Despite the fact that my orthodontist told me not to worry about not being able to open my jaw, I decided to go to my oral surgeon anyway. I’m switching insurance companies yet again tomorrow (finally going off COBRA!), and so I got in an appointment yesterday. He concurred that scar retraction does sometimes occur in the year after surgery, but he said it’s a bit more unusual that I’m having this problem so far out (11 months since my first surgery as of today). It turns out that I was on the right track with trying to force my jaw open, but I just didn’t hold it long enough (I was only holding it for 3-5 seconds). He gave me a whole stack of tongue depressors rubber-banded together, and for the next week, I have to wedge them between my teeth - adding another depressor each day - and hold them there for a minute or so. I have to go back in next Monday to follow-up (which, unfortunately, I’ll have to pay out of pocket), and I’m curious to see how much more effective this method will be, since I had gained back about 1/4″ of movement over 6 weeks with how I was doing it before. Dr. G. also took an X-ray to make sure that there wasn’t anything too abnormal going on with my jaw, and while he said it looked fine for the most part, he pointed out that my left joint had flattened out somewhat. Not sure what exactly that means for me, so hopefully I’ll remember to ask him about that at the next appointment.

April 19, 2005. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Another orthodontist appointment, another hope dashed of FINALLY being done with my jaw treatment. One of my bottom teeth has shifted, so my bottom retainer was adjusted to move one of the teeth (there’s a dispute concerning which tooth is actually moving - I think it’s the tooth just to the right of midline that’s moving back, and my orthodontist thought it was my tooth to the left of midline that was moving forward. He’s the one with the gloves and pliers, so the retainer was adjusted to move the left tooth back). He also adjusted the top retainer, which probably should have been done as soon as I first tried it on, since it was so loose I was always just a touch surprised that it didn’t dislodge during my sleep and choke me. So because of the adjustments, I’m looking at another full six weeks of wearing my retainers 24/7. Ughhh.

In the past six weeks, I’ve been able to open my mouth another 1/4″. Yes, I can open my mouth a whole 1 1/4″ inches now. I’m slightly concerned about this (I’m encouraged by the fact that I’ve able to gain some range back just by stretching my jaw muscles, but I don’t like not knowing what exactly is going on to make me lose so much range of motion), but my orthodontist said that it was to be expected within the first year after surgery. He didn’t say anything further about seeing my oral surgeon about possible scar tissue, and now I’m not sure if I should just go ahead and see my surgeon anyway - I’m switching insurance companies yet again in a couple weeks, and my surgeon is not in the new insurance’s network. Maybe I’ll try to get one more appointment in with him so I know if I even need to worry about finding a new surgeon…

April 8, 2005. Uncategorized. No Comments.