Introduction

For most of my first 24 years, I had only been able to eat on one side of my mouth. While this didn’t cause too many problems initially, within the last few years it led to my jaw rather painfully popping and locking up. Over the winter of 2002, I was clinically diagnosed with an asymmetrical jaw. To correct this, I had 8 months of orthodontics to position my teeth for after my surgery, followed by a Sagittal Split Osteotomy to raise the left side of my jaw even with my right side and to bring my lower jaw forward, and a Le Fort I Maxillary Osteotomy to close up my overbite. After the surgery on May 19, 2004 (and a subsequent unplanned surgery on June 2, 2004), I had another 8 months of orthodontics to make sure my teeth were lined up properly.

When I was doing my research, I was astounded at the lack of web resources for my condition, and I decided to create this webpage to help towards filling that apparent void, at least in terms of personal accounts. One of the most interesting sites to me was a page (since taken down) that chronicled someone else’s experience with one of the same surgeries I had. It made me feel better that I was not the only person undergoing this process, and also helped prepare myself better for my own treatment by learning from what he had already gone through. I hope to provide that same camaraderie through this site, as well as use it as a place to organize my thoughts and resources concerning my treatment. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, and what I’ve written about here should only be used for informational purposes, and certainly not to diagnose or treat similar symptoms. If you have any comments, questions, or otherwise, please feel free to email me (even if I haven’t posted in months, this email address will still be active for as long as this page is up).

January 21, 2006. Uncategorized. No Comments.


Updates

I had my first real* cleaning in a year today, and it went about as well as expected. Meaning, not so well - I’m still not entirely comfortable flossing, since I can’t feel my gums to tell when I’m doing damage, my fillings do need to be replaced (but not until I decide if I’m going to try to change my bite again), my gums are receding (I’m also attributing that to not being able to feel my gums as well), and in part of my gums that I can feel, it’s too sensitive and painful to brush that tooth properly. But I got a recommendation for an oral surgeon and orthodontist in the area, so hopefully I’ll get going on that shortly. I still need to put a call in to my old oral surgeon to run everything that’s going on past him - although he’s not covered by my insurance anymore, he’s my best starting point since he’ll be able to compare the X-rays I’m presuming he will take against my older X-rays.

I also went to the orthodontist on Friday. My goal was to have one of two outcomes happen: either have my lower right bracket reset (given the position my tooth had gotten itself into, the bracket had to be set on in the front at first, but as the tooth was being pulled back up, it was starting to rotate), or have my brackets taken off outright. I was leaning towards the latter, and that’s what I ended up with… I didn’t even have to cause a fuss :) I was just getting frustrated, since I felt like my entire bite was being sacrificed just to try to get those two pairs of teeth to meet up, and I was not happy to see my front teeth start moving around and my overbite opening up again. So I’m back to wearing my retainer, and while it is quite painful right now (pretty much everything moved - I thought it was just my front teeth, but every tooth all the way back to the molars is shifting again), but I’m overall pretty happy with the discomfort. At least that way I know things are moving back to where they belong.

*”real” since I don’t really count my cleaning six months ago, when all the dentist did was poke at my teeth, tell me to replace my fillings and that I should bleach my teeth. My teeth actually got cleaned this time, scraping, floss, polish and all.

January 20, 2006. Uncategorized. No Comments.


Well, I’ve just been dealt a pretty devastating set-back, if I do say so myself. I’ve been in denial the last couple of months about my jaw - I knew my bite was opening up again, I knew my teeth didn’t look right, and yet I still convinced myself that things were okay. The problems with my teeth meeting up properly that I noted in my last entry actually got worse once I started wearing bands on both sides again. With the bands holding my jaw more stable (and to the right), the fact that my teeth weren’t meeting up properly just became more pronounced, and now it’s blatantly obvious that my bite has opened up again on the left side.

At my orthodontist appointment last Friday, I made sure that when I bit down, my teeth only touched on the right, since while that is my normal bite, my jaw usually swings around so much I don’t always have it in the right place (which is what happened at my last appointment). The pit in my stomach got worse the longer my orthodontist looked at the left side of my teeth. When I asked, “They’ve opened up again, haven’t they?”, he threw his gloves down in frustration, giving me the answer I was afraid of. Sooooooo…. here’s the gist of it: the teeth on my left side have opened up again and my overbite has gotten worse, so braces need to go back on (FOR THE THIRD TIME!!), I may need surgery again depending on whether it’s just my teeth that moved or my jaw too, and then I’d be facing a lot of retainer work, nightguards, and other stuff to try to keep my teeth in place when it’s all over. Again.

I feel like I just wasted the last two years of my life going through all this treatment for my jaw, and to have to go through it again… I’m so upset about this. My orthodontist wanted me to schedule an appointment to put the braces back on, but I said 1) I’m not even sure if I want them back on, and 2) if they do go on, it won’t be before the wedding (May 10). So I have a few months to mull this over, possibly get a second opinion, etc. He’s worried about the lack of stabilization in my mouth, I’m worried about going through all of this again for naught. I pointed out the fact that every single time I’ve gotten braces off, my teeth have always opened up again on the left side. There aren’t any guarantees that my teeth won’t just open up again, and he also couldn’t predict what the consequences would be if I just let my bite do what it’s pretty clear it wants to, although it would probably involve TMJ issues. I then pointed out that I’m already having problems with my jaw anyway (since I still can’t open my mouth as wide as i used to be able to and the muscles feel pretty tight on the left side, which he claims is normal within my post-surgery timeframe), and since I’m (at least, now) very disappointed about my outcome from the last surgery(s), I don’t really want to go through all of that again and have the tightness/numbness most likely get worse.

I asked if I could only get braces on the left side, but he seemed skeptical that that would work, and also said that if we’re going to tackle this again, we need to be more aggressive (thought I had already done the “aggressive” route!?). He then mentioned pulling at least my back molar on the bottom left (I imagine on the right side too then), since “I’m not using it” - which is true, since it has nothing to meet up with, due to my upper bicuspids being pulled out ages ago, but it is still disturbing to hear. (little known fact - the strange mouth issues started fairly early with me, and in middle school I had several mouth surgeries, and one was to cut back my cheek tissue since my back teeth were practically buried under it, and I still have no space between the back of my molars and my cheeks. Fun, fun.)

The one positive to all of this is that I would be getting any further orthodontic treatment for free from my current orthodontist. He said he didn’t feel like they had done right by me, and while I don’t necessarily agree with that (I really think it’s just the way my mouth is, rather than anything he did or didn’t do), that may very well influence my decision. I still have a lot of thinking ahead of me, and I’m going to start looking for an orthodontist by me (I’m still traveling an hour each way every 6 weeks to see my orthodontist I chose when I still lived in Maryland, even though I moved a year and a half ago) to get a second opinion from, and also probably pay a visit to an oral surgeon - probably my old one just to start off, but he’s also still in Maryland and doesn’t accept my new insurance so I imagine I’d have to find a new one if I actually go through this again. Sigh…

January 12, 2006. Uncategorized. No Comments.


It looks like I’m free from the orthodontist for a little while… I had my last scheduled appointment on Friday, and now I’m just supposed to call back when I’ve met with my oral surgeon and am ready to talk about my mouth. So that should buy me some time, since I’ve pushed off the decision-making until after our reception in August now. I literally was in my orthodontist’s office for less than five minutes, just long enough for him to watch me bite down and then proclaim that I need to have braces put back on as soon as I get back from my honeymoon. After listening to him say a couple more times how important it is that I get braces back on, I pointed out that unless it’s my jaw that moved again, I’m not planning on going through braces again. With the way he readily agreed to that, I think the Big Discussion/Showdown About Stacey’s Mouth is just being postponed until after I see my oral surgeon. That should be an interesting talk when we actually sit down in his office to discuss my treatment as more of equals than when I’m in the chair and his hands are in my mouth as he’s asking me questions… I really think he’s underestimating just how little faith I have in braces at this point. I mean, they’ve done a beautiful job straightening my teeth (and now that I’m able to wear my retainer again, my front teeth look much better - very pleased about that), but unless he can absolutely guarantee without a doubt that braces will bring my teeth together (and not in the usual screwed-up way where the bands just pull the outside edges together so my teeth are all tilted) and keep them there this time, I have no interest in potentially messing my teeth up more.  I can use my left side more than before to eat, so that at least is a huge improvement.

January 5, 2006. Uncategorized. No Comments.