1. Prehistory


As far back as I can remember, I had a gap between my teeth on the left side. I had always assumed it was because my tongue thrust had pushed the teeth apart. It never occurred to me that it was instead caused by my jaw being crooked. I don’t believe it used to be as obvious, but just before my surgery, I could clearly see that while my upper jaw was straight, my lower jaw was set on at an angle slanting upwards to my right. I also had some degree of facial asymmetry, since the center of my chin was angled to my right, and there was also a slight bulge on the left side of my face. When I had braces put on 1995 to help correct an overbite, trying to bring my teeth together on the left side was also a goal. After a year and a half in braces, my teeth finally touched after my concerted effort to actually wear the four bands on that side that prevented me from even opening my mouth (three boxes, one diagonal). Despite wearing my retainer that was designed to prevent tongue thrust, I thought I had somehow failed after my braces were removed since within a couple years, my teeth had separated on the left side again (and all the wires on the retainer did was hurt my tongue as it went back to its usual resting place between my teeth). I became used to mainly eating on the right side of my mouth, and I just assumed that was how it would be for the rest of my life. However, within the year before I started treatment again, I suddenly began noticing how my chewing area was shrinking. Right after I got my braces off, I was chewing on my right side and with the upper second bicuspid/first molar and lower first bicuspid/second bicuspid on the left (I had had my upper first bicuspids removed when I was younger). However, after my teeth shifted again, I could then only make contact with my second biscuspids and first molars on the right. The small chewing area was a problem I had almost always had, but the further rapid deterioration foreshadowed the extent of the problems I was about to face.