Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Foods you can't eat easily with an open bite!

So. Why would you put yourself through such a long, strange and swollen process? Doesn't your face look pretty much the same? Was it worth the money?! Does it actually make your bite better?

These are all questions I've been asked by folk who are not trying to be mean in any way, they just don't quite understand why I'm cheerful when I say "Oh yes, my jaw was broken in six places!"

In addition to the other benefits (mouth not hanging open, better breathing through nose, increased sense of smell, cosmetic side effects), a very major reason for jaw surgery is functional. If you have an anterior open bite (your teeth don't touch at the front of your mouth), you will find it very hard to bite certain foods. Anything smaller than the gap between your teeth just isn't going to get bitten unless you: a) cut it up with a knife and fork and by-pass biting altogether, or b) you can get some kind of grip on the food and tear it lion-style by gripping it with your back teeth.

It was just this kind of lion-beast tactic that landed me in an embarrassing situation one day in a Burger King. It having been a stressful day, I was tucking into a chicken burger and had unwisely chosen to sit in the bar-style seats facing out of the front of the restaurant window. They don't have knives and forks in Burger King (or not that one anyway) so I was forced to resort to dysfunctional biting techniques.

I tore into my chicken burger, gripping it with my back teeth as described above. As is often the case, this tactic didn't prove majorly successful and most of the burger components slid down my face and neck. I looked up, mayonnaise-chinned, to see a group of relatively fit guys about my age staring at me through the window in horror and disgust! This is all very funny looking back, and them being strangers and only RELATIVELY fit, I removed the lettuce from my bosom and continued munching away.

So in homage to my previously gammy jaw, and in anticipation of all the things I will eat without a thought when my teeth are back to normal after recovery, here are SOME of the foods that are difficult to eat with an open bite!

Burgers are hard because of all their flat layers that go through the teeth gap!

Any kind of meat on the bone is very tricky because without front tooth contact, it's very hard to get meat off

Pizzas, or any kind of topped bread, are dangerous because of their flat toppings that won't get bitten! Be prepared for all the topping to come off in one go because you can't make a bite...

Sliced meats like ham are another tricky one! They're just too thin and go straight through the teeth gap

Salad sandwiches or anything involving sliced lettuce/tomato/cucumber etc that isn't eaten with a knife and fork is very tricky! Salad is just too thin and you might as well play 'look what I can do!' by sliding bits of cucumber quite happily between your teeth gap
Fruits that you bite into are tricky, unless they will 'snap', like apples. Things like plums, peaches and strawberries are tricky because your front teeth can't finish the bite. There would always be a bit left in the fruit where my teeth hadn't closed and bitten it off. Always best eaten chopped up with an open bite!

Sushi or any kind of canapé can be tricky, again because of thinly sliced components. If you can't shove it all in your mouth in one go, be prepared for sliding toppings and trailing bits hanging out of your mouth!

Bite before and after: Day 80

Here are a few pictures of my actual bite before and after, as best as I can take them! Sorry for the time I will try and get someone else to take pictures, or get the official pics from the surgeon.

Bite from low angle to see overbite and open bite: After (right) and Before (left)

    BEFORE: Bite from low angle

BEFORE: Resting Face

teeth smile AFTER
AFTER: Resting Face

teeth smile BEFORE
bite before


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Day 79! Braces off and before/after


9th August: benefitting from a little residual swelling!
So...I've been extremely lax with my blogging. Not much changed for a really long time after my previous post. Mid August, I managed to start eating solid food. Anything without a sauce tasted reeeeally dry at first - bread particularly! This wasn't helped by the fact I had braces on the front AND back of my teeth, so there was plenty for them to get stuck to.

I took a picture where I'd lipsticked my face to show the numbness remaining on July 26th: my top lip took a really long time to come back, which seems unusual compared to most people's experiences. I did lots of exercises screwing it up and screwing up my nose, to try and loosen the tissues, which seemed to help a bit. I had stitches just above my top lip, so I'm sure this is all related to the segmental osteotomy part of my surgery. So here was my numbness remaining then:

Now, on Day 79, it's better than the photo above but not perfect. Here was a picture from August 4th:

This may sound funny, but I actually miss that little bit of swelling! It was nice having fuller cheeks :-) I was still getting spasms, which worried me a bit. I was annoyed at myself because I forgot to mention it to my surgeon when I saw him. It has settled down now though and so I think my orthodontist was right - they were mostly caused by the elastics.

So the big news now is that I got my braces off!!! I was (and still am) worried it was too soon, but I decided to trust the orthodontist. We had a target for getting the front braces off by the end of August because I'm a teacher and it'd be a hell of a job teaching 6 classes a day with front and back metal work in my mouth! There was literally nowhere for my tongue to go. I was worried about the gap between my last set of molars on one side, which is big enough to stick my tongue through. All the other teeth touch, though, and the orthodontist and surgeon did not seem worried about it. There are no brackets on those teeth so there was no chance really of braces bringing them together. I'm a little disappointed my bite isn't perfect, although that seems quite common from a lot of blogs I've read. I guess I can't complain - my front teeth bite together and my bite on one side is perfect, just the other is a bit off right at the back! Much better than it was before, just I'm such a perfectionist. I did express my worries about having the braces off too soon to the orthodontist and surgeon, but they both seemed happy so I guess I have to trust them - they are both consultants after all!

So braces free life is wonderful, and so much easier to speak. I am constantly terrified that my bite will regress, but perhaps that's just my own paranoia! Some of my teeth are hyper sensitive at the moment so taking the braces off was surprisingly wasn't pleasant at all but I don't want to scare other people because I think my experience was very unusual! I don't remember it hurting when they took my braces off as a teen.

So here are some before and after shots! I'm really happy with: a) my bite at the front, b) my improved side profile, c) the increase in width in my lower face and d) my ears protruding less. My only negatives are 1) the imperfect bite on the left side, and 2) my fear that the work will regress! I have a retainer for my top teeth, and the braces are still on the back of my lower teeth (I couldn't handle any more removal that day!) so I am not scared of the teeth unstraightening - more the bite relapsing. I guess we'll see!

Side profile after: hello 45 degree change in chin!
Side profile before:taken in a changing room with good mirrors



After: I feel like my face is better proportioned here

Monday, 21 July 2014

Week 4-5 Before and After

It's 37 days since my jaw surgery! Coming into Week 6 feels great. Last week was exciting, because I saw my surgeon and my orthodontist. The pic on the left was at Day 31 after a Bobbi Brown make-up lesson. Yep there's a bit of help there! Haha. More before/after below.

The orthodontist is still very happy with the bite. There is a bit of an open bite on the molars at the back on the left side, which he acknowledged - he is positive that this can be sorted with the braces and elastics. He says the teeth are very straight and I agree. He is just going to close up a tiny gap between my front teeth which I actually barely noticed until he mentioned it! He's fantastic. I was shocked (and excited) to hear he is hoping to take ALL the braces off at the end of August before I go back to school! This would be 12 weeks post op, and I never thought that would be so quick. At the moment I have braces on the front AND the back of my teeth, so I thought I might get the front ones off but that the back ones would stay for a few more months. He is so happy with the bite though. I said not to let me push him into taking them off! I would obviously love them off but long term retention is the most important thing, of course. I was still pretty numb so he (amusingly) took that opportunity to really tighten the top braces the hell up! Haha. I wonder how much that would have hurt if I wasn't numb.

Jaw God (the surgeon) was on good form when I saw him. He is really pleased with the result. I mentioned the slight overbite and he too is confident it can be easily closed. I explained that my top lip is slooooooooowly gaining some feeling and he said if it's started, he feels confident that this will continue to improve. The area between nose and lips still feels very tight and I keep making hamster faces to try and loosen it up. My speech is still quite distorted and it's hard to tell if this is the frozen upper lip, the braces or the elastics...they're probably quite a winning combination altogether to be fair! He looked at my ears - I thought he would take the stitches out like he did on my jawline (these are invisible now) but he said they would come out on their own. In honesty, I realised maybe I'd been too precious about them and when I gave them a good clean at home, most of the stitches came out. It was only dried blood holding them on. Sexy!!! He also said it's ok to sleep on my side, which had felt weird with my ears and jaw before. AND he gave me permission to start chewing. I have been blender-free for the last 3 days!!! Very exciting.

I'm still make-up free except for the pics here because the numb parts feel like someone else's face, and the parts that are waking up feel a bit tender and sensitive. It's just not worth the hassle! I did, however, treat myself to a free makeup lesson at Bobbi Brown last week when I was on Oxford Street seeing the surgeon. It was weird but fun! So there are a few pics where I look more 'myself' below because normally I am such a make-up lover. My surgeon very sweetly told me "I don't need it!" - I will definitely tone it down after all this but I'm such a girly girl and love a MAC-load of war paint :-)

Food Progress!

Blended food! This is mash made from roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, white potato and cheese, with blended thai green curry with broccoli. Classy! To be honest, this looks disgusting but tasted pretty good.

My first solid meal!! This was a day before my 5-week post-op date. It was a sourdough pizza made with ricotta cheese and extra tomato sauce, so it was pretty sloppy. It wasn't soon as it was sitting in my lap I became ravenous and suddenly realised just how much I wanted solid food! It was frustratingly slow and you can see that much of the outer part went sadly neglected, but it was still amazing. Happy, happy times, and this gave me the confidence to try other solid food. The next day I ate salmon fillet, cheese sauce, rice and green beans chopped up very small. Yesterday I had chips (fries) with gravy and meat loaf! Loving it! Those 11 pounds I lost are going right back on, haha.

Face and Jaw Progress!
 Before and After Pictures: BEFORE - right pic WEEK 4 with Bobbi Brown makeup - left pic

Large version of same picture: Week 4, with makeup. Nose is wider, face is wider, still bit swollen.
Open bite before and Week 4

Above: smile before (left) and week 4 (right) with make-up
Above: side profile showing left side of face. Before (left) and Day 37 (right).
Above: Week 4 with make-up

Monday, 14 July 2014

28 Days Later

        Saturday marked 28 days and so exactly four weeks since my double jaw surgery and otoplasty! Gone are those dribbley, miserable first days and now we're into the slower and far more bearable part of recovery. I'm feeling pretty good, although I get a little bored because it's the school holidays. I'm not complaining about not being at work! Not one bit :-) But it does mean now I'm not quite so immobilised by recovery, I need to be productive. Being a bit swollen, numb and an unwelcome dinner guest does not mean you can just waste several weeks of perfectly good time!
        Everyone who's commented in their blogs on how detrimental sitting there doing nothing can be to your mind-set during recovery - I wholeheartedly agree. I plan on exploring all the parts of London I've always meant to, sorting out my room, sorting out my wardrobe, indulging in a little jaw makeover pampering, figuring out my next dream travel trip and most importantly of all, doing some seriously committed, fairly fizzy writing. I keep promising myself I will, and with this amount of free time there is really no excuse!

In Jaw News: so what's it like 4 weeks in?

- I'm infinitely more comfortable in general
- Friends seeing me for the first time are shocked by my lack of bruising / swelling / that I don't look like I got hit by a bus. I think the most perceptive comment was "it just looks like you had your wisdom teeth taken out, rather than your face rearranged". That's pretty much my take on it too! I'm still swollen in my cheeks and the very middle part of my face, but the size of my face now looks kind of normal. Ish.
- Feeling is coming back. I can now feel my lower eyelids, although it is still a little numb near my nose, and the area that has got feeling is quite sensitive. I think it's still a bit swollen there because my eyes look very baggy and puffy in pictures, and they didn't so much before the surgery. Could also be that my sleep is still not amazing. My top lip, which is the area of numbness that bothered me most, is starting to make a comeback. Hallelujah! Much less so on the left side, which has always been more numb than the right. The far left of my upper lip is still pretty much completely numb. There is a numb patch on the right side of my chin (that doesn't really bother me), and the area between my lips and my nose is starting to gain sensitivity too. This area still feels very 'tight' - literally as if it lacks much movement. I keep screwing my face up because Graham ( said that can help break up the scar tissue. Also as per his suggestion, I've tried whistling, but it doesn't work at all! :-)
- Sleep is better although I still sleep with three pillows and I don't sleep on my side because of my ears.
- Ears - ears are less bruised and swollen. Some of the stitches have come out on their own, and some are still left.  They are still quite sensitive and I am still quite aware of not messing them up, so I take a lot of care when brushing my hair / washing my hair / wearing glasses / lying down.
- I can open my mouth much farther now, although not *all* the way. The elastics are fine, and I am cleaning my teeth as best I can. I wash out with water, then use a baby toothbrush, then an electric toothbrush as much as I can fit it in, then a mouthwash.
- My jaw does spasm sometimes, and this is painful/uncomfortable but short-lived.
- Eating: I still only eat mushy or blended food. I can eat beans unblended and bread is fine if it is soaked in soup. I find it much easier to chew on my right side - the left is still numb and I feel like I might have a bit of an open bite on my molars at the back on that side. I am seeing my wonderful orthodontist soon, so I'll ask about that.

A few more pictures below! I put some lippy on for fun, despite being relatively unable to feel it, although I'm still not wearing any makeup at all usually. It still feels weird to touch the numb and sensitive parts of my face and sweeping a brush over the skin gives me pins and needles type feelings! Still looking forward to a much needed haircut in a few weeks, too :-)

Day 28 mugshots

Swelling much reduced! Looking semi-normal although there's a little way to go to feeling (and certainly eating) normally yet

Semi-side profile. My jawline has changed considerably. I have to remind myself how it was before!

Open smile with a bare face and a dash of red lippy! Still a bit swollen but I'm already much happier with my smile.

No more open bite! Or over bite! I still can't quite believe it :-) No regrets :-)

Below: Before and Day 28!


Monday, 7 July 2014

Some unseen adventures from Days 0-23

My Bionic Arm: This is in the recovery ward straight after the surgery! A little annoyingly, this is my left hand and I am left-handed. Epic fail. Sorry if you don't like needles! I felt like robo-woman :-)

My Magic Wand! This was the suction wand I was kindly given to hold on to in the recovery ward. Now, that first night you might have a bit of blood in your mouth, like me. I think I'd swallowed a little too. Don't be alarmed - it certainly feels like more than it actually is! Or did for me anyway. Of course it's bleeding, someone just cut it into several pieces and stuck it back together! :-) It doesn't taste nice and is a little unpleasant, but it was only for that first night. So don't be surprised or alarmed, but be reassured that it won't go on for long! You can see (should you want to) that there's only a little blood in that tube. The downside is the taste of it made me feel a little sick. I was predicting feeling queasy after the surgery anyway though, so again, I wasn't massively phased. Tip: if you do throw up, just try to relax, tilt your head forward, and let it come out through your teeth. No, it's not fun throwing up when your teeth are banded together. When is it ever a ball to throw up anyway?! But it's not a massive problem - it will just drain out. No party, but no biggie :-)

Clinging on to a sense of humour with all my might: Back in my room from the recovery ward!

Smoothie ingredients! You've got banana Ensure, an actual banana, mango, peach slices, honey, yoghurt, ice cream and guava jam I got on holiday last year. Getting creative with the smoothies is fun! I know there's a lot of sugar here, and I assure you I brushed very carefully afterwards. I have a five step tooth brushing routine more. More on that later (fascinating, I know!)

My friend Rosie sent me this lovely book of smoothie recipes! I didn't always stick to them precisely, but it gave me some excellent inspiration for flavour combinations! Thank you, Rosie!

My friend and namesake Jen sent me this soothing eye-mask that you pop in the fridge! Aren't friends lovely? This was so useful, particularly when I woke up in the middle of the night and felt headachey, and hot in the warm weather we've been having. Ahhhhhhh. Thanks Jen!

Enjoying a Day 22 peanut butter and chocolate smoothie in Ed's Diner with my friend Jen! That place is so cheesy, you can't fail to be happy. Jukeboxes and pints of icecreamy smoothie? What's not to like? :-) I am still proud of my ability to suck through a straw too! It was so hard in those first few days....I will never take it for granted again!

Post-op letter: my operation in surgeon-speak

Here is the letter I recently received, explaining the details of my surgery for my doctor. It was copied to me. The things I learnt: I have six plates in my face, and I had a wisdom tooth taken out :-)  I wonder if that's why all the bruising was down the wisdom-tooth-removal side...could be coincidence! Who knows.