Thursday, July 1, 2010


It's my one year anniversary today. I thought I'd start by talking about de-banding, since it was almost a few months ago and I don't want to forget. It was a lot more painful than I thought it would be - taking the brackets off of the front teeth was fairly excruciating, although only for a few seconds while they yanked the bracket off. My jaw was in severe pain since it still doesn't like to be open for very long. The first thing they did was take off the braces - wires and all! Handy, because I kept the braces to make a Christmas ornament out of (bwahaha).

Once the braces were all off they let me take a break and then started the sanding process. That took a long time, and the techs did most of it but then Dr. Rick did the final touches - they also added something to one of my teeth, because it had a chip in it - so it would look full.

From there they glued on my bottom and top built-in retainers and then took me straight to molds (yuck). By then no one was in the office and it was time for lunch, but I had to come back for my final pictures and retainer fitting that afternoon. I did, and everything looked fine.
Now... onto the fun part - my anniversary! Here's my long-winded update.
  • Numbness: My chin is still quite numb. I find that there are weeks (like right now) that it drives me NUTS - it tingles, it tickles, it twitches, it feels like I have two inches of dried wax sitting on it... but normally after this goes away I find I have less numbness. The numbness does not bother me at all, at least when my chin isn't throwing a fit. The numbness covers my entire chin to some degree, and it extends into the sides of my mouth up into my upper lip and my front cheeks. Nowhere is completely numb, but I don't have 100% feeling back anywhere. Again, it doesn't bother me - some people I've read have been annoyed to no end about this, but unless I'm poking around with my fingernail or running my fingers lightly over my face I can't even tell.
  • Jaw pain: Since my upper retainer was taken out I've had big improvements in my jaw pain. I still am unable to chew very chewy or hard things without some pain, but I can chew gum for hours now with no problem (when my jaw starts getting tired I stop).
  • Jaw opening: I have good and bad days. Good days I can bite into almost anything (except tall burgers or sandwiches), bad days I have trouble with bananas. In regards of ROM, I would really recommend talking to your surgeon about their expectations - I thought I would get back to my pre-surgery opening while she figured I would get to about where I am now.
  • Swelling: I don't know if it's because I'm hyper-aware of my face since surgery, but I still have swollen days - especially after I've slept on my stomach for the night.
  • Appearance: I think I'm finally becoming used to my new face. I'm not totally hooked all parts of the face - my nose, for instance - but more often now I'm surprised in pictures by how I USED to look, rather than in the mirror when I wake up in the morning or wash my hands in a bathroom. It's still unnerving, though. It was much harder to get used to than I thought it would be - while I'm sure all of you just think "What an improvement!" I hated much of the new face for a long time. It didn't look like "me" - even if "me" involved a terribly gummy smile and long, long face.

Now - for the official comparison pictures! I wish I had the ones from my jaw surgeon (if they'll email me them I'll post them). First, the big one - profile pictures.

Teeth pictures courtesy of my orthodontist office before, during, after

Smile comparison:

And that's it! Official photos. The first ones were taken in November of 2007 just as I started this blog. The middle photos were all taken a week before surgery last year, and the final ones were taken when I was de-braced on April 28th.

Pretty amazing differences, eh? The most shocking, of course, are my profile pictures. If you look carefully, even my eye sockets look different. I now have more prominent cheekbones and a line where my jaw bone sits. My nose changed, but I'm finally almost used to that. My front-smile photos are odd, too - my face is a completely, completely different shape now - not only is my smile twice as wide, but my face is rounder and considerably shorter (10mm, I believe?). You can see when I smile that my top lip is a little droopy on one side - that's where a lot of my numbness resides. I'm hoping at as that comes back, it'll improve.

And that's it! I'll still be around and updating occasionally. I'm getting the top of my crown fitted after I'm home from a long, meandering vacation, and then I'm getting new molds taken and a splint made - hoping to get rid of the last pesky jaw pain.

Good luck, to everyone just starting this process. It's long, it's rough, and sometimes in the middle it feels pretty terrible, but I'm glad I went through with it.


Corey said...

Congrats, look beautiful! :) enjoy the rest of your vacation!

Ember said...

Aren't you glad it's all over?! Your teeth are straighter... and your smile is just as wonderful as before!!!

Melinda Renee said...


Anonymous said...

Just had to say how amazing you look!

Cece said...

Stephanie, you look fantastic!

Andrea said...

Hi Stephanie... Wow. Congratulations. I think your nose looks better than before, and the droopy lip is NOTHING, honestly totally not noticeable and not worth thinking about. I had to look really hard to see what you were talking about.
I still reckon you should give 25mg of nortriptyline a try! Remember it is a dose that is way below anything that will change your brain chemistry so it's nothing to do with the antidepressant effect there is at higher doses.
All the best.

JEN said...

amazing transformation! Gorgeous :)

Sarah said...

You look great! I love the hair color and cut as well. I'm sorry to hear that a year later you are still having problems. This type of surgery is so tricky because it really is different for everyone isn't it? I'm 2 weeks post op and I'm definitely feeling the numbness! But like you, it doesn't really bother me that much. My face was tingling a lot right after the surgery but not so much now.....It does a little when I move my face around, smile big and what not, so hoping this means the nerves are trying to wake up! Good luck with everything and I hope your pain goes away!

Shell said...

I'm a bit late in seeing all this, but still, you look fantastic!
I am having surgery in 3 days time (only upper jaw), so it's nice to see such great photos before I go in. Very comforting. :D

Katie said...

Stephanie, I am so glad I found your blog! I'm getting my bottom jaw realigned next summer, and lately I've been feeling so frustrated by my appearance and how I feel in the braces, and more than a little terrified at how the surgery will go. Even though all of the professionals have told me it will be fine,I was still worried. But reading your posts has made me feel so much better about the whole process. Thank you, and you look phenomenal!