Thursday, December 22, 2011


Most of the questions I get lately have to do with numbness, my face, and retainers. So, here's the lowdown.

Numbness: Now, don't be scared by this answer. I know there are MANY bloggers out there who are freaked out by numbness and end up getting more surgeries to help with the numbness and all of that. I'm not one of them. I am still [and likely always will be] fairly numb. Here's a map in paint, I tried to type on the picture but it was being too annoying so I'll explain it here.

The white circles (on the sides of my top lip) have probably 80-90% feeling. I don't notice that these are numb unless I pull on them or tweak them.

The Yellow circles down the sides of my bottom lips are a bit stronger. This is the only section of numbness that I can feel on a day-to-day basis (it feels a little tingly every once in a while, but mostly just stiff). I have probably 40% feeling there.

The blue circles are the sides of my chin. I probably have 60% feeling there - and I don't notice it at all (however, every once in a while a sneaky piece of food lands there and I don't notice, hahahah).

The red circle on the point of my chin is almost completely numb. If I poke into it hard with my nail, I feel something. I was warned that with the genioplasty I'd likely lose most feeling there, and they were correct. It doesn't bother me at all, except, like above, every once in a while a sneaky piece of food lands there and hilarity breaks loose. Always a good story.

Now... retainers. I was wearing my splint every night up until about 3 months ago. I find that after wearing it for more than 2 nights I un-bite from it and only keep my mouth halfway in. I was seeing my top tooth get a little crooked and I freaked out, so I started wearing my invisalign-type retainers every other night. I love having nights I don't sleep in the splint, and I don't get headaches in the least. Now, sometimes my jaw for whatever reason is sore (too many mike and ikes, stressful day, whatever) and then I'll wear the splint more often. I can go about 2 nights straight in the invisilign before my jaw starts to feel it in the morning.

I was supposed to, at this point a year and a half out, be able to wear my retainer every other night - but every night my teeth sting a bit getting into the retainer. I'm too afraid to leave it out for a night, and that's fine with me. Apparently my teeth have stronger memories than most. I do need to see the orthodontist soon to ask about that.

Well... those are my updates. Life is good - I realized the other day that FINALLY, over 2 years out of jaw surgery, I would do it again if I had to. I am so glad I did it.

Finally, my face. I love my face now. I love my nose, I love my face, I love everything about it. I look at old pictures and can't EVEN remember why I would have liked that face over this one... but, I did. It took a long, long time. Now when I look in the mirror this face is what I'm used to seeing - and it's awesome!


I finally got up the gumption to get in for a cleaning. Surprisingly, after a year and a half things looked pretty good. She wants me to focus on cleaning heavily around my built-in retainer along the bottom, but everything else is fine.

They have to do a crown on one of my teeth in February. I was so hopped up on the anti-anxiety medications I'm not clear on why or what other work they're doing (for 1,400 dollars... oye bye savings!), so I'm going to call in January to clarify (the offices are pretty much closed until the 3rd).

The anti-anxiety medications they gave me REALLY helped. I wasn't nervous at all, but I also don't remember anything at all... including the errands that my friend [who was driving me around] did, the lunch we went out to, the 5 hour nap I took when I finally got home... yikes. I do remember accidentally scaring my technician, who's having lower jaw surgery soon. I'm not sure what I said, but she said she was more nervous than before. Oops!

They're giving me something a little stronger for the next appointment, because they need me to be slightly sedated for the crown work.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

orthodontist appointment

It turns out, I missed my last orthodontist appointment! I was supposed to go in sometime in May for a splint and bite and teeth alignment check - totally slipped my mind. I will call next week to get in.

In other news, I need my teeth cleaned/checked out by a dentist soon. I'm still having residual teeth pain on my left side and it's gone on long enough now that I'm not sure it IS nerve damage, maybe it's a cavity or something? My teeth still feel very funny - sometimes they vibrate, sometimes they hurt suddenly and then stop, sometimes I can't really feel them when I chew (feels like chewing on wood).

The problem? Not insurance, as I'm lucky enough to have good dental insurance. It's dumb fear. I am so completely and totally afraid of the dentist that every time I pull their phone number up in speed dial I can't breathe. I'm not exactly sure what to do... I might just bite the bullet (ahaha!) and call and ask them what they think. Maybe they can knock me out for my cleaning? All I know is, it's been 15 months since I've had a cleaning, and that's just not okay.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

clarinet playing

In the year and a half after surgery, playing the clarinet still hurt my jaw. If I'd play for a few hours or more - or many days during a week, I would get a lot of tightness and pain and headaches. I had to watch what I chewed at meals on days I knew I would be playing a lot.

Finally - edging on 2 years post-op, I can play with no restrictions. I'm in two pit orchestras right now and last week played 3+ hours a day PLUS what I do in my band classes and no jaw pain to speak of. Finally! Such good news, as clarinet is such a huge part of my life that I've had to essentially give up (or suffer through) over the past 4 years.

I'm back! And, my tone and intonation has improved and my high range playing (altissimo from high c to double high c, for you clarinet players) is GREATLY more in tune and much more reliable than before.

The good news just keeps on rolling...

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I've received something like 4 emails in the past few months about x-rays, and so I'm getting off my lazy butt and uploading them. Here they are! Enjoy, and I hope you're doing well out there! Email me or facebook message me with questions if you have them, or leave a comment.

Before braces at my initial exam appointment: (If you notice, my overbite was NOT apparent at this first inital appointment - my teeth were so severely crowded that it didn't look like I had an overbite - weird, huh?)

During braces, right before jaw surgery:

After jaw surgery and braces removed:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

splint: final take

I love my splint. It took months to be comfortable in it, and it still has problems, but it has changed my life dramatically. I have almost no jaw pain now. My range of motion is completely normal (no, not what it used to be, but completely normal).

I've been jealous for a year that so many people "forget" they had jaw surgery and move on with their lives - my painful jaw, small range of motion, constantly shifting bite, slight headaches and sore teeth were a constant reminder of the surgery I had in July of '09.

Now, there are days and days that I don't even think about the fact that I had jaw surgery. I can yawn without any pain (in fact, it feels good!), I can bite into anything I want to (though I still don't bite into anything hard, just force of habit), I wake up and my jaw is in the right place and stays there - little to no shifting. I can move my lower jaw side to side and forward/back (not as much as before, but enough to shift food around in my mouth and I don't notice the difference). I can play the clarinet for a good amount of time before I feel pressure in my joints (although, that's always been there). My flute playing is improving. I've had a total of around 5 migraines in 19 months.

I've been struggling on and off with a cold the past week or so, which makes wearing the splint difficult (since my splint is my retainer connected together, I usually need to breathe through my nose - it's difficult to breathe through my mouth) - at one point last week I spit it out in my sleep for the first time in a long time. I woke up with a dull headache and achy jaw! I even wear it when I take naps, not because I have to but because it makes it so much more comfortable.

I love my splint. It's a wee bit smelly and hard to take care of, but it's amazing. Love it, love it, LOVE it.

So finally... 19 months post surgery, I consider myself back to normal in range of motion, pain, and jaw mobility. My chin and face are still a bit numb, but it doesn't bother me in the least. I'm very pleased with my results - and very glad I went through all of that awful-ness that was jaw surgery and recovery.