Saturday 8 December 2018

This post is long overdue, but since I wasn't blogging back when I was 16 the only way I could share my story and experience was through Facebook status updates. The other day I bumped into a friend  who told me that their partner was having the same surgery that I had, and I advised that if they had any questions to just drop me a message. The great thing about having a blog is that it allows me to share my experiences with people and be a point of reference for things other people may also be curious about - such as laser hair removal or laser eye surgery. I know whenever I'm getting anything done the first thing I do is either get in touch with people who have gone through the same thing or find people's stories on Google. Which is why I'd like to share my experience today on my corrective jaw surgery that I had in 2010. 

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What is corrective jaw surgery?

Just as it sounds, corrective jaw surgery corrects the placement of the jaw - whether you have an open-bite, under-bite (your lower jaw sits further forward than your top), or an over-bite where your top jaw sits too far forward. 

What procedure did I have done and where? 

I had my surgery conducted at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales - and I spent around 5 days there (it would have been less, but I also got hit with appendicitis). My surgeon was great and he is quite known for performing cleft lip operations and for reconstructive surgery. 

My procedure was a bit complicated. The whole issue probably started when I was 9 years old because I was still sucking my thumb whenever I'd be watching tv, reading in bed, or doing anything at home really. The problem with my thumb being in my mouth all the time, was that my top teeth weren't able to grow down to their natural place - so I was left with an open bite that braces couldn't fix. I tried braces anyway, which after 2 years did all they could do, but when I bit down I was still left with gap at the front that could fit a sidewards olive through. 

After consulting with my dentist, he advised me that surgery would only fix my bite for now, but in a couple of years there would be a chance of my teeth moving again.  So in the end I had to make my problem worse for it to get better. I had to get metal rings inserted between all my bottom back teeth to 'move' my teeth and jaw forward, and elastics attached to my braces to change my bite. So essentially, they created an underbite over the span of a couple of months so that with surgery they could permanently fix it and the open bite together in one go.  

The operation. 

In the end I had my bottom jaw moved 8mm back and my top jaw moved 3mm forward, my chin bone was also made more prominent, and in moving the position of the jaw I found that the profile of my nose also changed as it was tilted slightly more upwards. I was in surgery for around 6 hours, initially it was meant to be 4, but things still went smoothly. I had two metal screws inserted on the side of my jaw (near my ears) and a small metal plate on my chin bone - strangely enough none of these beep when I'm going through airport security. 

I was told from other people that I'd be on a liquid diet for 2 weeks after, so beforehand I literally pigged out on everything I liked - only to be told by the doctor that I could go back to eating regular foods within 2 days - oops. Although that wasn't really the case, it took me two months before I could open wide enough and bite down on a KitKat Crunchie. I spent the first week or so eating soft foods like jacket potato with tuna, soup etc. and nothing that required a hard bite (or a wide mouth). 

The months following after. 

These weren't easy - I opened up on another post about how I went through a time of depression. I was getting bullied at school because my face was swollen up like a pufferfish for months, and I didn't want to leave the house or go out at night because I felt like people were staring at me. It took around a year for all of my swelling to disappear, and once that dark storm had passed things only went up hill from there. 

I started gaining my confidence back, had started a-levels again and was ready for a new start. I got my braces removed in the summer and soon after booked myself for laser teeth whitening to complete my new smile (might as well after everything else I had been through!). I can't stress enough though if you are thinking of having your teeth whitened, to make sure you do it through a dental clinic as with at-home kits you run the risk of damaging your teeth or increasing their sensitivity. I know someone who bought a kit from eBay and they got a gum infection and their teeth ended up turning more yellow and had constant bleeding gums. I had my teeth whitening done in a clinic and it means you know you're getting the correct treatment and that it's safe, causing minimum damage to your teeth.

I think after everything I went through with my mouth this definitely helped boost my confidence, and for a period of time I just wanted to flash my teeth as much as possible. The effects you get straight after laser teeth whitening won't stay like that forever, but if you follow a good dental hygiene routine then they should at least stay nice and white. 

8 years later - do I have any regrets?

None whatsoever. Even though I went through a tough period of my life after my operation, what I got out of it in the long run trumps that. I finally have a smile I'm not embarrassed to show, I can actually use my front teeth to tear mayonnaise packets, and my thumb-sucking habit is long gone. I do sometimes wonder what my face would have looked like had I not had surgery, but the fact is my face changed so much prior to my operation when preparing for it that essentially my 24 year old face could have gone 3 ways! I know we all preach about being happy with the body that you came in, but if you think changing something will have a positive effect on you and your wellbeing, then you do you.

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* This post was written in collaboration with Pembroke Dental but all words and opinions are my own *

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