When your whole jaw journey begins is entirely dependent on when you developed your under bite, how old you are and ultimately, whether you actually want to do something about it. It goes without saying that just because you have an underbite or overbite it doesn't mean you need it corrected, If you've ever seen the band McFly the lead singer Tom Fletcher has an underbite and doesn't care about it enough to want to change it, everyone is different and everyone is unique and if you don't want to change then just work it! ;) I chose to get mine corrected for many reasons, for comfort, improved chewing ability, no risk of pain as I get older, and yes I'm not ashamed to say, because I didn't like the way it looked on me.
My jaw journey began when I was around 10/11 years old and my dentist told my mum that I had an underbite that would possibly need corrective surgery when I had stopped growing (at 18). At 10 I didn't know what an underbite was and I didn't even realise my jaw was different to everyone else, even though I have an identical twin. The first time I knew about it was when I overheard my Mum telling my Gran that I would have to have surgery when I was older and they would break my jaws. 10 year old me thought this idea sounded horrific and I couldn't imagine ever doing that to myself, although I liked to tell everyone at school I was going to have an operation because I thought it sounded cool. Obviously there was nothing to be done but wait until I was older and so in 2010 (when I was 15) I decided I wanted to go ahead with treatment and I had my first orthodontist appointment, it was basically just a consultation and taking of measurements and moulds so they could track my growth so they would know when to put braces on.
I had my braces put on in January 2012 when I was 17 and then had appointments roughly every six weeks for about a year and a half, before surgery, to tighten and adjust the braces to get my teeth into position for surgery. To start with I had blue spacers put between my back molars to make room for metal bands that go around the last two molars on the lower gums and last ones on the upper. Then brackets were cemented onto my teeth and the metal wire was threaded through and secured with bands around each bracket. At each appointment the thickness of the metal wire is increased when they replace it so that your teeth move gradually. I was quite lucky in that I had perfectly straight teeth pre-braces, however I still had to have them on as my teeth weren't aligned how they should be once my jaws were moved, for example my mid-line was aligned. Though it would be nice, there is no way to avoid braces. The braces are particularly important post surgery as that's when elastic bands are attached to hooks that are added in at an appointment just before your op, these are used to guide your new bite. I got my braces off about 5 months after my op (Op was in the end of July, braces off early December) and it was amazing! I had them off in the morning and then moulds taken so they could make my retainers and I could pick them up and try them on in the afternoon, then I went for my 'after' photos and went home. Since then I've had about 3 appointments that probably last 5 minutes all together because it was just a very quick check to see if my retainers still fitted correctly.
|These are my retainers, I now wear them 3 nights a week.|
About two weeks before my Op I was sent in for a pre-op, this involved getting extra hooks added to my braces and answering a million and 1 questions about my health and previous medical history. Then I had to go to the pre-op department and have my height and weight taken to find my BMI, then get bloods taken and swabs to check for MRSA so I could be certified as healthy to be allowed to stay in the hospital. On surgery day it was the standard no food for 12 hours before and no drink for 6, however by the time it got around to being my turn to go in for surgery I could have had some breakfast but I couldn't eat in case I went in early. I didn't pack much for staying at the hospital, just two days worth of clothes (T-shirts were either button up or wide necked- to fit in my post-op big head) some PJ's, books, tablet, and minimal toiletries like deodorant etc.
I only stayed in hospital for 1 night after surgery, I was told that patients with my surgery usually stay at least 2 nights but I was okay to go home if I wanted to. I had some tight bands fitted to restrict my mouth movement but I could still open it to fit a spoon or straw in to eat/drink with. I was told to eat liquids and very soft foods for the first couple of weeks until my consultant said I could eat more. I wasn't in any pain really, just a lot of discomfort as my head began to swell, I took regular painkillers though to make sure that it didn't begin to hurt.
In the months following my op I had check ups every two weeks, until I was about 3 months post op to make sure I was making progress and wearing my bands in the correct formation and things. There was a slight misunderstanding when I was about 2 weeks post op and my consultant told me I could stop wearing bands and then when I saw an orthodontist on my next visit I was told I had to put them back on immediately and should have had them the whole time, it's fair to say I wasn't too happy but it all worked out in the end!
Pain-wise there wasn't really much at all, the most was from the stitches pulling when I laughed. This was because my face was very numb so I couldn't actually feel the pain which I suppose was a blessing in disguise.
Post-op Numbness and Infection
I still have a few patches of numbness and reduced sensation on my lower lip, chin and tongue but nothing that would actually be able to interfere with my life.
I did manage to be in the small percent of people that got an infected plate and had to have it out, but again this was pain free and the recovery was 48 hours, the hardest part was getting it organised! If you are ever in need of a plate removal I massively recommend you ringing up the hospital if you've not been contacted within two weeks and saying you would be open to accepting any cancellations that might come up because this is how I got my operation October instead of January/February of the next year. I wasn't really up for being on antibiotics every three weeks when I'd just started University!
|The top picture is when I had an infection in my lower right plates, the bottom is after my first found of antibiotics.|
Would I do the surgery again?
YES. It was a couple of years of slight inconvenience for a lifetime with a good jaw!
Do I wish I'd paid to get it done privately?
No. I may have been able to stay in my own room, been given lots of braces wax I wouldn't use, and probably been able to choose my hospital food from a menu but ultimately I would have got the same long term result. I feel incredibly lucky to have not had to pay for anything (other than crazy hospital car parking prices) and my life is better, my jaw is better, and I'm just so glad I had it done.
Is there anything I regret?
The only thing I wish I'd done differently is I would have spoken up more when I was unsure of something, I was probably too worried about being an inconvenience rather than actually clearing up some of the questions I had. Like when 2 weeks post op I was told by my consultant that I didn't have to wear bands any more, I did wonder at the time that it was too soon and my mid-line wasn't correct yet then either but I didn't want to question the expert so didn't say anything. In the end I did end up wearing bands again after I saw a different orthodontist to my normal one when she was ill and then I was told I should have been wearing them the whole time.
I think it's crazy that when I started this blog I was about to sit my final A-level exams and now I've been through nearly 3 years of university and am going to graduate later this year, where has all that time gone?! A lot has happened between the start of this and now and it's nice to have a look back and reflect on everything that's happened and crazy to think about what the next three years may bring!
|Before and after pics|
|The difference a few days can make, the left is in the car on the way to get my op and the right is on the way to my first post op appointment.|
|The stages of swelling, it does go down eventually though!|
|No more Underbite :)|