Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fully Graduated? - 2 years (May 15)

It's official. My retention time at the orthodontist is no more (Well checkups when needed), and I have a certificate to show it, being a member of the order of "Happy Faces". Thank you to Dr. Sue-Lynn Chin, Dr. Martin Chin, and all of their staff for being so accommodating and helpful throughout the process. Looks like I'm on "Demand Recall" meaning that I only need to go in to get my retainer fixed or replaced, since I should be wearing it daily...

This is now over 2 years in the making, and I would like to thank all of you for your support throughout this entire process. On a side note, I have also graduated from Science Kinesiology at McMaster University, so that diploma should be coming in soon as well! Now onto the teeth/jaw stuff you all came here for. Let's start with a little close up.

I can guarantee you with a smile like this thanks to a fitted bite from jaw surgery and aligned teeth from braces,  you will brush and floss like it's part of your survival. I honestly never used to floss often, but I floss daily to 4x a week because it's a shame to see a tasty piece of meat get in the way of the shine coming off these pearls. Might be a bit much of an ego stroke but I've earned it... I know you all will take good care of your teeth at ALL STAGES of jaw surgery/braces/before/after so I'm not worried.

The only issue I have at this stage is that my nerves STILL aren't fully back, but they do tickle when I brush my finger over the area. Is this really an issue? When you have it for so long I barely even notice it, so no. Even if it improved a bit I don't even know if it would make any sort of impact. 

Some tips for teeth care:

- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth clean, your blood flowing, and healthy gums.
- Gum is a great treat post-meals to clean your teeth. Also, it increases stomach acids which can support digestion of the huge meal you just ate.
- Just a warning, I've asked several professionals and those 'whitening gums' don't do jack. The contact time that your teeth have with the active ingredient isn't enough to truly whiten your teeth, so I would not pay the extra cents to get that kind of gum or believe it is doing anything for you. 
- Brushing your teeth immediately after consuming something acidic/right after a meal is slightly harmful to your teeth. Acids make the tooth enamel soft, and the contact from a toothbrush might do some damage. Wait a few minutes, and if you're in a tight squeeze just have some gum instead!
- Eat healthy, consume vitamin C tablets (or just drink juice, eat foods with it) and plenty of vegetables, exercise as often as possible, and your teeth will reflect your good health!

Once again, best of luck to anyone going through this process. There's so much support for you via family, friends, and an excellent and informed online community!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Game Over. I win. - Day 439 (July 19)

50th post.... and they are freaking off.

No visible squares!

This post will be more about braces than anything else, because jaw surgery is pretty much a thing of the past! I got my braces off on July 19, and I've been high on life for the past 20 hours. Once you hit this point, smiling is contagious. Harmful, actually. So harmful that I don't know how I avoided a car accident on the way home since I was checking out my teeth in the rearview mirror for 60% of the drive back. The feeling is amazing. Why? Because I've finally finished my jaw surgery career, going from in my very first post to where I am now, 2 years later. I've learned so much from this experience, got in contact with a supportive community online, and it has been a thrill. You could say that having an underbite is a good thing because meeting people in the same boat who are just as eager as you makes for a great team. Thanks to every one of you, it would not have been possible to keep up the motivation without you all! :D

The effects of no more braces?

- I've been giving the analogy of having an orange peel in your mouth for a few minutes that is now taken out. Multiply that x 200.
- I instinctively pick my teeth as if there is food stuck under the bracket where my hook is. Nothing is there! It's like a 'ghost limb' effect, and it's playing with my mind.
- I forcefully use liquids to wash food out of my teeth as if there is food there. Once again, nothing.
- The enamel is probably coming off my front teeth based on the amount of times I have rubbed them.
- I can see my teeth and they are actually white! It pays off to constantly brush your teeth, and with braces this means a bit more attention is needed after eating a meal. Make sure all of the food gets out once you've finished a meal or else that little piece of meat is sitting there for who knows how long.
- Chewed gum without fear of having to keep it all in one piece so it doesn't separate on my hooks. It's marvelous.

What are my plans now?

- Teeth whitening. A combination of white strips and toothpaste using the Crest 3D Advanced brand has been recommended to me. I've read that white strips help make teeth white quickly. The toothpaste however, not so much since the contact between peroxide/whitening and your teeth is so little. The toothpaste is more to maintain the whiteness that the 2-3 week program gives you. I think the combination will probably give teeth its full white potential.
- I will make one more youtube video and post it here on this site. My laptop has been in the shop for weeks and once I get it back I will get it done!

To those of you reading with braces, please don't feel like I'm rubbing it in your face. Please understand that to feel this state of Nirvana means fully going through the whole process from start to finish and always holding strong. This whole process has been 2 years of braces, and one summer of jaw surgery recovery. Whatever your situation may be, as long as you follow through, the amount of relief and satisfaction is truly worth it. I can't stress enough how important that is before you feel like your smile is a million bucks.

It's a new beginning, and this process has made me ready.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Last post before braces off!! - Day 411 (June 22)

Where have I been? 

I've spent the first 3 weeks of my summer in Europe. 3 friends and I traveled to: Paris, Barcelona, Cinque Terra, Florence, Salzburg, Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam over the course of 21 days, knocking off everything a city had to offer in 3 days or less. Backpacking and living in hostels was a crazy experience and I would certainly do it again. I wore my elastics too like a good boy.

A view on top of the Arc de Triomphe

I'm taking summer school from mondays to wednesdays and on thursdays I am studying for the Dental Admissions Test in a Kaplan prep course. Time with braces has certainly been an afterthought to life.

A day with my jaw surgeon

I had the opportunity to shadow my oral surgeon last friday, and it was a lot of fun. I did not get to see surgeries, but I did manage to be present for 5-6 wisdom teeth removals and 2 patient's teeth extractions. Dr. Tocchio and his staff are very friendly and they made it very comfortable. It was nice to see what goes on from another point of view other than the chair!


I went into the ortho on June 12. As he told me, I'm getting my braces off in July! The office is going to call me to fit a date in during the week of the 9th-13th, and I will get them removed! 2 days after it is required to come in and get molds, and fitted for a retainer.  I was given a small wire that's placed on my bottom 5 teeth in preparation. Here's the current state of my teeth:

As you can see everything is lined up. On the right side there is a small gap, but when braces come off, this may be difficult to imagine, but your teeth tend to slowly cave in, as the bottom and top rows of teeth angle inwards.

Once my braces are off I'll take a few pictures, create a video on youtube and that would be the completion of my jaw journey! 2 years flies by fast.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Awaiting the Braces Off Celebration - Day 333 (April 5)

 I just spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure out how long it has been since surgery. I counted 333 days. Time has certainly flown by, and so much has passed without an afterthought. In addition to school, I have traveled to New Orleans for Habitat for Humanity to help build houses during Mardi Gras, wrote my dental aptitude test in February, and decided to take another year of undergraduate studies. The only issue I have is the fact that I have braces. I've taken grad photos, and just last weekend I had a Kinesiology formal and flashed the metal everywhere. It was such a good time with a limo, banquet dinner, and open bar that it wasn't an issue.

Where's my progress right now? My bite is lining up very nicely, and my bottom row needs to be narrowed. My teeth are straight and there are no gaps. I just saw the orthodontist, he bent the wire inwards and it went back inside. Of course I asked for a date and I got July. July. Just as scheduled so I cannot really complain. All I can do is wear elastics 24/7. I found out that the point of elastics is to pull the teeth together so that they are always biting together to angle both top and bottom jaw inwards. Just a little tidbit. Here is what my bag of elastics look like. They are 5/16" (7.9mm) and light(2.5oz)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Last Surgeon appt - Jan 7 (Day 244)

Happy New Year to everybody and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays etc. I hope everyone enjoyed their time with their families, I got the chance to do so with my family in Florida, it was great. The weather was at a good 25-28 Celsius and beach time was a given. I just had an ortho appointment and jaw surgeon appointment a few hours apart from each other and here's the quick update.

Ortho - Braces on schedule to be removed in the summer still. He added 2 chains that are 10 teeth across on my bottom and my top teeth. These are meant to squeeze the teeth together and remove gaps between the teeth, and I'm actually feeling a bit of pain from them(that's a first for me.) I'm still using elastics 24/7 to pull the lower jaw back a bit, so I twist them like crazy to increase the tension.

Jaw Surgeon - It was my last appointment with my surgeon! It was far more anticlimactic than thought, primarily because it was another short 2 minute appointment, and on a Friday afternoon where my surgeon was an hour from closing. He basically said the braces have a little more to go, and the bite looks great! It was good to hear that. However, this wasn't going to be the last time I saw him. Since I am applying to dentistry school within 2 years, he agreed to let me shadow him for a day, which is amazing. So I'm going to see him again in March or so.

What's left? - I do indeed still have numbing on the same place on my left chin. It doesn't stress me however and I live life normally. I could probably never heal from this and still not be bothered. However, during our New year's dinner, my cousins let me keep a straggling piece of broccoli on my chin for a good half hour. My uncle came by and said, "Didn't anyone tell you that you have food on your chin?" To which my brother replied that we should take family photos without me knowing. I hope this doesn't happen during really important dinners in my future.

My teeth look real straight and I've become real confident with my smile, and will be more confident once the metal is removed.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Update Video, Elastics, again - Day 190 (Nov 14)

Basically another ortho appointment update.

My teeth are all straight, but the general orientation of my jaw still has to change, and it is the reason for having braces so much later past my surgery. This past Friday my ortho had me back on elastics to pull my lower jaw back to create an overbite(sorry I had originally said underbite). Why he is doing this just now is kind of frustrating in my opinion. I'm supposed to wear them whenever I can, and take them off to brush and eat. One thing about wearing these elastics is that they are super loose. The ortho assistant suggested that I twist them to put more tension in. I think it's a great idea and am going to tighten these pretty well. Lastly I just made a quick update video to show where I am at.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Chapstick Test - Day 160 (Oct 15)

This surgery makes you notice the weirdest things. For example,  if you haven't heard of Epic Meal Time, take a look at their videos.

All I can think of is, "How dangerous is it to have your jaw open that wide?"  Is that weird? I'm still fairly conscious when I eat to not open too wide and put pressure down. My bone is probably fully healed for the most part too. It's going to take some time to unlearn that feeling.

Surgeon/Ortho update

I also am worrying in the back of my mind about my numbness. It's about 5 months and I'm still really numb on my left side. My surgeon used this little tool and tapped my left side of my lips and I felt very little sensation, and then when he tapped my right side I got a crazy poking pain. Big difference on one side than the other, and he just assured me that it's going to take time. Okay. I saw my ortho and just got different wires again. My top row teeth are starting to open up a little bit, so the wires are going to fix that.

I've also noticed my top teeth and bottom teeth don't exactly line up nicely. OP told me that perhaps there's this issue where the size of my teeth are pretty big and therefore it creates a different orientation for my teeth. Something to live with.

I notice the feeling come back to me randomly at times when I'm walking to class. It's best described as: Walking into a spider web and it landing on your chin. It's there and annoying, but you just touch it and realize there is no spider web, just your dumb chin.

Lastly, I put on chapstick for the first time today(I usually just use hand cream) and whoa, it feels really weird. I recommend trying it and seeing what spots on your lips you can feel. This is probably my new way of checking where I'm at and keeping the lips not dry haha. Try the Chapstick Test!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Waiting Game - October 5 (Day 150)

School is in full swing right now and things have been pretty hectic. Here are some updates at day 150(yeah, day freaking 150.)

Status of the jaw itself
- Still numb in places. My left side of my chin(where more asymmetry was fixed) definitely still has a deadness to it compared to my right. Good news is that when I touch it at different angles, the sensation is indescribable, I'd say it's most compared to knocking your funny bone on the elbow.
- Other parts that are numb include both sides on the cheeks under the eyes, compared to my left chin it's nothing
- My upper lip/middle part of the nose(the part that splits your 2 nose holes, I have no idea what that's called) tingles when touched.
- In summary, this has been my numbing situation for quite a while and it seems like it will take some time go away.
- Eating has been excellent, my stomach is still quite shrunken and is taking some time to increase. I can chew pretty much everything, but I am always really conscious when I bite into crunchier things. No, eating is not perfect yet and I'm roughly 5 months in.

The Orthodontist trip 

Now I went to the orthodontist a while back(2 weeks ago) and was basically given bad news. My teeth are perfectly straight. However, there is still some alignment to do. I popped the question. "How much longer do I need braces for?" The answer - "Until summer."      ****!

They say that they can only move my teeth at a certain speed so that the bones can calcify accordingly. I don't really have an opinion on that, but I know that every time I get a new wire I don't get any soreness or barely any indication that much more movement is needed. So, it's basically a waiting game. It also sucks that I'm in 4th year university rocking braces but it could be worse. Keep calm and carry on. Right? Right?

Meeting old friends

It's been, just, weird. I get weird looks almost everyone that I reintroduce myself to. I didn't think I'd have to refer to my jaw surgery so many times but usually that's been the case. It's either: new braces? new haircut? skinnier? taller? younger? Why are you different? They've all been weird. People I've met this year obviously don't have that and therefore it has been somewhat refreshing. I feel like this whole journey has started a new chapter in my life. Coming out of surgery I've lost a lot of my cockiness and have been somewhat humbled. Warning: Lots of time to self-reflect when sitting in a reclining chair may do that to you. I feel like a new person. Much more laid back than I was before. Weird.

Anyhow here's a picture. I plan on doing a video at the 6 month mark.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Surgeon appt update - Day 120 (Sept 5)

I feel terrible because I haven't really kept up with the blog, and I'm posting to show that yes I am still alive. I'm an RA in residence this year so the past 2 weeks I've been at Uni prepping and it's been tiresome.

My latest focus has been my weight rather than recovery at this stage. It's been good and bad.

1. I pulled out my scale that I used pre-surgery when I was at uni. I had last registered at 14% body fat. (It shows the last measurement history)
2. I used it a week ago and found I was down to 9-10% body fat. I have found that I have looked really toned. However, I realize I have barely gained any weight since I lost the 20+ pounds! So it is a good thing that my body fat is really down, but it's going to take some time to get the weight back.
3. I saw a friend from last year and he noted that I was visually much skinnier. I appreciate the honest feedback and plan on getting it back asap. My pants also need belts! I'm mostly upset about that.

I saw my surgeon a few days before so I got some more info from getting some answers.

Elastics - after 3 months+ I don't need them anymore at night!
Jaw widening - when my top jaw is widened, the cut is made from when it is taken out, and filled in with bone, not with putty which I was stupidly thinking. There is bone added to the top part of the top jaw, so you can't see it(just your gums, palate), that's how the gap is filled in.
Contact - I should be able to take small blows for the most part to my jaw. I'm not planning on testing it out, but I can.
Numbness - The time frame is usually 1 year to get feeling back. Nothing I didn't already know, but I couldn't remember if I had asked him about it or not before.

For now I am still seeing my orthodontist monthly for new wires. I saw one of my orthos in traffic the other day and beeped to her and talked for a few brief seconds and I said, "Looking forward to my new wire." Gosh, the weird things I do now.

Quick pic.


Saturday, 6 August 2011

3 months have finally past, and 2 knuckles are in with ease! - Day 90 (August 6)

The crazy 3 month mark has been hit. For such a huge process like a jaw surgery, getting here is quite bittersweet.  Why? Because I found it difficult to believe I would get here during my first week of recovery, but now that I'm here it's really hard to take it all in and enjoy it like I had envisioned.

I apologize for posting less and less during these times. If anything, many readers should realize that by this point, life is back to normal! As therapeutic as blogging has been for me, I found that it's easier to do when you have the time. Now that I'm fully functional, blogging has sadly taken the backseat. Life. Is. Back. To. Normal.

Eating - You name it, I've eaten it. Except steak(Saving it for some glorious occasion in the future, tbd). We went to the Keg for my mom's surprise dinner and I had a prime rib, tiger shrimp, and double baked bacon potato; it was effortless to chow down. Eating for the past few weeks has not been an obstacle. And guess what? The food stays in my mouth, sans drooling, and goes down perfectly chewed. The art of eating is now thought free. Huzzah.

Here's a few quick pictures of where I am, the webcam I use is terrible and makes my skin look like I'm sunburned but you can see where my bite is at.

So what does this mean now?

In terms of recovery there are 3 things left:

Range of motion - I can fit 2 knuckles into my mouth with ease, there's no more need to slice bananas into my mouth anymore. My range still needs to improve because I can't fit a subway sub into my mouth, so that's my next landmark for motion.

Swelling - my nose is going down, not as pig like and popped up as it used to be.

Bite - My right side of my top teeth is directly on top of my bottom and it's very uncomfortable at times. I went to my ortho yesterday and he said that through using a stronger archwire, the arch of my top teeth should open up and then go over the bottom teeth better. That means I just have to wait for the newer stronger wires to push that row of teeth out. Once that's done, and the roots set,  I can get my braces off :)

Haven't been this ready to shed the braces for some time, what a feeling.

I'll keep on posting whenever I get the chance.