Saturday, August 7, 2010


Hello... welcome to my blog.  It seems sort of popular for victims of jaw surgery begin a blog charting their progress... So here I am.  I think the main reason people make these blogs is because, after jaw surgery, there is literally nothing you can do...except go online. At this point, I'm a few days out from surgery so I'll be backtracking a little.

SO reason for jaw surgery:

Open Bite
      My top and bottom jaws only touched in the very back.. This makes biting into an apple pretty much impossible... along with biting all the way through the lettuce your sandwich. Aside from normal chewing, the incorrect position of my jaws cause too much stress on my back molars than normal in addition to some facial muscles.  Aside from normal chewing and my overall well being... open bites.... well..they just don't look quite right.  I don't think most people noticed, but especially when i was younger it was quite weird.  It was actually when I was 8 years old that I was told jaw surgery was in my future because of my strange bite... 10 years later, I had grown into my mouth a little better, but my profile was a little off.


Like I said, my orthodontist and I have known about this surgery for 10 years so a lot has gone into getting ready for it.  Step 1 was an upper jaw expander [VERY good thing I had this taken care of before surgery!], step 2 was braces on my top teeth to correct what damage the expander had done... Step 3 was just wearing retainers for a long time. Step 4.. getting x-rays taken at the orthodontist every 6-9 months to track my growing.  No one was going to do jaw surgery on a growing mouth... thats slightly counter productive.  Finally, fall of my freshman year of college, the orthodontist pronounced my growing complete, and a lovely full set of braces were installed. yay. Here i am, when all of my friends are getting their highschool braces taken off, just getting them on.  Oh well. After 5 months of braces, I had my first consultation with my oral surgeon, Dr. Riek at the Mayo Clinic. Why Mayo Clinic? Because they're the best.  When we're dealing with a major surgery, why settle for less than a top notch surgeon at a top notch hospital? Anyway, later in June my orthodontist decided that my braces had done their job and my teeth were now ready for surgery..The date was set for August 4th but was preceded 2 weeks by another appointment with Dr. Riek to take extensive molds, x-rays, and photos of my teeth, as well as give me some dietary guidelines to follow the surgery..... And that wraps up my 10 year orthodontist history in a nutshell. Other surgical preparation involved reading tons of other blogs from jaw surgery victims/survivors to know what to expect..I don't think you can ever fully prepare yourself though, its just too much to comprehend.


Well....I don't know if i can exactly explain the procedure very well..Let me show you some pictures so you can better understand the problem though:

Lower jaw is more prominent than the top.

kind of a weird angle, but this is my bite. you can see the top jaw doesnt fit nicely over the bottom.

.....Because i know you wanted to see this. yay for photobooth! Really though, this is me with my bite completely shut.  barely any of my teeth meet!

Okay,  so the problem is incorrect alignment of the top and bottom jaws...  this is how mayo clinic describes the surgery on their website:

Maxillary Osteotomy (upper jaw surgery)
In this procedure, the surgeon makes cuts below both eye sockets so the entire top jaw, including the roof of the mouth and all upper teeth, can move as one unit. The teeth and jaw are moved forward until the upper and bottom teeth fit together properly.
Once the jaw is realigned, tiny screws hold the bone in its new position. These screws are smaller than a bracket used for braces and become integrated into the bone structure.

So thats what they're doing in my mouth.  Basically sliding my top jaw forward.  They're also setting my bottom jaw slightly back though.  This involves removing some of the bone...i can't find an article explain it though so you'll just have to use your imagination.  Before surgery the doctor talked about #1, bringing my cheek bones forward with my jaw, #2 adjusting my chin somehow so it would still look balanced with the new facial changes and #3, widening my top jaw...However, none of these three things happened because everything just fit together so perfectly.  I'm VERY happy about this, especially the top jaw widening, because that would have seriously delayed recovery increased discomfort during recovery.  When we're talking about breaking and moving bones, nerves, and muscles.....less is definitely more.


  1. hey there, i just ran into your blog a few days ago but didn't really read any post until now, just to find out how similar or case is. The results worked out for you really well.
    I have open bite, and my lower jaw grew longer than the upper jaw. It took me a few years to accept i needed surgery. Anyhow, what im wondering is, since you're a student and at some point would have to go back to school, how long did it take you to be fully recovered (at least from the swelling)and go back to normal life? I must be getting surgery early march, but i work ful time and go to school at night so i got to make sure how long i'll be gone...
    Hopefully you still read your comments. Take care.

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  3. Yeah, thats pretty much exactly what happened to me! I knew since i was 8 (so 10 years before) so I had a long time to brace myself.

    As far as work and school - i'm a phone-rep at a company so my job is just talking all day long, so it was about 4 weeks before i was able to completely resume my regular shift. I did get kind of worn out though talking for so long, and that lasted about 8 weeks, but i was totally capable. Any other type of job would have been no problem I think.
    With school... i was really lucky to have my surgery on august 4, so school didnt start for another 4-5 weeks so at that point i was totally ready to go to class. If you're having surgery in March, thats a little trickier though. You're going to be really swollen and SUPER tired for about 3 weeks. I would tell your boss 3 weeks, and if you're a quick healer you can always surprise him and show up earlier. :)

  4. It took us 2 years before we did the surgery. We wanted to make sure that I was done growing, and that the insuance would pay for it. Because you know how much it can be!

    I am into my two weeks after having the exact same thing done as you. I wasn't in the surgery room for 6 hours though! I was in there for 2! Its been on heck of ride though. I wasnt swollen so much as my parents and doctor told me i would be. With the whole feeling thing, I could feel my face a few days after. It was a week after surgery when I could feel everything on my face but the left part of my chin, and i still can't feel that today. I check it everyone once in a while to see!

    I did my the end of the week of finals for me, its its on my christmas break. I went out a week after surgery, but i got weak and almost fell downt the stairs after the movies. But now im good and ready to go. At this point it just feels like i got my wisdom teeth taken out. But there is still discomfort and trying to get use to this new placesment.

    Its so hard not to chew when i put soft foods into my mouth! I have had serveral break downs on not being about to.

    When i had my surgery follow up my dr was shocked on how well i was recovery, and thats when i got the rubberbands to train my jaw to its correct bite. I go back tomorrow for another follow up to make sure everything is still healing correctly. I pray that i can start chewing and using my jaw....only one can hope!

  5. Hi Rebecca! Can you tell me the full name of your surgeon? There seem to be several with that last name at the Mayo Clinic. Also, did your orthodontist REFER you to, and coordinate with, your surgeon, or did you do your own research and decide on them? Thanks so much for the help!

    1. Hi! This is my surgeon,

      He moved out to a hospital in Nebraska unfortunately. I would recommend finding a different surgeon at mayo assuming travelling to Nebraska isnt an option. All of the doctors and nurses are so great at Mayo! I was not referred by my orthodontist, since I lived in Michigan they referred me to a local surgeon but it was my preference to go to Mayo so we did our own research and got introduced. Good luck!

    2. You're so wonderful and considerate, thank you for your timely and thorough reply Rebecca!