September 26, 2013

It's all in the DNA

I just got back from a visit with to my brothers orthodontist with my mum and brother. He was referred to the orthodontist by his dentist who was concerned about his teeth, his bottom teeth are quite crooked and his two front teeth were chipped a few years ago, one of which is still alive but the other had to get a root canal.

It turns out his orthodontist knows my orthodontist as they went to university together. This isn't too much of a revelation, they look like they are roughly the same age and there's only one school of dentistry here in NZ so I can imagine everyone knows everyone. But exciting none-the-less. Also, she says she recently talked my surgeon and apparently he is going to start doing minor surgeries in October. Hopefully this means mine isn't too far away then! I would love to get it done before I go back to uni in March next year. It sounds like he is recovering well which is great!

Anyway, my brother will need braces on his bottom teeth at least, they quite crooked. I don't think there is much overcrowding which is good so he shouldn't need to get any teeth taken out. However she has noticed how his front teeth meet exactly though instead of the front teeth overlapping slightly, which means his bottom jaw has been growing forward more than it should.

My brother has just turned 17 but has been quite a late bloomer (in contrast to me who was an early one), he has literally grown about 2 feet in the last year, it's crazy. This means that he is still growing (he's already 184cm and counting... compared to me at 173cm!) and there is a chance that his bottom jaw will continue growing out and into an underbite. If this happens then he will also need orthognathic surgery... let's hope this doesn't happen! His orthodontist will continue monitoring his growth over the next 6 months to see if there are any changes.

I guess it runs in the family... have any of you had any siblings or other family members that have had similar jaw problems?

September 25, 2013

No surgery yet! But some mushy stuff

My surgery date has been and gone and, unfortunately, there was no surgery. I had my adjustment last week and my orthodontist has said that he has been talking with my surgeon, he is recovering and is already back at work but surgery is off the plate for him for now. They will contact me when they have a new date.

I'm a bit bummed about this, I was really looking forward to surgery - it is something that I've looked forward to for quite a long time now. However, it is also a blessing because it was really bad timing with my studies. I am thankful that I will still be getting surgery at some point, I am so extremely lucky that I have this opportunity and I am grateful for it every day.

I have been wanting to write a post for a while now on why I am getting jaw surgery and what it means to me, but I have been putting it off and putting it off... It is important to me to write down everything that I wanted to say and exactly how I wanted to say it, and trying to get this bit right has scared me a bit.

So here goes....

The reasons I want to get surgery:

- So I am able to eat my food properly. 
This one didn't really hit me until my late teens, I have never been able to eat food properly. Have an open bite makes it difficult to bite through pretty much anything. For years my mum made me lettuce sandwiches and they were literally the bane of my existence, I could not bite through them. I actually had to use my tongue as my bottom teeth so I could break it up. When I recently told my mum this she said "well why didn't you ever say anything?!", so really it was self-imposed haha. In all seriousness though, eating is such a challenge for me, I feel extremely self-conscious eating in front of people because often I can't control what will happen. Food sometimes slips out of my mouth, and I learnt the hard way to never ever ever bite into anything in front of someone because sometimes I can't bite completely through it and I'll have to take it out and break it up so I can eat it... not the most appetizing thing for others to watch. I'll generally make a joke out of it to make light of the situation, even when I am completely and utterly mortified... people are generally pretty cool about it, and my friends are used it I think. I am looking forward to having my bite fixed so that I can bite through things and be able to control my food when I eat it!!

- So I can talk correctly.
Having a gap between my teeth means I lisp quite a lot. It also means I can't pronounce a lot of words properly and people can find it hard to understand me properly. Before I got braces, my teeth didn't have as big of a gap between them. I was pretty used to my teeth the way they were and talking wasn't too much of a problem. It still bothered me a bit, but people could generally understand what I was saying. When my braces were put on, it opened up the gap between my teeth and changed my whole bite. For a few months people found it quite hard to understand what I was saying as I was getting used to talking with my new mouth, especially being 21st season which meant lots of parties in bars with loud music. Trying to talk normally was hard enough, but trying to talk over loud music was nearly impossible. I tried to find the humour in it, but sometimes it was really frustrating. I am hoping that once my teeth in the front meet, I will no longer have a lisp!

- So I can stop spitting EVERYWHERE...
I literally spit on everyone and everything. It is ridiculous. I am like a water fountain. Most of the time I can laugh about it, my friends are pretty used to it and can generally see the humour in the situation. Sometimes it is just embarrassing and I would like the ground to swallow me up. I am really hoping that this will stop after surgery.... For now, beware.

- To feel comfortable about my appearance.
Let's face it. One of the main reasons most of us get jaw surgery is to change the way we look. I know that especially for people with underbites, it can look really unattractive and make you feel extremely self-conscious. It is also rather masculine which sucks for women having to deal with one. 
I am now in my early 20s and looking back at my teenage years it was a pretty awful thing to have to deal with. Reading some of the other blogs out there I have realised that I am lucky for never being teased because of the way I looked like so many people with jaw disfigurements have been. It was hard enough for me even when I wasn't being teased! I spent a good 10 years thinking I was ugly and didn't deserve to have any friends, which is not the nicest mindset to be in, and I still struggle to not think this way even today. I know that a lot of teenagers feel this way and I know I wasn't alone, but spending the entire time thinking that my jaw disfigurement was so horrific and that it made me ugly so no boys would ever want to go out with me was pretty traumatic. (yeah, I was quite a dramatic teenager haha). Now that I am more mature (hah!) and know that personality kicks way more ass than looks ever will, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I don't think I am ugly, and if someone chooses to judge me on my looks instead of getting to know me first then I don't really want to know them anyway. I am a firm believer in personality shining through!
I know this probably doesn't make sense then when I say that I still feel self-conscious when I look in the mirror or when someone is taking a photo of me, but being self-conscious about something is different from feeling ugly. I do have a disfigurement, it does make my face look out of proportion, and I do want to get it corrected. I have seen several blog posts and articles of people that have undergone jaw surgery and they have described the experience of having a jaw disfigurement as 'having the wrong face'. This is precisely how it feels. My face is not aligned how it is supposed to be.
It is really frustrating trying to explain to people how it feels to have a jaw disfigurement as it is really hard to understand unless you have had one. Whenever I have tried to explain it to my friends and family they say "Oh, but you look normal". This is because they are used to my appearance now, so for them it IS normal. It's normal for me too, but then I know what to look for too.

This jaw surgery is something I have been waiting a long time for. I used to think that having jaw surgery would 'fix' everything in my life, and even though I know now that that's not true I do feel like it will change a lot for me in ways I don't even realise yet.

I know this will change the way I look, and yes I feel guilty for being happy about this and wanting to look different. But is it really so wrong that I want to be happy with my appearance? I know surgery seems like such a drastic measure, and it is. I do not condone cosmetic surgery (which this is not). This is first and for-most a functional problem for me that has unfortunately affected my appearance, and by fixing the functional problems my appearance will change. It is an effect of the surgery, but not the sole goal. Who knows, I may think I'm even worse looking after surgery, I'll just have to deal with it! :P

So there's the mushy stuff... Don't get me wrong, I know there was a lot of negativity in this post. But believe it or not I am thoroughly enjoying my whole jaw surgery experience, and having this blogging platform has been a godsend. Here's to positivity from here on out. There are so many great blogs out there that have helped me get this far so thank you! And if you are reading this, thank you too :)

Until next time!