orthognathic surgery,janell smith,jaw surgery,lower jaw surgery,over bit,overjet,the quest for less character, character blog, braces, adult braces,mandibular advancement, jaw The quest for less character: 2010

Nov 19, 2010

Character leaving me, now take the wisdom!

Character leaving me, now take the wisdom!
I arrive at Dr. T.’s office feeling a little anxious about the procedure.  Not exactly sure why other than I have heard so many horror stories regarding wisdom teeth extraction.  Given that my lower teeth are completely impacted and will have to be drilled out chunk by chunk, I am anticipating a rough ride.
Not to mention, Dr. T., told us that my procedure was more complicated due to the nature of the impaction and my age.
My what?
What are you saying?  Ahem!
I should have had this taken care of when I was younger, but my mother wanted me to not only have character, but to be full of wisdom.
Before they started the I.V. and got me sedated he mentioned one little tiny detail.  BCBS denied my surgery. Exclusion he said.  He followed up by saying, that because he was at UT Southwestern they could do the procedure for about 6K if I still wanted to move forward.  I said, “Really?  That’s all?  Sounds too good to be true, but sign me up.  We can do that.. I’m already on this path, let’s do it.”
Then I was sent to dream land.
What a trip!!  I couldn’t feel any pain but I kept waking up in and out of consciousness as they were drilling and pulling the teeth.  The bottom ones were definitely a bugger and just didn’t want to budge.  They kept splitting them and pulling them out piece by piece.  I was conscious off and on and could hear them talking.  Thank GOD I couldn’t feel anything because it was freaky enough to just hear what was going on.
Dr. T. was awesome.  He was very much in control of everything.  He was confident and gentle, but yet had control of the room.  I could hear him talking to his assistants while doing the procedure and he was very respectful and yet firm at the same time. Made me feel very comfortable knowing he was going to be doing my future surgery as well. 

I woke up feeling numb, like my face was in another room.
By the time we got home though, it was a different story!
OUCHIE WAWA!!  Not nice!!!
I was a complete mess.  I still had cotton stuffed in my mouth and kept drooling blood.  When I changed the cotton, I had to just hang my face over the sink and just let it go. (Gross I know, but true).  How Sharon was able to stand there and help me, let along stay with my freakishly gross self, I have no clue, but Thank you God!.
That weekend was terrible.
We had a family gathering the next day, to which I showed up zombified on Vicodin and with a chipmunk face.  Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.
I went home, got back into my PJs, lounged on the couch, cried a little, took lots of meds, tried to drink soup and felt completely sorry for myself and whiney for the rest of the weekend.
I felt like someone had put my head in a meat grinder.
But, like several people had told me, Tuesday morning I woke up and felt like a whole new person.  Most of the pain was gone and all I needed was a couple of Advil to make it through the day.
Thank you to God for getting me through that, and Thank you to Sharon for her patience and love through that weekend. There is no way I could face all of this without her.

Nov 1, 2010

Meet Dr. T. Dr. Simon’s character-ripping counterpart!!

So I met with the Maxillofacial Surgeon that is ultimately going to be doing my jaw surgery. 
Dr. Tiwana. 
He is awesome.  I saw him to discuss my wisdom teeth extraction, but he will also be doing my other suregery as well. He was so sweet, very calming and very informative.  He did however; throw another kink in my plans.  He mentioned the fact that he may need to reposition BOTH jaws, not just one.
REALLY?  Double-jaw surgery?
He wouldn’t know for sure until it got closer to surgery time.  Once Dr. Simon said I was good to go for surgery, he would then re-evaluate and determine if I needed single or bi-jaw surgery.
 In the meantime, his staff would be sending to BCBS for approval and would request both, that way if he only had to do one, we wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
In the mean time, let’s conquer the WISDOM TEETH!!
The braces are going great.  I am getting used to them, but still waxing several times a day.
Bring on the extractors!

Sep 27, 2010

Simon Says!

Week one:  Let’s play, “Simon Says!”
Simon says: “Open your mouth.”
Simon says: “Hold your breath so you don’t taste the glue from the brackets”
Simon says: “Don’t Move”
Simon says: “Rinse!”
Simon says: “Spit!”
Close your mouth!
Simon didn’t say to close your mouth, open again!
Simon says:  “Use plenty of wax.”
Simon says: “Use lots of floss.”
Simon says: “Take lots of Advil!”

Boy did Dr. Simon know what she was talking about with the wax and the Advil!!
Holy Moly! Oh my goodness sakes graciousness this hurts! 
Not to mention I feel like a baby who is learning to use their lips for the first time!
And when did that big guy sneak in and punch me in the face?  I know that’s what happened, because there is NO way some measly little wires can cause this much pain! GOOD GRIEF!

Things I have learned this week:
·         Dental wax is your best friend. However, the package may indicate "non-toxic" but I have yet to find out how well the "incidental swallowing of wax chunks" will affect my digestive system.  OH and the fact that silicon ear plugs serve the same purpose as ortho wax and is MUCH MUCH cheaper. 
·     Never, and I mean NEVER be fooled by the seemingly innocent, soft bean burrito, as it is NOT your friend and will wreak havoc on very tender front teeth.

·         I'm too old for this.

·     In regards to those lovely brackets on your teeth that are created to hold the rubber bands, while they may LOOK very much like antennas, they do NOT increase reception on the Texas / OU game and it does not bring in HDTV.

·         I'm too old for this…..I'm too old for this
And finally

·         I'm too old for this…….

Sep 17, 2010

The Consultation: "Let's make a deal!

Door #1 or Door #2?
 Have you ever looked through a magazine or newspaper and saw an advertisement that just draws you in?  In such a way that you HAVE to eat at the restaurant, or you HAVE to see that movie? 
I was thumbing through “The Advocate” magazine one day and found an ad for Lakewood Orthodontics. It was a normal ad, no different than most of the ones I see on a day-in, day-out basis, but there was something different about this one.  There was something different about this doctor’s photo. 
Something about Patricia Simon looked warm and comfortable and made me want to pick up the phone and schedule a consultation. 
Which was exactly what I did, and just a few days later, I met the woman who would lead the team of professionals that would strip away my character, one crooked tooth at a time.

I met with her that day expecting her to say, “HOLY CROOKED CHARACTER TEETH BATGIRL! I can’t do a darn thing with that mouth” but instead she said, “I love challenging cases like yours!”  She was very matter of fact and very action oriented.  She knew immediately that she could make a difference and she knew EXACTLY how she was going to do it!
Challenging?  What EXACTLY is challenging?  She mentioned things like, overbite this, and 9mm that, and angled backwards this and yada yada yada.  She had some really cool 3D imaging software that showed me all the malfunctioning pieces and parts of my jaw and how things SHOULD work in a perfect mouth. She reinforced the fact that I had terrible TMJD, which I already knew and discussed headaches, sinus problems, etc.  Which again, I already knew, which was why I was there.
Then she said something I wasn’t expecting to hear. A word I had not thought of… “Surgery.”
Huh? Wha? Surgery?
Seems my lower jaw is too short and the only way it can be fixed is with surgery.  She continued to explain that because of it being too short, my upper teeth have slanted inward to meet the lower jaw, causing my lovely vampire teeth and shoving my lower jaw backward, causing the TMJD.
She also mentioned that if I didn’t opt for surgery, that she could straighten my teeth but my bite would still be terrible.  My bite was the whole cause for my TMJD, headaches, neck and sinus problems!  She said that if I committed to surgery, her orthodontic approach would be a completely different route then if I didn’t, so I need to make a firm commitment one way or the other.
So Door #1 – Straight teeth, terrible bite
Door #2 – Surgery – straight teeth, perfect bite – no more TMJD – diminished headaches – better sinuses
Seemed like a no brainer to me.  A little bit scary….. But a no brainer.  
Why would I only want straight teeth?
 I mean yes that is a wonderful idea in and of itself but the whole purpose is to feel better. Right?
So we went ahead and did all the x-rays, photos, financial agreements, and plaster molds (they can flavor the plaster now to make that experience much more pleasant, I believe I had cherry flavored plaster) and scheduled an appointment for 2 weeks later to have my braces put on.
They also showed me a video on youtube that had an animated display of what happened during the surgery.  It’s a procedure in which the surgeon, from the inside of your mouth, not outside, basically splits your jaw, extends it, and then fastens it tougher with plates and screws. Talk about metal mouth!
It was very informative but led me down a crazy path of research regarding this surgery.  A path that one (Sharon) might say was more like an obsession, but hey, it’s a scary thing to have your face broken in half and then screwed back together, so the more information I can gather the better.

The Plan:
Braces on September 2010
Wisdom teeth extraction - November 2010
Orthognathic (Jaw surgery) - 12-18 months after braces go on

On a side note:
I do have to say that Dr. Simon’s office is one of the most professional and accommodating practices I have ever had the experience of working with.  She and her staff are amazing! They go above and beyond to make you comfortable and informed.  She takes the time to explain EVERYTHING and will even return phone calls herself instead of making her staff do it.  I am very blessed to be working with such a great team.  The ad I saw that drew me to her was not false or misleading, it was a Godsend.

Great overbite! 
Check out that fang!

                                                           Where did my lower teeth go?

And people wondered why I never smiled?!

Sep 1, 2010

The definition of "Character"

Character –
As defined by Webster’s
the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
one such feature or trait; characteristic.
moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.

Character –
As defined by Grace Eleanor Smith, A.K.A. Mom:
the jacked-up teeth grown by yours truly, including the canine and incisor which, due to my jaw being too small, proceeded to protrude outward and grow over my other teeth, giving me the appearance of Dracula on a good day and a mix between a jackal and a warewolf on other days.

As a child, it was obvious to both my parents and my dentist, that my teeth were crowded and would never grow properly.  The overcrowding forced my teeth into positions that were just… well for lack of a better term, “jacked up.”  When confronted with the option of braces, my mother always just said, “You don’t need them baby, your crooked teeth just give you “character.”
Character? Seriously Mom?
I guess that being made fun of, in a strange sort of way gave me some character, at least the kind that made me sensitive to others.  I feel however; as if I could have gotten that same character from my faith in God, and from my love of babies, puppies and humankind.
Seriously though, I realize now, after actually paying for braces out of pocket, how expensive they are, and orthodontic treatment wasn’t something insurance covered back in the day. I have only the utmost respect for my mother trying to spin the fact that they couldn’t afford to put me in braces into such a positive light. I really love her for that. God bless her.

So fast forward 38 years. I finally decided that the headaches, the jaw pain, the chronic sinus problems and the overall refusal to smile had overloaded me with character. 
In fact, it was time to find a way to lessen it a little.
So the quest began.......