This page chronicles my Jaw Journey.
Curious about how long the entire jaw surgery process takes? Me too :) That's why I started this page.
Jump to May 2012 for the first surgery.
1990 - 1992 At some point in this time period, my parents were told that I needed jaw surgery to correct my bite. They decided against it because at the time the surgery was brutal and they thought it would be too much for a young girl to go through. They decided not to say anything to me about my bite because they didn't want me to feel self-conscious. I had braces to straighten my teeth, but nothing could be done about my bite without surgery.
1996 I go to the dentist for the first time on my own and learn about the imperfections of my bite. I think very little of it.
1997 - 2001 Every single time I see a dentist I'm told that I need jaw surgery. I never take it seriously because at this point I'm not experiencing any symptoms.
2001 - 2002 I begin to experience jaw pain and clicking. I'm fitted with my first mouthguard to keep me from grinding and chipping my teeth at night.
2002 - 2009 My jaw pain and other symptoms steadily increase in severity over the years. My teeth, especially my back teeth are wearing down. My gums are receding and my teeth and gums become very sensitive.
I have consultations with various orthodontists and oral surgeons. None of them inspire any confidence in me or my husband. Instead of focusing on the medical need of the surgery, they instead focus on how 'pretty' I will be once I have the surgery. We decide against surgery and agree that if my symptoms ever become unbearable then we will seek out a surgeon who we feel we can trust.
2010 I see Dr. Landon Poteat (dentist) for the first time. He fits me with a new mouthguard that fits me perfectly and helps my jaw pain dramatically. He explains the medical need for jaw surgery - I say that I'm not interested. He encourages me to at least see an orthodontist. I tell him I will think about it, (I do), but I don't take any action.
(Dr. Poteat and his team are great. I have extremely sensitive teeth and they are always gentle and patient with me. I feel I get the best care possible from them. They also have a lot of fun, which is not something you often hear about a dental office! They enjoy working with one another and they take real interest in their patients.)
2011 My pain and other symptoms increase to the point that I begin wearing my mouthguard around the clock. I take it out to eat, to speak on the telephone, and when I am out in a public place. I see Dr. Poteat again for a routine cleaning and he again stresses the need for the surgery. He seems worried about the health of my mouth, and his concern, combined with my frustration at feeling bad all the time, motivates me to make an appointment with an orthodontist.
Oct 2011 I have a free consultation with Dr. Timothy Scanlan (orthodontist). His team takes pictures of my face, profile, and teeth and then they take x-rays. I meet with Dr. Scanlan and he shows me my x-rays on his computer. I am shown exactly what is wrong with my bite and for the first time I truly understand why I'm in so much pain. Dr. Scanlan explains the long-term ramifications of not having the surgery. He recommends that I make an appointment with Rockcliff Place Oral Surgery.
Tom and I meet with Dr. Raymond Fonseca the next week. We are both impressed at the amount of time he takes to answer our questions. He affirms everything Dr.'s Poteat and Scanlan have said and then goes into greater detail about why I need jaw surgery. He explains the different routes we could take with the surgery. (He won't know exactly what needs to be done until he has taken molds of my teeth.) I'm encouraged to hear that jaw surgery has come a long way in 20 years and that the recovery period is not nearly as long as it would have been had I had the surgery at age of 12.
Dr. Fonseca has the rare gift of being (by all accounts) an extremely gifted surgeon and a great communicator. When we left his office, Tom was already convinced I needed the surgery. It took me a few more days to agree (only because I am fearful of surgery, not because of any failing on Dr. Fonseca's part).
The following week I returned to Rockcliff so that Dr. Fonseca could take molds and measurements of my bite.
Late Oct 2011 Dr. Fonseca's office writes to my insurance company about the need for my surgery.
Nov. - April 2012 Rejection! Appeal! Rejection! Appeal! Rejection! Appeal! Over and over again. The insurance process was a nightmare. Tom and I felt we each had another full time job. We finally put together an appeal that was roughly 50 pages long, going back over a decade of my dental history. We finally received a letter on a Saturday stating that the insurance company would pay for the majority of my surgery. Becky, (Dr. Fonseca's office), called me on the following Monday absolutely overjoyed when their office received approval over their fax.
*** Dr. Poteat, Dr. Scanlan, and Dr. Fonseca each wrote eloquent letters to the insurance company supporting my case. I cannot thank them enough for their efforts.
April 2012 Tom and I meet with Dr. Scanlan and go over the plan for my braces and the SARPE. My first separators are put in.
In late April, Dr. Scanlan takes the molds of my teeth and upper jaw so that the SARPE appliance will fit me perfectly.
May 9, 2012 Pre-surgery physical with Dr. Fonseca. Click Here for a full account of the physical.
May 14, 2012 The expander, also called the appliance, is fitted into my upper palate
May 15, 2012 Rapid Palatal Expansion Surgery - Read about the day of the first surgery by clicking here.
May 18, 2012 Begin turning the expander. Once in the morning, once in the evening.
May 21, 2012 Stop turning the expander! Click Here for photos of the gap.
June 5, 2012 Orthodontist appointment to make a mold of my lower teeth. Change of plans: originally I was going to have lingual braces on my upper teeth, but now both my top and bottom braces will be on the outside of my teeth and therefore visible. Braces are scheduled for June 15th.
June 15, 2012 Braces were put on and I found out that the result of my breast lumpectomy was benign! A very good day.
October 1, 2012 The expander came out - Hallelujah! Here's the post about the expander coming out.
Nov. 12, 2012 It is finally time to start closing the gap! Power chains were put on. The orthodontist estimates it will take roughly 2 months to close the gap.
Jan. 7, 2013 Gap is still here, but smaller. It won't be completely closed by January 12th
January 15, 2013 The coil springs are put on
January 31, 2013 The gap is almost completely closed, and an underbite has begun to form. See the photos here.
February 11, 2013 Pre-op molds
February 14, 2013 SureSmile Appointment
February 18, 2013 The gap is gone!!!!!!!
March 12, 2013 My surgery is set for June 12
May 7, 2013 Surgical wire is placed on my lower braces
May 13, 2013 Blood is drawn to have 'just in case' for surgery. Unfortunately, the needle popped out and air got into the tubing rendering the pint of blood useless.