O is for Orthognathic Surgery

Oh man, just typing that title takes me back and gives me the heeby-jeebes!  For those who may not know, I went through orthognathic surgery in December of 2008.  It has been a long journey…so let me start at the beginning:

I had ALWAYS had very crooked teeth.  VERY, VERY bad teeth!  I was self-conscious of them, and I would always keep my lips closed when I smiled because I was embarrassed by them.  I wanted braces from the age of 10, by my family could never afford them for me so I just had to suck it up.  I had planned to get them after I graduated from college, but then I ended up going to grad school…and then got married/went on a honeymoon (which my husband and I paid for both ourselves)…and needless to say the money just wasn’t there.  About a year after we got married I had saved up about $5k and was ready to do it.  I wasn’t excited about having braces as an adult, but I was ready to be 100% confident….and for that I needed to fix my teeth.

My appointment with the dentist was very disheartening…..I even cried during the consultation.  Not because of the cost of braces or fear of getting them, but because the orthodontist (Dr. Smith in Rogers- he’s great) told me that I could get braces, but that as my teeth straightened out I would discover that I had a severe underbite.  An underbite that…if straighted out…would not allow me to chew properly or maintain a bite.  An underbite that could only be fixed with one thing- orthognathic surgery.  I didn’t know what exactly that was at the time, but I knew it scared me and I knew the $5k I had saved up wasn’t going to cover it.  =(

Long story short, after much consideration I decided to go ahead and move forward.  I knew it’d be a long, expensive journey, but I also knew if I was going to be speaking to groups of a thousand people…and working with buyers weekly…and becoming the woman I always thought I would be, I couldn’t have something as silly as crooked teeth messing with my mojo.  So I did it.

After about a year of having braces, it became obvious that Dr. Smith was correct- I had a severe underbite (people sometimes call it the ‘bull dog’ bite).  With my teeth completely closed, I could stick a finger in between the back of my bottom teeth and the front of my top teeth.  It was bad.  This is when I went in for surgery.  What exactly happens during orthognathic surgery?  Well, it is different for each person based on your face and how far off your jaws/teeth, but for me, this meant the following:  having my top gums completely pulled back and then having my top jaw SAWED OFF MY FACE and reattached a few millimeters further out.  Then, my bottom gums were taken back and pieces of my actual jaw bone were removed  and the whole thing was pushed back and reattached.  I have brackets and screws and who knows what else in my face at this very moment.  LOL.  It sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  I still can’t believe that I went through it.  But I did.

My surgeon was Dr. Lewis in Rogers (actually an old RHS classmate’s dad), and he was phenomenal.  I remember a few thing about the before/after of the surgery.  I remember freaking out about 20 minutes before surgery when I realized exactly what my body was about to go through and how tough the recovery would be.  I was crying in the back room, terrified.  Then I remember laying in the chair, getting my ‘happy drugs,’ and telling the doctor’s that they were wearing silly hats.  Then I remember waking up and not feeling my face and not being able to move any of it…and I had to pee soooo bad.  I had to have the nurses unhook me as fast as they could so I didn’t pee my pants, but I couldn’t talk to tell them so I’m moaning and what-not.

The recovery was long and rough, but I could go on and on for days about the whole thing.  I actually made a blog JUST about this surgery/etc as I was going through it because when I was researching it and thinking about doing it I couldn’t find much online about it.  The link is here if you are interested:  http://jenhott.blogspot.com/

So yeah…that’s that. I’m glad I did it, but I’m more glad that I don’t have to do it again.  =)  Here are a few pictures to document the entire process from before braces to now (please note that these are totally embarrassing, but this blog is about sharing and being honest…so you can see me at my worst I suppose):

Before Braces:

Initially with Braces:

After about a year of braces- day prior to surgery:

Night of surgery:

Two days after (worst day ever):

6 weeks after:

Final pics:

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Categories: Family, Teeth | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “O is for Orthognathic Surgery

  1. Heather

    Wow, what a journey, Jen! You have a beautiful smile. Growing up, I was self-conscious of my left eye. Right before my 3rd birthday, I had a freak eye accident and had 17 surgeries within 7 years afterwards. I am legally blind in that eye, but I have it (something they did not think was a good possibility for me then). My pupil is always dilated in that eye, so bright lights really get to me (mostly sunlight). Anyway, so I can relate to the self-consciousness, but I learned that having two different color eyes wasn’t so bad afterall 😉 And I caught a pretty great guy who didn’t even notice the difference until I pointed it out. Good post, Jen!!

  2. Awww, seeing the photo of you with braces made me nostalgic for the Old Mouth. I always understood why you would want to go through all of this, but I’ve thought your under bite was charming as hell. lt took me a good year or so to get used to the New Mouth. I remember being so shocked the first time seeing you with New Mouth because I really doubt I would have recognized you if you passed me casually on the street. It was odd. But I know how happy it made you and I’m so happy for you!

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